10 Historic Places In Turkey That Offer Glimpses Of Ancient Civilisation

From the grandeur of the Ottoman Empire to the glory of ancient Greek and Roman cultures

by Priyanka Fernandes
10 Historic Places In Turkey That Offer Glimpses Of Ancient Civilisation

Travelling through Turkey is like stepping into a living museum of ancient civilisations. From the grandeur of the Ottoman Empire to the glory of ancient Greek and Roman cultures, the country has historic treasures that offer captivating glimpses into bygone eras. Whether exploring the ruins of ancient cities, wandering through majestic palaces, or marvelling at breathtaking archaeological sites, visitors are immersed in the rich tapestry of Turkey’s heritage. Here are ten historic places in Turkey that showcase the enduring legacy of ancient civilisations.

1. Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque, Historic Places In Turkey
Image Credits: Canva Stock Images

The Blue Mosque, facing the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, is a stunning example of Byzantine architecture. Built in the early 17th century, it features six minarets and over 30 domes with 20,000 ceramic tiles. Inside, intricate blue and white tilework, vibrant purple carpets, and Arabic calligraphy create a serene atmosphere. With 260 windows casting a tranquil turquoise hue during the day and bright lights illuminating it at night, the mosque offers a mesmerising experience for visitors.

2. Ephesus

Image Credits: Canva Stock Images

Ephesus, a 5000-year-old city near the Aegean Sea, is often called the “Pompeii of Turkey” for its exceptional preservation. Must-see places include the Memmius Monument, the Temple of Hadrian, the Great Theater, and the Temple of Artemis. The Great Theater, seating 25,000, hosted various events, while the Temple of Artemis, once a wonder of the ancient world, remains awe-inspiring despite being in ruins.

Also Read: All The Way From Turkey, Dubai’s First Cag Kebab Place Is Finally Open & We Are On Our Way!

3. Underground Cities Of Cappadocia

Underground Cities Of Cappadocia
Image Credits: Canva Stock Images

Cappadocia in Turkey is famous for its unique landscape and hot air balloon rides, but the Elengubu underground city complex lies beneath the surface. Discovered in 1963, it spans 85 meters underground and has served various civilisations over millennia. With 18 floors of interconnected tunnels, it housed up to 300,000 people, showcasing a fascinating blend of history and architecture alongside Cappadocia’s natural beauty.

4. Van Castle

Van Castle, Historic Places In Turkey
Image Credits: Canva Stock Images

Perched on a hill overlooking Van and Lake Van, Van Castle is a historic site dating back to the Iron Age. Built during the Urartu Kingdom’s reign from the 9th to 7th centuries BC, it has witnessed disputes between various empires. Accessible via stone steps, the castle features basalt and brick construction adorned with Urartian monuments and inscriptions. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Lake Van and the mountains, with a stunning sunset adding to the castle’s allure.

5. Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia
Image Credits: Canva Stock Images

In the 4th century A.D., Constantine the Great established Constantinople, now Istanbul, and commissioned the construction of Hagia Sophia in 532 AD. Originally a Byzantine church, it was later converted into a mosque after the Turkish conquest in 1453. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Hagia Sophia boasts a colossal dome, intricate glass paintings, mosaic floors, and marble embellishments, fusing Christian and Islamic artistry. A hurried visit risks overlooking its profound historical and architectural significance.

6. Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace
Image Credits: Canva Stock Images

Topkapi Palace, an iconic historic place in Turkey, was the Ottoman sultan’s administrative centre and residence from 1465 to 1853. This sprawling complex showcases traditional Ottoman architecture and houses impressive treasures, including exquisite jewellery, armour, paintings, and porcelain. Visitors are captivated by its ornate interior and extensive collection of Muslim and Christian relics.

7. Mount Nemrut

Mount Nemrut, Historic Places In Turkey
Image Credits: Canva Stock Images

Experience the mystery of Mount Nemrut, Turkey’s enigmatic site in the southeast. It is adorned with colossal statues and scattered heads, perhaps remnants of an ancient tomb. For the best views, visit at sunrise or sunset, when the statues are bathed in perfect light. Stay in Adiyaman, the nearest city in Southeast Turkey’s heart, with direct flights from Istanbul.

Also Read: 10 Best Places To Visit In Turkey To Uncover Hidden Gems And Marvel At Iconic Landmarks

8. Goreme Open Air Museum

Goreme Open Air Museum
Image Credits: Canva Stock Images

Discover the enchanting wonders of Cappadocia, nestled in Central Anatolia. This captivating region boasts a rich heritage, surreal rock formations, and unforgettable hot-air balloon rides. Here, you will find the Goreme Open Air Museum, where ancient churches sculpted into the rock reveal well-preserved Byzantine-era frescoes, offering a glimpse into the region’s fascinating history and culture.

9. Alanya Castle 

Alanya Castle
Image Credits: Canva Stock Images

Alanya Castle, dating back to the 3rd century BC, offers a captivating journey through the city’s history. Over the centuries, builders rebuilt and fortified the castle, boasting 140 towers, 400 cisterns, and extensive walls spanning 6500 meters. Explore its walls adorned with ancient symbols and inscriptions, and visit the open-air museum showcasing relics from various periods. Don’t miss the chance to climb to the citadel for panoramic views of the Mediterranean and stunning sunsets over the sea.

10. Aspendos Theatre

Aspendos Theatre
Image Credits: Canva Stock Images

Aspendos Theater in southern Turkey is renowned as one of the world’s best-preserved ancient Roman theatres. Built during the Roman Empire, its scale and remarkable preservation are impressive. Designed by Zenon, it exhibits both Roman and Greek influences. Despite its ancient origins, it remains in use, hosting events like the Antalya Opera and Art Festival, showcasing its enduring acoustic prowess.

Turkey’s historic places offer an enchanting journey through time, showcasing ancient civilizations and cultures set against beautiful landscapes and architectural marvels. Each site tells a unique story of Turkey’s rich heritage, from the Blue Mosque and Ephesus to Cappadocia’s underground cities and the iconic Hagia Sophia. Visitors can experience unforgettable moments, from sunrise at Mount Nemrut to the well-preserved Aspendos Theatre. 

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva Stock Images

For more such snackable content, interesting discoveries and the latest updates on food, travel and experiences in your city, download the Curly Tales App. Download HERE.