Turkey is a vast and varied nation filled with plenty to explore – from the striking beaches of the Aegean and Mediterranean coastlines to the mountainous regions around Mt Ararat in the far east of the country. Scanning the highlights of the country, we’ve selected our opinion of five of the best travel-wonders in Turkey.
The volcanic rock formations at Cappadocia are located within the Goreme National Park and are a popular tourist attraction in the region. Around 4,000 years ago, people started carving cave dwellings into the bizarrely shaped mounds of volcanic rock that were deposited by now extinct volcanoes. What remains is a remarkable and unique network of caves and tunnels, such as those at Derinkuyu, that stretch over 11 floors to a depth of around 85 metres.
Today you can still explore part of the Derinkuyu cave complex for a fascinating and truly unique glimpse into history. It’s also possible to take a hot air balloon ride above the Cappadocia area to view the rock formations from an alternative angle.
Around a 3 hours drive east from the popular holiday resort of
Kusadisi Kuşadasi or 4 hours drive north of Antalya, you will find the ancient city of Hierapolis. Founded in the 2nd century B.C. Hierapolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose name translates as “Sacred City” and is a beautiful and unreal landscape. A trip to Hierapolis rewards tourists with a selection of historic remains of the city, including the amphitheatre (top photo), the tombs of the Necropolis and the remains at the Temple of Apollo (the Greek God of the Sun).
The area is also famous for the Pamukkale hot springs, which appear white, due to the calcium deposited by the waters. Visitors to the springs can bathe in the warm waters which were once believed to have healing properties. Entrance to the springs and Hierapolis costs 20 Turkish Lira (approximately £9)*.
Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey, and the only city in the world that sits on two continents, Asia and Europe. Istanbul has a rich history that can be seen all over the city. Sightseeing opportunities are everywhere – from the majestic Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace (centre of the Ottoman Empire for more than 4 centuries) in Istanbul’s old city, to the thousands of shops and stalls at the Grand Bazaar, the worlds largest covered market.
Located just a short 25 minute drive north of Kusadisi, the ancient city of Ephesus houses the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean region and was once home to the Temple of Artemis – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Ephesus dates from the 13th century B.C. and was once a major port city with a large population. But when the port silted up, most of the citizens left, abandoning the city in a short space of time. Today many of the ruins still stand in surprisingly good condition. Visitors can still see the remains of the amphitheatre and library, along with many other ruins and relics. The Ephesus site will take a full day to see properly and entrance costs 20 Turkish Lira (approximately £9 or US$12.50)*.
Sumela Monastery in the Trabzon province of North East Turkey is an amazing sight. The monastery is built in the most impressive, impossible and inaccessible location, in a hollow of a sheer cliff face a thousand feet above the valley floor, and it seems a miracle that the building manages to cling on to the rock. The monastery dates back to the 4th century when it was founded by a Greek monk known as blessed Barnabas. For those wanting to visit Sumela monastery and take a look around inside to see the monks living quarters and various relics and frescoes left behind, a 40 minute hike through thick woodland is necessary and an entrance fee of 8 Turkish Lira (about £3.50 or US$5)* is payable, but it is certainly worth the effort.
* Note: Prices correct at time of publication
Written and photographed by the Turkey holidays team at travelsupermarket.com