One of the city’s most recognisable landmarks, the Blue Mosque is famed for its blue Iznik tiles and towering minarets. The only city in the world to span two continents, Istanbul’s numerous ancient churches, mosques, palaces and museums make it a great place for the history buffs among you. If history isn’t your thing, explore the thousands of shops in the Grand Bazaar, or get your culture fix with the numerous art galleries that have recently opened up. There’s plenty in Istanbul to keep one busy, read our recent post Istanbul – a city on the rise and the perfect Autumn getaway for more hints and tips.
With the Aegean Sea to the west and the Dardanelles Straits to the east, Gallipoli is located on the European side of Turkey and is perhaps best known in relation to the ANZAC forces. But as well as being an historical national park, Gallipoli has a stunning range of flora and fauna, and boasts pristine beaches that remain quiet even in the summer months.
Characterised by its otherworldly rock formations and impressive underground cities – some of which are 8 levels deep – Cappadocia is definitely one of Turkey’s highlights. Whole villages have been hewn from the soft, porous rock, and the region also has more than 30 magnificent Byzantine rock churches to explore. Cappadocia is an excellent region in which to purchase carpets, and will have the hikers and mountain bikers among you heading for the hills. Go for a balloon ride over the region in a hot-air balloon – highly recommended!
Pamukkale is known locally as the ‘Cotton Castles’, the odd formations of the area are caused by warm, calcium-rich water flowing over the cliff edge and cooling in the process, building natural pools and shelves in the process. Right at the top of these pools is Pamukkale thermal, where you can enjoy a dip in the warm waters, which were thought by the Romans to have healing powers. Wander through the marble remains of the Roman city of Heirapolis and see the partially restored Roman theatre, once able to seat more than 12000 spectators.
Widely regarded as the best-preserved classical city in the eastern Mediterranean, Ephesus was a vast Roman city with a population nearing 250 000. Pilgrims came from far afield to see the Temple of Artemis – one of the seven ancient Wonders of the World. Other carefully restored sights include the Great Theatre once capable of seating 25,000 spectators at one time, Curetes Way (one of the main thoroughfares), the Temple of Serapis, the façades of the Temple of Hadrian and the Library of Celsus.
Pergamum is famous for its library and in its time was thought to have rivalled the great library in Alexandria. Set in a stunning hill-top location, Pergamum is also famous for its hillside amphitheatre, one of the steepest in the classical world. Down the hill is Pergamum’s Asclepion (medical centre), featuring a Roman column carved with snakes, the symbol of Asclepios (the God of Medicine). There are various other ruins to explore too, including a Roman theatre, Sacred Well (which still supplies drinkable water) and the Temple of Telesphorus. Patients slept here hoping Telesphorus (another god of medicine) would send them a cure or diagnosis in their dreams.
Fethiye is a seaside town on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, fringed by the Taurus Mountains. A charming coastal port with a breathtaking outer bay strewn with islands, Fethiye is good base from which to explore the coastline. With a choice of charming cafes, bars and restaurants and shops, it’s just perfect for a relaxing afternoon. Take a boat cruise to some of the offshore islands, explore the Lycian ruins dotted about the coast or just maroon yourself at a beach or bar!
For more information on these and other sights in Turkey and beyond, take a look at our website.