Vying for attention amongst the vibrant modern day cities, are the ancient cities built by our forefathers, each speaking a different story. On the map of Turkey you see all the development of the technological age intertwined with spectacles of the past; you simply cannot miss it. If you started counting the number of civilizations that once habited this region you’ll be amazed. From the Hattians to Phrygia and Lydia, the Seleucids, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuk, and finally the Ottoman Empire, the legacy is astounding.
Having said all this, it’s quite hard to decide which ancient cities are the best. Though it’s impossible to cover them all, here are the best ancient cities of Turkey!
Aphrodisias was an ancient Greek city in Caria. It’s about 90 kilometers from Aydin town center and very well preserved considering that it was a prehistoric settlement from before 5000 BC! Here you can marvel at the famous Temple of Aphrodite, a grandiose council house and stadium, and the imposing buildings that stand witness to the grandeur of another era.
I’m also quite taken by Konya, which although these days is one of the major cities of Turkey, has a heritage dating back to the Late Copper Age, and was also a capital of the Seljuk Sultanate. It was known as Iconium in Latin. The important sites include the Mevlana Museum, mosques dating back to the time of the Seljuk Sultanate and an ethnography museum. But I’m very much taken by the fact that it was the backdrop of the famous events in the life of the poet Jalal al-Din Rumi, who inspired the whirling dervishes that are a sight to behold, and his tomb is also located here.
Ephesus, bordering modern day Selcuk also has some well preserved Roman and Greek ruins. It’s ironic that there are more Greek and Roman ruins in Turkey than in Greece and Rome! You can see the library of Celsus, the Temple of Hadrian, and an awe inspiring cave of the seven sleepers, where it is believed that seven Christian boys sought refuge and slept, only to wake up centuries later. The impressive Isabey Mosque should not be missed out if you happen to be in the area.
While you are in Ephesus you may also visit the ancient cities of Priene and Miletus, the former being an ancient city lying between Kusadasi and Bodrum, with Miletus nearby. Although it’s a smaller city, it’s the place to go if you want relative peace and quiet. Here again, ancient ruins are in abundance, like the Roman baths, the Temple of Athena, and other relics of the Hellenistic era that you can imbibe by taking a walk around the city.
Another Carian city called Kaunos may also be a competition if one sees the ever so elegant rock tombs with facades resembling temples that are destined to take your breath away. The quality of the masonry is unrivalled, and there are also ancient city walls, and temples, but these rock tombs are definitely the eye catchers!
Other best ancient cities in Turkey to visit include Hierapolis, Bergama, and the underground cities in Cappadocia, Myra, Olympos and many others. Well if you really want to decide which are the best ancient cities in Turkey I’d suggest a tour to Turkey. After all, wonders can only be seen, not described.