Anatolian Silk Route Sights

Gordion

It was the capital city of the Phrygians, the Hittites’ successors in Anatolia in 1200 BC. Gordion came to its prime in the 8th century BC, under Gordios and Midas. An oracle had prophesied that whoever undid the Gordion Knot would conquer all Asia: in 333 BC Alexander the Great severed it with his sword. On the acropolis mound you can see foundations of Phrygian houses called megarons, while over 100 burial mounds spread across the surrounding plains which are called Phrygian Valleys. The coal miners helped excavate the burial chamber of the largest, the Great Tumulus. Reconstructed in Ankara’s Museum of Anatolian Civilizations with its grave findings, it may have belonged to King Midas or King Gordios.

The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara

All artifacts are laid out in chronological sequence, these almost exclusively pre-classical finds. Neolithic man is represented in wall red paintings and Rubenesque mother goddess figurines in baked clay found at Catalhoyuk, near Konya. The Bronze Age section has famous Hatti bronze stag statuettes and gorgeous gold ear plugs, goblets and headbands found in the royal graves at Alacahoyuk. In the Assyrian Trading Colony section look for cuneiform tablets found at Kultepe, near Kayseri. The Old Hittite gallery’s highlights are the ceremonial bulls with grumpy faces from Hattusas. Many Phrygian artifacts are brought from Gordion. The most miraculously preserved Phrygian art work is an ornate wooden table. Numerous reliefs and monumental lion and sphinx statues in the central hall are displayed, all found in Alacahoyuk and Hattusas.

Hattusas

It’s located at the above rustic village of Bogazkale on the east of Ankara, and two hundred kilometers away. Hattusas was the Hitttite capital city during 1700 – 1200 BC. The remains date mainly from the end of this period. Few of them stand more than waist high’ any sculpture of aesthetic merit has been removed. Top highlights in Hattusas ancient city are the Great Temple, the Great Fortress, the King’s Gate, Yerkapi, and the Lion Gate.
 
The village has a museum with some minor Hittite pieces. Most of the visitors are impressed by the Hittites principal religious center which is called Yazilikaya (Inscribed Cliff). Etched into the rock walls of two little ravines, the narrower probably a royal burial chamber, has numerous bas-reliefs of gods and goddesses. Rows of interlinked warrior gods with pointed hats march in unison, while important deities like the weather god Teshub and the sun goddess Hepatu, and King Tudhaliya 4, who may have built the sanctuary, each stand 1.2m high.

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.

Izmir

Know to the Greeks as Smyrna, and to the Turks as ‘Guzel Izmir’ (Beautiful Izmir), Turkey’s third-largest city sprawls around the head of the finest natural harbor on the Aegean coast. The city was founded in the 3rd millennium BC on the north shore of the bay, and reached her peak during the 10th century BC, when it was one of the most important cities in the Ionian Federation. The famous poet Homer was born Smyrna during this early period. After the Lydian conquest of the 6th century BC, the city lost its importance as the leading port in the Aegean Sea, but was refounded by Alexander the Great on the slopes of Mount Pagus, now KadifeKale. Following centuries, under the Greeks and Romans it became one of the principal port cities of Mediterranean trade.
 
When the Ottoman Turks took control in the 15th century, Izmir grew wealthy as a merchant city, handling Smyrna figs and Turkish tobacco from the farms of the hinterland, and allowing the establishments of European trading colonies. It prospered as a Levantine port until the close of the Greco-Turkish War in 1922, when it was almost completely destroyed by fire. Rebuilt around the site of Alexander’s hilltop site, it’s once again a bustling port and industrial city, but almost no trace remains of its former glory. These sights are the Highlights of modern Izmir: the Clock Tower, the tiny historical Konak Mosque, the Archeological Museum, the ancient Roman Agora, and the imposing medieval fortress of KadifeKale on the Mount Pagus.

Sardes

The ancient Sardes is located about 100km east of Izmir. The former capital of Lydians reached its peak during the reign of King Croesus (560-546BC) and was one of ancient world’s richest cities back then. Sardes owed its wealth to gold ores found in the Pactolus River, collected on sheepskins spread out in the shallows. According to legend, the river’s riches came from King Midas, who once bathed in it to get rid of himself of his ‘golden touch’. Croesus’ expansionist ambitions destroyed the Lydian empire, the was the Persian Emperor Cyrus. The city continued to flourish; what we see today mostly dates from Roman and Byzantine periods.
 
Just next to modern town of Sartmustafa lies the huge Roman public baths complex, a street lines with stores and the largest known ancient Synagogue building remains. At the south of the modern Sart village, in a beautiful setting, stand the marble huge stumps and several complete versions of the Ionic columns of the colossal Artemis Temple, one of the seven biggest temple sites in ancient Anatolia.

Eskisehir

Eskisehir stands out with its cultural richness and an urban identity where different cultural communities live together in harmony. Eskisehir, one of the oldest settlements in Anatolia, has been located at the crossroads of important roads for ages. The city was ruled in turn by the Phrygians, Lydians, Romans, and Byzantines. Finally it was conquered by the Seljuk State and came under Turkish rule starting from the 11th century. Eskisehir has a variety of the historical and cultural accumulations with its ancient Phrygian ruins, Yazılıkaya Monuments and other archaeological works, as well as Seljuk and Ottoman artifacts and museums.

Sivas

A historic Turkish city where cultural and natural beauties merge harmoniously in the heart of Anatolia. Sivas is the second largest province in Turkey in terms of land size. The first settlements in Sivas are located between the three valleys formed by Kızılırmak, Yesilirmak, and Euphrates River, and the remains date back to around 6000BC. This ancient city, which has hosted many civilizations in history, became the capital of the Seljuk State in 1220 and kept built many monumental public buildings during the Ottoman Turks. The central part of Sivas itself look like an ancient open-air museums from its Turkish past to the visitors.

Aizanoi

Aizanoi at Cavdarhisar

This city is in the Cavdarhisar township. The city experienced its golden age in the second and third centuries AD. It became the centre of episcopacy in the Byzantine era. The visible remains of the city are mostly derived from the period of the Roman Empire. The city has significant remains such as the Zeus Temple, the Complex of Stadium-Theatre, Macellum, Portico Street, the bridges and dam, two necropolises, odeon, the Roman Baths
 
The Macellum in Aizanoi dated to the midst of 2nd century AD is one of the first exchange stock markets in the world. Inscriptions on the Macellum showing the prices of all goods sold in the markets of the Imperial survived till today and can be read completely. These inscriptions have been used as a reference source for the other similar inscriptions unearthed during the excavations.
 
The Stadium with a capacity of 13500 people and the theatre with a capacity of 20.000 people were constructed adjacently and as such it is unique in the ancient world. The form of the complex erected in Aizanoi is not seen elsewhere in the ancient times.
 
The structure of the Temple is one of the best preserved Zeus Temples in the world. There is an area covered with vaults under the temple. The temple has an unusual feature in Anatolia with this plan. Since the space surrounded by the columns in the temple is marble-covered, the Zeus Temple in Aizanoi is unique in the pseudodipteros plan. The other temples in this plan have a wooden roof cover. The temple is among the rarest ancient buildings in Anatolia which have survived till today by preserving its original form.
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