The country we now know as Turkey has been at the centre of countless ancient civilisations throughout the centuries. Byzantium, the Ionian League, the empire of Alexander the Great and the Trojans are but a few of the ancient cultures that have left their mark on the country. A holiday to Turkey gives you the chance to explore some of the most fascinating architectural sights in the world; ancient theatres, ruined cities, and spectacular mosques are just a few of the highlights on offer.
For anyone interested in ancient civilisations, Turkey ranks alongside Italy and Greece as one of the essential places to visit. It can be difficult to choose between the numerous sights that are scattered across the country, but there are a few in particular that stand out from the crowd. Profiled below are five of the essential cultural sights for a Turkish holiday.
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque (better known as the Blue Mosque for its blue tiled interior) is perhaps the most spectacular sight to see in Istanbul, and one of the real highlights of a holiday to Turkey. Located in the heart of the Turkish capital, it is a stunning building, bristling with minarets and intricately decorated, inside and out. It is open to visitors, unlike most of the major mosques around the world, and is an unmissable chance to see inside an Islamic place of worship.
Famed as the sight of the legendary ten year battle between the Trojans and the Greeks (as described in Homer’s Iliad) the city of Troy was thought to be a myth for centuries, until the discovery of its ruins in the 19th century by Heinrich Scliemann. Today the ruins of Troy are an essential sight to see while on holiday in Turkey.
One of the best preserved classical cities in the world, Epheseus was an important city for the Ionian League, Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire, and today the ruins offer visitors architectural gems from across all three empires. It was also home to the Temple of Artemis, regarded by the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The temple was destroyed when the Goths sacked the city in 262 AD, but you can still explore the ruins of the temple in Ephesus today.
Side is another ancient city that passed between the various empires of the ancient world. There are numerous temples and ancient buildings to see in present day Side, but the real highlight here is the amphitheatre – with seating for over 20,000 people, this remarkably preserved theatre is an essential sight for culture buffs on a holiday to Turkey.
Spectacularly positioned in the hills above Bergama, Pergamum was one of the capital cities of the ancient world, with an Acropolis based on its famous counterpart in Athens. Today, sights to see on a Turkish holiday to Pergamum include a number of ancient temples, the old Roman baths, a 10,000 seat amphitheatre and the Pergamum Acropolis itself.