Turkey has significantly increased in popularity as a holiday destination in the past year. That’s great news as the country has so much to offer – from the exotic charm of Istanbul to the gleaming white beaches of the Turquoise Coast, and from the majestic beauty of Mount Ararat to the archeological gem of Ephesus, Turkey has some of the most stunning attractions I’ve ever seen. If you’re thinking of a holiday in Turkey, I recommend a visit to one of these places. Some are off-the-beaten path while some are well-visited – either way, these are some of my favourite places in Turkey for an unforgettable walk.
Sitting pretty at an elevation of around 1,200 metres, the Sumela Monastery might be a hike to get to, but it’s certainly worth it for the views. A major attraction of the Altindere National Park, the monastery is as fascinating as it is beautiful, as it is steeped in history reaching back all the way to 386 AD.
Aspendos boasts the best preserved Roman amphitheatre in Turkey and arguably amongst the best in the world. Follow in the footsteps of ancient Roman actors and gladiators as you absorb the atmosphere. Something I enjoyed doing was sitting at the top ring and eavesdropping on the conversations of people below – the acoustics are incredibly good! Alternatively, stand in the centre of the ring and clap your hands!
Karaca Mağarası, Gümüşhane
The cave network of Karaca Mağarası in Gümüşhane is a breathtaking set of natural cave formations divided into several chambers that house remarkable crystallised rimstone pools. If you know your stalagmites from your stalactites, or are at least keen to find out, I recommend taking the tour and walking where ancient peoples once took shelter. The formations are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.
Whether you’re a classical literature buff and have read Homer’s Iliad, or you just liked the 2006 epic film Troy, then a visit to the ancient site of Truva is for you. Truva, or Troy, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1998. While little of the famously romanticised city of antiquity remains, parts of the legendary walls still stand and a massive replica of the ‘Trojan Horse’ has been completed. I’m not sure why it’s called a Trojan Horse since it was full of Greeks that hid in it to gain entrance to the city. It really should have been called the ‘Greek Horse’… one would think ;-). I guess names have a habit of sticking!
Mount Nemrut is a stunning UNESCO World Heritage in eastern Turkey. In the 1st century BC, King Antiochus built a tomb-like monument for himself atop the 2,150 meter-high mountain. He actually added a further 50 meters to the height of the mountain by constructing a mound or tumulus on the peak! From afar, this artificial peak is unmistakable – an incredible engineering marvel. Flanking this tumulus are giant statues of himself (in their original upright state, they would have been eight to nine meters tall), lions, eagles and various gods. The parts of the statues and the busts are now scattered throughout the site but they are nonetheless impressive.
Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
The Grand Bazaar is one of Istanbul’s greatest attractions. One of the oldest covered markets in the world, the Grand Bazaar houses more than a thousand shops along 58 covered streets. It’s a fascinating place for history buffs as well as shopaholics (look out for gorgeous carpets, silverware, jewelry and pottery). For the first-time visitor, a stroll around the Grand Bazaar will be an intriguing experience that will not easily be forgotten.
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