Historic Sites to Visit in Turkey

Destinations

Turkey is making something of a comeback at the moment. With vibrant cities, wonderful weather and delicious food, it offers the perfect balance of sun and sea. For those interested in history, the country also has a profoundly interesting ancient heritage.

At the core of the Ottoman Empire that dominated Europe, North Africa and the Middle East for over 600 years, Turkish architecture, culture and cuisine reflect the diverse influences and experiences of its fascinating past.

Here are just a few of the places you could visit if you want to soak up some history.

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Bodrum Castle

Originally a Crusaders outpost in the early 15th century, Bodrum Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a unique history. The castle was built and later fortified using the ruins of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.

After a hundred years’ worth of sieges, the castle was eventually captured by the Ottomans in the 1520s, when the chapel was converted to a mosque, with a minaret built. A French warship destroyed the minaret during the First World War, but it was rebuilt in 1997 and stands to this day.

The Turkish army converted the castle to a barracks during the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s, and later to a prison in 1895. It has hosted the Bodrum museum of Underwater Archaeology since 1962, with an award-winning collection rescued from ancient shipwrecks.

Knidos

Knidos, or Cnidus, was an ancient Greek city located in the south-western area of the former Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). The city was part of the ‘Dorian Hexapolis’, which was a collection of six cities and islands which acted as a natural bridge between Greece and Turkey.

Because of this association, the area is teeming with ancient interest and historical sites. If you are interested in seeing plenty of ruined amphitheatres, temples and artefacts, then this is certainly a place to put at the top of your list.

Kaunos

Kaunos

Similar to Knidos, Kaunos was another ancient city in the Caria region. Located just west of modern-day Dalyan, Kaunos was a significant port city with a history stretching all the way back to the 10th century BC.

According to legend, the city was founded by Kaunos; grandson of the god Apollo. In this legend, Kaunos’ twin sister developed a love for her brother and when he fled to escape her, the sister cried tears which would become the Calbys river (now known as the Dalyan river).

Over the centuries, the city has been ruled by Persians, Greeks and Romans, so there is a myriad of beautiful architectural sites to enjoy. Anchor off the small islet, Delik Adasi, and take your tender up the shallow marshes, or take a 40-minute dolmus from Ekincik. The ruins are worth the walk, trust us.

Lycian Tombs

Lycian Tombs

The Lycian Tombs are a stunning monument to visit whilst in Turkey. These ancient tombs are carved into the side of the cliffside above the town of Lycia. The ancient Lycians believed that their dead were taken to heaven by supernatural winged creatures. Because of this myth, they placed all of their dead in high places like the cliffside.

These tombs date all the way back to the 4th century BC. The oldest of these tombs is said to have been built in 350 BC for a local nobleman who went by the name Amyntas, son of Hermagios.

The tombs are very distinctive, and dot the coastline, particularly around Fethiye and north towards Kaunos.

Xanthos Letoon

Xanthos - Letoon

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Xanthos is an ancient ruin not far from Kalkan, and well worth the trip. The site includes two ancient settlements, Xanthos and Letoon, and is said to be home to Trojan War heroes Sardepon and Glaucus.

Letoon, named after the god Leto, is the site of a significant archaeologicl dig, that discovered the Letoon trilingual, a three-language stone inscription that helped decipher the Lycian language.

Kayakoy

Kayakoy

Sail into Coldwater Bay, about 15nm east around the coast from Fethiye, drop anchor and hike for around 45 minutes up to the remarkable Kayakoy.

An eerily deserted town, Kayakoy was once a thriving community, but is now a collection of deserted houses and chapels, overgrown with moss and surrounded by lush greenery.

Louis de Bernieres was clearly so taken by the place, he set his novel Birds Without Wings in a fictional version of Kayakoy.

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Feeling inspired?

If that's inspired you to set sail and uncover the fascinating past of this beautiful coastline, drop us a line on 0207 632 7567 , or build your own Turkish adventure here.

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