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Turkey

Istanbul •  Agia Sofia •  Sultan Ahmet Camii •  Topkapi Palace •  Kapali Carsi •  Pamukkale •  Kusadasi •  Ephesus •  Theatre •  Church of the Virgin Mary •  Library of Celsus •  Pergamon •  The Bosphorus •  Ankara •  Museum of Anatolian Civilization •  Mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk •  Izmir (Smirni) •  Konya


Istanbul
Istanbul 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 cultural city.

Agia Sofia (Saint Sophia)  
Agia 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 Mosque)  
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 Bazaar) 
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  
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  
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.

Ephesus  
Ephesus 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.

Theatre
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 complex.

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  
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 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.

Ankara  
The 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 13th, 1923.

Museum of Anatolian Civilization  
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.

Izmir (Smirni)  
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 - Whirling Dervishes  
Konya, 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.

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