the only city located on two continents, was founded by Byzas of Megara in 637
BC Byzantium, which was ruled by Persians, Spartans, and Athenians over the
centuries was occupied by Emperor Constantine the Great in 330. Constantine,
noticing the importance of the city, reconstructed it on an area five times
larger. In a ceremony organized at the Hippodrome, the city was named "New
Rome". Later, the mane of the city was changed to Constantinople.
Constantinople, which was besieged by many different peoples over the centuries,
was conquered by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in 1453. The city, which was
called Istanbul by the Turks, became the capital of their Empire. The
reconstruction activities started by Mehmed II continued under succeeding
sultans as well, and many monumental works were built. At the end of the Turkish
War of Independence, started by Ataturk, Istanbul was delivered from occupation.
After the establishment of the Republic, the capital moved form Istanbul to
Ankara. Today Istanbul is Turkey's most important historical, touristic and
Agia Sofia (Saint Sophia)
Sofia was build by Justinian I in 537. There were two other churches built
previously in the place of today's St. Sophia, which were ruined due to
different reasons. In 720 during the Iconoclastic crisis, the frescoes and
mosaics were destroyed. It was pillaged during the Latin invasion in 1204. In
1453, St. Sophia was turned into a mosque and some additions were made by Mehmed
II, the conqueror of Istanbul. In 1934 it was turned into a museum. St.
Sophia's most important architectural characteristic is the enlargement of the
interior space with the addition of two semidomes. The St. Sophia is the supreme
masterpiece of Byzantine architecture.
Sultan Ahmet Camii (The Blue
The Blue Mosque was constructed by Ahmed I during the years 1603-1616. It is the
most important of Istanbul's imperial mosques. The building is called the Blue
Mosque by foreigners because of the elegant blue and white Turkish ceramic tiles
adorning its interior; it is the only mosque in the world with six minarets.
Topkapi Sarayi (Topkapi Palace)
The Topkapi Palace was build during 1453 - 1478 by Mehmed II, who conquered
Istanbul. As a result of the additional structures built during the 400 years
leading up to the reign of Abdulmecid, the last sultan to live there, the
present complex of buildings was formed. Topkapi served as a palace to
twenty-five Ottoman sultans and could accommodate 5.000 people. Topkapi Palace
is the most beautiful example of Ottoman civil architecture. Spread over 699,000
sqm, the Topkapi is the biggest museum in Turkey and has the richest collection.
Kapali Carsi (Covered
Covered Bazaar dates originally from the reign of Mehmed II who had the Old
Bedesten, located at the very heart of the bazaar constructed. Today the vast
structure houses more than four thousand shops linked by a maze of labyrinthine
alleys and thoroughfares. The shops sell leather, gold, silver, jewelry,
garments, copper and a variety of tourist souvenirs. The Old Bedesten still
specializes in the sale of antiques.
Pamukkale (Hierapolis) is a fairyland of dazzling white, calcified castles.
Thermal spring waters laden with calcareous salts running off the plateau's
edge have created this fantastic formation of stalactites, cataracts and basins.
The hot springs have been used since Roman times for their therapeutic powers.
Both the thermal center with its motels and thermal pools, and the ruins of the
ancient city of Hierapolis, are situated on the plateau.
Kusadasi, or Bird Island, is a lovely port built along the shores of a
glittering bay. The terraced town overlooks the most beautiful inlet of the
Aegean and seems to have been created purely for the delight of vacationers. The
surroundings furnish the occasion to admire some of the most qualified and
interesting archaeological sites in all of Turkey: from Ephesus to Priene,
Meletus, and Colophon. Kusadasi got its impression of today during the time of
Okuz Mehmet Pasa in the 17th century. Among the other old buildings of the city
there are a Caravanserai of Okuz Mehmet Pasa, Kaleici Mosque and city walls.
is the best-preserved city. She is situated between Kusadasi and Selcuk, at
equal distance between the two towns. Archeological excavations started in
Ephesus in 1869 and have continued with success for the last 122 years. The most
ancient settlement brought to light by these excavations was found in the
Commercial Agora, which is also called the lower Agora. Here, remains of
architecture dating from the 8th - 7th Century BC were found 8 meters below
the surface of the earth.
The most spectacular building of Ephesus has to be the Grand Theatre. It was
built to receive around twenty four thousand spectators. The theatre was built
during the Hellenistic age, on the slope of Mount Pion. It was expanded to its
present shape at the time of the Emperor Claudius I.
Church of the Virgin Mary
Ephesus was always an important religious center, also in Christian times.
The Church of The Virgin Mary, which was built after the important councils that
convened in Ephesus in 431 and 449, lies north of the harbor berth-gymnasium
Library of Celsus
It is one of the most beautiful buildings at Ephesus. This library, which dates
to around A.D. 114-117, was probably intended to be a monumental tomb for Celsus
from his son, Gaius Julius Aquila.
Pergamon was a small settlement during the Archaic Period and center of culture
of the Hellenistic period for 150 years. Eumenes the II made acropolis of Athens
as an example and had the acropolis of Pergamon adorned with works of art, which
reflected fine taste, and Pergamon became one of the most beautiful cities of
the world. The Theatre of Pergamon, which is considered to be one of the
steepest theaters in the world, has the capacity for 10.000 people and had been
constructed in the 3rd century BC.
The Bosphorus the fabled channel linking the Black Sea and Sea of Marmara
measures 30 kms in length. As little as 700 meters wide at its narrowest point,
it glows between Asia and Europe. Today two modern suspension bridges span this
waterway which was, according to Herodotus, first crossed in 512 BC by King
Darius when he marched his army from Asia into Europe over a pontoon bridge of
ships. After the 18th century, it became a fashionable venue for the Ottoman
sultans and members of their courts who had elegant palaces and mansions of
stone and wood erected along it.
city of Ankara lies in the center of Anatolia on the eastern edge of the great,
high Anatolian Plateau, at an altitude of 850 meters. It is the center of the
province with the same name, which is a predominantly fertile wheat steppe land,
with forested areas in its northeast region. The region's history goes back to
the Bronze -age. The city, an important cultural, trading, and arts center in
Roman times, and an important trading center on the caravan route to the east in
Ottoman times, had declined in importance by the 19th century. It again became
an important center when Kemal Ataturk chose it as the base from which to direct
the War of Liberation. By consequence of its role in the war and its strategic
position, it was declared the capital of the new Turkish Republic on October
Museum of Anatolian
Close to the citadel gate, an old bedesten has been beautifully restored and now
houses a marvelous and unique collection including Paleolithic, Neolithic,
Hatti, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian, Roman works and showpiece Lydian treasures.
Mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk
Located in an imposing position in the Anittepe quarter of the city
stands the Mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic.
Completed in 1953, it is an impressive fusion of ancient and modern
architectural ideas and remains unsurpassed as an accomplishment of modern
Turkish architecture. There is a museum housing a superior wax statue of
Ataturk, writings, letters and items belonging to Ataturk, as well as an
exhibition of photographs recording important moments in his life and the
establishment of the republic.
Smirni, known in Turkish as "Beautiful Izmir", the city lies at the head of
a long and narrow gulf furrowed by ships and yachts. The climate is mild and in
the summer the constant and refreshing sea breezes temper the sun's heat.
Behind the palm-lined promenades and avenues, which follow the shoreline, the
city, in horizontal terraces, gently ascends the slopes of the surrounding
mountains. The third largest city in Turkey, Izmir's port is second only to
Istanbul's. The original city was established in the 3rd millennium BC and at
that time shared with Troia, the most advanced culture in Western Anatolia. In
the 1st millennium BC Izmir, then known as Smyrna, ranked as one of the
important cities of the Ionian Federation. The Lydian conquest of the city,
around 600 BC, brought this period to an end, and Izmir remained little more
than a village throughout the Lydian and the subsequent 6th century BC Persian
rule. In the 4th century BC a new city was built at the instigation of Alexander
the Great on the slopes of Mt. Pages. Izmir's Roman period, form the 1st
century BC, gave birth to its 2nd great era. Byzantine rule followed in the
fourth century and lasted until the Seljuk conquest in the 11th century. In
1415, under Sultan Mehmet Celbi, Izmir became part of the Ottoman Empire.
Konya - Mevlana Museum -
one of Turkey's oldest continuously inhabited cities was known as Iconium in
Roman times. The capital of the Seljuk Turks from the 12th to the 13th
centuries, it ranks as one of the great cultural centers of Turkey. During that
period of cultural, political and religious growth, the mystic Mevlana
Celaleddin Rumi founded a Sufi Order known in the West as the Whirling
Dervishes. The striking green-tiled mausoleum of Mevlana is Konya's most
famous building. Attached to the mausoleum, the former dervish seminary serves
now as a museum housing manuscripts of Mevlana's works and various artifacts
related to the mysticism of the sect. Every year, in the first half of December,
this still-active religious order holds a ceremony com-memorating the Whirling
Dervishes. The controlled, almost trance-like turning or sema of the white-robed
men creates a mystical experience for the viewer.