Exploring Tourism in Turkey
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Turkey Popular Places to Visit

Mount Nemrut


Mount Nemrut is a 2150 m high mountain positioned in the middle of Taurus Mountains in Southeastern Turkey. It is precisely located in Commagene of the province of Adiyaman. Commagene is situated around the city of Adiyaman in southeastern Anatolia. The mountain lies 40 km (25 mi) north of Kahta, near Adıyaman. In 62 BC, King Antiochus I Theos of Commagene built on the mountain top a tomb-sanctuary flanked by huge statues (8–9 m/26–30 ft high) of himself, two lions, two eagles and various Greek, Armenian, and Iranian gods, such as Hercules-Vahagn, Zeus-Aramazd or Oromasdes (associated with the Iranian god Ahura Mazda), Tyche, and Apollo-Mithras. These statues were once seated, with names of each god inscribed on them. The heads of the statues have at some stage been removed from their bodies, and they are now scattered throughout the site.
The pattern of damage to the heads (notably to noses) suggests that they were deliberately damaged because of belief in iconoclasm. The statues have not been restored to their original positions. The site also preserves stone slabs with bas-relief figures that are thought to have formed a large frieze. These slabs display the ancestors of Antiochus, who included both Greek and Persians.
The same statues and ancestors found throughout the site can also be found on the tumulus at the site, which is 49 m (161 ft) tall and 152 m (499 ft) in diameter. The statues appear to have Greek-style facial features, but Persian clothing and hairstyling.
The Commagene region has seen many rulers. The Persians, Alexander the Great and Seleucus I Nikator ruled, until it was established as an autonomous empire by Mithradates I Kallinikos. Commagene reached its golden era during the reign of his son Antiochos I Epiphanes. This dynasty flourished until AD 72 after, which Commagene was occupied by the Romans and was regarded as a part of Syria. 
Dawn is the best time to visit Mount Nemrut and the sunrise is breathtaking. A striking contrast is formed between the ruins and the natural beauty, no wonder it is regarded as the 8th wonder.
n 1987, Mount Nemrut was made a World heritage site by UNESCO. Tourists typically visit Nemrut during April through October. The nearby town of Adıyaman is a popular place for car and bus trips to the site, and one can also travel from there by helicopter. There are also overnight tours running out of Malatya or Kahta.
The main attractions in Mount Nemrut are the East and West terraces, tumulus, the statues, and the relief. 
On the top of Mount Nemrut, lies the Hierothesion, which is the sacred resting place built by Antiochos himself. The whole structure consists a tumulus and three terraces. The tumulus is actually a structure created by piling up pieces of stone and is 50 m in height and 150 m in diameter. Though many discoveries suggest that the Hierothesion was Antiochos` burial ground, yet scientific research proves the absence of any sort of chamber or a cavity in the tumulus. 
Three terraces on the east, west and north side, flank the Hierothesion. The east and west each contain a similar row of statues and three rows of relief. The terrace also has a large altar meant for sacrifices and offerings and measures about 13.5x13.5m. On the other hand, the north terrace is void of any statues or relief. 
The statues that were a part of the east and west terrace consisted Zeus, Apollo, Hercules, Tyche (Fortuna) and of Antiochus himself. Finally, a lion and an eagle were placed beside them as guardians. These huge statues made of stone now lie in a destructed form with heads of the deities lying on the ground. 
The relief on the terrace depicts the ancestors of Antiochos I and is in an incomplete form.
Adiyaman offers excellent lodging facilities from where you could take a leisurely tour of Mount Nemrut. 
Kayseri, Turkey

The House Of The Virgin


The House of the Virgin (Meryemana in Turkish), located in a nature park between Ephesus and Seljuk, is believed to be the last residence of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. The peaceful site is sacred to both Christians and Muslims, and is visited by many tourists and pilgrims.
According to predominant Christian tradition, Mary was brought to Ephesus by the Apostle John after the Resurrection of Christ and lived out her days there. This is based mainly on the traditional belief that John came to Ephesus (see St. John's Basilica) combined with the biblical statement that Jesus consigned her to John's care (John 19:26-27).
Archaeologists who have examined the building identified as the House of the Virgin believe most of the building dates from the 6th or 7th century. But its foundations are much older and may well date from the 1st century AD, the time of Mary. This site had long been a place of pilgrimage for local Orthodox Christians.
The modern history of the Virgin Mary's House is unusual. It was "discovered" in 1812 by a German nun, Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich, who never traveled away from her home.
Sister Emmerich, an invalid confined to bed, awoke in a trance with the stigmata and visions that included the Virgin Mary and Apostle John traveling from Jerusalem to Ephesus. She described Mary's house in detail, which was recorded at her bedside by a writer named Brentano.
Emmerich described a rectangular stone house, which John had built for Mary. It had a fireplace and an apse and a round back wall. The room next to the apse was Mary's bedroom, which had a spring running into it.
The House of the Virgin is a sacred site for both Christians and Muslims (Muslims also believe in the virgin birth and honor Mary as the mother of the Prophet Jesus).
The shrine is still in the care of the Lazarist Fathers, who celebrate Mass here every day. Two resident nuns also recite the Divine Office daily.
The small, T-shaped stone building consists of a bedroom (on the right) and a kitchen (on the left). The interior is kept simple and austere, fitted only with an altar, images of Mary and candles.
The spring that runs under the Virgin's House is believed to have healing properties, and many miracles have been reported. Inside the house are crutches and canes said to be left behind by those who were healed by the sacred spring.
The site is wheelchair accessible and provides clean public restrooms.
On August 15 (the Feast of the Assumption of Mary) each year, Catholic, Orthodox and Muslim clergy conduct a service together at the shrine, one of the rare occasions this happens anywhere.
Ephesus, Turkey

Temple Of Artemis


In the marshy basin between Selçuk and Ephesus in Turkey are the pitiful remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis (or Artemision).
Artemis was the Greek goddess, the virginal huntress and twin of Apollo, who replaced the Titan Selene as Goddess of the Moon.
At Ephesus a goddess whom the Greeks associated with Artemis was passionately venerated in an archaic icon. The original was carved of wood, with many breast-like protuberances apparently emphasizing fertility over the virginity traditionally associated with the Greek Artemis. Like Near Eastern and Egyptian deities (and unlike Greek ones), her body and legs are enclosed within a tapering pillar-like term, from which her feet protrude.
The ancient temple, built around 650 BC to the cult of Artemis, was constructed on a site already sacred to the Anatolian Mother Goddess, Cybele. The temple was financed by the wealthy king of Lydia and marshy ground was selected for the building site as a precaution against future earthquakes.
The temple soon attracted merchants, kings, and sightseers, many of donated jewelery and other treasures to Artemis and her temple. Its splendor also attracted many worshippers and pilgrims, strenghtening the cult of Artemis.On July 21, 356 BC, the night Alexander the Great was born, legend has it that a psychopathic arsonist intent on immortality set fire to the temple. Plutarch remarked that Artemis was too preoccupied with Alexander's delivery to save her burning temple.
he Temple of Artemis was eventually rebuilt remaining true to the original except for a raised platform, a feature of classical architecture adopted in the construction of later temples. By 263 AD, the temple had been plundered by Nero and destroyed by the Goths.
The temple was again reconstructed in the 4th century, but by the end of that century the temple had been abandoned and was being used as a marble quarry for new buildings, including churches.
The site of the temple was rediscovered in 1869 on an expedition sponsored by the British Museum, and several artifacts and sculptures from the reconstructed temple can be seen in the museum today.
Rising out of the marsh, a lone surviving column suggests the immensity of the Wonder of the World, four times as large as the Parthenon and the first monumental building to be entirely constructed of marble. As an illustration of its immensity, consider that the one remaining column stood an incredible 4m (13 ft.) below the point of the architrave. The site is best appreciated in the summer months, when the marshy waters are at their lowest, and the foundations of previous structures are recognizable.
Most of the description of the original Temple of Artemis comes from Pliny, though there are different and sometimes contradictory accounts. Pliny describes the temple as 377 feet long and 180 feet wide made almost entirely of marble. The Temple consisted of 127 columns, each 60 feet in height; many of which were carved decoratively. The columns were Ionic in style.
The Temple of Artemis housed many fine artworks. Sculptures by renowned Greek sculptors Polyclitus, Pheidias, Cresilas, and Phradmon adorned the temple, as well as paintings and gilded columns of gold and silver. The sculptors often competed at creating the finest sculpture. Many of these sculptures were of Amazons, who are said to have founded the city of Ephesus. Pliny tells us that Scopas worked carved reliefs into the temple's columns, who also worked on the Mausoleum of Mausollos.
Like a beehive with Diana as the queen, the Temple of Artemis was surrounded by priests and priestesses, musicians, dancers, and acrobats. The temple had its own mounted police and the city became rich from the silver statues and ex-votos offered to Diana. Unfortunately, all that remains of the Wonder of the World is a single column and some rubble on the ground. Some of the stone is believed to have been used for the nearby mosque and most of the archaeological remains have been removed to the British Museum.
Ephesus, Turkey

Great Theater


The Great Theater, part of the archaeological site of Ephesus, is a dramatic and impressive sight. It is included in our list of sacred destinations for its biblical significance: this is traditionally where St. Paul preached against the pagans.
Construction of the Great Theater of Ephesus may have begun during Hellenistic times: Lysimachus (d.281 BC) is traditionally credited with building the theater, but so far there is no archaeological evidence for its existence before 100 BC. However, Lysimachus may have chosen the building site and begun the preparation of the site, a process that required 60 years of digging in the mountainside.
A small Hellenistic theater was probably built here around 200 BC, but the theater seen today dates almost exclusively from Roman times. Constructed primarily in the 1st century (beginning about 40 AD), it was expanded periodically and used continously until the 5th century.
Earthquakes damaged the theater in the 4th century, after which it was only partially repaired. By the 8th century, the theater was incorporated into the city defense system.
Today, the theater is restored and is put to use every May during the Selçuk Ephesus Festival of Culture and Art.
Built into the northern base of Panayirdag (Mt. Pion), the theater rises 30m (100 feet) high and can seat 25,000 people. There are magnificent views to be had from the top. Most of the marble paving and some lower elements of the backdrop remain on the stage.
Ephesus, Turkey

Dolmabahçe Palace


Dolmabahçe Palace on the European shore of the Bosphorus in Istanbul is a fitting symbol of the magnificence and decadence of the 19th-century Ottoman Empire.The palace, which is set in well-tended gardens and entered via its ornate imperial gate, is divided into two sections, the Selamlık (Ceremonial Suites) and the Harem-Cariyeler (Harem and Concubines’ Quarters). Entry is via a compulsory guided tour (around 35 people per group), which focuses on the Selamlık but visits parts of the harem as well. In busy periods the tours leave every five minutes; during quiet times every 25 minutes is more likely. The full tour of the palace takes two hours. Be warned that queues at the ticket office can be very long (waits of up to two hours) and there is no shade.
It's just as a sultan's palace should be: huge and sumptuous, with 285 rooms, 43 large salons, a 4000 kg (4-1/2-ton) Bohemian glass chandelier, and a Bosphorus-shore façade nearly 500 meters (1/4 mile) long. It's the grandest of Ottoman imperial palaces.
The cheapest, most comfortable way to get there is by the Bağcılar-Kabataş tram which runs from Sultanahmet Square down to Eminönü, across the Golden Horn to Karaköy (Galata), then north to Kabataş, whence it is less than a 10-minute walk north along the Bosphorus shore to the palace.
From Taksim Square, take the Füniküler downhill to Kabataş, then walk north to Dolmabahçe; or walk down İnönü Caddesi right to the palace.
The palace was designed by Ottoman Armenian architects Karabet and Nikogos Balian for Sultan Abdulmecit (1839-61). When it was finished in 1856, the imperial family moved out of medieval Topkapı Palace to live in European-style opulence.
As with every traditional Ottoman grand residence (or palace), Dolmabahçe consists of two distinct parts: the Selamlık, or "public" area, and the Haremlik, or family quarters.
The Selamlık was where the Padişah (known in the English-speaking world as the "Sultan") greeted and met with top government officers, diplomats and other important visitors. Its sumptuously-appointed chambers were designed to impress, especially the great Ceremonial Chamber ("Throne Room") with its Corinthian columns and 4-1/2-ton Bohemian crystal chandelier lit by 660 electric lights.
The Haremlik was the imperial family's private quarters, where the sultan, his wives and children, and their servants lived.
The palace is open daily except Monday, Thursday, and the first day of Islamic holidays. On other days, here are opening hours and admission fees. Visitors must pass through an airport-type security inspection (metal detector, x-ray of bags.) Large purses, bags, briefcases and backpacks must be checked at the checkroom (no charge).
No photography or video is allowed within the palace itself, although you are welcome to photograph the exterior and grounds.
You can enter and enjoy the palace grounds for only a few liras, but to visit the palace interior, you must buy a ticket for the Selamlık, the Haremlik, or a combination ticket for both. No tickets are sold after the daily quota of 3000 visitors has been met. In high season, it is normal for this limit to be met well before the palace closes for the day.
The tourist entrance to the palace is near the palace’s ornate clock tower, designed by Sarkis Balyan between 1890 and 1895 for Sultan Abdül Hamid II (r 1876–1909). There is an outdoor cafe near here with premium Bosphorus views. Don’t set your watch by any of the palace clocks, all of which are stopped at 9.05am, the moment at which Kemal Atatürk died in Dolmabahçe on 10 November 1938. When touring the harem you will be shown the small bedroom he used during his last days. Each year on 10 November, at 9.05am, the country observes a moment of silence in commemoration of the great leader. The nearby Dolmabahċe Mosque (Dolmabahçe Camii) on Muallim Naci Caddesi was designed by Nikoğos Balyan and completed in 1853.
Istanbul, Turkey

Archaeological Museum


The Istanbul Archaeological Museum houses over one million objects, the most extraordinary of which are the sarcophagi that date back as far as the 4th century BC. The museum excels, however, in its rich chronological collection of locally found artifacts that shed light on the origins and history of the city.
Near the entrance is a statue of a lion representing the only piece saved from the clutches of British archaeologists from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
On the upper floor of the building there are small stone works, pots and pans, small terracotta statues, 800,000 Ottoman coins, seals, decorations, and medals, and a library with 70,000 books.
In the halls to the left is a collection of sarcophagi found at Sidon (ancient Syria) representing various architectural styles influenced by outside cultures including Egypt, Phoenicia, and Lycia. The most famous is the Alexander Sarcophagus, covered with astonishingly advanced carvings of battles and the life of Alexander the Great, discovered in 1887 and once believed to have been that of the emperor himself (it was actually Sidonian King Abdalonymos).
Found in the same necropolis at Sidon is the stunningly preserved Sarcophagus of the Crying Women, with 18 intricately carved panels showing figures of women in extreme states of mourning.
On the mezzanine level is the exhibit "Istanbul Through the Ages," a rich and well-presented exhibit that won the museum the Council of Europe Museum Award in 1993. To put the exhibit into perspective, the curators have provided maps, plans, and drawings to illustrate the archaeological findings, displayed thematically, which range from prehistoric artifacts found west of Istanbul to 15th-century Byzantine works of art.
The recovered snake's head from the Serpentine Column in the Hippodrome is on display, as is the 14th-century bell from the Galata Tower. The upper two levels house the Troy exhibit and displays on the evolution of Anatolia over the centuries, as well as sculptures from Cyprus, Syria, and Palestine.
The newly renovated and reopened Museum of the Ancient Orient is an exceptionally rich collection of artifacts from the earliest civilizations of Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Arab continent. The tour begins with pre-Islamic divinities and idols taken from the courtyard of the Al-Ula temple, along with artifacts showing ancient Aramaic inscriptions and a small collection of Egyptian antiquities.
Uncovered in the region of Mesopotamia and on display is an obelisk of Adad-Nirari III inscribed with cuneiform characters. Of particular significance is a series of colored mosaic panels showing animal reliefs of bulls and dragons with serpents' heads from the monumental Gate of Ishtar, built by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylonia.
A pictorial representation on a Sumerian devotional basin of girls carrying pitchers of water whose contents are filling an underground source relates to the ancient Mesopotamian belief that the world was surrounded by water, a belief that has provoked questions over the origins of the biblical Great Flood.
With nothing dating more recent than the 1st century AD, pretty much everything here has enormous significance. But two of the highlights are easily the fragments of the 13-century BC sphinx from the Yarkapi Gate at Hattusas and one of the three known tablets of the Treaty of Kadesh, the oldest recorded peace treaty signed between Ramses II and the Hittites in the 13th-century BC inscribed in Akkadian, the international language of the era. 
Istanbul, Turkey

Library Of Celsus


The library of Celsus is an ancient Roman building in Ephesus, Anatolia, now part of Selçuk, Turkey. It was built in honor of the Roman Senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus(completed in 135 AD) by Celsus' son, Gaius Julius Aquila (consul, 110 AD). Celsus had been consul in 92 AD, governor of Asia in 115 AD, and a wealthy and popular local citizen. He was a native of nearby Sardis and amongst the earliest men of purely Greek origin[4] to become a consul in the Roman Empire and is honored both as a Greek and a Roman on the library itself.Celsus paid for the construction of the library with his own personal wealth.
It was built in Ephesus,in territory that was traditionally Greek to the core.The building is important as one of few remaining examples of an ancient Roman-influenced library. It also shows that public libraries were built not only in Rome itself but throughout the Roman Empire.
The scrolls of the manuscripts were kept in cupboards in niches on the walls. There were double walls behind the bookcases to prevent the them from the extremes of temperature and humidity. The capacity of the library was more than 12,000 scrolls. It was the third richest library in ancient times after the Alexandra and Pergamum.
The facade of the library has two-stories, with Corinthian style columns on the ground floor and three entrances to the building. There is three windows openings in the upper story. They used an optical trick that the columns at the sides of the facade are shorter than those at the center, giving the illusion of the building being greater in size.
The statues in the niches of the columns today are the copies of the originals. The statues symbolize wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), intelligence (Ennoia) and valor (Arete). These are the virtues of Celsus. The library was restored with the aid of the Austrian Archaeological Institute and  the originals of the statues were taken to Ephesus Museum in Vienna in 1910.
There was an auditorium ,which was for lectures or presentations between the library and the Marble Road, was built during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian.
Ephesus, Turkey

Blue Mosque


The cascading domes and six slender minarets of the Sultanahmet Mosque (better known as the "Blue Mosque") dominate the skyline of Istanbul. In the 17th century, Sultan Ahmet I wished to build an Islamic place of worship that would be even better than the Hagia Sophia, and the mosque named for him is the result. The two great architectural achievements now stand next to each other in Istanbul's main square, and it is up to visitors to decide which is more impressive. The Blue Mosque was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I when he was only 19 years old. It was built near the Hagia Sophia, over the site of the ancient hippodrome and Byzantine imperial palace (whose mosaics can be seen in the nearby Mosaic Museum). Construction work began in 1609 and took seven years.
The mosque was designed by architect Mehmet Aga, whose unfortunate predecessor was found wanting and executed. Sultan Ahmet was so anxious for his magnificent creation to be completed that he often assisted in the work. Sadly, he died just a year after the completion of his masterpiece, at the age of 27. He is buried outside the mosque with his wife and three sons.The original mosque complex included a madrasa, a hospital, a han, a primary school, a market, an imaret and the tomb of the founder. Most of these buildings were torn down in the 19th century.
Besides being tourist attraction, it's also a active mosque, so it's closed to non worshippers for a half hour or so during the five daily prayers.Best way to see great architecture of the Blue Mosque is to approach it from the Hippodrome. (West side of the mosque) As if you are non-Muslim visitor, you also have to use same direction to enter the Mosque.
One of the most notable features of the Blue Mosque is visible from far away: its six minarets. This is very unique, as most mosques have four, two, or just one minaret. According to one account, the Sultan directed his architect to make gold (altin) minarets, which was misunderstood as six (alti) minarets.
Whatever the origins of the unique feature, the six minarets caused quite a scandal, as the Haram Mosque in Mecca (the holiest in the world) also had six minarets. In the end, the sultan solved the problem by sending his architect to Mecca to add a seventh minaret.
The other striking feature of the exterior is the beautifully-arranged cascade of domes that seem to spill down from the great central dome. The arcades running beneath each dome add further visual rhythm. None of the exterior is blue - the name "Blue Mosque" comes from the blue tiles inside.
The main west entrance is beautifully decorated and very much worth a look. However, to preserve the mosque's sanctity, non-worshippers are required to use the north entrance, off the Hippodrome. Hanging from this gate are symbolic chains that encourage everyone, even the sultan who entered on horseback, to bow his or her head upon entering.
Inside, the high ceiling is lined with the 20,000 blue tiles that give the mosque its popular name. Fine examples of 16th-century Iznik design, the oldest tiles feature flowers, trees and abstract patterns. The overall effect is one of the most beautiful sights in Istanbul. The Iznik tiles can be seen in the galleries and and on the north wall above the main entrance. The remaining tiles, which have a less delicate design, were made in Kütahya.
The interior is lit with 260 windows, which were once filled with 17th-century stained glass. Sadly, this has been lost and replaced with inferior replicas.
On summer evenings at 9pm, there is a historical narrative and a light show at the Blue Mosque. 
Istanbul, Turkey

Sumela Monastery


Sumela is 1600 year old ancient Orthodox monastery located at a 1200 meters height on the steep cliff at Macka region of Trabzon city in Turkey.The monastery is constructed on rocks reached by a path through the forest. The beautiful frescoes dating from the 18 th century on the walls of the monastery are biblical scenes of Christ and Virgin Mary.The monastery dates back to the 4th century when it was founded by a Greek monk known as blessed Barnabas. For those wanting to visit Sumela monastery and take a look around inside to see the monks living quarters and various relics and frescoes left behind, a 40 minute hike through thick woodland is necessary.
The site was abandoned in 1923, following forced population exchanges between Greece and Turkey. The departing monks were not allowed to take any property with them, so they buried Sumela's famous icon under the floor of the monastery's St. Barbara chapel. In 1930, a monk secretly returned to Sumela and retrieved the icon, transferring it to the new Panagia Soumela Monastery, on the slopes of Mount Vermion, near the town of Naousa, in Macedonia, Greece.
Today the monastery's primary function is as a tourist attraction. It overlooks forests and streams, making it extremely popular for its aesthetic attraction as well as for its cultural and religious significance.
The principal elements of the Monastery complex are the Rock Church, several chapels, kitchens, student rooms, a guesthouse, a library, and a sacred spring revered by Eastern Orthodox Christians.The large aqueduct at the entrance, which supplied water to the Monastery, is constructed against the side of the cliff. The aqueduct has many arches which have mostly been restored. The entrance to the Monastery leads up a long and narrow stairway. There is a guard-room next to the entrance. The stairs lead down from there to the inner courtyard. On the left, in front of a cave, there are several monastery buildings. The cave, which was converted into a church, constitutes the centre of the monastery. The library is to the right.
Entrance fee of 8 Turkish Lira (Price may be change) is payable, but it is certainly worth the effort.
Trabzon, Turkey


Built on a conical hill rising 1,000 feet above the surrounding valley, Pergamum (also spelled Pergamon, from the Greek for "citadel") was an important capital city in ancient times. Its modern successor is the Turkish city of Bergama. A lack of modern accommodations means that Bergama is often a very quick stop, if visitors bother to come at all. But it is worth a long stop, for Bergama is home to two of the country's most celebrated archaeological sites: Pergamum's acropolis and Asklepion are both listed among the top 100 historical sites on the Mediterranean.

Most of the buildings and monuments in Pergamum date to the time of Eumenes II (197-159 BC), including the famed library, the terrace of the spectacularly sited hillside theater, the main palace, the Altar of Zeus, and the propylaeum of the Temple of Athena. In the early Christian era, Pergamum's church was a major center of Christianity and was one of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Rev. 2:12-17).

The ancient city is composed of three main parts: the Acropolis, whose main function was social and cultural as much as it was sacred; the Lower City, realm of the lower classes; and the Asklepion, one of the earliest medical centers on record.

Izmir, Turkey