The capital of the Turkish Republic, Ankara is located in the Central Anatolian region in Turkey. Ankara used to be a major destination for caravans and trade travellers in history due to its geographical position. The city used to be a point of commerce during the Seljuk and Ottoman eras. As the capital of Turkey since October 13th 1923, Ankara kept its importance in the country, and it has been home to one of the most important monument of the Turkish Republic, Anıtkabir (the memorial tomb of the Republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and also a museum). As the Central Anatolian area has been a culturally rich place in history, there are many historical findings both in and around Ankara. Most of the fine art pieces and historical monuments belonging to many ancient civilizations such as the Phrygian Empire (Early Bronze Age – 3000 BC), artefacts of the Hittite civilisation; are stored within many important museums in Ankara. The most important museums are Ethnographical Museum, the State Museum of Painting and Sculpture ( which holds Turkish fine art examples from the 19th to the 21st century) and the Museum of the War of Independence (which displays the Turkish Independence War).
With palm trees, a prize winning marina and an old castle, Antalya gives the impression of typical Mediterranean paradise at first. The hot weather temperatures completed with glamorous five star hotels and a fancy palm boulevard Antalya is the 5-star city of the Turkish Riviera. Inhabited as a harbour city since 2nd century BC Antalya has been home to many civilisations including the Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and Ottomans. Hence there are many historical sites within the city borders including the famous Aspendos amphitheatre, the Old Quarter (Kaleiçi) area that holds the old taverns, hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues. As a major tourist destination Antalya has been expanding to the beautiful beaches around the area by the hotels and touristic complexes including the world famous golf resorts. Side, Belek, Alanya are the places to visit around Antalya.
Famous with its nightlife and entertainment options, Bodrum is an ideal place to visit featuring remarkable historical sites, sandy beaches and cosy mansions. Beautiful coasts of both the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea help attract many yacht and boat travellers into the city. Known as Halicarnassus in the ancient days, Bodrum used to be an important trading port in history. Founded by the Dorians in the 12th century BC as related by the renowned historian Heredotus (484 BC), Bodrum is home to one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World” the monumental tomb of King Mausolos. Other important monuments in the town are the Old Castle, the amphitheatre and the Myndos Gate; while The Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology is another important place to visit. Besides its sandy beaches Bodrum is also known for water sports like sailing, yachting, windsurfing, diving.
Located between the provinces of Aksaray, Nevşehir, Niğde, Kayseri and Kırşehir in the Central Anatolian region, Cappadocia is famous with its unusual landscape which is the result of the erosion of lava from ancient volcanoes dating back to an approximate of 9 to 3 million years ago. Cappadocia (The Land of Beautiful Horses) has been home to many ancient civilisations as it has been a natural rock shelters in the harsh surroundings. The town is consisted of underground houses, churches, passages and chambers carved out of volcanic rocks. Local people still inhabit the rock pinnacles known as fairy chimneys, as they have done for thousands of years. According to a recent study, archaeologists believe that there are are two hundred underground cities in Cappadocia with most of them being small and unsafe. Yet four of these cities are open to the visitors today including Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu. The whole area is very popular for hot-air ballooning taking off from Göreme. Trekking is enjoyed in Ihlara Valley, Monastery Valley (Güzelyurt), Ürgüp and Göreme. There are also known tunnels around 30 kilometres long. The city is on eight levels, four of which can be visited.
Located in the Dardanelles Çanakkale is another city in Turkey that connects 2 continents – Asia and Europe. Established by the Hellenes as an important trade port Çanakkale is famous with many wars throughout history including the Trojan Horse and the Battle of Gelibolu (Gallipoli) in the 20th century. The importance of the Battle of Gallipoli is that it gave birth to a united Anzac nation on one hand and reassured the strong unification of the Turks on the other. At the end of this war there were massive casualties on both sides which resulted in 37 Turkish monuments, epigraphs and memorials, and 33 monuments and cemeteries belonging to the British, French, Australian and New Zealander people. Çanakkale, home to the ancient city of Troy (dating back to the 3rd millenium BC), was declared a “national park” and added to the “UNESCO World Heritage” list in 1998. Also nearby towns like Assos, Ayvalık, Ören, Edremit and Erdek with The Marmara Sea islands or Gökçeada and Bozcaada are also famous tourist attractions with historic monuments, beautiful beaches, diving opportunities and vineyards.
Once known as the ancient harbour city Smyrna, İzmir is now the 3rd most populated city in Turkey. Throughout history Izmir has always been a major commercial center on the Aegean coastline of Anatolia. Recognised as one of the most westernised cities in Turkey, Izmir is home to many cultural events, art exhibitions, foyers and museums including the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museums and the Izmir State Opera and Ballet. The most appealing characteristic of Izmir is the nearby towns and tourist attractions including the spectacular ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus (Efes), the best-preserved classical city on the Eastern Mediterranean. Ephesus was famous due to the one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the Temple of Artemis. In the Roman period Ephesus had its high reputation as the second largest city of the Roman Empire, just behind the city of Rome. Ephesus is still a popular place of pilgrimage today as it is home to one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation. Another close by town Çeşme is another tourist attraction with its beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters and opportunities including yachting, hunting and windsurfing.
Serving as the capital city of the Seljuk dynasty, Konya became a centre of culture and politics during the 12th and 13th centuries. The city’s architectural structure still carries the influence of that period. Since the Seljuk period, Konya has always been a central place for different İslam practices including the famous ‘Tasavvuf’ and ‘Dervish’ practice which is known with Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi. Hence there are many ancient monuments and mosques in the area including the Alaeddin Mosque, Sırçalı Madrasa and many other small mosques and tombs that represent Seljuk architectural elements. Altough Konya became known mostly with its role in the Seljuk dynasty, it is also home to one of the oldest settlements ever found in human history with houses dating back to 6800 BC. The area called Çatalhöyük was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012. Konya is also home to many churches including a church in Clistra as one of the first places St. Paul delivered sermons, and the Elena Church. Many more historical and religious monuments as well as natural wonders and museums can be found near Konya.
Located in Turkey’s Aegean coast in the Aydın province, Kuşadası is a holiday resort island that has been a tourism centre of the country. Kuşadası has a residential population of nearly 65,000 that rises to approximately half a million during the summer season. Kuşadası has been a centre of art and culture since the earliest times and has been settled by many civilizations since being founded by the Leleges people in 3000 BC. Later settlers include Aeolians, Ionians, Lydians and Persians while the trading port were occupied by Byzantine, Venetian and Genoese shippers to trade along the coast. Located 95 km from İzmir, Kuşadası attracts many visitors from all over the world with its famous beaches and historic sites as it is nearby Ephesus, Miletus, Didyma, Pergamum and Aphrodisias.
Located on Turkey’s Aegean coast, the city of Muğla is home to world-known tourist resorts of Turkey including Bodrum, Fethiye, Marmaris, Butterfly Valley, Ölüdeniz, Gökova, Lake Bafa, Lake Köyceğiz, Milas, Datça and Göcek. In ancient times, Muğla was apparently a rather insignificant settlement halfway on the passage between the Carian cities of Idrias and Idyma. There are almost no ruins to reveal the history of the settlement of Mobolla district, yet a few ancient remains indicate that it was the site of an acropolis. A handful of inscriptions were unearthed within the city itself and they date back to the 2nd century BC. Turkish-era Muğla also remained a minor site in the beginning despite having been captured relatively early for western Anatolia in the course of the 13th century. Yet today, with an international airport in the Dalaman district, Muğla province attracts millions of tourist from all around the world.
Modern Fethiye is located on the site of the ancient city of Telmessos, which was the most important city of Lycia, a coastal city at the borders of ancient Lycia-Caria a name derived from the sun god Apollo. with a recorded history starting in the 5th century BC. The ruins of this antique city can be seen Fethiye including the Hellenistic theatre by the main quay. The town in general is set beside a bay in the Gulf of Fethiye, where large and small islands are scattered. Today, as a well known touristic destination, Fethiye is famous for its cultural wealth, natural beauties and works of art dating back to Persians, Lycians, Carians and Romans. With its spectacular panoramic view and tranquil waters surrounded by pines, paradise like Ölüdeniz (Blue Lagoon) located in fethiye, was chosen as the best tourism centre in the world by The Times and The Guardian newspapers in 2007. There are also many outdoor activities in Fethiye including paragliding, diving, rafting and canoe trips.
Located near Fethiye, Göcek was used as a harbour for ships loading chrome are collected from the mines under nearby mountains during the Ottoman period. Today Göcek is a small town with six marinas, which makes it an important stop for yacht tourism in the region. In 1988, Göcek was declared a Registered Area of Special Protection. Therefore, multi-story buildings are not allowed, the tourist accommodation facilities are two-storied hotels, motels, apartment hotels, and pensions situated in the town center and its periphery. Göcek has all the necessary infrastructure, capacity, and amenities expected in a tourism center, yet it is renowned as a much more peaceful and quiet settlement than some other tourism areas.
Marmaris is a port town and tourist resort on the Mediterranean coast, located in Muğla Province. With roughly 31,000 inhabitants Marmaris’s population reaches to 300,000 to 400,000 as it is a centre for sailing and diving with two major and several smaller marinas. Marmaris is also a popular location in winter for hundreds of cruising boaters as it is easily accessible through the Dalaman International Airport.
Located on a peninsula on Turkey’s southwest coast, Datça is also a preferred destination. Both the town and the peninsula were called Reşadiye for a brief period in the beginning of the 20th century, in honor of the penultimate Ottoman Sultan Mehmed V Reşad, and some maps may still refer to the peninsula under this name. Today, Reşadiye is the name of one of the quarters of the town along with Eski Datça (Old Datça) and İskele (the quay) quarters, taken as a whole, the town of Datça proper. Datça Peninsula is a prized location for tourists visiting Turkey, especially by sea, because of the beauty of its coves and larger bays, which are famous stops for Mavi Tur (Blue Cruise) voyages along the spectacular Turkish Riviera.
The white travertine terraces of Pamukkale, (meaning cotton-castle in Turkish), are one of the most fascinating natural wonders of the world. Located in Denzli, the town contains hot springs and travertine with terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. The shining white structures are a result of calcium deposits of the spring waters running underground. Pamukkale is also famous with its surrounding towns including the ancient city of Hierapolis, founded by King Eumenes II of Bergama (the Holy City as referred in in archaeological literature because of the numbers of temples and other religious structures) in the early 2nd century BC. Throughout history in Denizli tourism has been and still is a major industry. As the site was considered to have holy waters, people have bathed in its pools for thousands of years up until the mid-20th century. There came a time where the site has got some damage with hotels and roads built around. Then the area was declared a World Heritage Site since 1998.
South East Anatolia
With traces of civilisations dating back to 7000 BC, the South-East region of Anatolia is a culturally enriched and very mystic place. By many historians, the area between the rivers of Euphrates and Tigris is referred as the “cradle of civilisation” as many important events in human history has occurred here, including the birth of prophet Abraham, the birth of the ancient civilisations of Hittites and the artefacts of the mount Nemrut (1st century BC) which is in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Geographically located on the crossroads between Africa and Europe through the Asia Minor (Anatolia), the Mesapotamia has been home to important civilisations including Sumer, Akkadian, Babylonian and Assyrian empires in the ancient times. Since then the struggle to control the rich lands has never stopped. The Seljuks, the Persian Empire, the Arab world and the Ottoman Empire have always sought the control of the region throughout history, leaving behind many historical monuments and artefacts.
Black Sea Region
As a mixture and birth place of many civilisations, Anatolia is offering other important historic monuments and artefacts on its northern part called the Black Sea region. The Saint Sophia Church and the Sümela Monastery in Trabzon, the Pontic King’s Tombs in Amasya, the Ulu Mosque and Alaiye Medrese in Sinop are all a part of the ancient sites in the region. The Black Sea region of the country is also known for its green mountains along the beautiful coastline of the Black Sea. With pine forests and steep valleys covering the whole area, the mountain villages and fish oriented coastal villages are famous with their hospitality. The Seven Lakes in Bolu, the Tortum Waterfall and the Çoruh river in Artvin, the Karadağ and Erikbeli pastures in Trabzon, the towns Amasra, Rize and Hopa are all natural wonders offering adventurous mountain sports activities, winter sports enthusiasts and leisure seekers.