Turkey has a wealth of natural and man-made wonders to explore. Here’s a brief run-down of some of its most popular wonders that you can see on a tour or holiday of Turkey with us.
The only city to straddle two continents (Europe and Asia), the city of Istanbul represents a confluence of world religion and culture. Don’t miss out on sights like the Hagia Sofia, which reigned as the largest and grandest church in all of Christendom until the conquest of Constantinope in 1453 when it became a mosque. There’s also the behemoth Grand Bazaar, Sultanahmet and the famous Blue Mosque with its distinctive minarets.
Perhaps best known for its role as a battleground in the First World War, Gallipoli is where thousands of Australians and New Zealanders pay tribute to the ANZAC forces that fought here valiantly all those years ago. But aside from its bloody history, Gallipoli is has stunning natural appeal, with stunning beaches and a wide array of flora and fauna to enjoy. It was always thus, as the name Gallipoli actually translates to ‘beautiful city’ in Greek.
The best-preserved city in the Eastern Mediterranean, Ephesus was a vast and thriving city under the Romans, with a population nearing around 250 000. This is where the famed Temple of Artemis was – one of the original Seven Wonders of the World. Some of the top sights within the huge and carefully restored archaeological area include the Great Theatre, once capable of seating some 25 000 spectators at a time. Look out for Curetes Way – one of the city’s main thoroughfares – the Temple of Serapis, the facades of the temple of Hadrian and the legendary library of Celsus. The area is packed with archaeological marvels – a total paradise for history buffs!
Billed as something of a cure centre by the ancient Romans who inhabited the nearby town of Hieropolis, the cascading pools of Pamukkale are a rich source of calcium – hence the shelves and pools one finds on the cliffs; all of which are the result on centuries of calcium deposits. Bathe in the mineral-rich waters, or take a gander through Hieropolis and see its theatre – smaller than the one in Ephesus but impressive nonetheless.
Probably the most unusual of all of Turkey’s natural wonders is Cappadocia, a region of mysterious rock formations, troglodyte villages, underground churches and ancient fortresses – all hewn from the soft, porous rock. UNESCO-listed Goreme has over 30 impressively frescoed Byzantine churches open for exploration too. Alternatively, go mountain-biking, hiking or see this extraordinary landscape from the air in a hot-air balloon.
Known today as Bergama, Pergamum was built by Eumenes II, and in its heyday its library was thought to have rivalled the great library in Alexandria. Perched on top of a hill, Pergamum’s other great attraction is its impressive hillside amphitheatre, one of the steepest in the classical world. Just down the hill is the medical centre or Asclepion, along with a Roman theatre, a sacred well (which still supplies drinking water) and the Temple of Telesphorus. Patients once slept here hoping that Telesphorus (one of the gods of medicine along with Asclepios) would send a cure of diagnosis in their dreams. Silly Romans.
A charming coastal port with a breathtaking outer bay strewn with stunning islands, Fethiye is the perfect base from which to explore Turkey’s Turquoise Coast. Fethiye itself has a range of bars, restaurants and shops to enjoy – and it’s also possible to take a cruise to offshore islands or explore the various Lycian ruins.