Ancient Turkey: Sail into the Past

Published
08/02/2017

By road, plane or boat there are many ways to visit the numerous historical sites that Turkey has to offer and visits to some of the top destinations and renowned ancient ruins such as Ephesus, Cappadocia and Pamukkale, can be organised with Turkey tours starting from Fethiye, Istanbul, Ankara and any other main cities.

 

Istanbul

The Sultanahmet district, in the centre of Istanbul, is accredited by the UNESCO World Heritage association. On the central square stands the impressive Hagia Sophia, an architecturally unique Byzantine cathedral, it’s dome is nearly 60 meters tall and 30 meters wide. Converted to a mosque in the 15th century under the Ottoman rule, it now contains an extensive museum. While under the ground lies the Basilica Cistern, the largest of the many Byzantine cisterns throughout the city, fish swim in the deepest parts of the dark water that floods between stone pillars. On the opposite side of the square is the 17th century Sultanahmet Mosque, otherwise called Blue Mosque for the hue the inside tiles provide in the sunlight. Also in the area you can visit the Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace, home to the first Ottoman rulers, or walk the ancient Theodosian city walls that once protected Constantinople. 

 

Gallipoli Battlefield

For a little more recent history you could travel south west of Istanbul to the Gallipoli Peninsular, where you will find the graveyards of Australian, New Zealand and Turkish soldiers who died in the Battle of Gallipoli (The Dardanelles Campaign) in 1915, during the First World War. Original dirt trenches still lay open and around the battlefields are monuments to those who lost their lives in the conflict, historical artifacts are on display in the nearby museum. From here you can also take a boat to Anzac cove, where the Milo WW1 battleship lays below the clear waters, you can snorkel above the sunken war craft for a more interactive historical experience.

 

Goreme Open Air Museum, Cappadocia 

In heart of the Anatolia region Cappadocia has hosted many ancient settlers throughout the years, including: Hittites, Romans, Greeks, Early Christians, Seljuk Turks and Ottomans, the archeological records date back over 2000 years. It is the home of the UNESCO Goreme open air museum, extensive underground cities and a geologically unique landscape, best seen from the basket of a hot air balloon. Even for those who are not interested in the Early Christian rock-hewn churches with original frescoes and troglodyte caves will be blown away by the peculiar rock formations, Fairy Chimneys and extraordinary natural beauty of the Cappadocia region.

 

Pamukkale & Hierapolis

The ancient Spa city of Hierapolis sits below the ‘Cotton Castle’ of Pamukkale, a natural phenomenon of thermal pools cascading over ivory limestone on the edge of a steep valley, there are magnificent views from the pools which are open for swimming. Hierapolis, founded by the God Apollo, is unique for its sacred thermal pool containing ancient artifacts and sunken pillars which you can bathe in. An interesting museum is also on the site.

 

Ephesus & Selcuk

Selcuk is a traditional Turkish town, with cobbled stone streets and a lively local market every Wednesday. Selcuk is also is the centre for many historical excursions to the ancient ruins of Miletus, Priene, the Temple of Apollo and the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The home of the Virgin Mary is also a short walk from the traditional town and just 6 kilometers into the hills lies the Greek wine producing village of Sirince, where you can taste fruity wines and admire the quaint architecture. The main attraction in the Selcuk area is Ephesus, the second largest ancient city in the world and one of the previous capitals of Roman Asia. The site hosts well preserved mosaics, marble temples and a 2,500-seat theatre. 

 

The Ghost Town of Ani

Also known as the City of 1001 Churches or the City of Forty Gates the nearly 1600-year-old metropolis of Ani, which once rivaled Constantinople as a major city on trading routes, now lies abandoned in the region of Kars in northeastern Turkey. The walled city underwent invitations from Byzantines, Ottomans, Armenians, Russian, Kurds and Georgians and passed hands many times before being abandoned in the 18th century. The site became encompassed in a militarised area and only opened to archeologist and visitors in the 1990’s when restoration projects began on the crumbling city. Many of the ancient church's, building and art works have survived and even in its desolate state the Ghost City of Ani is still a marvellous example of progressive history.

 

Lycian Civilisations

The southwest region of Turkey, between the cities of Antalya and Fethiye, was once home to the formidable Lycian people who built their cities into the mountainous landscape and carved their burial sites into the cliffs. The Lycians were an independent race who fought fiercely to maintain their freedom and uphold their fortresses. Today the remains of their existence are scattered across the stretch of coastline often referred to as the Turquoise coast and can be visited with a history tour with Gulet Cruise or by following the Lycian way, a 500 kilometer waymarked hiking trail. Some of the best-preserved sites include: Patara, Xanthos, Myra, Phellos and Telmessos.