Due to its embattled past, Turkey is a rather mysterious country, filled with an air of romantic heroism and epic sagas. Ancient battle grounds and palatial ruins dot the country’s landscape, leaving behind footprints from a past steeped in angst, war, pride and great strength. History’s legends like Alexander The Great, Achilles and The Trojan Empire and the people of the Ottoman Empire all lived, toiled, battled and perished in Turkey at some point in time, which makes this country a popular destination for history buffs.
But Turkey offers more than just mementos of war and tragedy. It has most every type of geographical formation known to man – including lakes, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, caves and plains. Three separate seas surround Turkey and travelers can experience four – yes, four – different types of climates in just one day, by visiting the various parts of the country. So let’s take a look at the ten of the must-see tourist destinations and places To visit In Turkey from a traveler’s perspective.
White Terraces of Pamukkale
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Pumukkale means “cotton castle” and describes this attraction perfectly. The terraces are actually deposits of white minerals that have, over time, crystallized and taken on the shape and appearance of icy glaciers. The mineral deposits were left behind by the thermal waters that flow through the area. These terraces cascade some 200 meters down the side of a mountain. Below the terraces are pools of warm, bath-like waters where visitors can take a dip. The terraces are located near the town of Denizli and are an extremely popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
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Cappadocia, Turkey is an ancient mind-boggling underworld crafted completely from stone. Spanning several cities and several hundred meters, this area used to be a safe haven for Christians fleeing religious persecution. They flocked to this region and took their worshiping underground – literally, by carving some 300 churches from stone. There are entire homes, businesses and other buildings underground, too – all carved from the same mountain and rock systems as the others. Today, a vast portion of this subterranean world is open to visitors and truly is a must-see for anyone visiting Turkey.
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Istanbul boasts a history nearly 3,000 years long and is the only city in the world situated on two different continents. Besides indulging in its historical significance to Turkey, visitors flock to Istanbul to marvel at its architectural wonders. The capital city is home to some of the oldest and most ornate palaces, churches and mosques in the world. One example of Istanbul’s architectural splendor is Ayasoyfa. The cathedral of Ayasoyfa was Istanbul’s center of Christianity for over 1,000 years. Nobody knows for sure how much the building cost, but it took ten thousand workers to complete it.
City of Troy
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The ancient city of Troy is revered as the site of the Trojan War from Homer’s poem The Iliad. Troy was the site of many major events in Greek Mythology, but was also a real city. What many visitors don’t know is that, over the course of its five thousand year history, Troy was built and destroyed nine times over! Troy is located about 30km away from present day Dardanelles.
Dance of Colors – Performed by professional dancers, the Dance of Colors is an elaborate two part performance filled with spectacular costumes and stunning displays of color. The performance showcases ten difference dances from various regions of the country and is one of the major tourism draws in the capital city of Istanbul.
Topkaki Palace, Istanbul
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This historic Topkaki Palace was once home to Mehmet The Conqueror and other sultans of note throughout Turkish history, but most of its allure comes from it having been the backdrop for many artistic productions, like books, films and even an opera. Selim The Sot and Ibrahim The Crazy were two of the most famed, albeit – more colorful – residents of the great palace.. You will find out more about these and other residents of the palace during one of the guided tours.
Commagene Kingdom at Mt. Nemrut
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Walk among the gods in this ancient region that has captured living history in stone. The Commagene Kingdom is a part of the Taurus Mountain Range and features the carved likenesses of Apollo, Zeus and Antiochos I. The enormous heads are chiseled entirely from stone and date as far back as 62 BC.
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Sardis was once the thriving capital city of the Kingdom of Lydia. It is also one of the ancient Seven Churches of Revelation. The ingenious citizens of this bygone kingdom are credited with creating the first coinage in the history of the world, which happened in 7th century BC. Some historians speculate that this was due to Sardis’ close proximity to the gold-rich river Pactolus.
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Ephesus is another one of the ancient Seven Churches of Revelation and the site of the Temple of Artemis – one of the Seven Wonders of The World. In its hey day, Ephesus was home to a quarter million people, including St. Paul – who lived and preached in this ancient city for two years.
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Antalya has long been considered the tourism capital of Turkey. Here you’ll find spectacular beaches and world famous shopping and food districts – all of which continue to attract droves of tourists to the region each year. With its rich architectural history and modern amenities, it’s where Old Turkey meets New Turkey.
- Turkey is home to 74 million people.
- There are 48 airports in Turkey.
- There are 33 national parks in Turkey.
- Tap water in Turkey has been deemed safe, but drinking bottled water is suggested.
- English is Turkey’s second most popular language.