Heading to Turkey? You are going to love the Istanbul landmarks and the famous historical places in Turkey! And without a further ado, dig in what you should include in your next Turkey trip itinerary!
A former Greek Orthodox church built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian, later converted into a mosque by the Ottoman Turks, and now functioning as a non-secular museum. It is thought to be the most beautiful example of Byzantine architecture.
Sultan Ahmed Mosque
More popularly known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles decorating its interior. Facing the Hagia Sophia, it is famous for its massive size and architectural splendor.
A sprawling and sumptuous palace complex that was once the home of the Ottoman emperors and their families, as well as their ranking officers and attendants. It is located on the Seraglio Point overlooking the Sea of Marmara.
The oldest and largest indoor market in the whole world. The Bazaar has more than 3,000 stores covering 61 covered streets and offering a huge variety of goods from clothes to jewelry to food to home décor and furnishing.
P.S. In order to avoid the tourist crowds that swarm the old centre of Istanbul, choose your time of visit wisely!
A once-famous oracle of Apollo, Didyma in Didim was second only to Delphi in terms of prestige. To reach this sanctuary in the olden days, one had to follow a 17 kilometer pathway called The Sacred Way to Didyma.
The ruins of Ephesus in Selcuk show the city to be magnificent in its prime as the second most important city in the Byzantine Empire next to Istanbul. Among these ruins you will find the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; the reconstructed Library of Celsus; the Basilica of St. John, as well as the supposed resting place of the apostle himself; and the largest outdoor theater in the ancient world, with a seating capacity of around 24,000. Close to the ruins is the Cave of the Seven Sleepers, where seven martyrs fleeing persecution were said to have slept for centuries.
Built over the hot springs of Phrygia near Pamukkale was the spa town of Hierapolis, where people from all over the Roman and Byzantine empires came to retire, die and be buried in the necropolis below. Hierapolis was also an important center of Christianity; it was where St. Philip the Apostle was martyred.
Pergamon used to be a Greek colony. According to legend, it was founded by Telephus, the son of Heracles or Hercules. Many of the architectural elements that spoke of the city’s grandeur have been carted off to various museums across Europe, but many parts of the acropolis remain. These ruins are located north and west of the modern city of Bergama.
Troy was the central setting of the Homeric epic The Iliad, where the Greeks fought the Trojans to recover Helen of Troy. Apparently, Troy was built over the ruins of older cities; Homer’s Troy is the city’s seventh incarnation. Now known as Troia, this UNESCO World Heritage site is near the village of Tevfikiye in Canakkale Province.
P.S. Do you know what’s the best time to visit Turkey historical sights?
Other historical places in Turkey
Not all the interesting historical and religious sites in Turkey are in ruins, though.
The ancient cities of Bursa and Edirne on both sides of the Sea of Marmara are alive and well on pace with the times. On the coast of the Black Sea is Trabzon, once a stop on the old Silk Road and home to the breathtaking Sumela Monastery sitting on the side of a steep cliff. In Antakya, you will find the Antioch Heritage Center, home to relics of the ancient city of Antioch.
If you’re from the Australia, New Zealand or the UK, you must visit Canakkale and Gallipoli for ANZAC Days in April, when Turkey commemorates the sacrifice of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I.
And then, there’s Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. It’s also a city that’s thousands of years old; you’ll find there around 50 historical, cultural and artistic museums, as well as numerous parks, Roman ruins, temples, monuments and mosques.
Ready for your trip?
Share your ideas on historic sights in Turkey – we’re always taking notes!
Have a blissful journey!