Turkey… a few of my favourite places
Christmas has been and gone and the new year is fast approaching… and I’m sure you’ve had enough turkey to last a life time, but there is always room for a little more!
So if your thoughts are on where you’d like to travel to in 2012, Turkey can go a long way!?
Here are a few places I think you should maybe visit if you decide to go to Turkey.
Ephesus (Anatolia, near Selçuk)
Ephesus will be too touristy for some, but it is one of the more impressive ruins I’ve been to around the world (though Baalbek in Lebanon is still my favourite). Well worth a visit if you are in Turkey and the most impressive for me was the Library of Celsus which was built to store thousands of scrolls and to be the tomb of Celsus who was a Roman senator. Underneath the library is a crypt containing his sarcophagus.
Hasankeyf (Batman Province)
Hasankeyf is an ancient village on the Tigris River under threat of flooding by the Ilisu Dam Project. If you like to get off the tourist trail and you make it this far across Turkey you have to see this site before it is lost forever like other sites in Turkey like the Roman site of Zeugma. High above the ruins of a massive Roman bridge over the Tigris River are high cliffs into which the ancient inhabitants carved their homes.
Akdamar Island or Akhtamar (Lake Van)
Akhtamar is a little gem.
The island is on Lake Van and has a high cliff at one end and this falls away to east where there was a spring. Here the Armenians built a church in the 10th century – the Cathedral Church of the Holy Cross. It is a beautiful island with a legend attached…
A princess was in love with a poor boy who would swim out to her every night. He was guided across the waters by her light, but the princess’s father smashed the light one night and the boy could not find his way and he drowned.
The church itself is pretty unique because of it’s bas-relief carvings of biblical scenes that are all over the external walls.
Hagia Sofia or Aya sofya (Istanbul)
Istanbul is an amazing city which I loved exploring and Hagia Sofia is a definate ‘must see’ in my book. Hagia Sofia has been a church, the cathedral of Constantinople, a Roman Catholic cathedral and a mosque. This leaves us with a unique mixture of both Christian and Islamic art and architecture on a grand scale.
See more of Hagia Sofia (Aya Sofya).
Nemrut (Nemrut Dagi, near Adiyaman)
Nemrut is both a 7,000 foot mountain and an ancient monument. On top of the mountain is a tomb built by King Antiochus of the Commagene which dates back to the first century BC. Although the site is in ruin due to erosion (the mountain is covered in snow most of the year) it is a wonderful place to visit. The views are amazing on a good day and standing amongst the huge stone heads is quite surreal.
Sadly I went up the mountain with the wrong film in my camera… so only have a this crude panoramic created on my mobile phone – wonderful memories instead though!
Troy – the legendary city from Homer’s Iliad where Paris, a Trojan prince, took the beautiful Helen after he had abducted her from Sparta. This was the scene of the Trojan War where the cunning Odysseus came up with the idea of the Trojan Horse. This deception allowed the Greek army to sneak into Troy under cover of darkness and sack the city… exciting stuff!
Well, too be honest, not really.
I didn’t find the site that interesting, but you should still go… if only to see the giant wooden horse of Troy!!
Churches and fairy chimneys of Göreme (Nevşehir Province, Cappadocia)
Göreme is in the beautiful, if a little surreal, area known as Cappadocia where volcanic eruptions in the past left parts of the region covered in ash and lava which formed into rocks. The softer rock eroded by wind and water over time and left the harder rock on top of pillars – which people now refer to as fairy chimneys. People also carved their homes into the soft rock and lived in the fairy chimneys or lived in underground cities. One thing I recommend is to see Cappadocia from a hot air balloon.
The fairy chimneys and rock-cut homes are amazing, but it gets better – there are also a series of churches carved out of the rock too. Inside these churches are beautiful and unique frescoes like the one below.
Severan Bridge or Cendere Bridge (Adiyaman)
This one is a bit off the beaten path, but if you are heading to Nemrut you’ll most likely pass it on your way. The Cendere Bridge (Cendere Köprüsü) is a Roman bridge which was built in honour of the Emperor Septimius Severus.
I’ve mentioned this because it is one of those unexpected places you come across on your travels which, although not that important perhaps, is such a beautiful spot. The bridge can be found on the road from Kahta to Sincik in Adıyaman Province – try to seek it out if you’re in that part of Turkey.