Anatolian Glories Sights

Adana

Adana, the fourth largest city in Turkey, is the Cilician plain’s textile and agricultural center. The city’s the Roman bridge built by Hadrian, the ethnographic and archeological museums are worth to visit. On the northeast side of the city, head out past the impressive, sometime crusader castles of Yilanli Fortress and Toprakkale, and turn north at Osmaniye for the area’s top sight, Karatepe. This open-air museum of huge sculptures and reliefs from the 3,300 years old summer palace of the Hittite ruler Asitiwada stands in a wooded national park.

Antakya

Antakya has always seen many foreigners. Arabs, Byzantines, Selcuks, Ottomans and the crusaders passed this way, as did Alexander the Great, who commemorated his victory over the Persians at Issus in 333 BC by founding Alexandretta, today the commercial port of Iskenderun.
 
Little remains of nearby ancient Antioch, once one of the greatest cities in the Hellenistic world and the third largest city in the Roman world (after Rome and Alexandria) with a population of half a million. Former was Hatay, now called Antakya; its old quarter is nonetheless a fine example of a Middle Eastern town. Its most evocative Roman remains are the magnificent mosaics from the local villas in the Archeological Museum. Among Turkey’s most important works of art, they depict mythological and hunting scenes, and tableaux of animals, birds and fish.
 
Antioch was also a major center of early Christianity. St Peter founded the first Christian organization here between AD47 and 54, and St Peter’s Church is considered to be the oldest Christian church. Built into a grotto, the facade was added by crusaders in the 12th century, while its mosaic floor is from the 4th or 5th century.
 
Many of the Archeological Museum’s mosaics came from Daphne, now the charming village of Harbiye set in a bucolic valley south of Antakya. To southwest near the coast, Seleucia ad Pieria was Antioch’s port city. It is worth visiting for the spectacular 1,400m water tunnel built during the reigns of Titus and Vespasian in the 1st and 2nd centuries.

Zeugma in Gaziantep

The ancient site of Zeugma is situated on the banks of the Euphrates. It was an important city of the Kommagene Kingdom in the past. There was an ancient bridge of boats which was connecting the riverbanks in the ancient times, forming one of the major river crossings of the region. The most of the archaeological site is now lost under the waters of the Birecik Dam, but the open-air Museum in the site is still very moving and exciting place to visit those Roman residential mosaic remains. The most spectacular findings and mosaics are now displayed in the Zeugma Mosaic Museum in Gaziantep. Zeugma was founded by Seleucos I in the 4th century BC. He was one of the generals of Alexander the Great who fought for control over his empire after his death in 323 BC. In ancient times, the name Zeugma encircled the two cities, one was on western banks of the Euphrates and also known as Seleucia after the founder, while the other eastern settlement was called Apamea, since Seleucus’ wife was called Apama.

Mount Nemrut in Adiyaman

These very remote 2,150m high monuments to a megalomaniac was one of the eastern Turkey’s most popular sights. At the mountaintop the views are unsurpassable comparing similar sites during at the dawns or the dusks.
 
What we see there are the 10 meters tall limestone statues of classical gods commissioned by one Antiochus I, ruler of the pint-sized kingdom of Commagene in the first century BC. Their colossal heads have been detached from their seated bodies by earthquakes and storms. Vainglorious Antiochus appears among them; his tomb is thought to lie within the vast tumulus of apple-sized stones topping the mountain.

Sanliurfa or Edessa

The labyrinthine bazaar and dusty back streets of this metropolis of some 2 millions inhabitants delivers a flavor of the medieval Middle East. The city predates medieval times by many thousands of years, originating around 3500 BC under the Hurri people. According to tradition, Abraham was living here before he left for Canaan: the Cave of Abraham, his reputed birthplace, a place of pilgrimage for Muslims and other believers. Sanliurfa’s top sight is the Pools of Abraham, full of sacred carp and flanked by bone-white mosques – a scene straight out of the classic story Arabian Nights.
 
According to the Bible, Abraham also visited the village of Harran, south near the Syrian border. Its mud-bricks, houses are considered to have changed little during the settlement’s 6,000 years of history and it’s one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited settlements. Most of the bee-hive houses are being used and a few used as storerooms and animal pens.

Gobeklitepe in Sanliurfa

GobekliTepe is perhaps the most mentioned place in the news and speculated archaeological site especially in the last 20 years. It was discovered in late 1980s by the local farmer, and excavations are ongoing since then. GobekliTepe is located about 20 km northeast of Sanliurfa. The huge anthropomorphic pillars are extraordinary for this time of mankind which dates back to about 13000 BC. Those colossal statue like pillars with some carvings and reliefs are very unique and dates back to around 9000 BC. So far, the archeologists didn’t find any ceramics, and nor any signs of the settlement here. However in the close vicinity of the GobekliTepe seems to us a very sophisticated and well organized society should be living back then. The GobekliTepe site looks us a kind of early religious cult center and the pilgrimage area during the Neolithic ages.The mystery of the GobekliTepe: Its shrines were buried by her own people who were living nearby there on purpose, The reason is still unknown by the historians up to now.

Mardin & Midyat

Mardin is expanding from the hilltop ridge towards the Mesopotamia plains. This mystic city are still hosting several religions, orders and traditional blends with a rich history at the present modern times.
 
Mardin’s history traces back to the Subar tribes who lived in the Mesopotamian plains around 4000 BC. Marida is the first old given name of Mardin. During the Ottoman Empire years, this city is important regional county belonging to Diyarbakır. The Syriac name of the town was Marde, but the Arabs and Turks call it, Mardin. Being on the historical Silk Road, Mardin hosts many monasteries, inns, Caravanserai, mosques, shrines and churches. In Mardin and its all surroundings area, there are lot of the amazing stone-made monumental buildings to explore.
 
To me, the highlights of Mardin, they are all scattered around the Tur Abdin region. Some native people of the Tur Abidin are still speaking the living Aramaic language which is spoken by Jesus Christ in those earlier Christian years as well.
 
This mystic and cultural landscape offers countless aspects of beauty! The Monastery of Deyrul Zafaran was used as a sun temple in the past. Later it was used as a fortress during the Roman invasion. The Mor Sobo Cathedral served as a meeting place for the metropolitan bishops for many centuries. Still there are many more to be discovered in this mysterious and captivating regions of Mardin & Midyat.

Hasankeyf

The ancient city of Hasankeyf, built on and around the banks of the Tigris river in southeastern Turkey. It’s one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world, spanning some 10,000 years. Hasankeyf and its captivating limestone cliffs are home to thousands of historical caves, 300 medieval monuments and many canyons. Simply, the whole of Hasankeyf is a beguiling open-air museum for the travelers.
 
It has been settled for perhaps as long as three millennia, though most cliff dwellings are around 2,000 years old. It was perhaps inhabited first by Assyrians and/or Urartians, and then most certainly by successive Roman, Byzantine, Turkish, and Arabic dynasties. The Hasankeyf Museum should be in the everyone’s bucket list in this life! In the museum, there are so many artifacts from the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, the Early-Middle-Late Iron ages, the Persian, Hellenistic and also from the Romans period. All artifacts are very well lit, explained and displayed for the visitors.

Ahlat

Ahlat, a historical city nearby Van lake in Bitlis. It has the sight of glorious tombstones dating back to the Seljuk period. Thanks to its geographical location, Ahlat has been a bridge between Eastern and Western cultures throughout history. Ahlat played a very important role during the grand legendary journey of Turks from Central Asia to Anatolia. Top tourist attractions in Ahlat are these: Usta Sagirt Mausoleum, Selcuk Open-Air Cemetery with the stele like headstones of red volcanic tuff intricated web patterns and the bands of earlier Kufic letters. These remains are the best examples in their artistic category. People should see the Ahlat Museum as well.

Van Lake – Ahtamar Island – Ancient Tushpa

A lunar landscape of barren shores and eerie mountains rings Turkey’s largest lake, 119km at its widest. The natural base is sizeable, nondescript Van, rebuilt for exploring the area after the old town had been destroyed by occupying Russians in 1918. On a limestone outcrop between Van and the lake known as the Castle of Van stand the remains of Tushpa, the former capital of the Urartian kingdom which flourished between the 9th and 7th centuries BC. Here you can see eroded battlements, rock tombs and cuneiform inscriptions. Back in the nearby good Van Museum which displays many rare Urartian finds.
 
The lake’s top sight is Ahtamar Island, a tiny island approached from just west of Gevas. The attraction here is its Armenian Church of the Holy Cross which was built in the 10th century and whose glory rests in the richly sculpted reliefs of biblical scenes on its exterior walls.

Hosap Castle

The settings have a linear plan, perched upon a ridge overlooking the Guzelsu Plain called Bol Mountain. It is composed of fortification walls as well as the remains of an Urartian royal palace, built between 764 and 735 BC during the reign of King Sardinian II at the climax of power of the Urartian Empire. There are upper and lower sections of the fortress. In the citadel, there are the Temple of Haldi or Irmushini, citadel walls, king’s tower, workshops from 7th century BC, storehouses, cisterns, kitchen, palace with a throne room, a royal toilet, harem and colonnaded halls were built. A moat surrounded sections of the fortress for earlier security reasons.

Ishakpasha Palace

On a hillside above modern little Dogubeyazit, the area’s main base, stands the fortress palace of Ishak Pasha Palace. Built by the local governor in the late 18th century, it fulfills the romantic notion of a classic oriental pleasure dome – a heady mix of grand portals, towers, turrets, kiosks, domes, and the harem rooms in a spectacularly desolate setting.
 
Very near to here, there are the mountains of Ararat. The visitors can easily view them from the Dogubeyazit area. Even in the peaceful times, climbing the Mount Ararat is strictly for the experts and requires permits and guides. Boat hunters number prominently among the climbers, the Book of Genesis stating that Noah’s Ark came to rest ‘upon the mountains of Ararat’. Yet no corroborated traces of the Ark Beverly ever been found here and it’s very debatable issue at the present times.

Ani in Kars

Ani is located by the Arpacay creek between Turkish and Armenian border. Arpacay river also gives the life a lot to the Eastern Anatolian landscapes. Ancient Ani, once upon times, a fabulous metropolis, known as ‘the city of a thousand and one churches’. The city was the capital city of Bagratid Armenian Kingdom from the 10th century AD. Ani is situated on trade routes and grew to become a walled city of more than 100,000 residents by the 11th century. In the centuries that followed, Ani and the surrounding region were ruled in turn by the Byzantine emperors, Ottoman Turks, Georgians, and Russians. The Russians repeatedly were attacking and chasing out the area’s residents. By the 1300 AD, Ani was in depression some reason. It was totally abandoned by the 1700. Today most of the churches are still standing to a sufficient height, the streets, baths, market place, an old Mosque, the Turks early palace, and the great fortification walls are very impressive.

Erzurum

Turkey’s highest city – nearly 2000m above sea level – is a great skiing destination in the winter. It’s located on the thoroughfare connecting Anatolia, the Caucasus and Iran. It has also been beset by the countless military campaigns – the last was in 1918 when Russian and Armenian forces massacred the local populations. The city still performs its dual function as military outpost and far-flung trading centre.
 
Erzurum’s few monuments of interest were built by the Seljuks and Mongols. The most celebrated ones are the Twin Minareted Theological School complex, the largest in Anatolia, with mushroom-shaped tombs and a courtyard lined with students’ cells, and the Persian-influenced Yakutiye Theological School, with a particularly notable portal and minaret covered in a lattice work of blue tiles.

Trabzon

A fine example of former Byzantine glory is the best seen at the church of Haghia Sophia (AyaSofya) in the west side of the center. Commissioned by Manuel I (1238-63), this monastery church used all that 13th-century money could buy for its construction. When it was converted to a mosque in 1461, the walls were whitewashed, preserving a set of stunning frescoes covering every surface of the interior. The best are in the narthex (entrance hall), depicting scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. Look too at the south porch, where, above a weathered frieze., the Comnenus eagle spreads its wings on the arch’s keystone.

Sumela Monastery

The entire Black Sea coast’s compulsory sight, 46km south of Trabzon, was among the most revered of pilgrim monasteries in the Orthodox world. According to tradition, two Athenian monks founded Sumela in 386 around a cave which housed a icon of the Virgin Mary painted by St Luke. Later, the Comneni patronized the monastery, some being coronated here. The present buildings were erected last century to accommodate all the pilgrims. This monastery has the spectacular setting. Within a national park, Sumela, usually shrouded in mist, clings to the sheer rock face of towering mountain, 300m above a forested valley floor.

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