Turkey is a destination abundant in UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it is home to a total of 18 of them, and there are over 80 sites that are on UNESCO’s Tentative List, waiting to be nominated. I will talk about the absolutely must-see UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey.

Ephesus, İzmir
This popular ancient Greek city was inhabited in Neolithic, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman periods. The nearby Temple of Artemis is part of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The UNESCO listing includes the Ancient City of Ephesus, the area of Ayasuluk and the Cukurici Mound.
Other structures such as the Library of Celsus and an amphitheatre of significant size are also amongst the reasons Ephesus is such a popular spot for tourism. Ephesus is also mentioned in the Book of Revelation; it was where one of the seven churches of Asia and the last home of Mary and the Gospel of John was located.

Pergamon, Bergama
About an hour and a half from Izmir city centre, Pergamon is an ancient city that was first settled in the Archaic period. After Alexander the Great removed the Persian Empire’s control in the area, it became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon and was ruled by them Greek dynasty Attalid. It quickly became a prosperous and cultural city during the Hellenistic period.
Today, it’s an outstanding example of Greek architecture, sculpture and urban planning. You can see the Temple of Athena, Great Altar of Pergamon, Dionysus Temple, agora, gymnasiums, the library and theatre. Compared to Ephesus, Pergamon is less crowded even during peak season.

Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia
Perhaps the most magical destination on this list is Cappadocia and Göreme National Park. This volcanic landscape was miraculously sculpted by erosion. Since it’s been inhabited by humans as early as the 4th Century, the caves and underground cities of Goreme Valley are exceptional early human sites to discover. The iconic hot air balloon tours allow visitors to see the best views of this gorgeous natural site; the fairy chimneys are worth seeing each season whether they are covered with snow or shining under the sun.

Hierapolis and Pamukkale (Cotton Castle), Denizli
Attalid Kings settled on top of the warm thermal springs of Pamukkale at the ancient Greco- Roman city of Hierapolis. They enjoyed soaking in the mineral-rich waters on Pamukkale’s terraced travertine pools. Hierapolis was a developed city at the time and today the ruins of temples, bathhouses, a theatre and more still remain. Pamukkale is truly one of the best travertine pools of its kind and today thousands of tourists come to see this natural beauty every year.

Mount Nemrut, Adıyaman
Located on one of the highest peaks in the South Western part of Turkey, Mount Nemrut is a 2,134 metre high mountain where King Antiochus I of Commagene’s tomb resides. The hike to the peak is not easy but it’s worth it since the iconic view of the landscape from the top is a must-see. King Antiochus I’s tomb is accompanied by giant statues of two lions, eagles, gods and the King himself. The best time to visit Mount Nemrut is late spring or early autumn.

Göbeklitepe, Şanlıurfa
This mysterious archaeological site contains the world’s oldest temple. Dating back 11,500 years, Göbeklitepe predates Stonehenge, Temple of Apollo and others. This Neolithic site is a fascinating place to connect with our ancient ancestors, who sought an answer for their existence before any religion.

Ishak Pasha Palace
In the open plains of Ağrı in the east of Turkey is one of the last remaining and best surviving examples of a Turkish palace, constructed by Ishak Pasha, a Georgian general, in the 18th century.
The palace is more of a complex, containing a harem, baths, a mosque, dungeons and a central heating system. The interior and exterior design of the palace reflects Ottoman, Persian and Seljuk architectural styles and is a marvel to look at.
It was the second-most important administrative palace after Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, and its grandiosity is a testament to that.

Sümela Monastery
Up in the Karadağ (in Greek, meaning “Black Mountain”) south of Trabzon you will find one of the Black Sea region’s greatest marvels, the Sümela Monastery. Carved into the steep cliffside of the mountain 300 meters (984 feet) above the picturesque Altındere Valley, this Greek monastery was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and believed to have been constructed by two Greek monks in the late fourth century.

City of Safranbolu
This beautiful city is amongst the few cities where Ottoman architecture is the dominant style. Safranbolu (meaning “Plenty of Saffron”) was an important player in the caravan trade during the Ottoman period. When in Safranbolu, you must visit the marketplace in Çukur, Kıranköy and the vineyards of Bağlar, and hike up to the Bulak Mencilis Cave.

Thank you for your attention. Have a nice day!

January 11, 2022

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