Turkey has everything to offer the modern tourist. Visitors to Turkey can take advantage of gorgeous historical cities, ancient ruins and Aegean beach resorts. Turkey is often described as the bridge between east and west because of its many diverse cultural influences spanning many centuries. Combine all that Turkey has to offer with the friendliness of the Turkish people and you have a recipe for a great holiday. Turkey offers an embarrassment of riches, but when planning your trip, make sure not to miss these three wonderful locations:
No visit to Turkey is complete without a stop in Istanbul. Istanbul has been one of the world’s great cities for centuries. The city has served as the capital of both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires and today is the largest city in Turkey. View Ottoman mosques and Byzantine churches during the day and then explore the city’s hot nightlife scene after dark.
Sultanahmet, the historical city center, is a good place to begin your explorations. Here you can tour the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and museums devoted to Turkish archaeology and Islamic Arts.
The ‘Blue Mosque’, which is only referred to that name by tourists because of the color of the tiles adorning the interior walls, is actually called the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Built in the early 17th century during the rule of Ahmed I, this spectacular building is still used as a place of worship to this day with a massive capacity of 10,000.
Hagia Sophia has had an interesting past, serving as an Orthodox Church, a Catholic Cathedral, an Islamic Mosque and, since 1935, a museum. This colorful history has created a building with unique architectural features such as the massive Byzantine dome and the four Islamic minarets.
Should you have enough of exploring the beautiful architecture and historic sites, you can enjoy fabulous shopping at the Grand and Egyptian Bazaars. The Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest covered markets in the world.
When the sun goes down, make sure to check out Araf, a bar in the rafters of a run-down building just off of Nevizade Sokak. The in-house Gypsy band keeps the party atmosphere upbeat and the cheap beers on tap make this a student hotspot. If something more upmarket is what you are after, why not have a cocktail at Ulus 29 on the Asian side of the city, with a great view of the dividing bridge and a fine selection of up and coming Turkish wines.
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The ancient city of Troy, the setting for Homer’s Iliad and site of the Trojan War, is an easy day trip from Istanbul. The city has been rebuilt and destroyed many times since its founding in the 3rd century B.C., and today gives visitors a glimpse into on-going archaeological explorations.
Cappadocia, located in Goreme National Park, is not to be missed when planning your Turkey holidays with Cosmos. The unique volcanic rock formations that make up Cappadocia have been home to entire cave-dwelling settlements dating back 4,000 years when Hittites fleeing from Greek and Persian invaders created vast tunnel complexes. The Derinkuyu cave complex is open to tourists and extends to a depth of nearly 85 meters.
For a truly remarkable view, you can hire a hot air balloon to tour above the site. The nearby town of Urgup makes a good place to stay the night. Many of the town’s hotels are built in and around the cave dwellings, so you can feel like a participant in this unique landscape; if only for a night.
The ruins of Ephesus are located only 25 minutes north of the Aegean resort town of Kusadasi, so you can enjoy beautiful beaches and experience ancient Roman history all in one day.
Ephesus was one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC. It boasted one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Temple of Artemis. For centuries it was a densely populated port city and structures date to as early as the 13th century B.C.
Many of the ruins are in good condition and the library and amphitheater structures are still standing. The Celsus library once held more than 12,000 scrolls, making Ephesus a hub for traveling scholars. Plan to spend an entire day at Ephesus to do it justice.