Region & City Guide ;
Istanbul embraces two continents with one arm reaching out to Asia and the other to Europe. Through the city's heart, the Bosphorus, course the waters of the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara and the Golden Horn.
The former capital of three successive empires, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman, İstanbul today honors and preserves the legacy of its past while looking forward to a modern future.
It is Istanbul's endless variety that fascinates its visitors. The museums, churches, palaces, grand mosques, bazaars and sights of natural beauty seem innumerable. Reclining on the western shore of the Bosphorus at sunset contemplating the red evening light reflected in the windows of the opposite shore you may suddenly and profoundly understand why so many centuries ago settlers chose to build on this remarkable site. At such times you can see why İstanbul is truly one of the most glorious cities in the world.
Topkapi Palace, that maze of buildings that was the focal point of the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries. In these opulent surroundings the sultans and their court lived and governed. A magnificent wooded garden fills the outer, or first, court. In the second court, on the right, shaded by cypress and plane trees, stand the palace kitchens, which now serve as galleries exhibiting the imperial collections of crystal, silver and Chinese porcelain. To the left is the Harem, the secluded quarters of the wives, concubines and children of the sultan, charming visitors with echoes of centuries- intrigue. Today the third court holds the Hall of Audience, the Library of Ahmet III, an exhibition of imperial costumes worn by the sultans and their families, the famous jewels of the treasury and a priceless collection of miniatures from medieval manuscripts. In the center of this innermost sanctuary, the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle enshrines the relics of the Prophet Mohammed brought to İstanbul when the Ottomans assumed the caliphate of Islam. (Open every day except Tuesday)
The facade of the Dolmabahce Palace, built in the mid-19th century by Sultan Abdulmecit I, stretches for 600 meters along the European shore of the Bosphorus. The vast reception salon, with its 56 columns and four-and-a-half ton crystal chandelier with 750 lights, never fails to astonish visitors. At one time, birds from all over the world were kept in the Bird Pavilion for the delight of the palace's privileged residents. Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic, died in the palace on November 10, 1938. (Open every day except Monday and Thursday)
In the 19th century, Sultan Abdiilaziz built the Beylerbeyi Palace, a fantasy in white marble set amid magnolia-filled gardens, on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus. Used as the Sultan's summer residence, it was offered to the most distinguished foreign dignitaries for their visits. Empress Eugenie of France was among its residents. (Open every day except Monday and Thursday)
the Basilica of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom), now called the Ayasofya Museum, isunquestionably one of the finest buildings of all time. Built by Constantine the Great and reconstructed by Justinian in the 6th century, its immense dome rises 55 meters above the ground and its diameter spans 31 meters. Linger here to admire the building's majestic serenity as well as the fine Byzantine mosaics. (Open every day except Monday)
Near Hagia Sophia is the sixth-century Byzantine cistern known as the Yerebatan Cistern. Three hundred and thirty-six massive Corinthian columns support the immense chamber's fine brick vaulting. (Open every day)
Across from Hagia Sophia stands the supremely elegant Imperial Sultanahmet Mosque with six-minarets. Built between 1609 and 1616 by the architect Mehmet, the building is more familiarly known as the Blue Mosque because of its magnificent interior paneling of blue and white iznik tiles. During the summer months an evening light and sound show both entertain and inform visitors.
The ancient Hippodrome, the scene of chariot races and the center of Byzantine civic life, stood in the area that is now in front of the Blue Mosque. The area is now named for the mosque, Sultanahmet. Of the monuments which once decorated it only three remain: the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column and the Column of Constantine. Remains from the curved-end of the Hippodrome wall can be seen on the south-west side of these three monuments. Today the square forms the center of İstanbul's historical, cultural and touristic pursuits. Take particular note of the surrounding wooden houses, especially the 18th century houses on Sogukcesme Street. Delightfully restored, they have a new lease on life as small hotels; one houses a fascinating library of books on istan
The cascading domes and four slender minarets of the Imperial Suleymaniye Mosquedominate the skyline on the Golden Horn's west bank. Considered the most beautiful of all imperial mosques in İstanbul, it was built between 1550 and 1557 by Sinan, the renowned architect of the Ottoman Empire's golden age. Erected on the crest of a hill, the building is conspicuous for its great size, emphasized by the four minarets that rise from each corner of the courtyard. Inside are the mihrab (prayer niche showing the direction to Mecca) and the mimber (pulpit) made of finely carvedwhite marble and exquisite stained-glass windows coloring the incoming streams of light. It was in the gardens of this complex that Suleyman and his wife Hurrem Sultan (Roxelane), had their mausoleum built, and near here also Sinan built his own tomb. The mosque complex also includes four medreses, or theological schools, a school of medicine, a caravanserai, a Turkish bath, and a kitchen and hospice for the poor.
The Rustem Pasa Mosque, another skillful accomplishment of the architect Sinan, was built in 1561 by order of Rustem Pasa, Grand Vizier and son-in-law of Suleyman the Magnificent. Exquisite iznik tiles panel the small and superbly proportioned interior.
The Archaeological Museums are found just inside the first court of the Topkapi Palace. Included among its treasures of antiquity are the celebrated Alexander Sarcophagus and the facade of the Temple to Athena from Assos.
The dark stone building that houses the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art was built in 1524 by the Grand Vizier to Suleyman the Magnificent, ibrahim Pasa, as his residence. It was the grandest private residence ever built in the Ottoman Empire. Today it holds a superb collection of ceramics, metalwork, miniatures, calligraphy, textiles, and woodwork as well as some of the oldest carpets in the world. (Open every day except Monday)
The Mosaic Museum preserves in situ exceptionally fine fifth and sixth-century mosaic pavements from the Grand Palace of the Byzantine emperors. (Open every day except Tuesday)
The Kariye Museum, the 11th-century church of "St. Savior" in the Chora complex, is, after Hagia Sophia, the most important
Byzantine monument in Istanbul. Unremarkable in its architecture, inside, the walls are decorated with superb 14th-century mosaics. Illustrating scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary, these brilliantly colored paintings embody the vigor of Byzantine art. In restored wooden houses in the area surrounding the church you can enjoy tea and coffee in a relaxed atmosphere far removed from the city's hectic pace. (Open every day except Wednesday)
In the Military Museum the great field tents used by the Ottoman armies on campaigns are on display. Other exhibits include Ottoman weapons and the accoutrements of war. The Mehter Takimi (Ottoman military band) can be heard performing Ottoman martial music between 3:00 and 4:00 pm. (Open every day except Monday and Tuesday)
The Rahmi Koc Industry Museum, in the suburb of Haskoy on the coast of the Golden Horn, was an Ottoman-period building, formerly called Lengerhane, for iron and steel works. Today it houses exhibits on industrial development. (Open every day except Monday)
Up the Bosphorus in the picturesque suburb of Buyukdere, the collections of the Sadberk Hanim Museum fill two charming 19th-century wooden villas. A private museum which originally displayed only Turkish decorative arts has recently been expanded for a new collection of archaeological finds. (Open every day except Wednesday)
The Istanbul city walls, once an impenetrable fortification, stretch seven kilometers from the Sea of Marmara to the Golden Horn. Recently restored, as also many times before, these walls date from the fifth century and the reign of Emperor Theodosius II. UNESCO has declared the walls and the area which they enclose to be one of the cultural heritages of the world.
The Galata Tower, a Genoese construction of 1348, rises 62 meters above the Golden Horn. From the top there is a marvelous panorama of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. In the evening you can enjoy its popular restaurant, nightclub and bar.
Rumeli Hisari, or European Fortress, was built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452 prior to his capture of istanbul. Completed in only four months, it is one of the most beautiful works of military architecture in the world.
In the castle is the Open-Air Kiz Kulesi, also known as Leander's Tower, is one of the most romantic symbols of istanbul. On a tiny island at the entrance to istanbul's harbor, the first tower was constructed in the 12th century. The present building dates from the 18th century.
One could visit Istanbul for the shopping alone. The Kapali Carsi, or Covered Bazaar, in the oldcity is the logical place to start. This labyrinth of streets and passages houses more than 4,000 shops. The names recall the days when each trade had its own quarter: the goldsmiths' street, the carpet sellers' street, the street of the skullcap makers. Still the commercial center of the old city, the bazaar is the original shopping mall with something to suit every taste and pocket.Charming souvenirs and gifts can be selected from among Turkish crafts, the world-renowned carpets, brilliant handpainted ceramics, copperware, brassware, and meerschaum pipes. The gold jewelry in brilliantly lit cases dazzles passersby. Leather and suede goods of excellent quality make a relatively inexpensive purchase. In the heart of the bazaar, the Old Bedesten offers a curious assortment of antiques. It is worth poking through the clutter of decades in the hope of finding a treasure.
The Misir Carsisi or Spice Bazaar, next to the Yeni Mosque at Eminonu, transports you to fantasies from the mystical East. The enticing aromas of cinnamon, caraway, saffron, mint, thyme and every other conceivable herb and spice fill the air. Sultanahmet has become another shopping mecca in the old city. The istanbul Sanatlari Carsisi (Bazaar of istanbul Arts) in the 18th-century Mehmet Efendi Medresesi, and the nearby 16th-century Caferaga Medrese, built by Sinan, offer you the chance to see craftsmen at work and to purchase their wares. In the Arasta (old bazaar) of the Sultanahmet Mosque, a thriving shopping arcade makes both shopping and sightseeing very convenient.
The Princes' Islands, an archipelago of nine islands in the Sea of Marmara, were places of exile for Byzantine princes. Today, during the summer months, wealthy istanbul residents escape to the cool sea breezes and elegant 19th century houses. Buyukada is the largest of the islands. Here you can enjoy a ride in a horse-drawn phaeton (carriage) among the pine trees, or relax on a beach in one of the numerous coves that ring the island. The other popular islands are Kinali, Sedef, Burgaz, and Heybeliada. Regular ferry boats connect the islands with both the European and Asian shores. A faster sea bus service operates from Kabatas in the summer.
ANTALYA & its Surroundings
Surrounded by amazing scenery of sharp contrasts, Antalya, Turkey's principal holiday resort, is an attractive city with shady palm-lined boulevards and a prize-winning marina. In the picturesque old quarter of Kaleici, narrow, winding streets and old wooden houses abut the ancient city walls.
Antalya has been continuously inhabited since its founding in 159 BC by Attalos II, a king of Pergamum, who named the city Attaleia after himself. The Romans, Byzantines and Seljuks successively occupied the city before it came under Ottoman rule. The elegant, fluted minaret of the Yivli Minareli Mosque in the center of the city, built by the Seljuk sultan Alaeddin Keykubat in the 13th century, has become Antalya's symbol. The Karatay Medrese (theological college) in the Kaleigi district, from the same period, exemplifies the best of Seljuk stone carving. The two most important Ottoman mosques in the city are the 16th-century Murat Pasa Mosque, remarkable for its tile decoration, and the 18th-century Tekeli Mehmet Pasa Mosque. Neighboring the marina, the attractive late 19th-century lskele Mosque is built of cut stone and set on four pillars over a natural spring. The Hidirlik Kulesi (tower) was probably constructed as a lighthouse in the second century. The Kesik Minaret Mosque, which was previously a church, attests to the city's long history in its succession of Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman renovations.
When Emperor Hadrian visited Phaselis in Antalya province in 130 AD a beautifully decorated three-arched gate with Corinthian columns was built into the city walls in his honor. It was the only entrance through the city walls. The two towers flanking the gate as well as other sections of the walls are still standing near the marina. The clock tower in Kalekapisi Square was also part of the old city's fortifications.
The Archeological Museum,with artifacts from the Paleolithic Age to Ottoman times, offers a glimpse of the area's rich history. Two-colored ceramics dated at 5400 - 8500 BC are worth seeing.
Kiziltepe, Goynuk (Blue Flag) and Beldibi (Blue Flag) north of Kemer and Camyuva and Tekirova (Blue Flag) to the south, are tourist centers that offer various activities. The holiday villages are all designed to blend into the forest that encircles them. At the foot of 2575 meter high Mt. Tahtali (Olympos), 15 km south of Kemer, the three harbors of Phaselis were once a major commercial center. The ruins of aqueducts, agoras, baths, a theater, Hadrian's Gate and an acropolis reveal the city's historical importance. From the south harbor, look up to Mt. Tahtali for a spectacular view. The sheltered sandy beaches make a superb playground, and the waters are calm and safe for swimmers. Termessos,(also known as Termessus) was inhabited by the Pisidians, an indigenous Anatolian nation of noted ferocity. The city first appears in history during the conquests of Alexander the Great. Alexander swept through the region but after winning a skirmish in the narrow mountain passes near the city, declined to storm it. In the Hellenistic period, Termessos gradually "Hellenized," adapting Greek culture, language and even becoming a democracy. The impressive theatre was built during this period, no doubt serving as both entertainment venue and political meeting place. Throughout the period, Termessos was engaged in frequent warfare with its neighbors, often taking on more than one. For its help in his campaign against Selge (c. 158 BC), Attalus II of Pergamum erected the city's elegant stoa (porch). Termessos passed easily into Roman friendship and later empire. The city received considerable autonomy for its role against King Mithridates. It guarded its privileges jealously; remarkably, its coinage never included either image or title of the Emperors. Most of the city's buildings were erected in this period, including a temple to the Emperor Hadrian.The ancient city of Olympos is situated on the southern side of Mt. Tahtah. Oleander and laurel bushes shade the Olympos Valley, which can be approached by land or sea. The light playing on the quiet pools of water enhance the mosaics in the bath.
A temple gate possibly built during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD), part of a bridge, and a Roman theater also remain from antiquity. The outer walls and towers around the bay date from the Middle Ages.
Perge (18 km from Antalya) was an important city of ancient Pamphylia, originally settled by the Hittites around 1500 BC. St. Paul visited this city on his first missionary journey. The theater stage has finely carved marble reliefs, and other carvings from around the city are displayed in the stadium. Amateur archeologists will want to see the handsome city gate flanked by two lofty towers, a long colonnaded road once paved with mosaics and lined with shops, a large agora, the public baths and a gymnasium.
Aspendos Theatre,the best-preserved theater of antiquity, with seating for 15,000. Still used today, the theater's galleries, stage decorations and acoustics all testify to the architect's success. Nearby stand the remains of a basilica, an agora and one of the largest aqueducts in Anatolia.
Side, one of the best-known classical sites in Turkey, was an ancient harbor whose name meant pomegranate. Today a pretty resort town, its ancient ruins, two sandy beaches, numerous shops and extensive tourist accommodation attract throngs of visitors. There are numerous cafes and restaurants with a view of the sea, and the shops that line the narrow streets sell typical Turkish handicrafts including leather goods and Turkey's famous beautiful gold jewelry. The magnificent theater of the ancient city, built on colonnaded arches, is the largest in the whole area. Other monuments include the agora, the Temple of Apollo, which is situated near the sea, a fountain and necropolis. The extensive Roman baths, now a museum, houses one of Turkey's finest archeological collections.
Seleucia of Pamphlyia 15 km northeast of Side, are the remains (in good condition) of Roman baths, temples, churches, a mausoleum, theatre and agora. One of the most interesting and well known.The ancient city of Myra, now called Demre or Kale, is 25 km west of Finike. It was inhabited as early as 500 BC. Many splendidly carved rock tombs dating from the 4th century BC overlook the magnificent Roman theater. St. Nicholas, who was born in Pata-ra, was the bishop of Myra during the 4th century AD, and died there in 345 Every year in December the St. Nicholas Commemoration. Ceremony attracts many tourists who spend their Christmas holidays on the sunny Mediterranean coast of ancient Lycia.Kekova, an island an hour from Dalyanagzi by sea, gives its name to a whole ensemble of picturesque islands, numerous bays and ancient cities. These bays provide natural harbors in all seasons, and yachtsmen particularly enjoy exploring the unspoiled land scape. Along the northern shore of Kekova Island at Apollonia, earthquakes have disturbed the land causing some of the ancient houses to sink under the clear water, thus creating a sunken city. Kalekoy Castle (Simena) offers a bird's-eye view of the bays, inlets, islands and colorful yachts sailing peacefully over the glassy water.Kas.was founded in the 4th century BC as Antiphellos. Now only the Lycian rock tombs, sarcophagi and a theater are left. But the charm of the town remains, and it is a pleasure to wander through the streets, stopping to examine souvenir shops that offer Turkish handicrafts, leather goods, copper and silver items, cotton clothing and the inevitable handmade carpet.The ancient Lycian capital ofXanthos, today in the Turkish village Kimk, lies 18 km north of Patara. The theater, Tomb of the Harpies, Nereid Monument, agora, and Inscribed Pillar, among a mixture of ruins from Lycian, Roman and Byzantine times, create a special atmosphere at this site. At the Lycian cultic center of Letoon, six km farther, three temples dedicated to Leto, Apollo and Artemis, familiar gods of mythology, await the exploring tourist.
ANKARA Region and CAPPADOCIA
The city of Ankara lies in the center ofAnatolia on the eastern edge of the great, high Anatolian Plateau, at an altitude of 850 meters. The province is a predominantly fertile wheat steppeland, with forested areas in the northeast. The region's history goes back to the Bronze Age Hatti civilization, which was succeeded in the 2nd millennium B.C. by the Hittites, in the 10th century B.C. by the Phrygians, then by the Lydians and Persians. After these came the Galatians, a Celtic race who were the first to make Ankara their capital in the 3rd century B.C. It was then known as Ancyra, meaning "anchor," one of the oldest words in the language of the sea-loving Celts. The City subsequently fell to the Romans, and to the Byzantines.The city was an important cultural, trading, and arts center in Roman times, and an important trading center on the caravan route to the east in Ottoman times. It had declined in importance by the nineteenth century. It again became an important center when Kemal Ataturk chose it as the base from which to direct the War of Liberation. By consequence of its role in the war and its strategic position, it was declared the capital of the new Republic of Turkey on October 13th, 1923.
Anittkabir (Ataturk Mausoleum): Located on an imposing hill in the Anittepe quarter of the city stands the mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey. Completed in 1953, it is an impressive fusion of ancient and modern architectural ideas and remains unsurpassed as an accomplishment of modern Turkish architecture.
There is a museum housing a superior wax statue of Atatürk; writings, letters and items belonging to Atatürk, as well as an exhibition of photographs recording important moments in his life and in the establishment of the Republic. ( Anıtkabir is open everyday, and the museum everyday except Mondays. During the summer , there is a light and sound show in the evenings ).
The Museum of Anatolian Civilizationsis close tothe citadel entrance. An old bedesten (covered bazaar) has been beautifully restored and now houses a marvelous and unique collection of Paleolithic, Neolithic, Hatti, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian, and Roman works and showpiece Lydian treasures. (Open every day, except Monday. During the summer, the museum opens every day).
Roman Theatre: The remains, including pro-scene (stage), and scene (backstage), can be seen outside the citadel. Roman statues that were found here are exhibited in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. The audience area is still under excavation. Temple of Augustus: The temple is in the Ulus quarter of the city. It was built by the Galatian King Pylamenes in 10 A.D. as a tribute to Augustus, and was reconstructed by the Romans on the ancient Ankara Acropolis in the 2nd century. It is important today for the "Monument Ancyranum," the sole surviving "Political Testament" of Augustus, detailing his achievements, inscribed on its walls in Latin and Greek. In the fifth century the temple was converted into a church by the Byzantines. Roman Bath: The bath, situated on Cankiri Avenue in Ulus, has all the typical features: a jrigidarium (cold room), tepidaiium (cool room) and caldarium (hot room). They were built in the time of Emperor Caracalla (3rd century A.D.) in honour of Asclepios, the god of medicine. Today only the basement and first floors remain. Column of Julian: This column, in Ulus, was erected in 362 A.D., probably to commemorate a visit by the Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate. It stands fifteen meters high and has a typical leaf decoration on the capital.
Catalhoyuk, 45 km south of Konya, is a fascinating Neolithic site dating from the eighth millennium B.C., which makes it one of the world's oldest towns. Archeologists have determined that holes in the roofs of the mud houses were the entrance doors. The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara houses the famous temple (reconstructed), along with mother-goddess figures and Neolithic frescoes from the original site
Gordion (Yassihoyuk) 105 km southwest of Ankara on the Eski§ehir highway, was the capital of Phrygia and the place where Alexander the Great cut the Gordion Knot to gain the key to Asia. The tumulus of King Midas, who turned whatever he touched to gold, can be visited here. Nearby, the remains of the ancient city Gordion, still under excavation, and a small museum are worth a quick tour. Farther along the same Ankara-Eskisehir road is Balhhisar (Pessinus), an important Phrygian religious cult center. The most important remains are those of a temple to Cybele, the mother goddess whose worship was at the heart of the Phrygian culture. The small open air museum has some interesting sculptures and tombstones. At Midas City Yazilikaya, between Afyon and Eski§ehir, two enormous facades cut into a rocky promontory once held cultstatues for the worship of Cybele in their niches. Throughout the area rock tombs, cave-like openings, pierce the sand colored stone. An underground passage leads from the site to the valley below. Aslantas and Aslankaya were both centers of cult worship in Phrygian times.
Hittite city ofHattusas, known today as Bogazkale. The more than 70 temples in the city made this the Hittite religious center and gave it the name, “ City of Temples “. The largest ruins are those of the great temple to the storm god Teshup.The Acropolis contained government buildings, the Imperial Palace and the archives of the Hittite Empire. In 1180 B.C. the Phrygians devastated the city. After thorough excavations at the site, the city walls are now being extensively restored.
Alacahoyuk,North of Bogazkale on the road to Çorum, was the center of the flourishing Hattian culture during the Bronze Age.The magnificent Hattian gold and bronze objects in the Museum of Anatolian Civilization in Ankara were found in the Royal Tombs dating from this period. All the standing remains at Alacahöyük, however, such as the Sphinx Gate , date from the Hittite period.
Konya, one of Turkey's oldest continuously inhabited cities was known as Iconium in Roman times. The capital of the Seljuk Turks from the 12th to the 13th centuries, it ranks as one of the great cultural centers of Turkey. During that period of cultural, political and religious growth, the mystic Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi founded a Sufi Order known in the West as the Whirling Dervishes. The striking green-tiled mausoleum of Mevlana is Konya's most famous building. Attached to the mausoleum, the former dervish seminary serves now as a museum housing manuscripts of Mevlana's works and various artifacts related to the mysticism of the sect.
The Karatay Medrese,now a museum, displays bold and striking Seljuk ceramics. Derbe, 30 km north of Karaman, was an important early Christian site; one of the many where St. Paul preached the gospel.
The Cappadocian region has been inhabited since prehistoric times. During the Early Bronze Age, Cappadocia came under the influence of Assyrian civilization thanks to exteasive trade, and it was during this period that writing was introduced. Researchers have turned up hoards of so-called "Cappadocian tablets"- clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform writing - whose texts speak of tax regulations, interest rates, marriage contracts, trade disputes, and much else besides. The eaiptions appear to have begun in the Upper Miocene, less than 70 million years ago, in which lava began to flow from volcanoes submerged in Neogene lakes. The plateau of tuff formed from the materials discharged by the main volcanoes was continuously altered by the eruptions of smaller and less violent volcanoes.From the Upper Pliocene onwards, these layers of tuff were exposed to erosion by rain and the waters of lakes and rivers, particularly the Kizilirmak, resulting in what we see today. Floodwater pouring down the sides of valleys combined with strong winds tore away the softer volcanic rock exposing the harder varieties and resulting in the formations known as "fairy chimneys" of which there are several types in Cappadocia - conical,enchanted by the allure of Cappadocia and left the imprint of their own presence here.
Because of its location, Cappadocia was an extremely critical and strategic region. Important trade routes - including the illustrious Silk Road - traversed it both east and west and north and south. As a result of this heavy traffic, the region was a complex web of historical and cultural influences. Cappadocia was where different faiths and philosophies met and influenced one another.
Cappadocia's trade and resources were tempting prizes and the region was frequently invaded, raided, and looted. To protect themselves from such depredations, die local inhabitants took to living in the region's caverns and grottos whose entrances could be concealed so as not to be noticed by trouble-making outsiders. Since it might be
necessary to lie low for extended periods of time, tliese troglodytic dwellings eventually became subterranean cities that included sources of water, places to store food, wineries, and temples. Some of them date back to before the Christian era. In the early years of the first millennium, groups of Christians fleeing from Roman persecution began moving into die inaccessible wilds of Cappadocia seeking refuge. One group, which arrived here from Jerusalem via Antioch (Antakya) and Caesarea (Kayseri) in the second century, settled down in the area now called Derinkuyu. Finding the soft volcanic tuff easy to carve, they began expanding the natural caves, linking them together and in addition to dwellings, creating chapels, churches, and whole monasteries as they shaped with their hearts, minds, and hands the peace and security that they so desperately sought.There are said to be more than a thousand churches and chapels in Cappadocia. The variety and artistry of their architecture, layout, and decoration are fascinating and amazing. The whole panoply of religions architecture - basilicas with single, double, or triple naves, cruciform plans, vestibules, aisles, apses,domes, columns, pillars, and more - can be found in these churches, and all of it has been hollowed out of the stone. Many of the churches are decorated with painstakingly executed frescoes. The monumental task of restoring, repairing, and maintaining these churches and underground cities goes on continuously even while they receive thousands of visitors a year.
Urgup, a lively tourist center at the foot of a rock ridge riddled with old dwellings, serves as an excellent base from which to tour the sights of Cappadocia.
The Goreme Open-Air Museum, a monastic complex of rock churches and chapels covered with frescoes, is one of the best-known sites in central Turkey. Most of the chapels date from the 10th to the 13th centuries (the Byzantine and Seljuk periods) and many of them are built on an inscribed cross-plan with a central cupola supported by four columns. In the north annexes of several churches are cut-rock tombs. Among the most famous of the Goreme churches are the Elmali Church, the smallest and most recent of the group; the Yilanli Church with fascinating frescoes of the damned entwined in serpent coils; the Barbara Church; and the Carikli Church. A short way from the main group, the Tokali Kilise, or Buckle Church, has beautiful frescoes depicting scenes from the New Testament. Rock formations rise up before you at every turn and entice you to stop and wonder at their creation. For those who climb the steps to the top of the Uchisar fortress the whole region unfolds below. Rugs, kilims, and popular souvenirs can easily be purchased from the shops which line Uchisar's narrow streets. At Cavusin, on the road leading north out of Goreme, you will find a triple-apse church and the monastery of St. John the Baptist, In the town are chapels and churches, and some of the rock houses are still inhabited. From Cavusin io Zelve, fairy chimneys line the road. The charming town of Avanos, on the banks of the Kizihrmak River, displays attractive local architecture and is known for its handicrafts. Pottery is the most popular handicraft and it is usually possible to try your hand at making a pot in one of the many studios. Rug weaving and knotting is also making aplateau surrounding Nevsehir with tufa, a soft stone comprised of lava, ash and mud. The wind and rain have eroded this brittle rock and created a spectacular surrealistic landscape of rock cones, capped pinnacles and fretted ravines, in colors that range from warm reds and golds to cool greens and greys. Locals call these fascinating capped pinnacles "peri bacalari" or "fairy chimneys."
The underground cities of Kaymakli, Mazi, Derinkuyu, and Ozkonak were all used by Christians of the seventh century, who were fleeing from persecution. They sheltered from the iconoclastic strife of Byzantium as well as other invasions in these safe and well-hidden complexes. These cities were a complete and self-sufficient environment, including rooms for grain storage, stables, sleeping chambers, kitchens and air shafts.
The Melendiz River, at Ihlara Valley, has eroded the banks into an impressive canyon. Byzantine rock chapels covered with frescoes pierce the canyon walls. Some of the best kncwn are the Agagalti (Daniel) Church, the Yilanli (Apocalypse) Church and the Sumbullu (Hyacinth) Church. Guzelyurt is another valley with dwellings dating from prehistoric times. You can see the beautiful silhouette of Mt. Hasan rising like a crown above the town. The valley's underground cities, buildings carved into the rock, interesting architecture, churches, chapels and mosques embody all of the characteristics of Cappadocia and give visitors a sense of historical continuity.
Soganli Valley, 50 km south of Urgtip, is picturesque with its innumerable chapels, churches, halls, houses and tombs. The frescoes, from the 8th to the 13th centuries, trace the development of Byzantine painting.
Smyrnawas the second city to receive a letter from the apostle John in the book of Revelation. Acts 19:10 suggests that the church there was founded during Paul’s third missionary journey. Due to the fact that the port city of Izmir houses the second largest population in Turkey today, the site of ancient Smyrna has been little excavated. Excepting the agora, theater, and sections of the Roman aqueduct, little remains of the ancient city.
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.
Sardis(modern Sart) was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia and home King Croesus (560-546 BC), famous for his wealth.
Liberated from the Persians by Alexander the Great in c.340 BC, Sardis became a Greek city with an impressive Temple of Artemis. In the Roman era, the temple was expanded and used also for the imperial cult, and a huge bath-gymnasium complex was built.
Ancient Sardis had a very large and prosperous Jewish community, which produced the largest ancient synagogue outside of Palestine. Christianity arrived in the 1st century AD and Sardis was one of the Seven Churches of Revelation. Sardis now lies entirely in ruins and is an archaeological site in the village of Sartmahmut with ongoing excavations.
Thyatira became an early center of Christianity. The apostle Paul visited the city on a number of occasions during his missionary travels. Lydia, the woman converted by St. Paul at Philippi, was from Thyatira (Acts 16:13-15).
The Emperor Vespasian began great undertakings at Thyatira; it was also visited by Hadrian in the year 123, and by Caracalla in 215.
We know from testimony given by St. Epiphanius that at the beginning of the third century almost all Thyatira was Christianized. A bishop of Thyatira attended the Council of Nicea in 325 and the Council of Ephesus in 431.
The bishopric of Thyatira was subject to that of Sardis as late as the 10th century; it is not known when it disappeared. In the Middle Ages the Turks changed the name of Thyatira to that of Ak-Hissar (the White Fortress), which it still bears.
Philadelphiawas founded in 189 BC by King Eumenes II of Pergamum (197-160 BC), who named the city for the love of his brother who would be his successor, Attalus II (159-138 BC).Lacking an heir, Pergamum King Attalus III Philometer bequeathed his kingdom, including Philadelphia, to his Roman allies when he died in 133 BC. Rome set up the province of Asia in 129 BC by combining Ionia and the former Kingdom of Pergamum.The ancient city of Philadelphia had several temples. Like nearby Sardis, it was hit with a devastating earthquake in 17 AD; the city was rebuilt with the help of Emperor Tiberius.Ancient Philadelphia was the sixth of the Seven Churches of Revelation (written around 100 AD). In Revelation 3:12, the believer who overcomes is compared to a pillar in the temple of God.
Ephesus, The city ruins include a theater, a gymnasium, the agora and baths, as well as the Celsus Library. The earliest artifacts from Ephesus are dated at 3000 BC. After the early civilization of the Carians and Leleks was destroyed by the Kimmerians in the seventh century BC, the area was rebuilt by the Lydian King Croesus. The area was subsequently conquered by the Persian king, Cyrus, and later by the Romans. Ephesus was an important port city until with the passing of time and erosion, the bay gradually filled with sand. Also, earthquakes damaged the city and by 527 AD it was deserted.
The nearby town of Selcuk is dominated by a Byzantine citadel which stands close to the 6th century basilica of St. John built on what some claim to be the site of the Apostle's tomb. The 14th century Isa Bey Mosque, next to the basilica is accessed through its typical Seljuk portal. The Archeological Museum houses an impressive collection of statues and other finds recovered during the excavations of Ephesus.
Virgin Mary,after the death of Christ and that she lived until the age of 101 in a small house (Meryemana Evi) built for her on Bulbuldagi (Mt. Koressos). Now a popular place of pilgrimage for Catholics and Muslims
Prienewas one of the busiest ports of the Ionian Federation. The grid-like system of streets introduced in the fourth century BC by Hippodamos of Miletos is a superb example of early town planning.
Milet (Miletos),like Priene, was a great Ionian port and the birthplace of several philosophers and sages. The theater justifies a visit as do the Archeology Museum and the well - preserved ruins of the Faustina baths
Didim (Didyma)can only boast a single monument, it is nevertheless a marvelous site. The Temple of Apollo was one of antiquity's most sacred places. Many times looted and burned, the sanctuary still impresses with its elegant beauty. A double - colonnaded portico surrounds the colossal temple.
Dalyanon the inland waterway The maze of channels is easily explored by boat as you explore this tranquil dream world. The restaurants which line the waterways specialize in delicious fresh fish. High on the cliff face, above the fascinating ancient harbor city of Caunos, are magnificent tombs that were carved into the rock. The Dalyan Delta, with the long, golden Iztuzu sandy beach at its mouth, is a nature conservation area and a refuge for sea turtles (Caretta caretta) and blue crabs.
Aphrodisias stretches farther back in time, this city dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of love and fertility, rose to prominence in the first century BC. Some of the richest treasures of ancient times were uncovered in the excavations here. The public buildings are handsomely adorned with marble that was carved with the skill that produced remarkable temples, monuments, baths, a theater and a magnificent stadium. The reputation of the city's craftsmen for the exquisite finesse of their statuary and marble sculpting spread through the civilized world, and Aphrodisias became the center of the greatest sculpting school of antiquity.Many of its marvelous works of art are now housed in the local museum. The theater and bouleuterion are among the city's best-preserved ruins.
Hierapolisis a fairyland of dazzling white, calcified castles. Thermal spring waters laden with calcareous salts running off the plateau's edge have created this fantastic formation of stalactites, cataracts and basins. The hot springs have been used since Roman times for their therapeutic powers. Both the thermal center with its hotels and thermal pools, and the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis, are situated on the plateau. The 2nd century Roman theater there seats 25,000.
Laodiceais an ancient city in present-day western Turkey, founded by Seleucid King Antiochus II in honor of his wife, Laodice.Laodicea became a prosperous Roman market town on the trade route from the East, famous for its woolen and cotton cloths. The city was an early center of Christianity and one of the Seven Churches of Revelation. In the 4th century, Apollinaris of Laodicea proposed the theory later called Apollinarianism, which was considered heretical by the Catholic Church.A large earthquake destroyed Laodicea and it has never been rebuilt. Remnants of the ancient city include a stadium, sarcophagi, an amphitheatre, an odeon, a cistern and an aqueduct. Most of the city remains to be excavated. Most visitors use nearby Denizli (population 200,000) as a base for exploring Laodicea.
From the European border with Bulgaria to the Georgian border, dense pine forests cover the mountaintops while lush vegetation and bountiful crops grow in the lower elevations and valleys. Along the coastline, mile after mile of beautiful uncrowded beaches offer sun, swimming and relaxation. In the springtime, delicate wild-Rower blossoms carpet the rolling meadows of the eastern hills. The wooden houses in fishing villages and mountain hamlets alike preserve indigenous and traditional architectural styles. The humid climate and fertile soil encourage cultivation of a variety of crops including tea, tobacco, corn and hazelnuts. The magic of such a diverse landscape proves irresistible to any friend of nature, whether hiker or mountain climber or canoe enthusiast; whether you go in by mountain bike or by jeep safari. Archeological excavations from the early Neolithic Age settlements at Ikiztepe in Samsun Province have uncovered evidence of the region's earliest inhabitants between 7000 - 5000 BC. The Hittites, Miletians, Phrygians and, according to Homer, the Amazons all colonized parts of the coast. Alexander the Grea'. in his world conquest also brought the region under his sovereignty. Eventually, it was incorporated into the Roman and then the Byzantine Empire. The 15th century saw the greater part of the area come under the Ottoman rule of Sultan Mehmet II.
Zonguldak,called Sandra or Sandraka in ancient times, is a major center of coal production and an important Black Sea port. The ancient history of this region including Paflagonia and Bithynia was influenced by the cultures of the Hittites, Phrygians, Assyrians, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, and Byzantines. Later the various Turkish cultures left their influence on the area.
Safranboluis the most important industrial center in Turkey, known for its iron and steel industry.Step back in time in the lovely "old world" style of the town to see some of the most beautiful traditional old homes, unique in Turkey for their outstanding design and construction. The most interesting of these include Kaymakamlar House and Havuzlu Konak which has been restored and is now used as a hotel.
Amasra, one of the most beautiful towns on the Black Sea coast, was called Sesamos in ancient times, when it was founded by the Miletians in the sixth century BC. It stands on a peninsula made by two inlets. The eastern side enjoys a reputation for good swimming. On a rocky promontory rise the ramparts of a Byzantine citadel, inside of which is an old church, now the Fatih Mosque. The necropolis dates from the Roman period. Remnants from Amasra's entire history are displayed in the Archeology Museum.
Sinop is one of the most beautiful natural harbors of the Black Sea. The first evidences of civilization date from 4500 BC. It was founded as a major colony in the seventh century BC by Miletian colonists and was the birthplace of the third century BC philosopher, Diogenes the Cynic. The town's citadel and the foundations of a temple dedicated to the god Serapis, who was supposedly born in Sinop, date from that period. Serapis was worshipped in the Roman world as far away as Egypt. After the Miletians, subsequent rulers included the Phrygians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Selcuks, and beginning in 1461, the Ottomans. The Archeology Museum exhibits several beautiful golden icons, and the 18th-century Asian Torunlar Mansion Museum displays ethnographical artifacts. Other important monuments include the 13th-century Alaeddin Mosque and the Alaiye Medrese.
Samsun (418 km northeast of Ankara and 168 km southeast of Sinop) is a modern industrial city that has served as a major port for centuries. Products from all over the region are exported from this city, which annually hosts the Samsun Trade and Industrial Fair.
Trabzon, a provincial capital 346 km east of Samsun, has a long history. The earliest evidences of civilization are dated at 7000 BC. In 1200 BC, warriors from Trabzon reportedly participated in the Trojan war. The area has been ruled by Assyrians, Miletians, Persians, Romans, Goths, Comnenes, and Ottomans. The Miletian colonists came in the 7th century BC, and Alexander the Great in 334 BC. The Romans engaged in an extensive building program from 110 to 118 AD. The Goths conquered the area in 258. The jewel of Trabzon's monuments is the restored 13th-century Byzantine church, used for centuries as a mosque and now as the Ayasofya Museum. Splendid frescoes, some of the finest examples of Byzantine painting, cover every one of the interior church walls. It was built between 1250 and 1260 during the time of Manuel I, one of the Comnene kings in Trabzon. Several other churches were converted to mosques, two becoming the Fatih Mosque and the Yeni Cuma Mosque. The Ottoman Gulbahar Hatun Mosque, a typical provincial style building, is set in a lovely tea garden. Wooden houses fill the old quarter nestled in the ancient fortifications, which still retain the spirit of a medieval town. Altindere National Park in Macka County provides a magnificent setting for the 14th-century Sumela (Virgin Mary) Monastery, perched high on a cliff face 270 meters above a deep gorge. Surrounded by the ruins of the monks' quarters, is a church covered inside and out with brilliant frescoes.
Lake Uzungol, a lovely alpine lake surrounded by mountains and meadows, excellent for camping, hiking and fishing.
Rize (75 km east of Trabzon) is built on a mountain slope covered with tea bushes that look like puffy green pillows. Be sure to see this typical Black Sea city's 16th-century Islam Pasa Mosque and the remains of a Genoese castle. From Ziraat Park you can take in a splendid panorama of the whole area. A lightweight summer cloth of good quality and printed with colorful patterns comes from the Rize area. During the Summer Tea Festival you can purchase the best blend of Black Sea tea. Mehmet Mataraci Mansion is now an Atatiirk Museum that displays his personal belongings as well as ethnographical artifacts from the region.
Eastern & Southeastern Anatolia
The Eastern Anatolia Region is the largest geographical region in Turkey. It covers 21 percent of Turkey with a surface area of 163,000 km2. It is adjacent to the Black Sea, Central Anatolian, the Mediterranean and the Southeastern Anatolia Regions. It also has borders with Georgia, Armenia, Nakhichevan, Iran and Iraq.
The Eastern Anatolia Region is the highest and the most uneven region. The average altitude is around 2000 meters. The highest peaks in Turkey are located in this region. Agri Dagi (Mount Ararat) is 5137 meters, the Resko Peak on Cilo Mountain is 4135 meters and Suphan Mountain is 4058 meters. The fact that Eastern Anatolia is high and mountainous and separated from the sea by mountain ranges causes the average annual temperatures to be low and the winters to be severe. The region is different from other regions from the aspect of the number of days it snows in the region and the number of days when the ground is covered with snow. In Kars and Erzurum Provinces, the number of days the ground is covered with snow is approximately 90 days a year.
The main economic activities in the Eastern Anatolia Region are animal husbandry and agriculture. The abundance of pastures in the region caused the number of animals to increase and priority was given to the production of animal products. In fact, the production of animal products in the region is about one fourth of the total production in Turkey.
Arable lands suitable for agriculture are limited in Eastern Anatolia. Only one tenth of the whole region is arable. More than 90 percent of these arable lands are allocated for grains. Among the types of grains, wheat is first and barley is second. In contrast to this, the sowing of industrial plants is not very widespread. Cotton, tobacco and sugar beets are among the main industrial plants sown. Sugar beets started to be sown following the construction of sugar plants in the region.
Fruit trees at high elevations have almost completely disappeared. In contrast to this, various fruits are grown on some hollow plains which are protected from the cold. The plains of Erzincan, Malatya and Elazig are important in this respect. Good quality fruit is also grown on the narrow strip surrounding Van Lake. The section below Kagizman of the Aras Valley and Igdir Plain are regions where fruit trees are concentrated.
The main industrial branches in the region are cotton textiles, sugar, cement, food and tobacco enterprises. The hydroelectric power plant at Keban, the thermoelectric power plant at Afsin-Elbistan and the other plants which are still being constructed contribute significantly to the energy production in Turkey.
Erzurum - The Citadel of Eastern Anatolia
Erzurum is the largest provincial capital in Eastern Anatolia and it was founded on the foot of the Palandoken Mountains at an elevation of 1950 meters. Erzurum known as the citadel of Eastern Anatolia, is located on an important trade junction and transit route between Ankara, Trabzon and Teheran. Furthermore, it is connected to every part of the country both by airways and railways. The city is at the same time the cultural center of Eastern Anatolia. Ataturk University in the city is one of the best higher education institutions in Turkey.
Erzurum is a rich historical treasure, with its centuries old mosques, forts, towers and large tombs with dome-shaped or conical roofs. The Twin Minaret Madrasah, the symbol of the city, belongs to the Seljuk Period. The capital of its portal, with its stone carved ornaments, is among the most beautiful examples of Seljuk art. The minarets at both sides of the capital portal are 26 meters high and they are decorated with turquoise colored glazed tiles. Uc Kumbetler a group of three tombs, is one of the monumental works in Erzurum. The largest of these tombs is the large tomb of Emir Saltuk, the founder of the Saltuklu State, which is placed on an octagonal plan. The most important mosques in the city are the Grand Mosque, from the twelfth century, and the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque from the sixteenth century.
The Rustem Pasha Caravanserai was built by Rustem Pasha, the Grand Vizier of Kanuni Sultan Suleyman (Suleyman the Magnificent). The caravanserai, which has the characteristics of the sixteenth century Ottoman architecture, is being used as a market place, with workshops processing the famous "oltu" stone (jet) and galleries where it is sold. The Aziziye Monument, that was erected to represent the heroism displayed by the people of Erzurum as a whole during the Ottoman-Russian War in 1878, is one of the most important monuments in the city. The forts built to defend the city of Erzurum during the war are located on the strategic hills in the surroundings. The building where the Erzurum Congress was held on 23 July 1919 has been organized as a museum to keep alive the memories of the Congress.
The Palandoken Ski Center is 5 km to the south of Erzurum. It is among the longest and steepest ski runs in the world. The length of the chair lift is 3237 meters and the difference in altitude from the start to the finish is 1000 meters. Among the other points of interest in Erzurum are the Tortum Lake and Waterfall, with its steep cliffs, the Cobandede Bridge, which has a length of 220 meters, built by the Seljuks on the Aras River in the thirteenth century, Pasinler and Oltu Citadels.
Malatya and its surroundings have been the host to various civilizations from the first ages of history. The city of Malatya, which is located in the middle of a fertile plateau, the surroundings of which are irrigated by many large and small streams, is where various fruits are grown, including the world famous apricots. Fruit orchards, grain fields and animal husbandry in the pastures are the main assets of Malatya. The city with its planned urbanization, is today the main Eastern Anatolian city, it has industry, medical facilities and a university. The most frequently visited places in the city are the Archaeological Museum and the New Mosque of the last Ottoman Period, which was built in 1912. Battalgazi, to the north of the city, is an important historical center. The citadel in Battalgazi was first constructed by Titus, the Roman Emperor, in the first century A.D. and then restored extensively by the Seljuks in the twelfth century. The Battalgazi Grand Mosque is the only example of a mosque plan with iwans in Anatolia. Aslantepe archaeological excavation site is at a distance of 4 km from Malatya on the road to Battalgazi. The excavations are continuing at Aslantepe, which is a Late Hittite City where there are ruins of Hittite palaces remaining from the thirteenth century B.C.
Van on the southeastern shores of Lake Van, the largest lake in Turkey, was Tuspa, the capital city of the Urartians (1000 B.C.). Van Citadel was first constructed by Sardur I, the Urartian King, in the ninth century B.C., is 80 meters above the lake level and extends 1800 meters from the east to the west, and 120 meters from the north to the south. The city of Van was at the southern foot of the citadel before the First World War.
Today, in this region which is called Old Van, there are historical structures from the Seljuk and Ottoman Periods.Urartian artifacts found in the region are exhibited in a rich collection, at the Archaeological Museum in Van.The city is known for its kilims, made with natural dyes and the art of silversmithing is also developed. Furthermore, Van cats are famous because the color of each eye is different and they have thick white fur.
Lake Vanis in the realm of the beauties of Eastern Anatolia. Mountain silhouettes, coves, beaches, islands, waterfalls and centers belonging to various historical ages are located around the lake. There is plenty of sodium carbonate in the lake which is at an elevation of 1720 meters above sea level. The fish caught in the lake are without fat and very delicious. Among the islands in Lake Van, Akdamar Island is the most beautiful. This is the place in the region that becomes green the earliest in the spring. There is a church remaining from the tenth century on the island, which can be reached by motorboat from the wharf, at a distance of 45 km from Van.
Kars - The Caucasus Gate
Kars is the city called the "Caucasus Gate" of Eastern Anatolia. The city was founded at the eastern side of the Kars Stream, which merges with the Arpacay. The city is composed of two parts, the Old Kars and the New Kars. The Old Kars was founded around the Kars Citadel, located on a hill to the north, and the core of it is formed by the Kaleici District. The New Kars which was founded after 1878, extends towards the plain. The significant difference between the new city, which was built according to a systematic plan, where the streets and avenues intersect each other perpendicularly, and the old city with its narrow and irregular streets, can be noticed readily. There are some structures built by the Russians in Kars. The city was occupied by the Russians three times in 1828, 1855 and 1877, and was under Russian sovereignty for approximately forty years during the third occupation.
The historical Kars Citadel, the symbol of the city, was constructed by Saltukoglu Izzeddin Han in 1152. The Citadel, which was repaired many times, has two sections, the inner section and the outer section. Only seven of the 220 towers have lasted until the present. The Museum of Apostles is located to the south of the Kars Citadel. The museum is an old church constructed for the 12 Apostles in the tenth century. There are reliefs of the twelve apostles between the exterior window arches of the building.
The most important historical city around Kars is Ani. Ani, which was founded as a fortress city, became the capital of the Bagratid Kingdom in the tenth century. The city walls in the ancient city, the Menucehr Mosque, the Seljuk Palace and the Museum-Churches of Nakisli, Keseli, the Virgin Mary and Abugamrents are worth seeing.
Kars is known for its rich folklore, carpets and kilims made by using natural dyes, kasar cheese and honey. The fact that various Turkish tribes lived in the region caused the folk music and dances to be very colorful and diverse.
Sarikamis, a county of Kars Province, is surrounded by forests and known for its natural beauties. The monument erected in memory of the Turkish martyrs who died during the First World War in Sarikamis and the Hunting Lodge built for the Russian Tsar Nikola are worth seeing. Sarikamis is at the same time the winter sports center of the entire region.
Located on the eastern border of Turkey, Ağrı has been a settlement place for different civilizations since the ancient times. Hurris were one of the oldest civilisations that settled in Ağrı (between 1340-1200 BC). In the middle of the 7th century, Arabs took control of the area and the Byzantines followed them. Later in 1054, the Seljuks conquered the city from the Byzantines. During the Ottoman Empire, the province was a sanjak called Doğu Bayazıt. It became a city center in 1927. Taking its name from the Mount Ağrı, the city called as Ağrı in 1938.
The history of Doğubeyazıt goes back to the Urartu times (over 2700 years ago). The region was controlled by the Persians in 250 B.C. and then later by the Romans.
Mount Ararat, Agrı Dagi , extinct volcanic massif in extreme eastern Turkey overlooking the point at which the frontiers of Turkey, Iran, and Armenia converge. Its northern and eastern slopes rise from the broad alluvial plain of the Aras River, about 3,300 feet (1,000 metres) above sea level; its southwestern slopes rise from a plain about 5,000 feet (1,500 metres) above sea level; and on the west a low pass separates it from a long range of other volcanic ridges extending westward toward the eastern Taurus ranges.
Ararat traditionally is associated with the mountain on which Noah’s Ark came to rest at the end of the Flood. The name Ararat, as it appears in the Bible, is the Hebrew equivalent of Urardhu, or Urartu, the Assyro-Babylonian name of a kingdom that flourished between the Aras and the Upper Tigris rivers from the 9th to the 7th century bce. Ararat is sacred to the Armenians, who believe themselves to be the first race of humans to appear in the world after the Deluge. A Persian legend refers to the Ararat as the cradle of the human race. There was formerly a village on the slopes of the Ararat high above the Aras plain, at the spot where, according to local tradition, Noah built an altar and planted the first vineyard. Above the village Armenians built a monastery to commemorate St. Jacob, who is said to have tried repeatedly but failed to reach the summit of Great Ararat in search of the Ark. The village, the monastery of St. Jacob, and a nearby chapel of St. James were all totally destroyed by an earthquake and avalanche in 1840.
The Southeastern Anatolia Region has a very richhistory and cultural heritage, as can be seen in itsmagnificent historical sites. Its history begins around7,000 BC in the New Stone Age. Between 2,000 BC and 1,500 BC came the Hurris who were followed bythe Hittites sometime around 1,200 BC.
Gazi Antep (685 km southeast of Ankara) is located on a wide and fertile plain cultivated with extensive olive groves and vineyards and produces a wide variety of agricultural crops. It is especially known throughout Turkey for its excellent pistachios. Industry also contributes to the local economy.
The 36 towers of the city's fortress were originally constructed in the Justinian era and were later rebuilt by the Seljuks. The Archeology Museum has important artifacts from Neolithic, Hittite and Roman , Byzantine periods.The mosaics of the ancient city of Zeugma (was originally founded as a Greek settlement by Seleucus I Nicator, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, in 300 BC. King Seleucus almost certainly named the city Seleucia after himself; whether this city is, or can be, the city known as Seleucia on the Euphrates or Seleucia at the Zeugma is disputed. The population in the city at its peak was approximately 80,000) are also displayed at the museum.
In the 12th century BC, Kahraman Maras (78 km north of Gazi Antep) was the capital of the Hittite state of Gurgum. A massive citadel built in the 2nd century BC now houses the city museum with a good collection of Hittite sculptures. Other sites include the 15th-century Ulu Mosque and the Tas Medrese. The city is famous throughout Turkey for its ice-cream thickened with gum arable and beaten with a wooden paddle.
Nemrut Dagi,the highest mountain in Northern Mesopotamia at 2,150 meters, sits the gigantic funerary sanctuary erected in the first century BC by King Antiochus 1 of Commagene. The engineering involved continues to amaze visitors seeing for the first time the artificial tumulus as it is flanked by terraces on which rest the colossal statues of Apollo, Zeus, Hercules, Tyche and Antiochus. Time has inflicted heavy damage on the sculptures - their torsos sit with their beautifully carved heads at their feet.
In the great Upper Mesopotamian plain,Sanliurfa, thought by some to be the ancient city of Ur and later known as Edessa, proudly exhibits the legacy of all the civilizations that have prospered in this region. Some of the oldest signs of civilization, dating to 7000 BC. Sanliurfa area, in the second millennium BC, was a city of a Hurrite state. Some believe that Abraham was born in a cave near where the Mevlid Halil Mosque now stands. Today the cave is a pilgrimage site and flocks of pigeons do not seem to disturb the elderly men praying around the entrance. The remains of a castle with two lone Corinthian columns rising above the ruined walls stands atop a small crest. At the foot of the hills, the lovely Halil Rahman Mosque is built around a quiet pool in which sacred carp swim. The 17th-century Ottoman Ridvaniye Mosque and the Firfirh Mosque, formerly the Church of the Apostles, are worth a detour.
Believed to be the ancient city ofHarran mentioned in the Old Testament, Harran, 48 km south of Sanliurfa, is known more now for its unusual beehive dwellings than as the place where Abraham actually spent several years of his life. Harran, which was also known as Helenopolis, was burned and destroyed by Mongolian invaders in 1260. Included among the archeological finds are those of the largest ancient Islamic university, city walls dating from the eighth century, four gates and a citadel.
Diyarbakir,known in ancient times as Amida, has been a cradle of 26 civilizations during its 5000 year history. The city is spread across a basalt plateau close to the banks of the Dicle (Tigris) River. The black basalt triple walls which encircle the old town give the city a rather ominous appearance. These ramparts are 5.5 km in length, have 16 towers and 5 gates, are decorated with inscriptions and bas-reliefs, and represent a superb example of medieval military architecture.
Only 7 kilometers east of Mardin is the Syriac-Jacobite Monastery of Deyrulzaferan, which was once a thriving religious community. At nearby Kiziltepe, the 13th-century Ulu Mosque, one of the best examples of Artukid architecture, has superb mihrap reliefs and a beautiful portal.Midyat, famous for its silver jewelry known as 'telkari,' also has many elegant and historic houses. Eighteen kilometers east of town is the active Syriac-Jacobite monastery of Deyrelumur (San Gabriel), which dates from the beginning of the fifth century.