Turkey is a popular tourist destination due to its wonderful beaches and bustling cities, but there is another side of it worth exploring: its history. That is because it can be traced back further than the Ancient Greeks and the entire country is dotted with fascinating archaeological sites and interesting relics.
Be sure to include this aspect of Turkey in your affordable all inclusive holiday to the country. Read on to learn more about the country’s history and the places you may wish to visit to enjoy it at its best.
A brief overview
Located at the border between east and west, Turkey has benefitted from both cultures since the beginning of civilisation. It is thought that the first ever city was founded within its vicinity in around 6500 BC when Catalhoyuk was formed.
From here on in many significant settlements sprang up in Turkey, from the famed city of Troy to Halicarnassus, besieged by Alexander the Great. Over the millennia, empires including the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman have all made their presence felt, leaving structures and artefacts that continue to fascinate archaeologists to this day.
The Olympos ruins
A trip to the site of the makes for a wonderful day in its entirety, situated as they are close to unspoilt white beaches and surrounded by tropical forest. Look out for some of the local inhabitants as you make the trek as the wildlife in this area is plentiful.
Olympos was an important city to the Lycians during the second century BC, but later became a base for pirates who were starting to gain more power. This lead to the Romans deciding that the settlement must be taken by force. Once within their possession, Olympos remained active right up to the 15th century AD, when it was abandoned entirely.
This unique history means that there are several layers of ruins to be seen at the site, with some of the original Lycian structures still visible. The majority of the remnants are Roman, however, with good examples of a theatre, temple and baths on show.
You will catch glimpses of Byzantine artwork throughout, but the crowning glory is a huge stone entrance gate. This was constructed and dedicated to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius around 172 AD.
The ancient city of Termessos
A visit to the ancient city of Termessos means travelling up into the hills of the Gulluk Dagi National Park, as this settlement enjoyed an unrivalled position. So well situated was the walled city that it even withstood Alexander the Great in 333 BC.
It is an extensive site with plenty of notable things to see. Among these are a temple dedicated to Artemis and a monumental gateway built to honour the Emperor Hadrian. Also be sure to notice an ancient cistern, draining system, baths and gymnasium.
The Church of St Nicholas
The Byzantine Church of St Nicholas in Myra is well worth a visit as much for its position below ground level as its architecture. When it was originally constructed in 520 AD it sat above the earth, but the changing of course of a nearby river caused it to silt up and bury it beneath the ground.
It houses the remains of St Nicholas, as well as an astonishing collection of frescoes on its walls and ceiling. The courtyard and floor tiles are also of significance, making it an interesting place to spend an hour or so.