While Greece often calls the limelight as the home of historic cities, stories and buildings, it's certainly not the only place to savor its ancient cultural history. Located at the meeting point of Europe and Asia, Turkey has a completely different history influenced by various sovereign empires and various cultures. Their traces can still be seen on the landscape today, and to help you plan your trip to this incredible country, we've selected the top five ancient sites you must see in Turkey.
Ephesus is arguably the best preserved Greco-Roman city in the world. In the first and second centuries AD, the city rivaled Rome in importance, and since the site was rediscovered in the 1860s, it has become one of the most visited ancient ruins in the world.
Ephesus enjoyed prosperity as pilgrims from all over the Mediterranean came to visit the great Temple of Artemis. Today, few remains of this famous temple, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, are left, but the huge archaeological site is home to many other great monuments.
Among the most important places in Ephesus are the Grand Theater, which once had a capacity of 25,000 spectators, and the Celsus Library.
Perched on a high, isolated hill, ancient Bergama now forms part of the modern Turkish city of Bergama. The site sees fewer tourists than Ephesus, due to less accommodation nearby. However, this means that visitors can enjoy its splendor with stunning photography, without the crowds.
Highlights of the site include the UNESCO-listed Acropolis and the Asclepion, a medical center that was one of the most important healing centers of the Roman period. It is also famous for its hillside amphitheater, one of the steepest in the classical world.
Among other ruins, you will also find the library of Bergama. At one time this contained more than 200,000 books, rivaling the great library in ancient Alexandria in Egypt.
Troy is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. First excavated in 1870, it dates back over 4,000 years, and its legend has inspired creative-spirited artists for centuries.
According to legend, the city of Troy was besieged for 10 years before it was conquered by King Agamemnon's army. The story of the Trojan War was immortalized by Homer and his epic poem The Iliad, giving the real-life archaeological site worldwide fame.
Today visitors will find a replica of the Trojan horse at the entrance. The most impressive ruins are the east wall and gate, with a trail that traverses the entire UNESCO-listed site.
The history of the ancient city of Aspendos, located in the most popular coastal city of Antalya, dates back to BC. It dates back to 800 years. The main attraction is its magnificent theater, which attracts a large number of visitors on its way to the magnificent beaches of Turkey.
Built during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius in the 2nd century AD, the theater is considered one of the greatest architectural monuments left over from the Roman Empire. With a capacity of 15,000 people, it hosts the Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival, Antalya Film Festival, and many other events.
While most visitors come to experience the theater's acoustics and atmosphere, there is more to do in Aspendos. The acropolis hill above the theater offers magnificent views of the blue waters. To the north, you'll also find the remains of an ancient aqueduct that once supplied water to the city.
The location of Hierapolis, located on the sparkling white travertines of Pamukkale, is quite spectacular. Founded as a treatment center around 190 BC, this ancient spa town is beautifully preserved and worth exploring after dipping your feet in Pamukkale's natural pools.
Hierapolis flourished under both the Byzantines and Romans, but repeated earthquakes brought the end of this city's bliss. After a quake in 1334, the city was abandoned.
Hierapolis' star attraction is the partially restored Roman Theatre, which once housed over 12,000 spectators. Other sites include the Agora and the onsite museum.