Top 10 Places to Visit in Turkey That Should Be In Everyone’s Bucket List

A landscape of wonders and remnants of a long line of empires, Turkey has been the passage into the extensive ages of history and natural beauty. Here are 10 top-rated places to be and see in Turkey.

 

1- Hagia Sophia Mosque (Ayasofya Camii) 

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sofia (also called Church of the Holy Wisdom) is one of the most important monuments of the World let alone Istanbul’s. It was originally built as a Christian church and by the decree of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in the 6th Century between 532-537. Most of the building materials used for constructing this wonder was brought from several different religious structures that were spread across the Byzantine Empire which is claimed to have shortened the construction process. To be precise, this glamorous marvel is the 3rd structure bearing the same name and built on the very location where the two previous churches once existed. 

The structure which once was the largest Christian church of the Byzantine Empire has transformed into a mosque in 1453. In 1935, the structure had gained the status of a museum and in 2020 it was transformed into a mosque again. However, everyone can still visit the structure with no exceptions. 

 

2- Gobeklitepe (Bellybutton Hill)

Gobeklitepe

Located in the Harran Plain the findings of this excavation site weighing over 40 tons and mounted in a circular pattern are the remnants of the oldest temple known in human history. Although partially excavated, these uncovered mysterious T-shaped monoliths which dated back to 12 thousand years had changed the timeline of civilization forever! The monoliths in the site which can reach up to 6 meters and weigh more than 40 tons are mounted in an oval pattern formed around a pair of pillars in the center. The surface of the pillars contains various animal, human and abstract figures. Certain animal reliefs can be found on some pillars as well. The pillars containing figures of arm, hand and fingers are considered to be human statues. According to the surveys, the site is predicted to house 20 pillars in total. 


Located at 18 kilometers North-East of Sanliurfa near Orencik Village the site can be visited every day between 08:30-17:30. The artifacts and sculptures excavated from the site are exhibited in Sanliurfa Archeological Museum which is also worth a visit.

 

3- Aspendos Theatre

Aspendos

The Ancient Theatre of Aspendos is the gem of the ancient city of Aspendos is and it is one of the best preserved Roman structures in the World. The inscriptions on the walls precisely indicate the theatre was built by architect Zenon between 160-180 during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. The structure is meticulously restored and still stands the test of time. Thanks to its’ perfect acoustic properties, the theatre which can hold 12.000 to 15.000 spectators, is still being used for concerts, festivals and plays. The ancient theatre is 40 minutes away from the centrum of Antalya but it is an undisputed fact that the very existence of the theatre adds value to the city of Antalya in general, including the real estate for sale in Antalya. Among many activities, The International Aspendos Opera & Ballet Festival which is being held each year in summer has been and still is at the top of to-do lists. Although the high season for the theatre is the summer, the theatre and the ancient city can be visited at any day.

 

4- Sumela Monastery 

Sumela

Known as Virgin Mary (Tur. Meryem Ana) by the locals Sumela Monastery is one of the uncontested sights of the Black Sea region of Turkey. The monastery is in Trabzon and it is located in the  Altındere National Park within the district of Macka. The monastery consists of a group of structures and can be considered as a once active Christian religious complex.  The monastery and its’ dazzling frescos are currently under restoration it is planned to be completed in 2023.


According to the legend, during the reign of Theodosius I (379–392) two priests, one from Istanbul and the other from Athens had an exact same dream of an icon painted by Apostle Luka. The icon depicting Virgin Merry & Child Jesus had flown and landed into a cave in Trabzon. Then the Virgin Merry called upon the priests and asked them to build a house for her at this location. Unaware of eachother, the paths of the priests following the call of the Virgin Merry cross at the harbour of Trabzon. Running into each other, the priests soon realized they had the same dream and they started searching for the icon which called upon them. Shortly after finding the icon in a cave, the priests decided to transfrom the cave into a church. The priests are believed to have lived in this place until their deaths which concurrently took place. The monastery is believed to have been built in the 4th Century and saw repair in the 6th Century by Flavius Belisarios, a commander of the Roman Emperor Justinian (482-565). However, such information are still being contested.


The monastery is built on the steep cliffs of Karadağ (Eng. Black Mountain)  at an altitute of 1200 meters above the sea level and built 300 meters above the valley which lays beneath. The monastery’s name is believed to have originated from “melas” which means “black” in Greek. This claim is quite palpable considering the name of the region however, some sources also notes the name may have derived due to the icon of Virgin Mary as it was a common practice to use black paint in depictions of Virgin Mary.

 

5- Ancient City of Ephesos

Efes

Ephesos is one of twelve cities of Ionian League in 10th Century BCE which consisted of Greek city states. The Temple of Artemis which is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World was in Ephesos but now can only be visited in British Museum. However, most of the great ruins and remains of the city can still be visited and enjoyed today. After the city came under the rule of Roman Republic in 129 BC it saw great expansion. Two structures from that era, The Library of Celsus and the Ephesus Theatre which can hose 25.000 spectators shines out among others and are perfect reminders of that era. 

Each year the ancient city is visited by more than 1.5 million people and still manages to amaze them.

 

 

6- Cappadocia 

Kapadokya

Cappadocia is the name of a historical region in Central Anatolia and it is almost synonymous with the mesmerizing landscape of “fairy chimneys” formed by volcanic activity. The name of the region originates from Persian which can be translated as “Land of Beautiful Horses” (Kappa Tuchia). The region can be considered as an open air museum as it is full of churches, houses and even cities carved into rocks which identifies the region. Cappadocia is incredibly popular among millions of tourists each year. A hot air ballon tour is one of the most popular and beautiful activity one can attend to because of the magnificient bird-eye view it provides while slowly surveying the magical terrain.

 

7- Red Tower

The octagon shaped tower is located at the Harbour of Alanya and it is the definitive symbol of Alanya. The tower was built in 13th century by the order of Alaeddin Keykubat I and it is a perfect example of a defense structure. The tower is claimed to be capable of housing 2000 soldiers within. The name of the tower has originated from the red stones used to build the upper floors of the tower. The proud symbol Alanya, the Red Tower had even been printed onto a banknote once which is no longer in circulation. Although no longer on a valuable banknote the tower itself holds value in the eye of the visitors as well as the inhabitants of the area where it stands. This infact created a positive effect on the final value of the real estate for sale in Alanya too. One must also keep in mind that the tower was opened for visit in 1979 and the first floor was transformed into Alanya Ethnography Museum. Which proves that after almost 50 years the tower is still one of the top attractions in Alanya and still has a flourishing effect on the region. 

 

8- Prince Islands (Adalar)

Prince Islands

During the course of history the islands had several names, the most prevalent among them is “Prince Islands” commonly used in Western sources. It is claimed the islands acquired the name due to noblemen, princes, religious figures exiled here. According to some sources because Byzantine Emperor Justinus II commisions a palace and monastary on Buyukada in 567 the islands were called as “Prince Islands”. It was not until 1820s that we have any structures other than schools, churches and monastaries built on the islands. Construction of mansions started to take place only after 1850s and at the turn of 20th Century art-nouveau style building became more common which fits the domestic architectural style of the islands. The main architechtural style of the islands multiple-storey mansions, terrace set houses with big gardens especially with art-nouveau style wooden ornaments are main features of islands’ architectural style.

Today, Adalar hosts a local population of 10-20 thousand people, and in summer a daily population of more than 100.000 people. With frequent ferry travel, ever increasing number of daily visitors the islands is an incredibly popular destination for anyone, especially people in Istanbul. Although the islands can be too crowded it still achieves to reflect a light from the remnants of a bygone era.

 

9- Topkapı Palace

Topkapi Palace

The construction of the palace began in 1460 in the following years of the conquest of Istanbul and it was completed in 1478. The palace was initially built on an area of 700.000 square meters on what once was a Byzantian compound in the palace is in the Sarayburnu district which is at the edge of the peninsula of Istanbul. 

From the first day of its’ conception, the palace gained and maintained the utmost importance as the headquarters of the Ottoman Empire and its’ dynasty. The palace which was once the official residence of the Ottoman Empires shrank in population when the sultans moved into other palaces. However, continious residence of the state officials within the palace kept the palace relevant and important during the course of history. 

In 1924, after minor repairs the palace opened its’ doors to visitors as a museum. Today the palace stands of 80.000 square meters and is home to invaluable pieces of history including the holy relics of Islam. 

 

10- Alaçatı

Called “Agrilia” in the Hellenistic era the town came under the Ottoman rule in the 14th Century. When the 17th Century arrived Greek workers were brought to Alacati from the nearby islands to drain the swamp in the region. When the swamp was dried the Greek workers were allowed to build and settle in a town a kilometer away from the port which gave birth to Alacati. The Greek and Turkish population cooperated and developed the region together. The winemaking and stone houses typical of the region are beautiful reminders of that era. 

Alaçatı is arguably still the most popular town of Izmir. Famous for vineyards, windmills, rich fauna, windy shores and rock houses this town is an easy choice for anyone looking for a Mediterranean get away. However, this getaway may be a costly one as the real estate for sale in Izmir and especially the region has always been high in demand. The town is home to Alacati Herb Festival where all participants collect, cook and plant herbs specific to the region. Alacati is windy for almost 360 days in a year. This amazing quality of the town and its’ blue shores made Alacati a wind & kite surfing heaven as well. 

 

We have taken a deep dive into the 10 best places to visit in Turkey. Obviously, with such rich culture and history, every list made will be short and each visit insufficient. So why not live in Turkey? Realtor Turkey will be more than happy to help you! 

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