18 Gorgeous Unesco World Heritage Sites in Turkey
Turkey houses 18 amazing cultural and natural sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as of 2020. You probably didn't know even these sites are all in Turkey. It is a splendid country full of world heritage sites and incredible travel opportunities. Turkey has also 74 more stunning sites in the Tentative list of Unesco.
Come and explore these natural, archaeological, and historic wonders.
Aphrodisias ancient city was inscribed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2017. The UNESCO listing consists of both the ancient city, the ruins of Aphrodisias and its quarries which supplied marble for the city. This old Hellenistic ancient city derived its name from Aphrodite who was known as the goddess of love in Greek mythology. The highlights of the ancient city today to visit are a monumental gateway called Tetrapylon, the temple of Aphrodite which dates back to 3rd C, the stadium which is the best-preserved one in Asia Minor with its size and the famous museum where the great friezes of the Sebasteion building are on display.
2.Archaeological Site of Troy
With more than 4,000 years of history, the world-famous archaeological site, Troy was first narrated by Homer in the Iliad and Odysseus as the place of the Trojan War. In a mythological beauty contest, Paris of Troy who was the son of King Priam had to choose only one of the three beauties Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. Paris chose Aphrodite who had offered Paris the love of Helen, the Queen of Sparta who was the most beautiful woman. That would result in the abduction of Helen to Troy and a war reason for Spartan against Troy. The site was designated as a UNESCO site due to its extensive remains which are estimated as the most important evidence of the first conflict between Anatolian civilizations and the Mediterranean world. Troy would have inspired many known artists all around the world with its glory. It is one of the most interesting places to visit for travelers on Turkey holidays.
3.Bursa and Cumalıkızık: the Birthplace of the Ottoman Empire
Bursa was the first official known capital city of the Ottoman Empire from 1335 to 1363 with its breathtaking nature and rich history. The UNESCO listing includes 8 components, 7 of them in Bursa and Cumalikizik which is a village about 700 years old with its preserved wooden Ottoman houses. On Turkey travels Bursa city offers a great variety of historical complexes such as bazaars,inns&hans, mosques, schools, baths, etc. associated with Ottoman architecture. Some of the most recordable highlights of UNESCO in this city are the Ulu Camii (Grand Mosque) and the tombs of Osman and Orhan Gazi Tombs who are the founders of the Ottoman Empire.
4.City of Safranbolu
The town of Safranbolu is an excellent sample of a typical Ottoman settlement with a preserved Ottoman architecture. The city was quite important for caravan trade as the main commercial route between the East and West linking Europe to Asia. Today, the town still exhibits typical Ottoman buildings which nearly consist of 2000 traditional houses. These houses are the finest examples of traditional Turkish architecture. The UNESCO list refers to three historic districts of Safranbolu: Çukur, the marketplace of inner-city, Kıranköy, and the Vineyards.
The ancient Hellenistic city of Ephesus was built in the 10th Century BC and still contains many artifacts dating back to the Neolithic, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman periods. The Ancient City of Ephesus is a world heritage where travelers are fascinated by the Celsus Library, preserved colonnaded streets, roman amphitheater. It has a lot more places to visit nearby like Ayasuluk hill.
Ayasuluk Hill includes the Basilica of St John, the Medieval Settlement and the Temple of Artemis, and the House of the Virgin Mary. Ephesus is a well known Christian heritage site as well. It is one of the seven churches of Asia described in the Book of Revelation, is believed to have been the last home of Mary the Mother of Jesus, and the Gospel of John is reported to have been written in Ephesus. It has always been one of the must-see historic sites in Turkey for travelers on Turkey holidays!
6.Hattusha: the Hittite Capital
Hattusa was the capital of the Hittite Empire in the Late Bronze Age. The archaeological site was designated due to its remarkable urban city plans, the old temples, royal residence, and fortification walls that are still preserved. The most important ruins in Hattusha are the Lions’ Gate and the Royal Gate; a famous sample of rock art and the Great Temple, the best-preserved ruin of a Hittite Temple from the 13th century BC.
7.Historical Peninsula in Istanbul
Istanbul, the cradle of three great civilizations was the capital of the Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans. On any Turkey holidays, this is where the travelers first start to visit and explore the magnificent remains of different periods while trying the delicious tastes of the city, walking, learning and living the city as Istanbulites also do every day. The old town tour here will be including the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazar, Basilica Cistern, and Chora Church.
8.Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük
Çatalhöyük is an early historical example of human settlements and a neolithic city that dates back to the period between 7500 BC - 5700 BC. The site simply consists of two mounds that have evidence of Neolithic occupation. Archaeological remains are wall paintings, tools, sculptures, and burial chambers in the mud-brick made houses. The taller mound contains 18 levels of Neolithic occupation between 7400 BC and 6200 BC when the second one shows the evolution of cultural practices in the Chalcolithic period from 6200 BC to 5200 BC. Many of Çatalhöyük artifacts have been moved to the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations in Ankara which was voted as the Best Museum of Europe in the 1990s.
9. Pergamon and its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape
Pergamon was one of the most significant cities of the Hellenistic Roman period. The Acropolis of Pergamon was ruled by the Attalid dynasty until it was bequeathed to the Romans in 133 BC. It was The city houses the steepest ancient Theatre in the world, gymnasiums, the Great Altar, and the library remains. The UNESCO listing consists of 9 locations which include the site of the Acropolis, the Asclepieion healing center, and some of Ottoman and Roman remains in the area. According to historians, Pergamon is where the parchment paper is said to have been invented in the 2nd C BC. The Great Altar of Pergamon is still on display at the Pergamon Museum of Berlin.
The ancient city of Xanthos was known as the capital of Lycia and Letoon, an ancient sanctuary of Leto as one of the most significant religious centers in Lycian Leauge. These remains represent the most unique architectural samples of old Lycian Civilization, one of the old important cultures during the Iron Age in Anatolia.
Some monuments of Xanthos such as the famous Nereid Monument and the Payava Sarcophagus were moved to the British Museum.
11. Göreme National Park and the Rock Formations of Cappadocia
While having a holiday and traveling in Turkey one of the Most mystical UNESCO heritage sites we can ever visit is the unique landscape of the Goreme Valley where the hot air balloons also take off in the early mornings. This UNESCO site consists of old monastic churches and chapels carved out on rock formations and the valleys which were filled with fairy chimneys and remains of cave dwellings and underground cities. Goreme open-air museum is the most visited site in Cappadocia. Aside from Goreme valley, the Cappadocia region houses many underground cities and scenic valleys that have various fairy chimneys.
Old Greco-Roman city, Hierapolis used to be a thermal spa city located near the hot springs of Pamukkale which meant cotton castle in Turkish. The travertines of Pamukkale which are covered a shiny white-colored calcium bicarbonate compounds and the historical remains are still so fantastic to visit today and the site is another beautiful UNESCO site that includes a great combination of natural formations, the unique system of old canals, and the backdrop of Pamukkale to the Greco-Roman Hierapolis.
13.Archaeological Site of Ani
On Turkey travels, eastern express city Kars invites you to visit The old capital of the independent state of Bagratid Armenian, an old kingdom which covered much of present-day Armenia and eastern Turkey, Ani is a ruined medieval settlement just a few km away from Turkey’s and Armenia’s borders. Ani located nearby trade routes into Anatolia and was a commercial center on the Silk Road. It was also the seat of the chief bishop of the Armenian church. The city once had 1001 different churches. Ani had many religious buildings, palaces, and fortifications which were built using local volcanic basalt stone. The UNESCO listing includes the citadel and the remains of various churches and palaces, the outer citadel, the area outside the city walls, and the rock-carved structures.
14. Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex
The Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex are located in Edirne city which is very close to Greek and Bulgarian borders. The mosque was built by the most talented Ottoman architect Sinan in the 16th and it is considered the top mosque of traditional Ottoman architecture. It is also known as the masterpiece of Sinan. The complex consists of Religious schools, a covered Marketplace, a clock tower, an outer courtyard, and a library.
15.Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape
Diyarbakir city has very long old walls that belong to its ancient fortress, city gates, and the Hevsel Gardens right at the heart of the city and situated on the Tigris River. The fortress of the city has an inner castle whereas the Hevsel Gardens provided food and water to the city.
16. Mount Nemrut
Located at one of the highest peaks in the southwestern part of Turkey. Mount Nemrut is known as the throne of Gods on a fantastic height; 2,134 meters. In 62 BC, King Antiochus I of Commagene built a tomb sanctuary and a monument for himself. The burial complex consists of huge statues of the King, 2 lions, 2 eagles, and various gods, the heads of which are scattered throughout the place. The mausoleum is one of the most difficult constructions of the Hellenistic period and is an ancient peak on the top of the ancient world.
17. Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği
The Great Mosque and Hospital of Divrigi is a decorative mosque and hospital complex built in 1228 after Anatolia was conquered by Turks in the 11th C. It is known as a masterpiece of Islamic architecture with its splendid decorative structures.
18. Gobeklitepe, Zero Point in Time
Gobeklitepe is a complex archaeological area from the stone age that was mostly formed in circular and oval-shaped structures on a hilltop. It is nearly 15 km away from the city of Sanliurfa Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey. Archaeologically it was determined as the oldest known primitive temple of the world which is more than 12000 years old makes it older than Stonehenge as well. Currently, as there is no other older historical place comparable to this archaeological site in the world Göbeklitepe was declared as zero point in time by UNESCO where the religious need and settlements of human beings started. And today on Turkey holidays it offers its visitors a great chance to see the oldest place in the known world.