Splendors of Turkey Sights

Istanbul

The only city in the world to span two continents and to have been the capital of both Christian and Islamic empires, this ever-growing metropolis of the latest 16 million inhabitants is Turkey’s cultural and social fulcrum. More acutely than anywhere else in the country, here East and West meet in an endlessly fascinating meeting pot.
 
First and foremost visitors are drawn to the famous skyline. Domes and minarets of colossal mosques rise in moody outline, above waterways which bear a constant flow of snaking traffic. Whether veiled in the morning haze, at sunset or at night, no urban sprawl is more memorable.
 
There are enough outstanding palaces, mosques, museums, and churches to satisfy the most ravenous culture vulture. Yet even more absorbing is the city’s contemporary life. Lake many great metropolises, Istanbul feels on the edge of chaos but is borne along by invisible force.
 
Part of the city’s allure is its setting, where Europe faces Asia across the winding turquoise waters of the Bosphorus, making it the only city in the world to bridge two continents.
 
Here, where the waters of the Black Sea blend into the Marmara, East and West mingle and merge in the cultural melting pot of Turkey’s largest metropolis. Busy Oriental bazaars co-exist with European shops; kebab shops and coffee houses sit alongside international restaurants; modern office buildings and hotels alternate with Ottoman minarets along the city’s skyline; traditional music and Western pop, belly-dancing and ballet, Turkish wrestling and soccer all compete for the attention of the Istanbul audience.
 
The strategic location of Istanbul owes its long-held historical significance at the mouth of the Bosphorus . In the words of the 16th-century French traveller Pierre Giles: ‘The Bosphorus with one key opens and closes two continents, two seas’.

Edirne

It’s located on the Via Egnatia ancient route between Byzantium and Rome. The city owes most of its outstanding monuments to the Ottomans. The city, then known as Hadrianopolis after the emperor who made the outpost the capital of Roman Thrace. Plus, Edirne was the Ottoman capital beginning in 1361, and it was from here that Mehmet the Conqueror staged his conquest of Constantinople. Edirne’s Selimiye Mosque is the largest and finest in Turkey, built in 1475. The mosque has got a rich collection of calligraphy, ceramics, and furnishings. Edirne’s other impressive historical mosques are the Grand Mosque and the Three Galleried Mosque. In the old part of Edirne, there are several historical Bazaars, Inns and the Public Baths. Plus, Edirne’s the Archeological and Ethnographical Museums should not be missed during the visit. Sultan Beyazit II’s Complex has got many charitable institutions, madhouse, and the very advanced old medical school and its hospital there, according to its contemporaries back then…

Troy

The ancient Troy was discovered by an amateur German archaeologist and Homer fanatic, Heinrich Schliemann, in 1871. The diggers have found nine Troys on the top of the each other. The oldest layer remains were from an Early Bronze Age settlement (3000-2500BC). During the Hellenistic and Roman ages, Troy became a metropolis between 334BC and 400AD known as Ilium Novum. Schliemann found a cache of jewelry known as Priam’s Treasure. Now, this treasure is in Moscow. Troy and the Trojan War were explained well in the Homer’s IIiad.
 

Gallipoli

Here, there are many World War I battlefields, monuments, cemeteries and memorials dating back to 1915. Allied forces launched a massive campaign against to Ottoman troops to gain control of the straits and, ultimately to Istanbul. In the months of fighting that followed more than 160,000 Allied troops and 80,000 Turkish troops were killed. By Christmas, the Allied troops had retreated in defeat.

Assos

The ancient settlers came here across the Greek island of Lesbos in the 7th century BC. The ruins here are the massive Hellenistic city fortifications and Asia Minor’s oldest surviving earlier Doric temple which is built for Athena. The Assos’ heyday was around the 4th century BC. One time, Assos became home to Aristotle

Pergamum

During the Attalid dynasty, Pergamum was the most splendid city in Asia Minor. The more impressive site is the Acropolis sight. Remains of temples, palaces, agoras and gymnasia are scattered on the stunning hilltop terrain, all facing to modern Bergama. Recent years, the Temple of Trajan has partially rebuilt. It stands above a remarkable theater hewn into the steep hillside. Pergamum’s old library used to be housing 200,000 books, it was the second in importance only to Alexandria’s library. The books were made of the treated animal skin which is called parchment, was invented at Pergamum.
 
The Red Basilica used to be Temple sites for the Egyptian gods on the skirts of the Acropolis hillside. The Byzantines converted it into the Basilica of St. John the Apostle; later a small mosque added to one of its towers.
 
Though Pergamum’s most important findings reside at the Pergamum Museum in Berlin. Here in Bergama, there’s a good little archaeological museum which houses many votive offerings to Asclepius, the Greek god of healing. This Asclepion site is located on the southern outskirts of Bergama. It was one of the ancient world’s leading medical centers in the 2nd century AD.

Izmir / Smyrna

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.

Aphrodisias

Named for the Greek goddess of love, the city was a cultural and not a commercial center, known for its school of sculpture and devotion to the cult of Aphrodite. The monuments were made of the blue-veined marbles give the city an other-worldly air. Its ancient stadium is the best preserved one in all of Anatolia.

Selcuk-Ephesus

Ephesus itself is one of the best-preserved and most visited of Turkey’s ancient cities. It’s marble streets and monuments have been extensively excavated and restored by the archaeologists, and with only a little imagination it is easy to transport yourself to Roman times.
 
The city was always indissolubly linked with the Anatolian fertility goddess Cybele, who became the Greek goddess Artemis and Roman Diana. The Temple of Artemis was three times the size of Athens Parthenon and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Today, it’s hard to imagine its glorious past from the only single column left at site and often flooded foundations. The acts of the Apostles record that St Paul came to Ephesus in the 1st century AD and preached that the silver images of the Artemis were not divine. Plus he provoked a riot among the local silversmiths by saying this: ‘Handmade God can’t be the true God.’
 
Ephesus itself was founded around the 10th century BC by the Ionian Greeks from Samos, and was ruled in turn by the Lydians, Persians, the Attalid kings of Pergamum and finally the Romans, under whom the city became capital of Asia Minor with 240,000 inhabitants. It’s greatness was linked to its port and its Artemis Temple. When the harbor began to silt up the city eventually declined, and around the 6th century AD it was probably deserted. Most of what we see today belongs to the imperial Roman period.
 
The scale of the site is awesome. With its well-defined streets, a host of public and private buildings, details such as masonry inscribed in Latin and Greek, and with Christian crosses and chariot ruts in the thoroughfares, few places in the world can evoke, more effectively, the feel of a great metropolis 2,000 years ago

Antalya

Busy Antalya, 50 km east of Phaselis, was one of the major cities of ancient Pamphylia, settled more than a thousand years before the Christian era by Greek refugees fleeing from the sack of Troy. Antalya and its now-ruined, neighboring Pamphylian cities of Perge, Aspendos, and Side then passed through the hands of the Persians and Alexander the Great before becoming a sleepy backwater of the Roman Empire.
 
What will strike you first about Antalya is not its past but its heady involvement with the here and now. Turkey’s fastest growing city is spreading in pell mell fashion over a plateau beneath the Taurus mountain range. However, it’s Kaleici, the old town surrounding the harbor, that will be of most interest to visitors.
 
The Antalya Museum is at the western edge of the central city center and houses an outstanding collection of archeological artifacts. Many of the holdings are from the ruins at nearby Perge and range from a game board to statuary to a pantheon, reassembled here in its entirety. Other curiosities of local origin include Lycian coins from the seventh century B.C., some of the first coinage to ever be minted, and bones said to be those of Saint Nicholas, (Santa Claus). More skeletal remains (of a prehistoric man), recline poetically in a broken funeral urn.

Pamukkale / Hierapolis

One of the most popular excursions from the all the coastal resorts goes to the spectacular travertine terraces of Pamukkale (the Cotton Castle), which lie above the town of Denizli, about 200km inland from Ephesus or Selcuk.
 
This remarkable natural formation has been created by mineral-rich hot springs cascading down the hillside and depositing layers of calcium carbonate. The resulting pools, terraces and ‘petrified waterfalls’ of dazzling white travertine are one of the most famous sights.
 
The ruins of ancient Hierapolis lie scattered on the hillside above the terraces, adding historical interest to natural beauty. In the grounds of the former Pamukkale Motel you can bathe in the Sacred Pool, where the therapeutic, restorative warm spring waters will float you above a picturesque jumble of broken Roman columns and Corinthian capitals.
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