20 Beautiful Sites To See In Turkey
I guess you must be wondering why such a huge number of people would be visiting just one city in a single year. Well, you will get your answer when you consider again the location of this wonderful country, which is in-between Europe and Asia and possesses numerous cultures and traditions due to the two continents. You then remember that it shares boundaries with the beautiful and Hellenic country of Greece, and houses some of the important artistic and architectural temples of the Greek gods and goddesses. The temple of Artemis (Temple of Diana), which is the 7th wonder of the ancient world, is one of the temples here. It is found just right in Ephesus, one of the UNESCO-recognized sites in the country. From Ephesus, you can take a trip to Bursa and Cumalikizik, where the birth of the Ottoman Empire took place in the 14th century. The monumental mosques, hamams, imarets, and tombs are enough thrillers for visitors.
There is also the marvelously interesting site, Aphrodisias, located in the Southeastern part of the country. The temple of the goddess Aphrodite is one of the very many monuments erected here, with such architecture and art remaining only in a few countries in the world. The sculptures at Aphrodisias are a standing magical monument to be seen and felt by visitors to the place.
There are too many world-recognized and yet-to-be-discovered sites in this country, that only a few of the known ones have been mentioned. Others are the City of Safranbolu, Archeological Sites of Ani, Archeological Sites of Troy, Historic Areas of Istanbul, Gobekli Tepe, Arslantepe Mound, Goreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia, Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens, Hattusha; the Hittite Capital, Xanthos Letoon, etc.
Aphrodisias is located in southwestern Turkey, in the fertile valley formed by the Morsynus River, in the ancient region of Caria. The serial property consists of two components. The first component encompasses the archaeological site of Aphrodisias following the city walls that encircle the city; and the second component includes the marble quarries located northeast of the city. Aphrodisias was founded as a city-state in the early 2nd century BC. An orthogonal street grid defines the pattern of the city; only a few structures, such as the temple of the goddess Aphrodite, are not aligned with the grid. Because the city shared a close interest in the goddess Aphrodite with Sulla, Julius Caesar and the emperor Augustus, Aphrodisias came to have a close relationship with Rome. It obtained a privileged ‘tax-free’ political status from the Roman senate, and developed a strong artistic, sculptural tradition during the Imperial Period. Many elaborately decorated structures were erected during the period of Roman rule, all made from the local marble.
The Cult of Aphrodite was the most important cult of Aphrodisias. The sanctuary at Aphrodisias had a distinctive cult statue of Aphrodite which defined the city’s identity. The Aphrodite of Aphrodisias combined aspects of a local Anatolian, archaic fertility goddess with those of the Hellenic Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty. This identifying image has been found from Anatolia across the Mediterranean, from the city of Rome to the Levant. The importance of the Aphrodite of Aphrodisias continued well beyond official imperial acceptance of Christianity; the Temple did not become a church until c. AD 500.
The proximity of the marble quarries to the city was a major reason that Aphrodisias became an outstanding high-quality production centre for marble sculpture. Sculptors from the city were famous throughout the Roman Empire. They were well-known for virtuoso portrait sculpture and Hellenistic-style statues of gods and Dionysian figures. In late antiquity (4th-6th centuries AD), Aphrodisian sculptors were in great demand for marble portrait busts and statues of emperors, governors and philosophers in the major centres of the empire – for example, at Sardis, Stratonikeia, Laodikeia, Constantinople and Rome. In this period they were the best carvers of marble statues of their day. The techniques used, the quality of local artistic design, and the production of advanced portrait sculpture gave Aphrodisias a unique place in the Roman world.
Another key aspect of Aphrodisias was its cosmopolitan social structure (Greek, Roman, Carian, pagan, Jewish, Christian) that is abundantly articulated in the site’s 2,000 surviving inscriptions.
Archaeological Site of Ani
Ani is located in the northeast of Turkey, 42 km from the city of Kars, on a secluded triangular plateau overlooking a ravine that forms the natural border with Armenia. The continuity of settlement at Ani for almost 2500 years was thanks to its geographical location, on an easily defensible plateau that was surrounded by fertile river valleys at an important gate of the Silk Roads into Anatolia. This medieval city that was once one of the cultural and commercial centres on the Silk Roads, is characterized by architecture that combines a variety of domestic, religious and military structures, creating a panorama of medieval urbanism built up over the centuries by successive Christian and Muslim dynasties. Inhabited since the Bronze Age, Ani flourished in the 10th and 11th centuries AD, when it became a capital of the medieval Armenian kingdom of the Bagratids, and profited from control over one branch of the Silk Roads. Later, under Byzantine, Seljuk, and Georgian sovereignty, it maintained its status as an important crossroads for merchant caravans, controlling trade routes between Byzantium, Persia, Syria and Central Asia. The Mongol invasion, along with a devastating earthquake in 1319 and a change in trade routes, marked the beginning of the city’s decline. It was all but abandoned by the 18th century.
The principal area of the property consists of architectural remains located in three zones: the citadel, which includes the ruins of the Kamsaragan palace, Palace church, Midjnaberd church, Sushan Pahlavuni church, the Karamadin church and the church with Six Apses; the outer citadel or walled city which includes amongst others the Fire Temple, Cathedral, Ramparts of Smbat II, Emir Ebu’l Muammeran Complex, Seljuk Palace, domestic architecture, the market, and the Silk Road Bridge; and the area outside the city walls. Rock-carved structures on the slopes of one of the valleys surrounding the city, the Bostanlar Creek, are also part of the property.
Religious monuments of Zoroastrian, Christian and Muslim influence, as well as public and domestic buildings in Ani provide a vivid and comprehensive picture of a distinctive relic medieval city which attests to the transmission and amalgamation of different architectural traditions that evolved in the Caucasus, Iran, Turkestan and Khorasan, and were translated into stone. This medieval settlement consists of remains from a multi-cultural centre, with all the richness and diversity of Medieval Armenian, Byzantine, Seljuk and Georgian urbanism, architecture, and art development.
Archaeological Site of Troy
The Archaeological Site of Troy has 4,000 years of history. Its extensive remains are the most significant and substantial evidence of the first contact between the civilizations of Anatolia and the burgeoning Mediterranean world. Excavations started more than a century ago have established a chronology that is fundamental to the understanding of this seminal period of the Old World and its cultural development. Moreover, the siege of Troy by Mycenaean warriors from Greece in the 13th century B.C., immortalized by Homer in The Iliad, has inspired great artists throughout the world ever since.
Troy is located on the mound of Hisarlık, which overlooks the plain along the Turkish Aegean coast, 4.8 km from the southern entrance to the Dardanelles. The famous archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann undertook the first excavations at the site in 1870, and those excavations could be considered the starting point of modern archaeology and its public recognition. Research and excavations conducted in the Troia and Troas region reveal that the region has been inhabited for 8,000 years. Throughout the centuries, Troy has acted as a cultural bridge between the Troas region and the Balkans, Anatolia, the Aegean and Black Sea regions through migration, occupation, trade and the transmission of knowledge.
24 excavation campaigns, spread over the past 140 years, have revealed many features from all the periods of occupation in the citadel and the lower town. These include 23 sections of the defensive walls around the citadel, eleven gates, a paved stone ramp, and the lower portions of five defensive bastions. Those archaeological remains date for the most part from Troy II and VI; however, a section of the earliest wall (Troy I) survives near the south gate of the first defences. In the last 15 years, it has become clear that a Lower City existed south of the mound in all prehistoric periods and extended to about 30 ha in the Late Bronze Age. Several monuments, including the temple of Athena and the recently excavated sanctuary, are part of the Greek and Roman city of Ilion, at the site of Troy. The Roman urban organization is reflected by two major public buildings on the edge of the agora (central market place), the odeion (concert hall) and the nearby bouleuterion (council house).
The surrounding landscape contains many important archaeological and historical sites, including prehistoric settlements and cemeteries, Hellenistic burial mounds, monumental tumuli, Greek and Roman settlements, Roman and Ottoman bridges and numerous monuments of the Battle of Gallipoli.
Arslantepe Mound is a 30-metre-tall archaeological tell located in the Malatya plain, 12 km south-west of the Euphrates River. Archaeological evidence from the site testifies to its occupation from at least the 6th millennium BCE up until the late Roman period. The earliest layers of the Early Uruk period are characterized by adobe houses from the first half of the 4th millennium BCE. The most prominent and flourishing period of the site was in the Late Chalcolithic period, during which the so-called palace complex was constructed. Considerable evidence also testifies to the Early Bronze Age period, most prominently identified by the Royal Tomb complex. The archaeological stratigraphy then extends to the Paleo-Assyrian and Hittite periods, including Neo-Hittite levels. The site illustrates the processes which led to the emergence of a State society in the Near East and a sophisticated bureaucratic system that predates writing. Exceptional metal objects and weapons have been excavated at the site, among them the earliest swords so far known in the world, which suggests the beginning of forms of organized combat as the prerogative of an elite, who exhibited them as instruments of their new political power.
Bursa and Cumalıkızık: the Birth of the Ottoman Empire
Located on the slopes of Uludağ Mountain in the north-western part of Turkey, Bursa and Cumalıkızık represent the creation of an urban and rural system establishing the first capital city of the Ottoman Empire and the Sultan’s seat in the early 14th century. In the empire’s establishment process, Bursa became the first city, which was shaped by kulliyes, in the context of waqf (public endowments) system determining the expansion of the city and its architectural and stylistic traditions.
The specific development of the city emerged from five focal points, mostly on hills, where the five sultans (Orhan Ghazi, Murad I, Yıldırım Bayezid, Çelebi Mehmed, Murad II) established public kulliyes consisting of mosques, madrasahs (school), hamams (public baths), imarets (public kitchens) and tombs . These kulliyes, featuring as centres with social, cultural, religious and educational functions, determined the boundaries of the city. Houses were constructed near the kulliyes, turning into neighborhoods surrounding the kulliyes within the course of time. Kulliyes were also related with rural areas due to the waqf system. For example, the aim of Cumalıkızık as a waqf village, meaning that it permanently belonged to an institution (a kulliye), was to provide income for Orhan Ghazi Kulliye, as stated in historical documents.
The exceptional city planning methodology is expressed in the relationship of the five sultan kulliyes, one of which constitutes the core of the city’s commercial centre, and Cumalıkızık which is the best preserved waqf village in Bursa. This methodology developed during the foundation of the first Ottoman capital in early 14th century and expanded until the middle of the 15th century.
City of Safranbolu
The City of Safranbolu is a typical Ottoman city, with typical buildings and streets, and played a key role in the caravan trade over many centuries. The settlement developed as a trading centre after the Turkish conquest in the 11th century, and by the 13th century, it had become an important caravan station. Its layout demonstrates the organic growth of the town in response to economic expansion, and its buildings are representative of its evolving socio-economic structure up to the disappearance of the traditional caravan routes and beyond.
Safranbolu consists of three distinct historic districts; the market place area of the inner city, known as Çukur, the area of Kıranköy, and Bağlar (the Vineyards). Çukur lies in the lower part of the town and has a triangular shape defined by two rivers. Its centre is the market place, surrounded by the houses and workshops of craftsmen. The segregation of the city centre is very typical for Anatolian cities. Kıranköy was formerly a non-Muslim district, with a socio-architectural pattern similar to that in contemporary European towns, with the artisans and tradesmen living above their shops. The houses in this district are built of stone, in contrast to the wooden houses in Çukur, which illustrates how the separation of Muslim and non-Muslim quarters during the Ottoman Period enabled each community to establish settlements according to their own traditions.
The pattern of settlement in Bağlar (the Vineyards) consists of single houses set within large gardens. This district on the northwest slope of the city, looking to the south, was the summer resort for the city.
The streets in Çukur and Kıranköy are narrow and curved, creating a wider view at the corners following topographic lines, and the various consoles of the houses contribute to creating interesting street perspectives. The streets feature stone paving, sloping inwards to evacuate surface water, and older houses are half-timbered, while the spaces between the timbers are filled with various building materials. There are no windows on the street frontage, so that stone walls resemble extensions of garden walls. The main rooms on the first floors are usually panelled with built-in cupboards, fireplaces, shelves and benches. Many of the ceilings are lavishly carved and painted. The rooms serve different purposes and are connected together with halls called “sofa”, which are very important elements of the house.
Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape
The Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape is located on an escarpment in the Upper Tigris River Basin. The fortified city with its associated landscape has been an important centre and regional capital during the Hellenistic, Roman, Sassanid and Byzantine periods, through the Islamic and Ottoman periods to the present. The property includes the impressive Diyarbakır City Walls of 5800 metres – with its many towers, gates, buttresses and 63 inscriptions from different historical periods; and the fertile Hevsel Gardens that link the city with the Tigris River and supplied the city with food and water. The City Walls, and the evidence of their damage, repair and reinforcement since the Roman period, present a powerful physical and visual testimony of the many periods of the region’s history. The attributes of this property include the İçkale (Inner Castle), Diyarbakır City Walls (known as the Dişkale or Outer Castle), including its towers, gates and inscriptions, the Hevsel Gardens, the Tigris River and Valley, and the Ten-Eyed Bridge. The ability to view the walls within their urban and landscape settings is significant, as are the hydrological and natural resources that support the functional and visual qualities of the property.
Within what was once the estuary of the river Kaystros, a continuous and complex settlement history can be traced in Ephesus beginning from the seventh millennium BCE at Cukurici Mound until the present at Selçuk. Favourably located geographically, it was subject to continuous shifting of the shore line from east to west due to sedimentation, which led to several relocations of the city site and its harbours. The Neolithic settlement of Cukurici Mound marking the southern edge of the former estuary is now well inland, and was abandoned prior to settlement on the Ayasuluk Hill from the Middle Bronze Age. Founded by the 2nd millennium BCE, the sanctuary of the Ephesian Artemis, originally an Anatolian mother goddess, became one of the largest and most powerful sanctuaries of the ancient world. The Ionian cities that grew up in the wake of the Ionian migrations joined in a confederacy under the leadership of Ephesus. In the fourth century BCE, Lysimachos, one of the twelve generals of Alexander the Great, founded the new city of Ephesus, while leaving the old city around the Artemision. When Asia Minor was incorporated into the Roman Empire in 133 BCE, Ephesus was designated as the capital of the new province Asia. Excavations and conservation over the past 150 years have revealed grand monuments of the Roman Imperial period lining the old processional way through the ancient city including the Library of Celsus and terrace houses. Little remains of the famous Temple of Artemis, one of the ‘seven wonders of the world’ which drew pilgrims from all around the Mediterranean until it was eclipsed by Christian pilgrimage to the Church of Mary and the Basilica of St. John in the 5th century CE. Pilgrimage to Ephesus outlasted the city and continues today. The Mosque of Isa Bey and the medieval settlement on Ayasuluk Hill mark the advent of the Selçuk and Ottoman Turks.
Göbekli Tepe is located in Upper Mesopotamia, a region which saw the emergence of the most ancient farming communities in the world. Monumental structures, interpreted as monumental communal buildings (enclosures), were erected by groups of hunter-gatherers in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period (10th-9th millennia BC). The monuments were probably used in connection with social events and rituals and feature distinctive limestone T-shaped pillars, some of which are up to 5.50 meters tall. Some of the pillars, which are abstract depictions of the human form, also feature low reliefs of items of clothing, e.g. belts and loincloths, as well as high and low reliefs of wild animals. Recent excavation works have also identified the remains of non-monumental structures which appear to stem from domestic buildings.
Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği
Located on the slopes below the castle of Divriği, Sivas Province in central eastern Turkey, the Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği is a remarkable building combining a monumental hypostyle mosque with a two storey hospital, which includes a tomb. Founded by the Mengücekide emir Ahmed Shah following the victory of the Seljuk Turks over the Byzantine army at the battle of Malazgirt in 1071, the mosque is dominated externally by the hexagonal, pointed roofed dome over its mihrab (prayer niche), a cupola over the ablutions basin in the centre of the prayer hall and elaborately carved monumental stone portals on the north and west. Internally, four rows of four piers create five naves roofed by a variety of intricately carved stone vaults. The adjoining hospital, the Darush-shifa, was founded by Ahmet Shah’s wife Turan Melek and designed by the architect Hurrem Shah, in 1228-1229. It is entered via a monumental, elaborately carved stone portal on the west, leading into a double height atrium formed by four massive piers supporting a dome with an oculus over a central pool, around which are located the hospital rooms.
The highly sophisticated technique of vault construction and a creative, exuberant type of decorative sculpture – particularly on the three doorways, in contrast to the unadorned walls of the interior – are the unique features of this masterpiece of Islamic architecture. The variety of the carved decoration indicates that is was carried out by different groups of craftsmen. The main characteristic of the designs featured in the portals is their uniqueness: each is distinct from other decorations. As well as portals, all bases, shafts and capitals of the columns, and the inner surface of the dome and the vaults, were decorated in a distinct and unique style. There are no other examples of the three-dimensional and intricate geometric styles and flowing figures of plants. The vaulting of the hospital room is comparable in scientific achievement to that of the prayer hall of the Mosque, and shares the splendid unity of the Great Mosque.
Hattusha: the Hittite Capital
Hattusha: the Hittite Capital is located in Boğazkale District of Çorum Province, in a typical landscape of the Northern Central Anatolian Mountain Region. It lies at the south end of the Budaközü Plain, on a slope rising approximately 300 m above the valley, and is divided by the Kızlarkayası creek into the lower city in the north and the upper city in the south.
The property consists of the Hittite city area, the rock sanctuary of Yazılıkaya on the north, the ruins of Kayalı Boğaz on the east and the İbikçam Forest on the south. A monumental enclosure wall of more than 8 km in length surrounds the whole city. There are remains of older walls around the lower city and section walls dividing the large city area in separate districts. The ruins of the upper city’s fortification form a double wall with more than a hundred towers and, as far as is known today, five gateways: two in the west, the Lion’s Gate in the south-west, the King’s Gate in the south-east and a procession gate, the Sphinx Gate in the south of the city. The latter is located on top of a high artificial bastion with stone-plastered slopes, with two staircases leading to the gateway at the top and an arched stone tunnel running underneath. The impressive ruins of fortifications, placed on rocky peaks in the centre of the Upper City, bear witness to the complexity of Hittite rock masonry, and the longest known Hittite hieroglyphic inscription from the Hittite Empire can be found in the Upper City at Nişantepe.
The best-preserved ruin of a Hittite Temple from the 13th century B.C., known as Great Temple, is located in the Lower City. Other temples of similar date and shape, albeit generally smaller, are situated in the Upper City, which mostly consisted of a temple city for the gods and goddesses of the Hittite and Hurrian pantheon. The remains of a densely inhabited city district were unearthed in the Lower City, where their foundations and arrangement can still be seen in the area north from Great Temple.
The famous rock sanctuary of Yazılıkaya, which is an open-air temple with two natural chambers cut into the bedrock, lies 2 km northeast of the capital, on a slope of a mountain barrier. The walls of the rock chambers are covered with the richest and most striking samples of Hittite relief art, featuring gods and goddesses and the figures of the Great King Tuthaliya IV. Kayalı Boğaz, first mentioned in cuneiform inscriptions, is a large fortified settlement located 1.5 km east of the King’s Gate. It may have served as one of the outposts and strongholds, located in the countryside to watch and control the main roads leading to the city. The İbikçam Forest represents one of the last remaining examples of a dense forest covering the mountains south of the capital in Hittite times.
Hattusha is an archaeological site remarkable for its urban organization, the types of construction and rich ornamentation that have been preserved and for the ensemble of rock art.
Historic Areas of Istanbul
Strategically located on the Bosphorus peninsula between the Balkans and Anatolia, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, Istanbul was successively the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire and has been associated with major events in political history, religious history and art history for more than 2,000 years. The city is situated on a peninsula which is surrounded by the Golden Horn (Haliç), a natural harbor on the north, the Bosphorus on the east and the Marmara Sea on the south. The Historic Peninsula, on which the former Byzantium and Constantinople developed, was surrounded by ancient walls, built initially by Theodosius in the early fifth century.
The Outstanding Universal Value of Istanbul resides in its unique integration of architectural masterpieces that reflect the meeting of Europe and Asia over many centuries, and in its incomparable skyline formed by the creative genius of Byzantine and Ottoman architects.
The distinctive and characteristic skyline of Istanbul was built up over many centuries and encompasses the Hagia Sophia whose vast dome reflects the architectural and decorative expertise of the 6th century, the 15th century Fatih complex and Topkapi Palace – that was continually extended until the 19th century, the Süleymaniye Mosque complex and Sehzade Mosque complex, works of the chief architect Sinan, reflecting the climax of Ottoman architecture in the 16th century, the 17th century Blue Mosque and the slender minarets of the New Mosque near the port completed in 1664.
The four areas of the property are the Archaeological Park, at the tip of the Historic peninsula; the Suleymaniye quarter with Suleymaniye Mosque complex, bazaars and vernacular settlement around it; the Zeyrek area of settlement around the Zeyrek Mosque (the former church of the Pantocrator), and the area along both sides of the Theodosian land walls including remains of the former Blachernae Palace. These areas display architectural achievements of successive imperial periods also including the 17th century Blue Mosque, the Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque, the 16th century Şehzade Mosque complex, the 15th century Topkapi Palace, the hippodrome of Constantine, the aqueduct of Valens, the Justinian churches of Hagia Sophia, St. Irene, Küçük Ayasofya Mosque (the former church of the Sts Sergius and Bacchus), the Pantocrator Monastery founded under John II Comnene by Empress Irene; the former Church of the Holy Saviour of Chora with its mosaics and paintings dating from the 14th and 15th centuries; and many other exceptional examples of various building types including baths, cisterns, and tombs.
Crowning one of the highest peaks of the Eastern Taurus mountain range in south-east Turkey, Nemrut Dağ is the Hierotheseion (temple-tomb and house of the gods) built by the late Hellenistic King Antiochos I of Commagene (69-34 B.C.) as a monument to himself.
With a diameter of 145 m, the 50 m high funerary mound of stone chips is surrounded on three sides by terraces to the east, west and north directions. Two separate antique processional routes radiate from the east and west terraces. Five giant seated limestone statues, identified by their inscriptions as deities, face outwards from the tumulus on the upper level of the east and west terraces. These are flanked by a pair of guardian animal statues – a lion and eagle – at each end. The heads of the statues have fallen off to the lower level, which accommodates two rows of sandstone stelae, mounted on pedestals with an altar in front of each stele. One row carries relief sculptures of Antiochos’ paternal Persian ancestors, the other of his maternal Macedonian ancestors. Inscriptions on the backs of the stelae record the genealogical links. A square altar platform is located at the east side of the east terrace. On the west terrace there is an additional row of stelae representing the particular significance of Nemrut, the handshake scenes (dexiosis) showing Antiochos shaking hands with a deity and the stele with a lion horoscope, believed to be indicating the construction date of the cult area. The north terrace is long, narrow and rectangular in shape, and hosts a series of sandstone pedestals. The stelae lying near the pedestals on the north terrace have no reliefs or inscriptions.
The Hierotheseion of Antiochos I is one of the most ambitious constructions of the Hellenistic period. Its complex design and colossal scale combined to create a project unequalled in the ancient world. A highly developed technology was used to build the colossal statues and orthostats (stelae), the equal of which has not been found anywhere else for this period. The syncretism of its pantheon and the lineage of its kings, which can be traced back through two sets of legends, Greek and Persian, is evidence of the dual origin of this kingdom’s culture.
Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük
The vast archaeological site of Çatalhöyük comprises two tells rising up to 20 meters above the Konya plain on the Southern Anatolian Plateau. Excavations of the Eastern tell have revealed 18 levels of Neolithic occupation dating from 7,400-6,200 BC that have provided unique evidence of the evolution of prehistoric social organisation and cultural practices, illuminating the early adaptation of humans to sedentary life and agriculture. The Western tell excavations primarily revealed Chalcolithic occupation levels from 6,200-5,200 BC, which reflect the continuation of the cultural practices evident in the earlier Eastern mound.
Çatalhöyük is a very rare example of a well-preserved Neolithic settlement and has been considered one of the key sites for understanding human Prehistory for some decades. The site is exceptional for its substantial size and great longevity of the settlement, its distinctive layout of back-to-back houses with roof access, the presence of a large assemblage of features including wall paintings and reliefs representing the symbolic world of the inhabitants. On the basis of the extensively documented research at the site, the above features make it the most significant human settlement documenting early settled agricultural life of a Neolithic community.
Pergamon and its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape
Pergamon was founded in the 3rd century BC as the capital of the Attalid dynasty. Located in the Aegean Region, the heart of the Antique World, and at the crossroads between Europe and the Middle East, it became an important cultural, scientific and political centre. Creation of the capital on top of Kale Hill set the scene for the city. High steep sloping terrain and the Bakırçay Plain were integrated into the urban plan. The exceptional composition of monuments includes the extremely steep theatre, the lengthy stoa, a three-terraced Gymnasium, the Great Altar of Pergamon, the tumuli, pressured water pipelines, the city walls, and the Kybele Sanctuary which was perfectly aligned with Kale Hill. As the Attalid capital, Pergamon was the protector of cities in the Hellenistic Period. It had political and artistic power and built up a very intense relationship with its contemporary civilisations. The dynasty founded one of the largest libraries in Pergamon, and the rivalry between three Hellenistic dynasties caused the Attalid Dynasty to create the famous sculpture school.
After the city was passed to the Romans in 133 BC, Pergamon became a metropolis and was the capital of the Roman Province of Asia during the Roman imperial period. The Romans maintained the already existing structures of the Hellenistic Period while adding new functions as a cultural and imperial cult centre of the empire. Consequently, during the Roman Period, many important structures were built or further developed, including the Asclepion Sanctuary, a well-known healing centre whose sacred spring still flows; the Roman Theatre; one of the largest Roman amphitheatres; a great aqueduct; the Trajan Temple and the Serapeum. During the Byzantine Period due to the relocation of the trade roads and political centres from the Aegean Region to northwest Anatolia, especially to İstanbul (Constantinople), Pergamon was transformed from a major Hellenistic and Roman centre into a middle-sized town, and continued its cultural-religious importance as home to one of the Seven Churches of Asia. Pergamon now preserves and presents this transformation.
After the arrival of the Ottomans, Pergamon experienced one more cultural adjustment, which is especially evident on the Bakırçay Plain. The Ottomans provided the city with all necessary urban structures, such as mosques, baths, bridges, khans, bedestens (covered bazaars), arastas (Ottoman markets) and water systems overlaying the Roman and Byzantine settlement layers. The superimposition of all these different periods and cultures through continuous habitation in Pergamon, finds its reflection in Pergamon’s urban form and architecture as continuities, formations, transformations and losses due to the material existence and use of space by different eras and cultures. The re-use of structures by later cultures is particularly demonstrated by the Church of St. John, formerly part of the Serapeum, a sanctuary dedicated by the Romans to an Egyptian deity. It subsequently became an Ottoman Mosque as well as incorporating a Jewish Synagogue.
From the 3rd century BC onwards, the city was encircled by a ring of grave mounds of various sizes, which demonstrated Pergamon’s claim to the plain of Bakırçay. In addition to grave mounds, there were sanctuaries, such as the Kybele Sanctuary at Kapıkaya, sited on prominent hills and mountain peaks in the area surrounding the city. Pergamon is a testimony to the unique and integrated aesthetic achievement of the civilizations. It incorporates Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman structures, reflecting Paganism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam; preserving their cultural features within the historical landscape.
Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex
Dominating the skyline of Edirne, former capital of the Ottoman Empire, the Selimiye Mosque Complex commissioned by Selim II is the ultimate architectural expression by the architect Sinan of the Ottoman külliye. The imposing mosque stepping up to its single great dome with four soaring slender minarets, spectacular decorated interior space, manuscript library, meticulous craftsmanship, brilliant Iznik tiles and marble courtyard together with its associated educational institutions, outer courtyard and covered bazaar, represent the apogee of an art form and the pious benefaction of 16th century imperial Islam. The architectural composition of the Selimiye Mosque Complex in its dominant location represents the culmination of the great body of work by Sinan, the most outstanding architect of the Ottoman Empire.
Made up of two neighboring settlements located in the southwestern part of Anatolia, respectively within the boundaries of Antalya and Muğla Provinces, Xanthos-Letoon is a remarkable archaeological complex. It represents the most unique extant architectural example of the ancient Lycian Civilization, which was one of the most important cultures of the Iron Age in Anatolia. The two sites strikingly illustrate the continuity and unique combination of the Anatolian, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine civilizations. It is also in Xanthos-Letoon that the most important texts in Lycian language were found. The inscriptions engraved in rock or on huge stone pillars on the site are crucial for a better understanding of the history of the Lycian people and their Indo-European language.
Xanthos, which was the capital of ancient Lycia, illustrates the blending of Lycian traditions with the Hellenic influence, especially in its funerary art. The rock-cut tombs, pillar tombs and pillar-mounted sarcophagi in Xanthos are unique examples of ancient funerary architecture. Their value was already recognized in Antiquity and they influenced the art of neighboring provinces: the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus is for instance directly influenced by the Xanthos Nereid Monument. The fact that some architectural and sculptural pieces of the sites were taken to England in the 19th century, including the Monument of Harpy, the Tomb of Payava and the Nereid Monument, led to their word-wide recognition, and consequently the Xanthos marbles became an important part of the history of ancient art and architecture.
East of the Xanthos River (Eşen Çayı), the first monumental zone includes the old Lycian Acropolis, which was remodeled during the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods. At that time, a church was built at the northeast corner, while an advanced defensive structure fortified the western side of the citadel along the river. Directly north of the Acropolis stands a very beautiful theatre that dominates the Roman agora. This area also features great Lycian funerary monuments imitating woodwork, which are characteristic of the archaeological landscape of Xanthos and rise up spectacularly from the ruins. There is a second, more complex archaeological zone that extends between the Vespasian Arch to the south and the Hellenistic Acropolis to the north. The lower part of the town, which includes the Hellenistic Agora and Byzantine churches, was located in this part of the site.
Letoon, on the other hand, was the cult center of Xanthos, the ancient federal sanctuary of the Lycian province and Lycian League of Cities. As many inscriptions found at the site demonstrate, the federal sanctuary was the place where all religious and political decisions of the ruling powers were declared to the public. The famous trilingual inscription, dating back to 337 B.C., features a text inLycian and Greek as well as an Aramaic summary and was discovered near the temple of Apollo. In the sanctuary of Letoon, three temples are dedicated to Leto, Artemis and Apollo. In addition, the site includes the ruins of a nymphaeum dating back to Hadrian, built on a water source that was considered sacred.
Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia
Located on the central Anatolia plateau within a volcanic landscape sculpted by erosion to form a succession of mountain ridges, valleys and pinnacles known as “fairy chimneys” or hoodoos, Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia cover the region between the cities of Nevşehir, Ürgüp and Avanos, the sites of Karain, Karlık, Yeşilöz, Soğanlı and the subterranean cities of Kaymaklı and Derinkuyu. The area is bounded on the south and east by ranges of extinct volcanoes with Erciyes Dağ (3916 m) at one end and Hasan Dağ (3253 m) at the other. The density of its rock-hewn cells, churches, troglodyte villages and subterranean cities within the rock formations make it one of the world’s most striking and largest cave-dwelling complexes. Though interesting from a geological and ethnological point of view, the incomparable beauty of the decor of the Christian sanctuaries makes Cappadocia one of the leading examples of the post-iconoclastic Byzantine art period.
It is believed that the first signs of monastic activity in Cappadocia date back to the 4th century at which time small anchorite communities, acting on the teachings of Basileios the Great, Bishop of Kayseri, began inhabiting cells hewn in the rock. In later periods, in order to resist Arab invasions, they began banding together into troglodyte villages or subterranean towns such as Kaymakli or Derinkuyu which served as places of refuge.
Cappadocian monasticism was already well established in the iconoclastic period (725-842) as illustrated by the decoration of many sanctuaries which kept a strict minimum of symbols (most often sculpted or tempera painted crosses). However, after 842 many rupestral churches were dug in Cappadocia and richly decorated with brightly coloured figurative painting. Those in the Göreme Valley include Tokalı Kilise and El Nazar Kilise (10th century), St. Barbara Kilise and Saklı Kilise (11th century) and Elmalı Kilise and Karanlık Kilise (end of the 12th – beginning of the 13th century).
Deriving from springs in a cliff almost 200 m high overlooking the plain of Cürüksu in south-west Turkey, calcite-laden waters have created an unreal landscape, made up of mineral forests, petrified waterfalls and a series of terraced basins given the name of Pamukkale (Cotton Palace). Located in the province of Denizli, this extraordinary landscape was a focus of interest for visitors to the nearby Hellenistic spa town of Hierapolis, founded by the Attalid kings of Pergamom at the end of the 2nd century B.C., at the site of an ancient cult. Its hot springs were also used for scouring and drying wool. Ceded to Rome in 133 B.C., Hierapolis flourished, reaching its peak of importance in the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D., having been destroyed by an earthquake in 60 A.D. and rebuilt. Remains of the Greco-Roman period include baths, temple ruins, a monumental arch, a nymphaeum, a necropolis and a theatre. Following the acceptance of Christianity by the emperor Constantine and his establishment of Constantinople as the ‘new Rome’ in 330 A.D., the town was made a bishopric. As the place of St. Philip’s martyrdom in 80 A.D., commemerated by his Martyrium building in the 5th century, Hierapolis with its several churches became an important religious center for the Eastern Roman Empire.
The combination of striking natural formations and the development of a complex system of canals, bringing the thermal water to nearby villages and fields, is exceptional. The springs are the source of a hydraulic system extending 70 km northwest to Alasehir and westwards along the valley of the Menderes River. Pamukkale forms an important backdrop to the original Greco-Roman town of Hierapolis and the cultural landscape which dominates the area.
The cave is situated 30 km. north, north-west of Antalya. It is on the east slope of mount Katran which is in the range of western Taurus mountains. Carved in Cratese period limestone, its altitude is 430m from the sea level and 150m from the travertine plain. The plain which is formed by transgression, is one of the largest travertine plais in the world. There are fine water springs where the plain meets the mountains. Geological and geomorphological researches in the recent years revealed a lake in the middle of the plain in Pleistocene; and many open air settlements in Paleolithic period. This is proved by the fossils of hippopotamus bones and shells of invertebrata found in the fauna of the Karain cave. The location of the cave is near the strait of Cubuk which is an important passage connecting the Mediterranean region with Inner Anatolia and the Region of Lakes. Karain is a complex of caves rather than a single cave. It consists of many chambers. These chambers are separated by calcite walls and narrow and curve passageways. Stalactites and stalagmites enriches the marvellous appearance of the cave. On the outer surface of the cave there are numerous niches and Greek inscriptions. The cave is found by Prof.Dr.Isin Yalcinkaya with the cooperation of the University of Liege and some other foreign universities.