Every landscape of Turkey forms the backdrop and context for people and events, with perhaps the most thrilling aspect of travelling the ability to become an active participant in this landscape.

As in all human interactions the basis is one of equality in the roles of host and guest. This defining mutual respect and a shared sense of responsibility as the guiding principle in an adventure where the parties involved are, by definition, different in their outlook and way of life. When Turks entered the tourism arena- that was not so long ago-, they were armed with a tradition of hospitality rather than sophisticated facilities or a mentality for providing service.

Although Turkey now has an excellent tourism infrastructure, the motivation of most Turks remains one of sincerity and courtesy. The desire of Turks to feel understood and valued, to communicate and learn about people from other lands is a much more important motivation. Interpret their enthusiasm to interact with you from this perspective. They prefer to make long-term acquaintances by spending time together, exchanging cards, letters and gifts rather than receive payment or large tips for any help granted. This attitude may change as the tourism industry develops further in the coming decades, and much still depends on the visitors, but for now the sweetness of the Turkish people is unspoiled.

Here are some tips about social graces and conduct which may be useful in interpreting the goings-on around you, helping you to enjoy your participation in this social landscape even more. Greetings involving welcomes, handshakes, hugging and kissing on both cheeks, followed by a “How are you? How is the family? How is your health? How is business?” are important rituals. It is expected that everyone will inquire after the health and well-being of everyone else at first. During religious holidays, greetings are even more important. Young people visit and kiss the hands of elderly family members. Every friend and family is visited in order to renew bonds and kinship. Children receive pocket money and gifts, and responsibilities for social charity are fulfilled. Like elsewhere, these are joyous occasions. However, celebrations emphasize traditional, social and spiritual aspects, and a certain amount of decorum in action and appearance is expected from everyone.

A dinner invitation to someone’s home is a special honour. At the dinner table it is customary for the hostess to offer additional servings many times and with great insistence. The guest is expected to accept the offer after several such offers. Dinners are leisurely affairs, to be savoured slowly along with the delicious home-cooked food. Sometimes, guests bring flowers or sweets to such occasions. During a typical after-dinner coffee, tea, candy, cookies, pastries and fruit are served.

In business relationships the whole affair is conducted as a social occasion, and completed with greetings and sharing coffee, tea or food and drinks, depending on the extent of the business. Even in ordinary shopping a lot of personal information is exchanged between the vendor and the customer, setting the stage for everyone to fulfil their various responsibilities. Bargaining is not a simple game of negotiation between adversarial parties but part of socialization and friendly chitchat to confirm the non-adversarial nature of the activity.

Enjoy your stay!

The Traditional Turkish City

Built on lands unfavourable for cultivation, traditional Turkish cities display unique vernacular architectural styles reflecting regional conditions with an urbane and sophisticated building tradition.

The traditional Turkish city is typically situated along historical trade routes, notably the silk and spice routes. Built on lands unfavourable for cultivation, these cities display unique vernacular architectural styles reflecting regional conditions with an urbane and sophisticated building tradition. Although each has a distinctive character of its own, all have a citadel; one or more grand mosque complexes containing religious colleges and welfare establishments; a traditional square corresponding to the western plaza; a number of old bath houses; traditional guild alleys jutting away from the bazaar area; and distinct neighbourhoods where you are likely to find fine examples of traditional Turkish houses, often arranged around a courtyard.

In shaded squares, the tables of coffee houses are occupied by townsmen, sipping coffee or tea, playing backgammon and discussing the issues of the day with their friends and neighbours. It is said that both coffee and coffee houses are among the many contributions made by Turks to the good life. The sacks of coffee abandoned by the retreating Ottoman army at the gates of Vienna in the 16th century introduced the addictive brew to the West and made the cafes of Vienna world famous.

It is in these cities that both high style and vernacular culture evolved side by side, giving us the best examples of Turkish architecture as well as the best of folklore, traditional arts and crafts, customs and food. These cities were home to folk heroes such as Köroğlu and the poet Yunus Emre, whose simple verses offer profound ideas for humanity, along with the well-known Nasrettin Hodja, another famous folk hero whose personification of folk wisdom in his humorous anecdotes is still widely quoted and enjoyed.

The popular theatre tradition, with its comedians, storytellers, marionettes and shadow puppets evolved in the provincial cities. Performances were given in public squares during national and religious festivals, at weddings and fairs as well as at inns, coffee houses and private residences. All the shows were accompanied by music, even wrestling matches, with artists performing to the sound of the tambourine. Performances were often interspersed with songs and dances or both. The dramatic instinct of the Turkish people and the role it played in daily life can be found in the Turkish commedia dell’arte and in the shadow puppet theatre of Karagöz, which dates from the 15th century. Players performed humorous impromptu productions, impersonating watchmen, tax collectors, the intellectual elite encountering the common folk and the idiosyncrasies of ethnic groups, and so contributed, in their own way, to the continuation of an amicable coexistence.

Every region in Turkey, every village indeed, has its own folkdances, totalling more than 1500 across the country. Dramatizing the exaltation of nature, animals, everyday life, courtship and combat, folkdances continue to occupy an important role in village life. Their exquisite choreography and universal meaning contain a vast resource of artistic energy.

Provincial Turkish cities still celebrate religious holidays, or bayrams, in the traditional manner. Town elders, following the holiday visits of greeting, participate in folkdances to the accompaniment of traditional folk instruments. ‘Oiled wrestling’ matches are accompanied by drum and pipe music. Karagöz puppet shows are often performed during the holidays and for such family celebrations as the circumcision ceremony.

The popular theatre tradition, with its comedians, storytellers, marionettes and shadow puppets evolved in the provincial cities.

The Traditional Turkish City

Built on lands unfavourable for cultivation, traditional Turkish cities display unique vernacular architectural styles reflecting regional conditions with an urbane and sophisticated building tradition.

The traditional Turkish city is typically situated along historical trade routes, notably the silk and spice routes. Built on lands unfavourable for cultivation, these cities display unique vernacular architectural styles reflecting regional conditions with an urbane and sophisticated building tradition. Although each has a distinctive character of its own, all have a citadel; one or more grand mosque complexes containing religious colleges and welfare establishments; a traditional square corresponding to the western plaza; a number of old bath houses; traditional guild alleys jutting away from the bazaar area; and distinct neighbourhoods where you are likely to find fine examples of traditional Turkish houses, often arranged around a courtyard.

In shaded squares, the tables of coffee houses are occupied by townsmen, sipping coffee or tea, playing backgammon and discussing the issues of the day with their friends and neighbours. It is said that both coffee and coffee houses are among the many contributions made by Turks to the good life. The sacks of coffee abandoned by the retreating Ottoman army at the gates of Vienna in the 16th century introduced the addictive brew to the West and made the cafes of Vienna world famous.

It is in these cities that both high style and vernacular culture evolved side by side, giving us the best examples of Turkish architecture as well as the best of folklore, traditional arts and crafts, customs and food. These cities were home to folk heroes such as Köroğlu and the poet Yunus Emre, whose simple verses offer profound ideas for humanity, along with the well-known Nasrettin Hodja, another famous folk hero whose personification of folk wisdom in his humorous anecdotes is still widely quoted and enjoyed.

The popular theatre tradition, with its comedians, storytellers, marionettes and shadow puppets evolved in the provincial cities. Performances were given in public squares during national and religious festivals, at weddings and fairs as well as at inns, coffee houses and private residences. All the shows were accompanied by music, even wrestling matches, with artists performing to the sound of the tambourine. Performances were often interspersed with songs and dances or both. The dramatic instinct of the Turkish people and the role it played in daily life can be found in the Turkish commedia dell’arte and in the shadow puppet theatre of Karagöz, which dates from the 15th century. Players performed humorous impromptu productions, impersonating watchmen, tax collectors, the intellectual elite encountering the common folk and the idiosyncrasies of ethnic groups, and so contributed, in their own way, to the continuation of an amicable coexistence.

Every region in Turkey, every village indeed, has its own folkdances, totalling more than 1500 across the country. Dramatizing the exaltation of nature, animals, everyday life, courtship and combat, folkdances continue to occupy an important role in village life. Their exquisite choreography and universal meaning contain a vast resource of artistic energy.

Provincial Turkish cities still celebrate religious holidays, or bayrams, in the traditional manner. Town elders, following the holiday visits of greeting, participate in folkdances to the accompaniment of traditional folk instruments. ‘Oiled wrestling’ matches are accompanied by drum and pipe music. Karagöz puppet shows are often performed during the holidays and for such family celebrations as the circumcision ceremony.

The popular theatre tradition, with its comedians, storytellers, marionettes and shadow puppets evolved in the provincial cities.

The Big City in Turkey

Turkey’s focal points are its three largest cities, İstanbul, Ankara and İzmir which have become major urban centres by historical providence as well as by design.

Following the foundation of the Turkish Republic after World War I, İstanbul, Ankara and İzmir became the focus of social and business life. Industry and business clustered in the established commercial centres of İstanbul and İzmir while the government built itself a new capital inland in Ankara. These cities contain the country’s most respected universities, conservatories, theatres and concert halls. Jewish and Christian communities, as well as immigrants from different parts of the old Ottoman Empire, add diversity to these cities, contributing to the human mosaic so characteristic of Anatolia.

For visitors, the big city offers an abundance of museums and famous historical sites, along with nightclubs, taverns and bazaars filled with silver and copper objects, carpets and gold jewellery. İstanbul, of course, is in a category of its own. A separate introduction to its own unique landscape is necessary.

Most visitors want to explore the old part of a Turkish city. According to tradition, each alley or courtyard of a bazaar specialized in a craft or trade corresponding to the old guilds. The cities of the Ottoman Empire were organized into communities formed along religious lines. These were integrated with the rest of the city and larger society via networks of such locally-controlled services as fire protection, security and schools. The old city centre, with its places of worship, government, trade and entertainment, was where the citizens mingled, enjoying the benefits of the security and bounty of the state while maintaining their culture and way of life.

The big cities also allow ample opportunity to sample Turkish cuisine at excellent, well-established restaurants.

Turkish Coastline: A Paradise for Yachtsmen

With over 8333km of coastline bordering four different seas and embroidered with countless coves, inlets, bays and beaches, Turkey is a paradise for yachtsmen with a different and private anchorage available for each night if one so wishes.

Turkey is home to the Blue Voyage, the idyllic cruise which equates with “sailing with the winds, into coves and over the seas, thus becoming one with nature”. For lovers of an active life, sailing in clear waters provides great opportunities for swimming, fishing, water skiing, surfing and diving.

The special design of Turkey’s indigenous sea-going vessel, the gulet, is synonymous with the Blue Voyage with its harmonious combination of practicality and tradition. Constructed mostly in the shipyards of Bodrum, Bozburun, Marmaris and İstanbul, and along the Black Sea coast, these broad-beam and wide-decked boats are equipped with motors as well as fully functional rigging. A good selection of charter gulets, motor yachts and sailboats are available for week tours, while smaller boats can be rented for day trips.

Turkish Coastline: A Paradise for Yachtsmen

With over 8333km of coastline bordering four different seas and embroidered with countless coves, inlets, bays and beaches, Turkey is a paradise for yachtsmen with a different and private anchorage available for each night if one so wishes.

Turkey is home to the Blue Voyage, the idyllic cruise which equates with “sailing with the winds, into coves and over the seas, thus becoming one with nature”. For lovers of an active life, sailing in clear waters provides great opportunities for swimming, fishing, water skiing, surfing and diving.

The special design of Turkey’s indigenous sea-going vessel, the gulet, is synonymous with the Blue Voyage with its harmonious combination of practicality and tradition. Constructed mostly in the shipyards of Bodrum, Bozburun, Marmaris and İstanbul, and along the Black Sea coast, these broad-beam and wide-decked boats are equipped with motors as well as fully functional rigging. A good selection of charter gulets, motor yachts and sailboats are available for week tours, while smaller boats can be rented for day trips.

Spas and Thermal Springs

Hundreds of thermal springs and spa facilities dotted the geothermal belt of Anatolia during the long era of development by the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.

The ancient Romans were the first to discover that Turkey’s many thermal springs offer unique therapeutic powers; they built the ancient city of Hierapolis close to the waters of Pamukkale. The Byzantine Emperor Justinian built baths at the natural hot springs of Çekirge at the foot of Mount Uludağ in Bursa to make best use of the healing properties of these springs. Many thermal baths were also built by the Ottoman sultans across the lands of the empire. Today Turkey is one of the seven countries which enjoys rich geothermal resources and it is one of the leading countries in Europe for geothermal therapy. Western Anatolia in particular abounds in thermal springs, or kaplıcas in Turkish, where people seek remedies for a wide variety of health problems and disorders. Some thermal waters are suitable simply for relaxation, while others are believed to offer specific health benefits. In either case, spas in Turkey are under the supervision of the Ministry of Health for strict compliance with high standards of hygiene. Most of Turkey’s top hotels also have their own spas and health clubs offering the latest in health and beauty treatments.

Trekking and Mountaineering

A glance at a topographical map of Turkey immediately reveals that this is a country of mountains, offering areas suitable for trekking and mountaineering with wonderful nature reserves with a rich variety of flora and fauna.

Mountains, rising on all four sides, encircle the Anatolian peninsula and form a part of the Alpine-Himalayan Mountain range. Two of Turkey’s most famous peaks are volcanoes, both inactive: Mt Erciyes in Kayseri in Central Anatolia (3917m) and Mt Ağrı (Mt Ararat 5137m) in the east. Other well-known mountain ranges are the Rize-Kaçkar (3932m) in the eastern Black Sea region, Niğde-Aladağ (3756m) in the Central Taurus range, and the Cilo and Sat mountains (4136m) near Hakkari in the eastern Taurus.

For those interested in trekking, Turkey offers many opportunities. The Lycian Way and St Paul Trail are the two official long distance footpaths of Turkey. Both paths are 500km and trekking is possible almost all year round. The Lycian Way stretches along the coast from Fethiye to Antalya, with many ascents and descents. The St Paul Trail is a newer footpath leading from Perge, 10km east of Antalya, to Yalvaç, northeast of Lake Eğirdir. Treks on these paths range from a difficulty level of medium to hard, depending on the section and the season.

Turkey on the UNESCO World Heritage List

Turkey is adorned with precious examples of humanity’s endless strivings in progress, aesthetics, meaning and purpose from throughout history with these combining to form the cultural heritage of our planet. Each monument and object from the past also gives us an insight into our origins and our lives today.

Historic Areas of İstanbul

The cultural heritage of İstanbul was shaped by its location as a strategic entrance to Anatolia, Central Asia and the Middle East on the one hand, and to Europe on the other.

The Historic Areas of İstanbul, inscribed in the World Heritage List in 1985, cover four main areas: the Archaeological Park, the Süleymaniye Mosque and its associated Conservation Area, Zeyrek Mosque and its associated Conservation Area, and the City Walls of İstanbul.

In its evaluation report the International Council on Monuments and Sites has stated that one cannot conceive of the World Heritage List without İstanbul, which has been associated with the world’s major political, religious and artistic events for over 2000 years. The cultural property in this area includes unique monuments and masterpieces of universal architecture, two of which are the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya), built by Anthemios of Tralles and Isidoros of Milet in 532-537, and the Süleymaniye Mosque, a masterpiece of Sinan the Great Architect. The 6650m city walls of Theodosius II, with its second line of defences created in 447, has been one of the leading references for military architecture.

City of Safranbolu

Located in a district of Karabük province in the Black Sea Region of Turkey, Safranbolu is a typical Ottoman city that has survived to the present day with the architectural forms of the buildings and streets illustrative of their period. During its zenith in the 17th century, Safranbolu’s architecture influenced urban development throughout much of the Ottoman Empire. The city was an important caravan station on the main east–west trade route from the 13th century to the advent of the railway in the early 20th century. Built in 1322, the Old Mosque, Old Bath and Süleyman Paşa Madrasah are the most prominent examples of Ottoman architecture in the city.

Archaeological Site of Troy

Contrary to popular opinion, the archaeological site of Troy does not embody just one ancient city. In fact, this site comprises the ruins of at least nine different settlements, built one on top of the other, dating back to the early Bronze Age. The first city was founded in the 3rd millennium BC and flourished as a mercantile city due to its location. This unique site enabled its inhabitants to control the Dardanelles (today’s Çanakkale Strait), a waterway which is used by every merchant ship passing from the Aegean Sea and heading for the Black Sea. The extensive remains at this archaeological site are the most significant demonstration of the first contact between the civilisations of Anatolia and the Mediterranean world. Naturally, Troy is of immense significance to understand the early development of European civilisation at such critical stage. Moreover, Troy is of exceptional cultural importance because of the profound influence of Homer’s Iliad on the creative arts over more than two millennia.

Göreme National Park and The Rock Sites of Cappadocia

Located among the ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations, Göreme is a town in the Nevşehir province of Central Anatolia. With a spectacular landscape entirely sculpted by erosion, the Göreme Valley and its surroundings contain rockhewn sanctuaries that provide unique evidence of Byzantine art in the post-Iconoclastic period. The area also contains the villages of prehistoric cave dwellers and underground cities that include the remains of human habitation dating back to the 4th century. Göreme contains unique natural features and displays a harmonious combination of natural and cultural landscape elements.

Hattusha: The Hittite Capital

Hattusha, found near modern Boğazkale (formerly Boğazköy) in Çorum province, was the capital of the Hittite Empire in the Late Bronze Age – a region situated in a loop of the Kızılırmak River in Central Anatolia. The archaeological site of Hattusha contains several notable elements: its urban organization, the types of construction that have been preserved (temples, royal residences, fortifications), the rich ornamentation of the Lions’ Gate and the Royal Gate, and the ensemble of rock art at Yazılıkaya. The city enjoyed considerable influence in Anatolia and northern Syria in the 2nd millennium BC.

Mount Nemrut

Mount Nemrut can be found in south-eastern Turkey, 40km north of Kahta near Adıyaman, standing at a height of 2206m. It is most notable for the gigantic statues located at the 1st century BC on its summit – a sanctuary built by King Antiochus I of Commagene – with the engineering of the construction continuing to amaze visitors when seen for the first time. The colossal statues of Apollo, Zeus, Hercules, Tyche and Antiochus rest on terraces that flank the artificial tumulus and a ceremonial road of approximately 180m connects the eastern and western terraces, lined on both sides with incomplete statues and stele. Sunrise makes a deep impression with visitors at this particular spot on Mount Nemrut, with its magnificent scenery set against the background of the landscape of nearby hills and mountains.

Aphrodisias

The site, located in southwestern Turkey, consists of two components: the archaeological site of Aphrodisias and the marble quarries in the northeast of the city. The temple of Aphrodite dates from the 3rd century BC and the city was built in the 2nd century BC. The wealth of Aphrodisias came from the marble quarries and the art produced by its sculptors. Arranged around several large civic structures, the city streets include temples, a theatre, an agora, and two bath complexes.

Selimiye Mosque and Its Complex

The Selimiye Mosque and its Külliye form a complex including a madrasah or Islamic religious academy, dar-ül hadis (hadith school), timekeeper’s room and an arasta (avenue of shops). Constructed by the celebrated architect Sinan between 1569 and 1575, the Selimiye Mosque and its complex are located in Edirne, the capital of Ottoman Empire before İstanbul. A masterpiece of Ottoman art and in the history of world architecture, the Selimiye Mosque is visible from all parts of the city with its monumental dome and four slender minarets. Besides its unique architectural characteristics, the mosque evokes admiration with its exquisite details in its carved-stone work and marble, glazed tiles, wood carving and mother-of-pearl inlays.

Aphrodisias

The site, located in southwestern Turkey, consists of two components: the archaeological site of Aphrodisias and the marble quarries in the northeast of the city. The temple of Aphrodite dates from the 3rd century BC and the city was built in the 2nd century BC. The wealth of Aphrodisias came from the marble quarries and the art produced by its sculptors. Arranged around several large civic structures, the city streets include temples, a theatre, an agora, and two bath complexes.

Hierapolis-Pamukkale

Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle”, is a natural attraction in south-western Turkey’s Denizli province. Unique in the world, Pamukkale resembles a frozen waterfall, with white layers of limestone and travertine cascading down a mountain slope approximately 2700m in length and 160m in height. Thermal spring waters, laden with calcareous salts running off the plateau’s edge, have created a fantastic formation of stalactites, cataracts and basins. At the end of the 2nd century BC, the dynasty of Attalid, the king of Pergamon, established the thermal spa of Hierapolis close by. Situated on a plateau, we find both the thermal centre and the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis. The ruins of the baths, temples and other monuments can be observed at the site.

Xanthos-Letoon

The ancient Lycian capital of Xanthos, today in the Turkish village Kınık, lies 18 km north of Patara. The theatre, Tomb of the Harpies, Nereid Monument , agora, and Inscribed Pillar, among a mixture of ruins from Lycian, Roman and Byzantine times, create a special atmosphere at this site. The archaeological site of Letoon is located between the towns of Kaş and Fethiye in Antalya, approximately 4km south of Xanthos along the river. These sites illustrate the blending of Lycian traditions and ancient Greek influence, especially in their funerary art. Archaeological experts and linguists agree that the epigraphic inscriptions are crucial for our understanding of the history of the Lycian people and their Indo-European language.

Pergamon and Its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape

The ancient city of Pergamon near İzmir, which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014, is a settlement that was rebuilt constantly and persisted in the stage of history due to its strategic location, though it has been exposed to many occupations and destructions throughout its history. Having been conquered by Alexander the Great after Persian rule, Pergamon’s golden era was during the 2nd century BC when it became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon. Pergamon was a centre of health, culture and arts for many years with the world’s largest library and spectacular sculptures hewn by accomplished artists. Pergamon maintained its importance during the time of the Romans when construction works continued. A trip to Pergamon, described as “the most famous and magnificent city of Asia Minor” by Plinius Secundus, the 1st century BC author and philosopher, will allow you to discover the traces of this famous city of antiquity.

Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük, Konya

Çatalhöyük is renowned as one of the earliest settlements of the Neolithic era, shedding light on the dawn of human settlement with unique examples of the earliest domestic architecture and landscape painting as well as sacred objects of the mother-goddess cult.

The site has extraordinary arts and crafts, with the earliest finds dating from 7400BC, and it has been an important key to unlocking the mysteries of the beginnings of agriculture and civilisation. The social organization of the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük and its urban plan are believed to represent the ideals of equality.

The tumulus shows that the history of mining in Anatolia dates back to the Neolithic era and provides ample evidence that people were involved in agriculture as well as hunting and gathering at that time. Çatalhöyük is also the first site in the world where a city plan is depicted in wall paintings. Baked-clay seals from the site show that the concept of property ownership developed in that era.

Pergamon and Its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape

The ancient city of Pergamon near İzmir, which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014, is a settlement that was rebuilt constantly and persisted in the stage of history due to its strategic location, though it has been exposed to many occupations and destructions throughout its history. Having been conquered by Alexander the Great after Persian rule, Pergamon’s golden era was during the 2nd century BC when it became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon. Pergamon was a centre of health, culture and arts for many years with the world’s largest library and spectacular sculptures hewn by accomplished artists. Pergamon maintained its importance during the time of the Romans when construction works continued. A trip to Pergamon, described as “the most famous and magnificent city of Asia Minor” by Plinius Secundus, the 1st century BC author and philosopher, will allow you to discover the traces of this famous city of antiquity.

Bursa and Cumalıkızık: The Birth of the Ottoman Empire

Bursa, one of the early capitals of the Ottoman Empire, reflects the early period of Ottoman culture. Cumalıkızık is a village from that period, a place where time seems to have stopped. The village is notable both for its houses, which are excellent examples of the civil architecture of the Ottoman period, and also for its friendly inhabitants that revel in the traditional setting. It is a ‘living Ottoman village’ with an unspoiled historical ambiance, everyday living, cultural values and natural surroundings where you are sure to step into a time capsule of wooden houses, narrow streets and monumental trees.

Archaeological Site of Ani

Lying on a secluded plateau in the Turkish Province of Kars, Ani is home to military, religious as well as residential buildings and fortifications which trail back hundreds of years. These structures reflect the characteristics of the medieval urbanism that was formed within centuries by Christians and Muslims. It grew into a magnificent capital of the Bagradit Armenian Kingdom in the 10th and 11th centuries with a population over one hundred thousand and gained economic power by controlling one branch of the Silk Road. Even after coming under the sovereignty of Byzantines, Seljuks, and Georgians, it kept playing a vital role as a significant crossroads for merchants. However, the city started to go into decline after the Mongol invasion and a destructive earthquake that occurred in 1319. Through the technically and artistically advanced structures of the region built between the 7th and 13th centuries, this archaeological site provides the modern-day archaeologists with valuable information that unveil the evolution of medieval architecture.

Diyarbakır City Walls and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape

Located on an escarpment of the Upper Dicle (Tigris) River Basin, the fortified city of Diyarbakır and the landscape around bearing the traces of several civilisations throughout the history has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015. The site encompasses the Amida Mound, known as İçkale (inner castle), the 6 km-long city walls of Diyarbakır with their numerous towers, gates, buttresses and 63 inscriptions from different periods, as well as Hevsel Gardens, a green link between the city and the Tigris that supplied the city with food and water.

Ephesus

As one of the most important centres of the ancient era, Ephesus has been inhabited approximately for 9000 years throughout the Hellenistic Era, Roman Period, Byzantine Era, the Period of Principalities and the Ottoman Era and has always been a very important port city and the centre of culture and commerce. Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015, the site comprises Çukuriçi Mound, Ayasuluk Hill (Selçuk Fortress, the Basilica of St. John, İsa Bey Bath, İsa Bey Mosque, Temple of Artemis), the ancient city of Ephesus and the House of the Virgin Mary.

Turkey on the UNESCO World Heritage List

Turkey is adorned with precious examples of humanity’s endless strivings in progress, aesthetics, meaning and purpose from throughout history with these combining to form the cultural heritage of our planet. Each monument and object from the past also gives us an insight into our origins and our lives today.

Historic Areas of İstanbul

The cultural heritage of İstanbul was shaped by its location as a strategic entrance to Anatolia, Central Asia and the Middle East on the one hand, and to Europe on the other.

The Historic Areas of İstanbul, inscribed in the World Heritage List in 1985, cover four main areas: the Archaeological Park, the Süleymaniye Mosque and its associated Conservation Area, Zeyrek Mosque and its associated Conservation Area, and the City Walls of İstanbul.

In its evaluation report the International Council on Monuments and Sites has stated that one cannot conceive of the World Heritage List without İstanbul, which has been associated with the world’s major political, religious and artistic events for over 2000 years. The cultural property in this area includes unique monuments and masterpieces of universal architecture, two of which are the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya), built by Anthemios of Tralles and Isidoros of Milet in 532-537, and the Süleymaniye Mosque, a masterpiece of Sinan the Great Architect. The 6650m city walls of Theodosius II, with its second line of defences created in 447, has been one of the leading references for military architecture.

City of Safranbolu

Located in a district of Karabük province in the Black Sea Region of Turkey, Safranbolu is a typical Ottoman city that has survived to the present day with the architectural forms of the buildings and streets illustrative of their period. During its zenith in the 17th century, Safranbolu’s architecture influenced urban development throughout much of the Ottoman Empire. The city was an important caravan station on the main east–west trade route from the 13th century to the advent of the railway in the early 20th century. Built in 1322, the Old Mosque, Old Bath and Süleyman Paşa Madrasah are the most prominent examples of Ottoman architecture in the city.

Archaeological Site of Troy

Contrary to popular opinion, the archaeological site of Troy does not embody just one ancient city. In fact, this site comprises the ruins of at least nine different settlements, built one on top of the other, dating back to the early Bronze Age. The first city was founded in the 3rd millennium BC and flourished as a mercantile city due to its location. This unique site enabled its inhabitants to control the Dardanelles (today’s Çanakkale Strait), a waterway which is used by every merchant ship passing from the Aegean Sea and heading for the Black Sea. The extensive remains at this archaeological site are the most significant demonstration of the first contact between the civilisations of Anatolia and the Mediterranean world. Naturally, Troy is of immense significance to understand the early development of European civilisation at such critical stage. Moreover, Troy is of exceptional cultural importance because of the profound influence of Homer’s Iliad on the creative arts over more than two millennia.

Göreme National Park and The Rock Sites of Cappadocia

Located among the ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations, Göreme is a town in the Nevşehir province of Central Anatolia. With a spectacular landscape entirely sculpted by erosion, the Göreme Valley and its surroundings contain rockhewn sanctuaries that provide unique evidence of Byzantine art in the post-Iconoclastic period. The area also contains the villages of prehistoric cave dwellers and underground cities that include the remains of human habitation dating back to the 4th century. Göreme contains unique natural features and displays a harmonious combination of natural and cultural landscape elements.

Hattusha: The Hittite Capital

Hattusha, found near modern Boğazkale (formerly Boğazköy) in Çorum province, was the capital of the Hittite Empire in the Late Bronze Age – a region situated in a loop of the Kızılırmak River in Central Anatolia. The archaeological site of Hattusha contains several notable elements: its urban organization, the types of construction that have been preserved (temples, royal residences, fortifications), the rich ornamentation of the Lions’ Gate and the Royal Gate, and the ensemble of rock art at Yazılıkaya. The city enjoyed considerable influence in Anatolia and northern Syria in the 2nd millennium BC.

Mount Nemrut

Mount Nemrut can be found in south-eastern Turkey, 40km north of Kahta near Adıyaman, standing at a height of 2206m. It is most notable for the gigantic statues located at the 1st century BC on its summit – a sanctuary built by King Antiochus I of Commagene – with the engineering of the construction continuing to amaze visitors when seen for the first time. The colossal statues of Apollo, Zeus, Hercules, Tyche and Antiochus rest on terraces that flank the artificial tumulus and a ceremonial road of approximately 180m connects the eastern and western terraces, lined on both sides with incomplete statues and stele. Sunrise makes a deep impression with visitors at this particular spot on Mount Nemrut, with its magnificent scenery set against the background of the landscape of nearby hills and mountains.

Aphrodisias

The site, located in southwestern Turkey, consists of two components: the archaeological site of Aphrodisias and the marble quarries in the northeast of the city. The temple of Aphrodite dates from the 3rd century BC and the city was built in the 2nd century BC. The wealth of Aphrodisias came from the marble quarries and the art produced by its sculptors. Arranged around several large civic structures, the city streets include temples, a theatre, an agora, and two bath complexes.

Selimiye Mosque and Its Complex

The Selimiye Mosque and its Külliye form a complex including a madrasah or Islamic religious academy, dar-ül hadis (hadith school), timekeeper’s room and an arasta (avenue of shops). Constructed by the celebrated architect Sinan between 1569 and 1575, the Selimiye Mosque and its complex are located in Edirne, the capital of Ottoman Empire before İstanbul. A masterpiece of Ottoman art and in the history of world architecture, the Selimiye Mosque is visible from all parts of the city with its monumental dome and four slender minarets. Besides its unique architectural characteristics, the mosque evokes admiration with its exquisite details in its carved-stone work and marble, glazed tiles, wood carving and mother-of-pearl inlays.

Aphrodisias

The site, located in southwestern Turkey, consists of two components: the archaeological site of Aphrodisias and the marble quarries in the northeast of the city. The temple of Aphrodite dates from the 3rd century BC and the city was built in the 2nd century BC. The wealth of Aphrodisias came from the marble quarries and the art produced by its sculptors. Arranged around several large civic structures, the city streets include temples, a theatre, an agora, and two bath complexes.

Hierapolis-Pamukkale

Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle”, is a natural attraction in south-western Turkey’s Denizli province. Unique in the world, Pamukkale resembles a frozen waterfall, with white layers of limestone and travertine cascading down a mountain slope approximately 2700m in length and 160m in height. Thermal spring waters, laden with calcareous salts running off the plateau’s edge, have created a fantastic formation of stalactites, cataracts and basins. At the end of the 2nd century BC, the dynasty of Attalid, the king of Pergamon, established the thermal spa of Hierapolis close by. Situated on a plateau, we find both the thermal centre and the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis. The ruins of the baths, temples and other monuments can be observed at the site.

Xanthos-Letoon

The ancient Lycian capital of Xanthos, today in the Turkish village Kınık, lies 18 km north of Patara. The theatre, Tomb of the Harpies, Nereid Monument , agora, and Inscribed Pillar, among a mixture of ruins from Lycian, Roman and Byzantine times, create a special atmosphere at this site. The archaeological site of Letoon is located between the towns of Kaş and Fethiye in Antalya, approximately 4km south of Xanthos along the river. These sites illustrate the blending of Lycian traditions and ancient Greek influence, especially in their funerary art. Archaeological experts and linguists agree that the epigraphic inscriptions are crucial for our understanding of the history of the Lycian people and their Indo-European language.

Pergamon and Its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape

The ancient city of Pergamon near İzmir, which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014, is a settlement that was rebuilt constantly and persisted in the stage of history due to its strategic location, though it has been exposed to many occupations and destructions throughout its history. Having been conquered by Alexander the Great after Persian rule, Pergamon’s golden era was during the 2nd century BC when it became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon. Pergamon was a centre of health, culture and arts for many years with the world’s largest library and spectacular sculptures hewn by accomplished artists. Pergamon maintained its importance during the time of the Romans when construction works continued. A trip to Pergamon, described as “the most famous and magnificent city of Asia Minor” by Plinius Secundus, the 1st century BC author and philosopher, will allow you to discover the traces of this famous city of antiquity.

Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük, Konya

Çatalhöyük is renowned as one of the earliest settlements of the Neolithic era, shedding light on the dawn of human settlement with unique examples of the earliest domestic architecture and landscape painting as well as sacred objects of the mother-goddess cult.

The site has extraordinary arts and crafts, with the earliest finds dating from 7400BC, and it has been an important key to unlocking the mysteries of the beginnings of agriculture and civilisation. The social organization of the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük and its urban plan are believed to represent the ideals of equality.

The tumulus shows that the history of mining in Anatolia dates back to the Neolithic era and provides ample evidence that people were involved in agriculture as well as hunting and gathering at that time. Çatalhöyük is also the first site in the world where a city plan is depicted in wall paintings. Baked-clay seals from the site show that the concept of property ownership developed in that era.

Pergamon and Its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape

The ancient city of Pergamon near İzmir, which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014, is a settlement that was rebuilt constantly and persisted in the stage of history due to its strategic location, though it has been exposed to many occupations and destructions throughout its history. Having been conquered by Alexander the Great after Persian rule, Pergamon’s golden era was during the 2nd century BC when it became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon. Pergamon was a centre of health, culture and arts for many years with the world’s largest library and spectacular sculptures hewn by accomplished artists. Pergamon maintained its importance during the time of the Romans when construction works continued. A trip to Pergamon, described as “the most famous and magnificent city of Asia Minor” by Plinius Secundus, the 1st century BC author and philosopher, will allow you to discover the traces of this famous city of antiquity.

Bursa and Cumalıkızık: The Birth of the Ottoman Empire

Bursa, one of the early capitals of the Ottoman Empire, reflects the early period of Ottoman culture. Cumalıkızık is a village from that period, a place where time seems to have stopped. The village is notable both for its houses, which are excellent examples of the civil architecture of the Ottoman period, and also for its friendly inhabitants that revel in the traditional setting. It is a ‘living Ottoman village’ with an unspoiled historical ambiance, everyday living, cultural values and natural surroundings where you are sure to step into a time capsule of wooden houses, narrow streets and monumental trees.

Archaeological Site of Ani

Lying on a secluded plateau in the Turkish Province of Kars, Ani is home to military, religious as well as residential buildings and fortifications which trail back hundreds of years. These structures reflect the characteristics of the medieval urbanism that was formed within centuries by Christians and Muslims. It grew into a magnificent capital of the Bagradit Armenian Kingdom in the 10th and 11th centuries with a population over one hundred thousand and gained economic power by controlling one branch of the Silk Road. Even after coming under the sovereignty of Byzantines, Seljuks, and Georgians, it kept playing a vital role as a significant crossroads for merchants. However, the city started to go into decline after the Mongol invasion and a destructive earthquake that occurred in 1319. Through the technically and artistically advanced structures of the region built between the 7th and 13th centuries, this archaeological site provides the modern-day archaeologists with valuable information that unveil the evolution of medieval architecture.

Diyarbakır City Walls and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape

Located on an escarpment of the Upper Dicle (Tigris) River Basin, the fortified city of Diyarbakır and the landscape around bearing the traces of several civilisations throughout the history has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015. The site encompasses the Amida Mound, known as İçkale (inner castle), the 6 km-long city walls of Diyarbakır with their numerous towers, gates, buttresses and 63 inscriptions from different periods, as well as Hevsel Gardens, a green link between the city and the Tigris that supplied the city with food and water.

Ephesus

As one of the most important centres of the ancient era, Ephesus has been inhabited approximately for 9000 years throughout the Hellenistic Era, Roman Period, Byzantine Era, the Period of Principalities and the Ottoman Era and has always been a very important port city and the centre of culture and commerce. Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015, the site comprises Çukuriçi Mound, Ayasuluk Hill (Selçuk Fortress, the Basilica of St. John, İsa Bey Bath, İsa Bey Mosque, Temple of Artemis), the ancient city of Ephesus and the House of the Virgin Mary.