Turkey’s story goes way back. Turkey, the birth of a republic, the land of mighty empires, home to ancient civilizations, a wealth of history and also over 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Fast forwarding time, today, Turkey is a desirable destination presenting a range of incredible opportunities for visitors. History and culture has been preserved here for over tens and thousands of years and you get unfold and experience it right under your feet, today! Welcome to Turkey the land of turquoise, culture, outdoor adventures, cuisines and numerous World Heritage Sites.
1. The Rock Sites of Cappadocia and Göreme National Park (1985)
There’s no doubt that the famed landscape of Cappadocia comprising of fairy chimneys, rock sanctuaries and underground cities made it to the UNESCOs list. Fairy chimneys ranging from stout pyramids to precarious pinnacles were formed by years of erosion and today are a sight to behold. The best view of these formations is on a hot-air balloon ride, especially during sunrise or sunset.
Location – The most convenient and fastest way to get to Cappadocia is via plane. You can take a flight to Kayseri Erkilet Airport (75 km from Cappadocia) or Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport (44 km from Cappadocia).
2. Aphrodisias (2017)
This ancient Greek city continues to impress visitors time and again. The Temple of Aphrodite, the marble quarries and the archaeological sites are absolutely breathtaking. The Temple of Aphrodite dates back to centuries ago and is not only the oldest but also the most sacred sites in Turkey. It’s named after Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of fertility and love. Similarly, the Marble Temple includes two bath complexes, a stadium, a theatre and other historic structures.
Location – The most convenient and fastest way to get to Aphrodisias is via plane. A flight from Istanbul is about 4 hours. However, from Pamukkale it’s about 129km and 133km from Ephesus.
3. Hierapolis-Pamukkale (1988)
Over millenniums, the seeping water from hot-spring has created a silvery-white terrace of travertine pools in Pamukkale. This natural landscape is spectacular and nothing like you’ll find anywhere else. Pamukkale’s beauty hasn’t gone unrecognized; it has served as a spa for over 2000 years. Just above the pools, is the Greco-Roman town of Hierapolis comprising of bathhouses, temples, theatres and more. Visiting today lets you bathe in the same pool that kings did thousands of years ago!
Fun fact: The song ‘Tu Jaane Na’ from ‘Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani’ was shot at Pamukkale!
Location – For those who like driving, it’s 3 hours from Kusadasi and from Antalya and Marmaris its 4 hours. The nearest town is Denizli – many buses, trains and flights ply to this location from various parts of Turkey. From cities further away like Istanbul, travelling by fight is recommended.
4. The historic areas of Istanbul (1985)
Back then, Istanbul city went by several different names such as Byzantium and Constantinople and it played a significant part in the rise and fall of empires of the world. Today, Istanbul needs no introduction. It’s visible and storied past in combination with its history is truly rich. With so much wealth, UNESCO picked the following sites to be named as heritage sites:
- The Archaeological Park which includes the Constantine’s Hippodrome, Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque and the historic churches which go back centuries
- Süleymaniye Quarter which includes the Süleymaniye mosques, the Valens Aqueduct and the grand Sehzade
- Zeyrek Quarter which comprises the Zeyrek Mosque or the Monastery of Pantokrator
- Zone of the Ramparts which comprises of the remnants of fortifications built by a Byzantine Emperor, Theodosius II.
Location – Istanbul’s Istanbul Atatürk Airport is well-connected and there are regular and numerous flights to this location.
5. Ephesus (2015)
Another site whose descent dates to long ago, in 1500 BC, before this place fell under the control of the Greeks it was the Kingdom of Arzawa’s capital. A number of structures which stand tall today date to the period of the Romans. In ancient times, Ephesus status was superlative – it was the site of the Temple of Artemis which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, one of the 12 Ionian League cities under the Greeks, the largest cities in the Roman Empire. In the present day, Ephesus main sites are the Basilica of St. John, the Great Theatre, the Library of Celsus, and the Ephesus Archaeological Museum.
Location – The nearest airport to Ephesus is Izmir and from Istanbul it’s a 1 hour flight and 45 minute drive to Ephesus.
6. Archaeological Site of Troy (1998)
Exploring the world of Romans and Greeks is incomplete without a halt at the illustrious city of Troy. This city is 4000 years old and set the stage for the Trojan War which is vividly described in the Iliad and the Greek Epic Cycle. This city has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times! For those who would like to trace the stories of ancient cultures, Troy is waiting for you.
Location – Çanakkale is the closest city with direct flights to the airport from Istanbul and from there it’s 30 kilometres to Troy.
7. City of Safranbolu (1994)
A charming and well-preserved Ottoman-era town is nothing short of postcard photo waiting to be shot. From the cobbled stone streets encircled in by Ottoman Turkish homes to the famed architecture, its extraordinary Ottoman townscape makes this a worthwhile stop. You can experience and watch history come to life at the many markets, mosques, streets and neighbourhoods. Don’t miss out on trying the famous Cavus grapes, found only in this area. Make a trip here, live a day of the Ottoman’s and we’re sure you will not be disappointed.
Location – Zonguldak Airport is the closest. Ankara is 150-200 kms and Istanbul is about 400 kms.
8. Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex (2011)
More than 500 years old but a recent addition to the UNESCO list, the Selimiye Mosque can give many sites in Turkey a run for their money. This mosque is a masterpiece of Ottoman art and has the 2nd highest minarets in the world reaching over 270 feet and from the day it was built till today, these minarets dominate Edirne skyline. As for the interior, the use of Iznik tiles attests an art form in this material which continues to be unrivalled. The surrounding areas which complete this site include a covered market, a complex of schools, a library, etc. Did you know that Istanbul’s Blue Mosque is a copy of this glorious structure?
Location – Istanbul Atatürk International is the nearest airport, from where Edirne is a 3 hour drive.
As stated earlier, this is a vast list and we’ve covered only a few of the famous sites. Some of the others include:
- Archaeological Site of Ani (2016)
- Bursa and Cumalıkızık: the Birth of the Ottoman Empire (2014)
- Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape (2015)
- Göbekli Tepe (2018)
- Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği (1985)
- Hattusha: the Hittite Capital (1986)
- Nemrut Dağ (1987)
- Pergamon and its Cultural Landscape (2014)
- Xanthos-Letoon (1988)
With a sea of wealth, there is nothing stopping you from visiting Turkey and your well-travelled friend is here to help! Mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to know more!