Turkey is a large industrial country with spacious beaches, beautiful parks, interesting museums and architectural monuments.
What to do in Turkey
Turkish land is the birthplace of ancient cultures and civilizations. Even before our era, the Hittite kingdom flourished here. It was replaced by Byzantium, which fell under the onslaught of the Turks in the 15th century. The Ottomans conquered Asia, the countries of Southeast Europe, North Africa and created an influential Islamic empire with its center in Istanbul. Her dominion ended only at the beginning of the last century, when the sultanate was abolished.
Tourism is an important part of the state’s economy. In different parts of the country there are unique historical monuments: Neolithic artifacts, Hellenic amphitheaters, aqueducts, oriental palaces. Foreigners are attracted by ancient cities, defensive fortresses on the banks of the Bosphorus and magnificent mosques.
Turkey is washed by the waters of the Black, Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. Its resorts are famous for their wide beaches, comfortable hotels and good infrastructure. In Antalya, Izmir, Bursa, warm sea, entertainment, nightclubs and restaurants await guests. On the beaches there are attractions, rental of boats and scuba equipment, diving and sailing schools.
The nature of Turkey is rich and varied. The country is crossed by high mountains, dense coniferous and deciduous forests, green valleys and arid steppes. To protect the flora and fauna of the regions, national parks and reserves have been created. They offer a variety of excursions. Outdoor enthusiasts go hiking, climb mountains, go hunting, spend the night in campsites or hotels.
Turkish bazaars are full of oriental charm and elegance. Traveling along the winding rows, you can buy clothes, souvenirs, antiques, rare books, fruits, sweets. Among the well-known markets is the Istanbul Grand Bazaar, founded immediately after the conquest of Constantinople. Outside its gates, ancient marble fountains, wall frescoes, kiosks have been preserved.
The annual shopping festival in Istanbul is popular with tourists. Starting March 18, for 40 days, all stores offer significant discounts on goods and duty-free shopping for foreigners, and historical sites close two hours later than usual.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
The Göbekli Tepe temple complex in the vicinity of Sanliurfa is one of the oldest megaliths in the world. According to preliminary estimates, its age is 12,000 years, which means it is older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.
The attraction consists of 20 rounded structures. The walls and columns are covered with relief images of animals and abstract pictograms. Some symbols resemble the position of celestial bodies in the sky.
From this we can conclude that in those days people followed the starry sky and used the temple as an observatory. For thousands of years, megaliths were hiding in the thickness of the Göbekli Tepe hill and were discovered during excavations at the end of the last century.
Historical districts of Istanbul
Istanbul is a huge port city divided into 14 administrative districts. The streets along the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus include a lot of historical monuments. These include the districts of Sultanahmet and Zeyrek.
Sultanahmet adorns the square of the same name with the installed Egyptian column, the obelisk of Constantine, the German fountain. Within walking distance are the Blue Mosque, Topkapi, Hagia Sophia, Ibrahim Pasha’s Palace and the Archaeological Museum.
Zeyrek is famous for its three-story wooden houses and the Byzantine Church of Christ the Almighty, from which a mosque was made.
The ruins of the city, sung by Homer in the Iliad, were discovered off the coast of the Aegean near the entrance to the Dardanelles in 1860. The settlement, which flourished at the end of the Bronze Age, was a fortress surrounded by walls and nine-meter towers. Inside were houses, squares, temples, altars. Later, scientists unearthed 9 more fortresses that existed in different eras.
Today Troy is an open-air museum. To attract tourists, a wooden Trojan horse is installed at the entrance.
Founded in 1650 BC, Hattusa was the capital of the Hittite Empire, the center of art and culture of that time. Scientists stumbled upon the settlement in 1834, while excavating on the peninsula of Anatolia. Today, there is an archaeological museum representing the Lower and Upper Towns.
On the tour you can see the temple of the gods of the Sun and the Sea, a gate made of stone blocks with statues of lions, another gate decorated with a carved figure of the god of war, fragments of streets and squares. In total, there are 70 sanctuaries in the settlement. In one of them, they found a stone with Egyptian inscriptions, indicating that the Hittites maintained relations with Egypt.
The highest point of the Taurus Mountains in southeastern Turkey. Here, at an altitude of 2150 meters, is the tomb of Antiochus I of Commagen, a king from the Armenian Yervandid dynasty (62 BC). The sanctuary is surrounded by statues of gods, vultures and eagles 8-9 meters high.
In the center stands a 50-meter mound of small stones with the grave of the ruler. The tomb is decorated with the figures of Zeus, Apollo, Hercules and Antiochus himself sitting on the throne. Some sculptures are destroyed and lack heads. Archaeologists found the missing parts and installed them separately at the foot of the tomb.
Ancient Ephesus, founded on the Aegean coast in the 10th century BC, is the largest archaeological complex in the Mediterranean. The settlement consists of Greek, Roman buildings, wide streets and squares.
Of great historical importance is the temple of Artemis of Ephesus, decorated with relief columns, the library of Celsus with a two-tier facade, the market square with a colonnade, under which there were shopping arcades, the ruins of the Bolshoi Theater and the Odeon.
The temple of Hadrian, the gates of Hercules, the relief image of the goddess of Victory are available for inspection. The Byzantine era is personified by the House of the Virgin and the Basilica of St. John.
The ruins of ancient Hierapolis can be found 17 km from Denizli in southwestern Turkey. The city, founded by Eumenius II, was known in antiquity as a resort and cultural center. At the dawn of Christianity, St. Thomas, the apostle of Jesus Christ, was crucified here.
In 1354 a powerful earthquake destroyed Hierapolis. Excavations carried out in the last century revealed to the world Roman baths filled with warm mineral water, an ancient theater for 12,000 spectators, the temple of Apollo, the martyrium of St. Philip and the necropolis.
In the southwest of the country there is a city built in honor of Aphrodite in the 3rd century BC. It was once a thriving religious center where people came to worship the goddess of beauty. Today, in its place is a historical museum with excellent archaeological monuments.
Top attractions: Temple of Aphrodite, ruins of the ancient school of philosophy, sports arena, Baths of Hadrian, white marble theater. The excursion route includes Tetrasun Square with its giant columns, as well as the Museum of Roman Sculptures.
In Istanbul, on the Galata hill, there is a tower that is considered a symbol of the city. Its height is 67 meters, the circumference is 9 meters. The attraction was erected by the Genoese in the 14th century as a guide for sea traders. Mehmed the Conqueror slightly changed its appearance and used it as a lighthouse and an observatory.
In the middle of the last century, a large-scale restoration was carried out in the Galata Tower. The architects added a conical dome, an elevator, an observation deck, a trendy restaurant and a nightclub.
The Sultan’s Palace on the banks of the Bosphorus is the decoration of Istanbul. The baroque and neoclassical mansion rivals the finest French residences of the 18th century. The interiors are lined with gold. The main hall is illuminated by a 5-ton Bohemian glass chandelier, and paintings by Ivan Aivazovsky hang on the walls.
There is a museum in Dolmabahce. Visitors are shown the Crystal Staircase, the Grand Salon, the Hall of Ambassadors, antique furniture, personal belongings of the Ottoman sultans, a courtyard with a park, gates and the Clock Tower.
The residence of the Ottoman sultans until the middle of the XIX century. The magnificent oriental palace is located in the center of Istanbul — where the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus flow into the Sea of Marmara. It consists of four courtyards, in which there are service premises, the office of the divan, the treasury, the personal chambers of the Sultan, and the harem. The entrance to each courtyard is through a special gate.
After the appearance of the Turkish Republic, a museum of the Ottoman Empire was equipped in Topkapi. Among the main exhibits are antique furniture, works of art and Muslim shrines: the cloak and sword of the Prophet Muhammad.
In Antalya, near the sea, the Roman tower Hidirlik rises. It was erected at the beginning of the 2nd century to protect the coast from hostile tribes, and for a long time it was used as a lighthouse.
A massive round structure 13.5 meters high is located on a square base. There is a door in the east wall. Inside there is a small hall, and in its center stands a giant stone, the purpose of which is not exactly known. In the corner there is a steep narrow staircase leading up. Climbing up it, tourists get on the roof and admire the seashore.
The medieval fortress, proudly standing on a rocky peninsula, is the main attraction of Alanya. It was founded in 1226 by order of the Seljuk ruler. The architectural ensemble is surrounded by stone battlements 6.5 km long. The citadel, the Byzantine church, water tanks, Roman baths were hidden behind the fence.
Most of the buildings are in a deplorable state and in need of restoration. Not far from the fortress in the port, the octagonal Red Tower has been preserved, in which the Alanya Ethnographic Museum operates.
St. Peter’s Castle
In Bodrum, you can see the castle of the 15th century, built by the Rhodes Knights Hospitaller on the ruins of the Karian mausoleum, ranked among the seven wonders of the world. The powerful fortress repelled the attacks of the Turks for a long time, but in 1522 it nevertheless capitulated and came under the control of Sultan Suleiman.
The Christian chapel was converted into a mosque, and prisoners were placed in the castle. In the middle of the last century, the complex was restored and transformed into an archaeological museum. It contains Greek amphoras, marble sculptures, gold coins, as well as a collection of jewelry found on an ancient sunken ship.
On the Mediterranean coast, not far from Antalya, there is a small city of Side, which arose in the 7th century BC. It was built by Greek settlers and turned into a famous trading port of that time. Today Side is a resort, the highlight of which are historical sights.
To this day, the fortress walls surrounding the old streets, the entrance gate with square turrets, the amphitheater that can accommodate 20 thousand people, necropolises and monuments of the Hellenic era have been preserved.
Mosques and temples
The main mosque of Istanbul stands on the shores of the Marmara Sea in the Sultanahmet district. Its construction lasted from 1609 to 1616. In appearance, Byzantine and Ottoman architectural features are clearly visible.
The mosque has a huge prayer hall with a wide dome and 6 graceful minarets 64 meters high. The outer walls are lined with marble, while the inner walls are lined with blue and white handmade ceramic plates. The ceilings are inscribed with the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad and suras from the Koran.
The mihrab is carved from marble. The black stone installed on it was delivered from Mecca. The Blue Mosque houses the mausoleum of Ahmed I and a madrasah.
In the Istanbul district of Vefa there is a mosque erected at the direction of Suleiman the Magnificent in 1550-1557. The complex, built according to the canons of Ottoman architecture, includes a temple, four minarets, a library, a maktab and a madrasah.
The prayer hall, lined with marble, can accommodate 5,000 people in total. In the courtyard there is an ancient cemetery with the mausoleums of Sultan Suleiman, his wife Roksolana and daughter Mihrimah.
Ulu-Jami is the main mosque in Bursa and a unique monument of early Ottoman architecture, which appeared on the initiative of Sultan Bayazid I in 1400. The temple has a square shape, its roof is crowned with 20 domes, installed in four rows. There are two minarets on the sides.
The facade of the mosque is decorated with skillful carved ornaments. The interior of the prayer hall is decorated with black wood. Ceilings, walls and columns are decorated with inscriptions from the Koran. At the entrance there is a house for washing before prayer, inside which a beautiful fountain beats.
Mardin is located in the southeast of Turkey, famous for its original Arab buildings and ancient Christian temples. In its vicinity, the Orthodox monastery of Deirulzafaran, which was the center of the Syrian Patriarchate a thousand years ago, has been preserved.
The complex includes the Church of the Virgin Mary, the Dome Church, the monastery of the Saints, the cells of the monks. The interior decoration is represented by multi-colored paintings and Byzantine mosaics. The current monastery receives pilgrims and tourists.
Church of St. Nicholas
Saint Nicholas, who lived in the 4th century, was the bishop of Demre. After his death, people built a church and buried the body inside in a marble sarcophagus. The temple was destroyed by earthquakes, the Arabs, but it was always restored by believers. In the 19th century, the church was flooded by the overflowing river, and it was covered with mud and mud.
In this state, the shrine was found by the traveler A. N. Muravyov and organized a fundraiser for restoration. Today’s church is a basilica in the shape of a cross. Its walls are painted with faded frescoes of the 12th century, the floor is paved with mosaics. The white carved sarcophagus of Nicholas the Wonderworker is installed in the southern nave, but the relics of the Saint were taken to Italy in 1087.
Saint Sophie Cathedral
The famous Hagia Sophia is a symbol of Byzantium and a masterpiece of ancient architecture. After the fall of the empire, it was turned into a mosque, covering Christian frescoes and mosaics with plaster. In 1935, Hagia Sophia was given the status of a museum, hidden mosaics were opened and the prayer carpet was removed from the marble floor.
Now visitors come to appreciate the architecture and decoration of the temple, see the mosaics depicting the Archangel Gabriel, John Chrysostom, the emperors Alexander, Constantine and Justinian, as well as Slavic graffiti made by people from Kievan Rus, and Scandinavian runic inscriptions.
4 minarets, a carved marble minbar, surahs from the Koran on the walls and the Sultan’s bed with openwork patterns remind of the Muslim past of the temple.
The museum is located in the historical mansion of the former Bristol Hotel in the center of Istanbul. The exhibitions started working for the general public in 2005. Guests are shown the work of European and Ottoman artists, including the canvas “Turtle Trainer” by Osman Hamdi Bey.
In addition to paintings, there is a popular collection of instruments used in past centuries to measure grain, earth, pharmaceutical powders, as well as ceramics and decorative tiles from the 18th century. The museum regularly hosts temporary exhibitions and educational events.
Museum of Anatolian Civilizations
There are two old Ottoman mansions in the center of Ankara. In 1921, they opened a museum of Anatolian civilizations. The exhibition area is divided into zones:
- The first one demonstrates stone tools and other exhibits of the Paleolithic era.
- The second is clay figurines, vessels, tools made of bones, granite sculptures of the Neolithic era.
- The third is dedicated to the Bronze Age and includes gold jewelry, metal figurines, axes, spears found in tombs around Ankara.
Several exhibitions cover the Hittite, Greek and Byzantine periods.
Mausoleum of Ataturk
Ankara is home to the mausoleum of the founder and first president of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The main attraction of the capital rises on a hill. A pedestrian road leads to the mausoleum, stone lions sit on its sides.
The road leads to the ceremonial square, decorated with tiles with a geometric pattern. At the end of the square is the Hall of Honor with the tomb of Ataturk. The mausoleum is surrounded by the Peace Park with decorative trees. Around the perimeter there are 10 towers with gabled roofs and statues in national costumes. There is a museum on the territory where the personal belongings of the first president are kept.
Nature and entertainment
The Turkish Riviera, or the Turquoise Coast, is the unofficial name of the coastline of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas with a developed tourist infrastructure. It includes popular resorts: Antalya, Alanya, Side, Fetihe, Marmaris, Bodrum.
Guests will enjoy white sandy beaches, picturesque islands, secluded coves, olive groves, pine forests, banana and palm plantations. Tourists are engaged in scuba diving, rafting, paragliding, go on multi-day cruises by sea.
On the Mediterranean beaches, the swimming season lasts from May to the end of October, on the Aegean — from June to early October.
Mount Ararat on the banks of the Araks River consists of two dormant volcanoes and is considered the highest point in Turkey. The height of Big Ararat is 5165 m, Small Ararat is 3896 meters. There are many legends associated with this place. The Bible says that Noah’s ark landed in the mountains of Ararat. The Persians believed that Noah lived on their slope and planted his first vineyard there.
Today Ararat is part of the national park of Turkey. Tourists come to conquer the famous peak, explore the caves, huge glaciers, admire the magnificent nature, go to the palace of Yitzhak Pasha, located nearby.
Since ancient times, Mount Uludag was a place of solitude for Byzantine monks, so many monasteries have survived in the vicinity. In 1961, the territory was declared a national park and a large ski resort was built with first-class hotels and excellent service.
It offers convenient trails for beginners and experienced skiers, lifts, cable car. The recreation program includes excursions to Bursa, trips to mineral springs, walks in a coniferous forest, spa treatments.
Antalya has a large modern aquarium that guarantees an unforgettable experience for adults and children. It has 40 themed aquariums in which fish and mammals from different seas and oceans live, as well as reptiles and spiders.
On the tour you can see giant sharks swimming through a transparent glass tunnel, green turtles, fur seals, dolphins, poisonous snakes. The aquarium has themed exhibitions, an ice museum, a souvenir shop and a café.