The Blue Mosque with crescent moon

Top 10 tourist destinations in Turkey

Devraj Lahiri Devraj Lahiri 31 August 2021
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There are plenty of holiday destinations in Turkey. The country is popular as a vacation spot and is visited by hordes of tourists and travellers throughout the year. A few of the holiday destinations in Turkey are regarded as the top places to visit in the world, and with a combination of natural beauty, cuisine and gorgeous locales, the country is indeed as fascinating as they say. Turkey destinations to visit are also some of the most instagrammable on the planet, and in this article, we are going to talk about the top ten tourist destinations in Turkey. So, clean your camera, obtain your Turkey visa and get ready to travel to Turkey.

1. Aya Sofya

hagia sophia museum

Turkey holiday destinations, as I had previously mentioned, are some of the most sought after. Amongst them is the venerable Aya Sofya Museum or the Hagia Sofia Museum. The building is immensely recognizable, given the following it has all over the planet. The Aya Sofya is situated in Istanbul and reflects Byzantine architecture. The massive dome is surrounded by elegant minarets and is a constant reminder of the immense power Constantinople wielded all over the region. It is indeed one of the best destinations in Turkey. The Aya Sofya or the Hagia Sophia has changed hands quite a few times, and the constant struggle to wrest control over it has been one of the centrepieces of the crusades. It remained the largest Catholic church for an exceptionally lengthy period before the one in Seville was built. The Ottomans converted it into a mosque before the secular Turkish Republic converted it into a museum. In the year 2020, Hagia Sophia once again became a mosque. Istanbul is amongst the top tourist cities of Turkey.

2. Ephesus

ephesus

Turkey, or what used to be called in ancient times Asia Minor, is one of the hotbeds of early civilizations and hence over the years, have accumulated characters of all the empires that have it their home. Ephesus is one such monument that reflects the bygone era of the Romans, who lorded over one of the largest empires, humankind has ever witnessed. Situated in the Mediterranean region, this is a one-day trip and one of the best destinations in Turkey. In its heydays, Ephesus was an important city more because of its proximity to the Temple of Artemis and the Library of Celsus. It also was one of the seven churches of Asia as per the Book of Revelation. In the whole of Turkey popular destinations and historical destinations come in a bunch. In most cases, they happen to be the same site. Ephesus is one such monument.

3. Cappadocia

cappadocia

An early Christian site, Cappadocia is one of the popular holiday destinations in Turkey. It can also be considered to be among the top destinations in Turkey. The entire place is surreal, with rock valleys, hill crests and jagged cliffs. The natural pinnacles have been formed due to millions of years of erosion and have now become a dream destination for photographers. If hiking is not your thing, then do take a hot balloon ride and watch the world from above. There are frescoed rock-cut churches to look out for, nestled snugly inside the valleys, which date back to the Byzantine era. Numerous pictures of Cappadocia have been seen across travel magazines and books for a long time. The beauty of this place lies in its simplicity and yet powerful combination of nature and history. Central Anatolia has always been a smorgasbord of empires and kingdoms. The Taurus Mountains have functioned as a barrier to invasions and conquests even though the region has witnessed innumerable battles and revolts, the Ionian Revolt being one of the most ancient and famous ones. Without a doubt, it is amongst the top Turkey popular destinations.

4. Topkapi Palace

topkapi palace

Another of the top destinations in Turkey, the Topkapi Palace, is as sumptuous as they come. It is also among the most sought-after tourist destinations in Turkey. It was from here that the sultans of the Ottoman Empire built an empire extending across a vast swathe of land, right from the middle east to the European continent and into Africa. The exuberant interiors and the opulence are enough to dazzle every living being. The lavish decor is reminiscent of the vast fortune of the heirs who lived within it. The royal garden and the court are now open to the general public. Mehmed the Conqueror ordered the construction of this magnificent palace, and the building started in earnest in the year 1459, which was six years after the fall of Constantinople. It was earlier called the New Palace to differentiate it from the Old Palace. However, it was soon changed to Topkapi or the Cannon Gate. The palace kept on transforming over the years. Renovations, new constructions, earthquake damage and rehabilitation meant that the structure kept on expanding. After the new emperors decided to spend more time in their newer palaces, which were situated along the Bosporus, Topkapi began to lose its importance but never its grandeur. However, a few functionalities like imperial treasury, library and mint remained.

5. Pamukkale

pamukkale

It is one of those Turkish natural wonders which have bedazzled travellers for centuries. Pamukkale or cotton castle is a calcite formation that cascade down the slope giving the observer a feel of a snow-laden mountain amidst a greenish landscape. The Hierapolis or the Roman Spa lies at the top of the mountain and is one of the best tourist destinations in Turkey. The carbonate mineral left behind by the thermal spring is what gives Pamukkale its splendour. Being amongst the top tourist destinations in Turkey, Pamukkale is mostly crowded, and hence it is advisable to plan ahead before a visit to the place. One folklore speaks about giants leaving behind cotton in the form of calcite formations to help the local population.

6. Sumela Monastery

sumela monastery

One of the best Turkey destinations for families is the Sumela Monastery. It is also amongst the most popular tourist cities of Turkey. The setting is stunning, given how lonely the location is. The monastery is situated right on the cliff along the Black Sea Coast. The entire church has intricate frescoes adorning the wall, and for the world roaming traveller, this is a must-visit. The Sumela Monastery is one of the best turkey destinations for families. On the map of Turkey Holiday destinations, this crumbling architecture shines as bright as any of the other historical monuments dotting the Turkish landscape.

7. Mount Nemrut

nemrut mountain

They ask, what is the most beautiful place in Turkey? My answer to them would always be Mount Nemrut. On the map of Turkey holiday destinations, the funerary summit mound at Mount Nemrut, along with the broken statutes and its mammoth remnants, is always at the top of the heap. The heads are of gods who have been long forgotten. The entire sprawl casts an eerie spell adding a sense of suspense to the barren mountain top. Arrive here at sunrise and watch the magic happening.

8. Ani

turkey ruins

Ani is distant and yet among the most sought-after Turkey destinations to visit. The derelict buildings and the broken architecture will take us back to the times of the Silk Route, which enables trade between Asia and Europe. This place is close to the Armenian border and used to be the capital of Armenia in the Middle Ages. That ended in the 14th century after constant raids by Mongol hordes. Earthquakes and the decline of the Silk Route were also responsible for the demise of this once bustling and thriving city. Church of the Redeemer, also known as the Church of St. Gregory, is a must-see site.

9. Aspendos

aspendos

The Roman influence in Turkish history and architecture is predominant and can be seen in most of its buildings and constructions. Aspendos is a Roman amphitheatre and is situated south of Antalya. Aspendos was built to celebrate the rule of Marcus Aurelius. It is also considered to be one of the best examples of a classical age theatre. There are other ruins nearby too which needs to be visited.

10. The Mediterranean

aerial view of kizil kule

One of the best places to while away time is the Mediterranean. A cruise down the huge water body is as idyllic as they come. Another wonderful answer to the question of what is the most beautiful place in Turkey. The Mediterranean coastline is amongst the best Turkish destinations to visit. It is also one of the most popular holiday destinations in Turkey. There are ruins galore, and yet the first thing that is going to take your mind away are the beaches, filled with white sand and steep slopes lush with greenery and dense forests. Bodrum and Fethiye are the two most popular places on the coast. The Blue Cruise is a famous cruise that takes visitors to Olympus from Fethiye.

Turkey has been blessed with not just history but natural wonders that have attracted visitors and conquerors across eras and centuries. Modern Turkey is a resplendent country filled with innovation and inventions that has uplifted the general populace. However, the country remains deeply rooted, warm and friendly, inviting travellers from all over the world with open arms and hearts.

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Devraj Lahiri

Devraj Lahiri is a resident of Kolkata, India. He is an IT Entrepreneur by profession but a writer, traveller and a photographer by vocation. Besides, he is a gastronome who indulges in eating the myriad variety of delicacies while the universe keeps tempting him. His favourite leisure activity is walking around his hometown. The city of Kolkata is his muse, and he wishes never to leave it except for the short trips for travel inspiration.

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