Anatolia peninsula has been a settlement place for countless civilizations and empires. Starting from even before the Hellenistic Ages, many groups of people settled, lived or passed the area. Being the connection between Asia and Europe, the peninsula has been used by many groups of people as a path to reach the other continent. Besides, Anatolia holds the profitable trade routes of ancient and near history. With such a lively historical background, Turkey became one of the most historically rich countries of the world. The museums of Turkey have been established in nearly all districts with countless pieces from various eras and civilizations. Many sites are open to be visited and on many more, the archeological works are continuing. This culturally rich and splendid atmosphere is created by the marks left by empires, civilizations, waves of people passing by, etc.
Turkey has countless wonders to visit but there are special, exceptionally beautiful and mesmerizing ones. Especially, there is Lycian Route on the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey that has numerous columns and historical sites. The Mediterranean area was important because of sea transportation. Therefore, the seaside locations have castles, ports and many ancient settlements. Some locations even have the marks of people who took place in legends, such as Helen of Troy, Alexander the Great or Saint Paul. Besides, the multicultural and multireligious nature of different civilizations makes it possible to come across temples, monasteries, mosques or synagogues.
15 kilometers away from Sanliurfa, a province in the Southeast part of Turkey, there is Gobeklitepe, located on top of a hill. When Gobeklitepe was discovered in 1963, this highly changed the historians’ point of view. Because, until then, Stonehenge was thought to be the oldest manmade historical temple. Later, it is discovered that Gobeklitepe pre-dates the Stonehenge by 6.500 years. It is the first belief center of the world history, known. In the area, 20 temples have been detected, but only 6 of them were uncovered until now. There are animal symbols and hieroglyph-like scratches on the walls and stones of Gobeklitepe, which gives the clue about how back the history of the site goes. The site took its place in the World Heritage Temporary List of UNESCO in 2011.
Ephesus is located in the Selcuk district of Izmir. It is considered as the most important civilization, culture, science and art center of the ancient times. People have been working on the archeological excavations in Ephesus for more than 100 years. The foundation of the city dates back to 9.000 BC, as indicated by the marks from Neolithic period. In the ancient world, the Ephesus ancient city is considered the middle of East and West. Later, it became the capital of Asian State of the Roman Empire in addition to being a seaport and a political and cultural center. The Ephesus ancient city entered the World Heritage Temporary List in 1994 and was moved to the main list in 2015.
In Bogazkale district of Corum province of Turkey, there is the capital of Hittite Empire, Hattusha. It is one of the most important cities of ancient Anatolia. There are temples, royal houses and walls within the ruins of Hattusha. The structure of the site gives the idea that architecture of the time was very developed. Hattusha has its place in the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
Perge is known as the most in order city of the ancient Anatolia. It is located in 17 kilometers South of today’s Antalya. It is an ancient Roman city famous for marble sculptures. The city is perfectly planned and equipped with water channels that divides the city in the middle. This channel provides water to four fountains and two big baths. The defence equipment of the city is also extraordinary considering the circumstances of its era. It was built in the Hellenistic era and, it was repaired in Roman Empire and Late Ancient Eras. These features enabled Perge to be suggested for UNESCO World Heritage List.
Zeugma is an ancient Roman town located 27 miles away from today’s Gaziantep. It is a Roman ancient city, founded by the Great Alexander in the name of Selevkia Euphrates. It is famous for its mosaics. The Roman Empire connected the city to itself and the Emperor of the time gave it the name Zeugma which means ‘bridge’. The city was the symbol of richness and prosperity in the Roman Empire era. However later, Sasani King I. Sapur invaded the city and destroyed it. The mosaics from the ruins of the ancient city are on display at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum located in Gaziantep today.
Phaselis is near a mountain which was known as Olympos in the ancient times and known as Tahtali Mountain today. Its history dates back to the pirates’ time. Some powerful pirates used the location as a base. After the pirates abandoned the location, it stayed empty, but the ruins are still there. The natural-gas-fueled dancing flames are amazing to look at. They even depicted in the Homer’s Illiad as a fearsome creature.
Nemrut is a mountain in Kahta district of today’s Adiyaman. On the top of the mountain there is the tomb of King Antiochus I Epiphanes. The height of the mountain is 2150 meters and it is known worldwide by its historical importance. Most people visit the site to watch the sunset there. It is said to be the most magical experiences you can imagine. It is on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.
Goreme is an open-air museum with many symbols of early ages of Christianity, located in Cappadocia district of Nevsehir province. The area is known to be a home for monastery life between 4th and 13th centuries. It is a mystical looking valley with churches, chapels, dining halls and lounge areas carved into the blocks of rocks. On the carved rocks, there are geometrical ornaments made in the first years of Christianity. There are also murals that depict the scenes from the life of Jesus. The open-air museum is put on the World Heritage List of UNESCO in 1985.
In Antalya, there is an ancient Roman theatre which is a well preserved huge site, Aspendos. The famous Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius has the theatre built in the second century AD. It can have 15.000 people at the same time.
In Trabzon, there is a historical monastery that was a reclusion place, Sumela Monastery. It is on a very high point. Sumela Monastery is thought to be built by two monks named Barnabas and Sophronios who came from Athens. The location had been used as a monastery until 1923. There is the main rock church, a few chapels, kitchen, student rooms, guest house, library and holy spring within the area. There are also signs of Turkish art on the closets in the buildings, cells and ovens.
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