On a recent trip to Turkey our guide stated that there are more Greek ruins in Turkey than in Greece. And everywhere I visited, from Ephesus to Cappadocia and beyond; there were more historical treasures and archaeological attractions than I could explore in a lifetime. Turkey is truly a rich historical land.
It’s easy to plan a vacation in Turkey that combines history, archeology and modern coastal attractions. That means that a holiday to Turkey can make you feel refreshed, relaxed, and be intellectually rewarding. Here are a few suggestions of historical sites well worth visiting.
One of the crowning glories of Turkey’s ancient attractions is undoubtedly the ancient metropolis of Ephesus. As you walk through the ancient Greek city’s pillared avenues and grand theaters you are transported to the 10th century BC when it was built. You can almost hear the hustle and bustle of the port, as countless ships dock bringing passengers and goods to the city.
The sea has long since receded, but with a little imagination you can still see it through the veil of time. Saint Paul taught in Ephesus which resulted in a full scale riot on one occasion. Paul’s teachings were threatening the livelihood of those who made their money selling ornamental idols of Artemis. You can almost hear the rabid cries of ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’ as they howled for Paul’s blood. The Temple of Artemis, at least its ruins, still stands today.
This unearthly landscape of volcanic rock formations, a veritable petrified forest of towers and pillars, exudes an eerie charm. While what lies on the surface is fascinating, it’s what lays beneath that captures the imagination even more. Beneath the forest of volcanic pillars there are underground cities. These cities were once the sanctuary of early followers of Christ as they sought refuge from persecution. It seems hard to imagine that one of these subterranean sanctuaries was capable of holding up to 20,000 people.
Assos (Modern day Behramkale)
Assos (Behramkale), a historic archeological site and small seaside village located on Turkey’s northern Aegean coast dates. Assos dates to the 7th century BC when it was founded by the ancient Greeks. Having passed through many hands over the years from Alexander the Great to the Kings of Pergamum to mighty the Roman Empire, ancient Assos boasts manyarchaeological attractions such as the Temple of Athena built around 530 BC.
The temple is perfectly placed with stunning views across the Aegean and nearby islands. Don’t miss the ancient city walls, a Roman theater and the agora (gathering place in ancient Greek cities).
Turkey has a lot to offer beyond Istanbul and the coast if you enjoy history as well as relaxation and a holiday in the sun.