Take this Turkey tourist guide and discover the top ancient sights in this beautiful country that is rich in culture and history. From the Province of Izmir to Antalya to Şanlıurfa and then to Trabzon, this journey will surely take you to places with unique sights and unforgettable experiences. A trip to Turkey will educate your mind and soul.
First, let us travel to the province of Izmir and visit the temple of Artemis, the house of Virgin Mary, and the Basilica of Saint John which can all be found in the ancient city of Ephesus. Legends say that the Amazons, the famous tribe of great female warriors, founded the city of Ephesus and it became the center of travel and commerce. From the Greeks to the Romans, this city is rich with history of religion and philosophy. This city was also cited in the Book of Revelations as one of the seven churches of Asia and it is believed that it was here where the Gospel of John was written and where Mary spent her last days. You should definitely not miss the opportunity to visit one of the significant cities of our history.
Ruins of ancient cities of Antalya
Next, head on to the province of Antalya and go on an adventure tour at the ancient cities of Phaselis and Perge. The ancient city of Phaselis, located near what was once known as Mt. Olympos at Antalya province, was once a famous port with its three natural harbors which was back then threatened by pirates but is now perfect for swimming and snorkeling. There, you can look at the ruins of city that what was at one time, in 334 BC to be exact, conquered by Alexander the Great. If you walk along the grand Harbor Way and past the Roman baths and an Agora (a market place), you will find a small and beautiful theatre. Just imagine yourself at a time when Greek and Roman Gods were still alive, watching a play with a soon to be famous and historical poet.
After that, you can go ahead and take a private tour of the ruins of the ancient city of Perge which can also be found in the province of Antalya. Two round towers protected the main gate and west of it was where the main baths were located with its halls and courtyards filled with statues. Then go on to the main street of Perge where you can find a number of columns which are also decorated with reliefs. There, you can still see Artemis holding a giant torch along with her bow and arrows while another Roman pours wine on an altar. Aside from that, there is also a monumental fountain, where the Romans enjoyed listening to the sounds of the water, and a theatre opposite a stadium where you can see various portrayals of Cupid.
Now proceed on your journey by taking a tour of the Şanlıurfa province and follow the spray-painted signs on the walls that lead you to the oldest man-made place of worship: Göbekli Tepe. This temple dates back to 10,000 BCE and was discovered by German archeologist Klaus Schmidt. At a time when many historians believed that religion did not exist yet, hunter-gatherers was somehow able to cut, transport, and arrange 16-ton stone pillars up a hill as part of some ritual. Carved on the monolithic limestone pillars are animals, abstract characters and icons while bones lay underneath, showing you a glimpse of their life, ritual sacrifices and practices. One theory suggests that sacred rituals or religion is what civilization is built upon so this might be a good opportunity for you to go take a peek at one of our “beginnings”.
Last but not the least, make your way to the province of Trabzon and take a personal tour guide of one of the oldest and historic monasteries: Sumela Monastery, also known as “Meryem Ana” or The Virgin Mary. The 1600 year old church displays a complex architecture as it stands on a steep cliff on the Zigana Mountains, 1200 meters above the forest of Trabzon, as if it was glued to the mountain. Wedged into a corner, there you will also find the Rock Church which depicts the story of Christ and the Virgin Mary both inside and outside its brick walls. The entrance to the monastery can be reached by climbing a long and narrow stairway while mists swirl in the forests below, adding to the place’s mysticism. Nowadays, monks seldom visit and the monastery has instead become a museum that is definitely worth the long climb.
There are a lot of opportunities for individual tourism in Turkey but here are the top five that you must definitely not skip. Take a glimpse of the past by visiting these ancient sites that are so full of history, culture, and religious influences. From the Greeks, the Romans, the Christians, and from the old Gods and the new, taking the opportunity to touch the ruins of these places will surely make you feel like you have just witnessed something monumental. Do not miss this opportunity to take a vacation at one of the significant places of our world history and get a chance to marvel at their legacies. Brush up on your knowledge of mythology and get in touch with the old Gods of Turkey in a vacation rich with history.