Ruins of Xanthos
The ruins of Xanthos in southern Turkey, along with the temple district of Letoon, have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. An eventful history shaped the most important place of ancient Lycia. Systematic excavations uncovered the remains of temples, Lycian monuments and tombs. Sarcophagi with richly decorated reliefs and sculptures tell the story of the city’s numerous sieges.
Once used as an orthodox cathedral, St. Sophia’s Church was later converted into a mosque and in 1934 into a museum. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The impressive highlights when visiting the Hagia Sophia are the interior with the unique dome and the numerous well-preserved mosaics. The stone baptismal font is probably the largest in the world. Hagia Sophia is open every day except Mondays between 09:00 and 19:00 (until 17:00 in winter).
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Ruins of Ephesus
Once a lively port city, the ruins of Ephesus with the Temple of Artemis near the city of Izmir are now part of what is now the seven wonders of the ancient world. In the ruins you can still see the former library of the most important city of the Roman Empire and one of the oldest Christian communities. The statues at the entrance to the library are still well preserved, as are the remains of the Temple of Artemis and the great ancient theater. Remains of Hadrian’s Temple, the former seat of the 14th Roman Emperor, and parts of St. John’s Basilica can also be visited.
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is one of the symbols of the city of Istanbul and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Completed in 1616, it is now the main mosque and one of the largest Islamic places of worship in the city. The Blue Mosque got its name from the numerous blue and white flags inside. With its mighty building and six minarets, it sits enthroned on one of the city’s seven hills. Dressed appropriately, the Blue Mosque can be visited daily.
In the southwest of the country is one of the most famous sights in Turkey. The limestone terraces of Pamukkale rise snow-white and nestle against the rocks like nests. Thermal water runs incessantly over this bizarre natural wonder, which is on the UNESCO list. Access to the terraces is only possible barefoot from the direction of the ancient city of Hierapolis. When the sunset paints the terraces blood red, you should definitely take a picture.
The rocky landscape of Cappadocia, uniquely shaped by volcanism, is the most visited natural landscape in Turkey. The stone pillars, so-called fairy chimneys and underground cities of Cappadocia are located in Central Anatolia and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Due to the sheltered location of the cave churches, wall paintings inside have been excellently preserved. Entire towns around Goreme have been carved into the rock for habitation and protection from attack. Frescoes adorn the interiors of the churches and depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments.
The region of Edirne
The provincial capital Edirne is located near the border with Bulgaria and Greece. It has a long history and is home to three of the most beautiful mosques in the country. The Selimiye Mosque is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered the pinnacle of Ottoman architecture. Other mosques worth seeing are the Esci Cami and the Uc Serefeli Cami. Edirne is the center of the ancient sport of oil wrestling. Mountains, forests and beaches make up the surrounding landscape. Mount Uludag, once the Olympus of Mysia, is one of the most famous ski resorts in Turkey.
Olympos National Park
Away from mass tourism lies the Olympos National Park in untouched nature. The mountain Tahtali Dagi towers majestically between Antalya and Kumluca at an altitude of 2,365 meters. Deep canyons, silent forests and caves spread over an area of 700 hectares. The ruins of Cirali are worth a visit and offer a contrast to the surrounding natural landscape.
The ancient city and archaeological site of Pergamon attracts countless visitors every year. Known today as Bergama, Pergamon was once the center of Hellenistic culture. The great prosperity is reflected in many finds and ruins. The remains of the Athena temple, the Zeus altar and the large amphitheater are worth seeing. The second largest library in the world is said to have once been located here. The Pergamon Altar and the famous temples are the historical legacy of the ancient city.
The tourist city of Bodrum is located in southwestern Turkey and is home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Called Halicarnassus in ancient times, the city is now famous for the huge mausoleum that King Mausolus had built as a tomb during his lifetime. Bodrum grew out of an artists’ colony founded in 1920 by the grandson of the then Grand Vizier. The well-known center for Turkish dropouts and intellectuals today offers a colorful nightlife and an impressive marina. The old fortress at the harbor and the amphitheater transport every visitor for a moment into the past.