Tourist Attractions


A bridge between East and West, European and yet very Asian, modern and still traditional – Turkey is a country of fascinating contrasts from snow-covered mountain peaks to warm sandy beaches. Its history and culture was shaped by the greatest civilizations that left their trace on every inch of the state. This is clearly shown in Turkey historical sites and their recognition by UNESCO – from 1985 to 2014 the organization inscribed 13 sites to its List of World Heritage; another 52 sites are included in the Tentative List.
 
Blue Mosque

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque widely known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles adorning the walls of its interior is the largest mosque in Turkey. It’s one of the world’s most beautiful and one of the very few mosques to have six minarets.
 

In 1606 after signing the Peace of Zsitvatorok (a treaty which ended the Fifteen Years' War between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy) the Ottoman Sultan Ahmet I, who ruled from 1603 until his death in 1617, decided to build a big mosque. The Sultan’s predecessors used to construct mosques with their war booty, but Ahmet I had to withdraw the funds from the Treasury, as had no remarkable victories during his reign (the ongoing war with Safavid Persia, which ended in 1618 with decisive victory of Persians, was clear proof to that). According to the legend, the 
Sultan wanted the mosque to look different from the existing ones, so he ordered minarets to be made of gold, but due to money shortage the architect Sedefkar Mehmed Aga decided to build six minarets instead to make it unique.
 
The rectangular-shaped mosque was built over the site of the ancient hippodrome and Byzantine imperial palace Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya), which at that time was the primary imperial mosque in Istanbul. It has one main dome, six minarets, eight secondary domes and 260 windows. On the territory of the mosque you can find the tomb of the founder, a madrasah (educational institution) and a hospice. Architecturally, the mosque is a mix of Byzantine Christian elements and traditional Islamic architecture.

 
Cappadocia

Located in Central Anatolia, Cappadocia is one of the most unique places to visit – here Mother Nature painstakingly worked miracles that defy the imagination. It is best known for its distinctive moon-like landscape, underground cities, cave churches, valleys, canyon and hills. The rock formations are known as "fairy chimneys" and  have been formed as the result of erosion of this tuff layer, sculpted by wind and flood water, running down on the slopes of the valleys. The colors range from warm red and gold to cool green and grey.

The name Cappadocia was first mentioned as “Katpatuka” ("the land of beautiful horses") in the late VI century BC in the trilingual inscriptions of two early Achaemenid kings, Darius I and Xerxes. According to the document, it was one of the countries of the Persian Empire.
 
In the late Bronze Age Cappadocia was known as Hatti; at different times Cappadocia was ruled by Persia, Roman Empire and Byzantine. Christianity came to this region in the IV century, the VII century brought here Arab invaders, and from the XI century Turkish clans under the leadership of the Seljuks started settling in Anatolia; the region started gradually converting to Islam. By the end of the XII century Seljuks became the dominant power in the region. A century later the Ottoman Empire annexed Cappadocia and after the fall of the Empire it remained within the boundaries of newly established Turkey. The site was inscribed to UNESCO List of World Heritage in 1985.

The region is known for its unpredictable weather. Continental climate of Cappadocia is characterized by hot dry summers and cold snowy winters. Rainfall in this semi-arid area is scanty. The best time to visit Cappadocia is the period from April to June and September to October. The average temperature in summer is 23°C (73°F), in winter it drops to 2°C below zero (28°F), though between day and night time it sharply differs. So, be sure to take warm enough clothing even summer time.

 
Topkapı Palace
 
The largest and the oldest surviving to our days palace was built between 1459 and 1465 by Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, modern Istanbul. For almost four centuries it served as the primary residence of the Ottoman leaders and a venue for state occasions and royal entertainments. However, in 1856 Sultan Abdül Mecid I moved imperial court to the newly constructed European-style Dolmabahçe Palace. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Topkapı was turned into a museum.

The complex
occupies an area of 700,000 square meters and is surrounded by the wall that stretches for five kilometres. It consists of four main courtyards, many small functional buildings, mosques, a hospital, bakeries, and a mint. It has hundreds of rooms and chambers, which housed some 4,000 people. The different tiles, woodwork and architectural styles displayed in Topkapı Palace reflect the development of Turkish art.

 
Hierapolis-Pamukkale

Denizli Province is famous for its “Cotton Castle”, Pamukkale – yet another natural wonder and site included to UNESCO List of World Heritage. It owes its fame to the gleaming white cascades, hot calcium-laden and water that springs from the earth and flows over a cliff. As the water cools it forms dramatic travertine of hard, brilliantly white calcium mineral pools. The water that reaches 35°C has turned the area into white cotton color, while the small amount of sulphur and iron oxide produces stripes of yellow, red and green over the white of the limestone. The water of Pamukkale is famous for its benefits to healing the body of many different aliments.

At the back of the thrilling white terraces are the remains of the ancient Greco-Roman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis, built in 200 BC by Eumenes II, who dedicated it to the Amazon Queen Hiera. In the XX century many hotels were built over the ruins of Hierapolis, causing considerable damage, though in 1988 after declaring the city a World Heritage Site the hotels were demolished and the road leading to them removed. Artificial pools appeared instead. In 1984 one of the biggest buildings of Hierapolis called the Roman Bath was turned into the Hierapolis Archaeology Museum. There is a necropolis beyond the city walls filled with sarcophagi.
 
Ephesus

Ephesus, one of the greatest ancient Greek cities and later a major Roman city, was built in the X century BC. It used to be strategic seaport for many traders and an important religious centre for early Christianity. At different times the Apostles Paul and John lived in Ephesus. It was one of the seven Asian cities that are cited in the Book of Revelations. It’s believed that the Gospel of John has been written here. Ephesus was also the city of several V century Christian Councils.
 
The Seljuk Turks conquered the city in 1090; however, Islam started spreading through the region from 1390, when Ephesians were incorporated as vassals into the Ottoman Empire.
 
The city is rich with antique monuments. You will find a statue of an Amazon at the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; the Library of Celsus, which used to be the third largest library with the capacity of 12,000 scrolls; Basilica of Saint John, built in AD VI century under Byzantine Emperor Justinian I; House of the Virgin Mary; Terrace Houses built at the time of the founder of Roman Empire Augustus and inhabited until AD VII century; the Temple of Hadriane, one of the best preserved and most beautiful structures on Curetes Street, built before AD 138; Big Theatre of the Hellenistic period holding up to 25,000 people and Small Theater Odeon constructed in 150 BC and designed for 1,400 people.
 
The city today is considered to be one of the greatest outdoor museums in Turkey and, perhaps, in the world.

 
Turkish Bath

Hamam – is basically a steam house not only for cleansing but also for relaxation and purification. It comprises of a raised marble platform which graces the centre of the hararet, it is known as the gobek tasi, or navel stone and it is positioned above the wood or coal furnaces which heat the hamam. Laying on the warm stone in the center of the room, your attendant (tellak for men and natir for women) will pour hot water on you and begin to scrub every square inch of your body with a rough cloth glove, which removes the dead skin making you feel totally invigorated. It is one experience not to be missed on a trip to Turkey.