Ephesus and Pergamon, Two UNESCO Cultural Heritage Sites in İzmir
The ancient city of Ephesus is Türkiye’s most important ancient city, and one of the best preserved and restored. One can still stroll for hours along its streets, passing temples, theatres, libraries, houses, and statues. It contains such grand public buildings as the impressive Library of Celsus, the theatre, the Temple of Hadrian and the site of the sumptuous Temple of Artemis which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Pergamon was entered into the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014. It is a rare example of a settlement that has survived several invasions and devastations over the ages but was always revived due to the merits of its strategic location. As confirmed by archaeological digs the prehistory of Pergamon dates to the second millennia BCE. The city survived Persian domination and the conquest of Alexander the Great. The most brilliant phase of its history lasted almost one hundred and fifty years when it was the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon during 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE. At this time, one of the largest libraries of the world was built here and the city became a healing centre.
Hierapolis Ancient City in Denizli
An ancient spa city during Roman and Byzantine periods, Hierapolis, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located near Denizli. This area is now known as Pamukkale, home to a world-renowned natural wonder of calcite travertines full of warm, mineral-rich waters. Pamukkale is a popular thermal center; its calcium and iron-rich waters are believed to have healing properties. The ancient city, which is situated above Pamukkale, was founded by Eumenies II, the King of Pergamon, in the 2nd century BC and believed to honor the name of Hiera, wife of Telephos, the legendary founder of Pergamon.
The city grew and gained prominence thanks to its thermal springs. Pamukkale is famous for its calcite travertines (or terraces) full of warm, mineral-rich waters. The territory that Pamukkale is located has a special structure with its thermal springs originating in Lykos (Çürüksu) Valley. In Hierapolis, you can see the ruins of the baths, temples, and other ancient monuments. You can also swim in Cleopatra’s Pool, a spring where the Egyptian Queen is rumored to have bathed.
Hierapolis, the city where St Philippus, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, was killed, is one of the sacred settlements in terms of Christianity. It was declared a religious center in the 4th century and became the episcopal centre in the Byzantine period. The Tomb of St. Philppus and the Martyrium, which were unearthed as a result of excavations in the ancient city, are among the holy structures of Christianity.
The ancient Roman Bath, located in the Hierapolis Ancient City, has now been transformed into the Hierapolis Archeology Museum. You can visit various archaeological finds from Hierapolis and its surroundings in the halls of the museum with stone blocks made of travertine.
Bodrum Castle and Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum in Muğla
The Bodrum Castle was built on the island, which was known as Zephyirion in ancient times, and which is a peninsula now. It was built in 1406 by the knights of St. Jean whose headquarter was Rhodes. Bodrum Castle preserves the original plan and character of the Knights Period and reflects Gothic architectural features. The castle is the only well-preserved example of the St. John knights. It is also one of the best-preserved medieval monuments in the world and stands as a monolithic heritage. In the construction of the castle, the stones left after the destruction of k, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, were used.
After the St Jean knights left Bodrum in 1523, the castle was used as a prison by the Ottomans until the 19th century. It suffered damage through British and French bombardment during World War I.
Today, the Bodrum Castle houses the Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum. The Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology is one of the most important of the world's few and Türkiye's only underwater museums. The museum received the "Special Praise" award in the European Museum of the Year competition in 1995.
There are 14 exhibition halls in Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum, and it has the richest Eastern Mediterranean Amphora collection in the world. The shipwrecks of Yassıada, Şeytan Deresi and Serçe Limanı are also exhibited in the museum. Three tons of broken and unbroken glass was removed from the ship that sank in the exhibition in the Serçe Harbor Shipwrecks Glass Debris Hall in 1025, which is the oldest sunken shipwreck in the world. In addition, the world's largest Islamic Glass Collection is exhibited here.
The Bodrum Archaeology Museum consists of the Karyalı Princess Hall, English Tower, East Roman Wreck, Turkish Bath Exhibition, Glass Shipwreck Hall, German Tower, Coin and Jewellery Hall, Glass Hall, Hidden Museum Snake Tower, Uluburun Shipwreck, Dungeon, Commander's Tower and Tektaş Glass Wreck sections.
The largest Amphorae Collection is also in the Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum. Next to the cross vault there is the Balta Tower, with the "Queen Island" hall.
Miletus & Didyma in Aydın
The capital of civilization, culture, art and science, Milet (Miletos) is one of the most important cities in human history with its 3,500-years old history. The city, which is regarded as the centre of positive science, is the home of people who question nature, observe, and contemplate in order to understand it. Also known as the "city of philosophers", Milet has raised many historical figures such as the philosophers Thales, Anaksimandros and Anaksimenes and the city planner Hippodamos. Milet, dominated by free thought 2,600 years ago, became a centre of attraction, and turned into the largest city of the Ionian civilization, which developed on the Western Anatolian coast. It became a cosmopolitan place attracting people from all over the world. It ultimately became the capital of this civilization.
Milet is located on the southwestern border of the Menderes Plain, between Söke and Didim, in an area with no traffic density. Instead of big cities, there are several beautiful villages around it: Doğanbey in the north, Batıköy in the west, Akköy in the south and Balat next to it. "Balat" is named after Palatia, the late ancient name of Miletus. Dilek Peninsula-Büyük Menderes Delta National Park extends to the Menderes Delta in the west of Milet. Milet Ancient City has an idyllic character with its location and the influence of small settlements around it.
Large stoas surrounding the South Agora were built in the Hellenistic period. Although the Agora is hidden under lush green fields today, the massive infrastructures of the stoas can be easily seen on the ground, giving an idea of the size of the city centre during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. It is only 150 meters from the Miletus theatre and was built by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. This bathhouse, which was built by the Emperor on behalf of his wife Faustina, was repaired at certain times.
The Nusa sculptures found here are currently exhibited in the İstanbul Archaeology Museum. A large pool of the bath and a lion statue used as a fountain on the side of the pool are in the Miletus Museum.
The Faustina Bath is quite well preserved. After extensive restoration works in recent years, the size, spatial diversity, and rich interior of these complexes have emerged. Apart from the Faustina Bath, there are also many small baths such as the South City Bath to the south of the Ilyas Bey Mosque, as well as large baths such as Humeitepe or Capito Baths in the city.
The Ancient Heritages in Manisa
Manisa was home to important civilizations and to early Christians in ancient times.
Three of the ancient churches, Sardes, Thyatira and Philadelphia, also known as the Seven Churches of Revelation, were in Manisa.
Located in Akhisar district, the city was located in the northern part of ancient Lydia of the Roman province of Asia, and bordered ancient Mysia on the north. The ancient Thyatira was a prosperous trading town that was an important location on the road from Pergamon to Laodicea. The city, which was realized to be a weaving centre in ancient times and carried military and commercial activities since it was located at the junction point of several roads. Among its ruins were found inscriptions relating to a guild of dyers where artisans made use of the madder-root for making purple-colored dyes. Thyatira was - one of the Seven Churches of Revelation belonging to the early ages of Christianity.
The city of Sardes (Sardis or Sart) was the capital of Lydian Kingdom during the 6th century BC. The city of Sardes and its surrounding area were watered by the river Pactolus. The river known for gold contained in the sediments was the source of the wealth of Lydian King Croesus (Kroisos/Karun), and helped make the city prosperous. Legends also suggest that Midas washed himself off at Pactolus river the cause of the gold. World's first coins were minted in Sardes by King Alyattes, father of Croesus.
The most important architectural structures uncovered with excavations are the ancient synagogue and gymnasium. The synagogue is a uniquely beautiful building built in the 3rd century BC. The gymnasium is next to the synagogue. It is understood that the ornate eastern front of Gymnasium was built at the beginning of the 3rd century AD. The arched shops along the edges of these two buildings date back to the Byzantine Period. Opposite the gymnasium, there is a large building called the Bronze House - a striking structure of the ancient times.
Most of the ancient city of Philadelphia in Alaşehir district remains under the modern settlement. During the Roman period, Philadelphia was called “Little Athens” - name originating from the abundance of temples and festivals held in the city. The city preserved its importance during the Byzantine period. During the excavations in Philadelphia, a theatre and a temple dating back to the Roman Period were uncovered.
Karahisar Castle in Afyonkarahisar
The Karahisar Castle which is located in an urban protected area within the city centre of Afyonkarahisar, is the place identified with the city since it has an important place within the formation of the name of Afyonkarahisar.
The history of the castle built on a volcanic mountain dates to 1,350 BC. The Karahisar Castle was used for storing the state treasury during the Ottoman times. The castle is 226 meters high with a gorgeous structure and offers its visitors a unique landscape.
At the summit of the castle, traces of the culture of the Phrygians who lived in Anatolia between 1,200 and 676 BC have been encountered, and there are many worship places dedicated to the Mother Goddess Kybele and four large cisterns (water pits). During the period of Seljuk Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat, the walls were repaired, and a small mosque and a palace were built next to the castle. Also, a must-see is the Maiden Tower, located somewhat higher next to the castle.
The Karahisar Castle has become a wishing place for those who want to marry, have children, or other desires. Those who want to get married shout down from the Maiden Tower, saying "O my faith, my faith, O my golden throne, it is my time to get married". Sometimes "It is time to have a child " wishes rise from the castle. There is a rumour among the locals that those who go to the Karahisar Castle will stay in Afyonkarahisar for seven years. But you can go to the Castle without taking this into consideration, with peace of mind and enjoy the spectacular view that will be presented to you at the top of the castle.
Ulubey Blaundus Ancient City in Uşak
Blaundus Ancient City was built on a piece of peninsula-shaped land surrounded by deep and steep valleys. Blaundus was built by the people who came from Macedonia after the Anatolian Campaigns of Alexander the Great, and it is said that the people of the city called themselves Blaundus of Macedonia. The city, which was annexed to the Kingdom of Pergamon after Alexander the Great and then to the Roman Empire, gained much more importance and experienced its most brilliant period in the Roman period. Among the important structures of the ancient city are the stadium, castle, theatre, temples, and rock tombs. The current ruins of the city are the stadium with one-sided seating levels, the entrance gate arch of the northern walls, some parts of the fortification walls, the mint and temple of Roman Emperor Claudius.
Phrygian Valley in Kütahya
The region is described as “Phrygia Epictetus” (Little Phrygia) an area of mountainous settlement within the triangle of Kütahya, Afyonkarahisar and Eskişehir is known as “Phrygian Valley” today. Phrygian plateaus were covered with the Turkmen Mountain’s tuffs, an old volcano in the east of Kütahya, which was inhabited by the Phrygians between the 900-600 BC. Open-air temples, altars and rock tombs dedicated to the Mother Goddess Cybele, as well as many more buildings which were used for defense and sheltering purposes have survived from that period. The crucifixes painted with madder, scripts and fresco remnants can still be witnessed, resulting from the Roman and Byzantine settlement. There are natural castles named “Deliktaş Castle” and “Penteser Castle” built by the Phrygians and Byzantines through the method of stone carving. “Phrygian Valley” is a place worth seeing. It is filled with the most intriguing and the most imposing pine forests, which is worth visiting. In addition to the pine forests, the instinctive rock structure which shares major resemblances to the Cappadocia should also not be missed.