Things to Do in Turkey - page 2
On a hilltop overlooking Ankara Old Town, Ankara Castle (Ankara Kalesi), also known as Ankara Citadel (Hisar), is the city’s most imposing landmark. Framed by 7th- and 9th-century fortifications, its lanes are flanked by Ottoman houses and wood-beamed restaurants and topped by ramparts offering spectacular city views.
Dotted with a dozen islands interspersed with secluded bays and inlets, and set against a backdrop of forested hills that slope dramatically up from the shore, the Gulf of Fethiye (Fethiye Körfezi) offers one of Turkey’s prettiest stretches of coastline and is deservedly popular as a boating destination.
One of the most enjoyable ways to see the area is on a daylong “12-island cruise” that takes passengers around the gulf. Most cruises make stops at about five or six of the islands (all of one of which are uninhabited), allowing time for swimming, snorkeling and other activities.
Highlights might include exploring the remains of a Byzantine church and Roman shipyard on Tersane; swimming off the long, sandy beaches of the Yassıca Adalar (“Flat Islands”); or taking a dip amidst the half-submerged Roman ruins known as “Cleopatra’s Baths.”
For travelers with more time, three- or four-day cruises, in which you sleep onboard the boat between daily excursions, allow you to experience the delights of the Gulf of Fethiye at a more leisurely pace.
Built in the third century, the Hippodrome was the home of now-named Istanbul’s sporting entertainment during the Byzantine era, with a wide track for chariot racing. Today, the route of the old track is covered by Sultanahmet Square (Sultanahmet Meydani), a wide open space in the center of the old city, punctuated by ancient obelisks.
Uchisar Castle (Uçhisar Kalesi) is Cappadocia’s tallest fairy chimney, Mother Nature’s castle in the form of a volcanic rock outcrop visible from miles in any direction. While not a castle by the standard definition the outcrop was used during the late Byzantine and early Ottoman periods as a natural fortress for protection against armies on the surrounding plains. Erosion has revealed a honeycomb-like structure of cavities within the rock, many of which were used as natural dwellings until the makeshift village was evacuated during the 1960s.
A climb up 120 steps leads to the summit of Uchisar Castle — a perfect vantage point for watching a sunset over the stunning Cappadocian landscape.
Said to have been one of Cleopatra’s treasured retreats, the UNESCO-listed Hierapolis hot springs are a spectacular sight: The pools are bright white terraces filled with turquoise water that were formed by calcium that hardened over millennia and are surrounded by the ruins of the ancient city.
Konya’s Mevlâna Museum (Mevlâna Müzesi) is in a former monastery constructed around the mausoleum of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, the peace-loving Persian Sufi poet and mystic who founded the bizarre sect known as the ‘whirling dervishes’ and lived between 1207 and 1273. It is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Turkey, with more than 1.5 million people visiting each year. The highly ornate monastery was built in the 16th century around the 13th-century tomb of Rumi and has slender minarets, several domes and a bright-turquoise tiled tower, which is one of the landmarks of the city. The complex includes prayer rooms, a library stocked with thousands of rare ecclesiastical books and Koran manuscripts, the monks’ cells and kitchens, all situated in manicured gardens full of shrubs, roses and a blue-and-white marble fountain. At the heart of the monastery lies the sarcophagus of Rumi, accompanied by the tombs of his wife, children and several of his followers; it stands in the marble mausoleum built to a design by architect Behrettin Tebrizli in 1274. A small museum is found in the semihane, the hall where the dervishes performed their wild, whirling dances; highlights include a collection of ancient musical instruments, priceless prayer rugs and robes worn by Rumi.
Built in an opulent European style, Dolmabahce Palace (Dolmabahce Sarayi) was the home of the Ottoman sultans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, before the fall of the empire. The giant crystal chandeliers, marble staircases, and lush carpets that adorn the interior reflect the shift toward Istanbul’s more European way of thinking.
With a 5-star hotel, a gigantic water park, a luxurious shopping avenue, and plenty of amusement park rides, the Land of Legends is a one-stop-shop for family entertainment. Open to both day visitors and Land of Legends hotel guests, the theme park is one of the largest of its kind in Turkey.
A holy shrine to the supposed death place of St. Mary, the House of the Virgin Mary (Meryem Ana Evi) in Ephesus is a standing testament to the home of the beloved mother of Jesus (Meryem Ana or Meryemana in Turkish). Many believe that the house was indeed the place where she spent her final days, and today you can visit the restored stone house, which now serves as a chapel.
Serving as sacred territory for Christians and Muslims alike, the Virgin Mary's House has called hundreds of thousands of visitors and pilgrims since its discovery in the 19th-century. Remnants of the chapel date as far back as the 6th-century, and serves as the place where its caretakers, the Lazarist Fathers, conduct mass every day. Despite the altar placed within, the house still contains a bedroom and kitchen, decorated with pictures of Mary and candles.
Many believe that the spring that runs beneath St. Mary's House is blessed and possesses the power to heal, and once you enter the house, you can see left behind crutches and other apparatus’ that were apparently left behind amid miracles.
The Temple of Artemis, or Artemision, was a Greek temple in present-day Turkey dedicated to the goddess Artemis. It was one of the original seven wonders of the ancient world. It was built not far from Ephesus just outside the present-day town of Selcuk. The temple was completely rebuilt several times throughout history after being destroyed on multiple occasions by both nature and human factors. Little remains of the temple in its original location today since archeologists brought much of the ruins to the British Museum.
The Temple of Artemis is only a couple of miles from Ephesus, making it an easy attraction to visit. Visitors can still see one tall column and a handful of marble pieces from the foundations of the structure, and the historical location is fascinating. From the site, you can also see the ruins of St. John's Basilica, located on a hill in Selcuk.
More Things to Do in Turkey
Marking the eastern entrance to Kaleiçi—Antalya’s historic Old Town—Hadrian’s Gate is the last of the city’s ancient gates, dating back to AD 130. Named in honor of Roman emperor Hadrian after his visit to the city, the triple-arched gateway is decorated with marble columns and is one of Antalya’s most distinctive landmarks.
Cappadocia is already well known for its unusual rock formations, but at Devrent Valley—nicknamed Imagination Valley—these large stones are the densest cluster found anywhere else in the region and they seem to take on a life of their own.
Rocky coves and pine-clad cliffs make a scenic backdrop for a boat cruise, but the biggest attraction of Kekova Island (Kekova Adasi) is underwater. The uninhabited island harbors the sprawling ruins of an ancient Lycian city, submerged after an earthquake in the second century and now lying at the bottom of the Mediterranean.
Pergamon (Pergamum) is an ancient city dating as far back as the 5th century BC. Credited with the invention of parchment, this once great seat of learning and culture had a library with over 20,000 volumes and a medical center - the remains of which can still be seen today.
Listed in the Bible as one of the Seven Churches of Asia, Pergamon flourished until the 14th century when, under Ottoman rule, it was abandoned and left to decay. Today, much of the remains of this once magnificent city lie underneath the modern-day city of Bergama but, thanks to Pergamon’s hilltop position, the remains of its most important buildings are still visible.
The Acropolis of Pergamon is clearly visible from anywhere in Bergama and closer inspection will reveal two partially reconstructed temples (Temple of Trajan and the Temple of Athena), ancient aqueducts and the incredible hillside theater, which is said to contain the steepest theater seating in the world.
The Fire of Anatolia show is a dramatic tribute to Anatolia’s rich history. Watch as 120 dancers take to the stage, performing a mix of traditional and modern Turkish dance to live music complete with dazzling lights and costumes. See the show at the purpose-built, open-air Gloria Aspendos Arena.
The Bergama Asklepion (Pergamon Asclepeion), an ancient medical center honoring the Greek god of healing Asklepios, has existed since the 4th century BC when it was built in the ancient city of Pergamon (now Bergama). Built around a spring with waters that were believed to be sacred, the columns and walls still standing today once surrounded rooms for psychotherapy, massage, herbal remedies, baths, mud treatments and dream interpretation.
The Roman period brought the Asklepion its most notable patients, including emperors Marcus Aurelius and Hadrian. The influential physician Galen, who wrote about 500 works on medicine, practiced here in 2 AD.
Enter the structure as health seekers once did through the Sacred Way, a path that connects to the Akropol. In the first courtyard there is an altar featuring a serpent, the emblem of modern medicine, and other structures include a small theater, a library and the circular domed Temple of Asklepios.
Thousands of years ago the Melendiz River cut its way through the land between Mount Hasan and Mount Melendiz creating a magnificent canyon that’s roughly 328 feet (100 meters) deep. Today, travelers visit the Ihlara Valley to hike the canyon, observe its cave churches, and experience it’s oasis-like environs.
The Red Tower (Kızıl Kule) is the most well known tower in Alanya Castle, Turkey. The castle was built in the 13th century and was used as a defensive fortification until the time of the Ottoman Empire. Today it is a museum offering visitors a chance to explore the history of this area. The view from the castle is striking due to is location 820 feet high on a rocky peninsula that sticks out into the Mediterranean Sea. From here you can see the beach town of Alanya, the sea itself, the Pamphylian plain and Cilician mountains.
The Red Tower stands 95 feet tall and is one of 140 towers that surround the castle. It is the start and end of four miles of walls that once protected the castle from invaders. The walls pass through the battlements, the Citadel, several bastions, the arsenal, and the shipyard before reconnecting with the Red Tower.
Kaleköy (Simena) is located in the small town of Kalekoy along the southwestern coast of Turkey. It is quiet traditional village that was once a Lycian settlement. While visitors can get there on land, taking a boat trip from nearby Kas is a much more enjoyable experience. The journey takes you past the rocky, dramatic coastline and passes the submerged remains of an ancient Lycian settlement near Kekova Island. A popular yachting town, and you'll usually find several boats in Kalekoy Harbor.
At the top of the village is the Kalekoy Castle built by the Knights of St. John, and next to castle is the remains of the Lycian Simena graveyard. From this vantage point, you will have a great view of the village and the Mediterranean Sea. Down by the harbor, you'll find several restaurants and cafes selling local Turkish cuisine and freshly caught fish, as well as a few small pensions for those who decide to stay overnight.
Warm springs bubble around and under Lake Koycegiz, making mud baths a signature of the waterfront town of Dalyan. Minerals give the mud a sulfur smell, but can, locals say, work miracles on aging skin. Just lounge in the shallow pools, coat yourself in glop, then rinse off in the river, lake, showers, or spring-fed pool.
A Greco-Roman amphitheater and rock tombs carved into the cliffside make the ruins at Myra a popular stop along Turkey's Mediterranean coast. Dating back as early as the 1st century BC, the ancient Lycian capital of Myra lies just outside the modern town of Demre.
South of Antalya, Beydaglari Coastal National Park has over 74,000 acres (30,000 hectares) of coastal cliffs, beaches, and mountains. Spectacular hiking trails, fascinating archaeological sites, and dramatic views over the Mediterranean make it a popular day trip from Antalya and Kemer.
This unique town, located in the heart of Turkey, is an excellent jumping off point to some of Cappadocia’s most fantastic attractions. From the fairy chimneys in Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia to the incredible cave churches at the Göreme Open-Air Museum, this region offers a variety of stunning sights.
Rising high above its namesake neighborhood, Istanbul’s Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi) dates back to the Genoese presence in Constantinople in the 14th century. An elevator takes you up to a viewing platform located under the roof, which offers panoramic views of the Old City peninsula and Beyoglu neighborhood.
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