Travellers' Choice Awards. Find out what the best Ancient settlements in Turkey are as awarded by real travellers.
Abonoteichos; was a town on the coast of Paphlagonia, memorable as the birthplace of the impostor Alexander, founder of the cult of Glycon, of whom Lucian has left us an amusing account in the treatise bearing his name.
Amasra; The town is today much appreciated for its beaches and natural setting, which has made tourism the most important activity for its inhabitants.
Antiochia in Lydia; was a Hellenistic city founded by Antiochus IV in Lydia, Anatolia (currently, Turkey). It is mentioned by the ancient geographer Stephanos Byzantinos...
Ancient Perge, one of the chief cities of Pamphylia; Perge, the long-established city of Pamphylia region, is located 18 km east of Antalya and 2 km north of Aksu Village.
Athena relief of Sömek; The relief is carved in the living rock at a height of some 1.5 metres above the ground. It has a total height of 1.3 metres.
Bagaran (ancient city); was a city in Ancient Armenia founded during the reign of the Orontid Dynasty. It is one of the Historical capitals of ancient Armenia.
Eskigümüş Monastery; The Eskigümüş rock cut monastery off the Kayseri-Niğde road near to the city of Niğde in Turkey. Eskigümüş is famed for having what is believed to be the only fresco with a smiling Theotokos.
Etenna; The Christian bishopric of Etenna was a suffragan of the metropolitan see of Side, the capital of the province of Pamphylia Secunda.
Gölmarmara; is a town and district of Manisa Province in Turkey’s Aegean at a distance of 66 km (41 mi) from the province center of Manisa.
Gürcütepe; Gürcütepe is a Neolithic site on the southeastern outskirts of Şanlıurfa in Turkey, consisting of four very shallow tells along Sirrin Stream that flows from Şanlıurfa.
Sagalassos; The archaeological site of Sagalassos is located in southwest Turkey, near the present town of Ağlasun (Burdur province); roughly 110 km to the north of the well-known port and holiday resort of Antalya.
Hebilli Castle; is a ruined castle in Mersin Province, Turkey
Iopolis; or Ione was a town on Mount Silpion near Antioch, where Io was worshipped as a moon goddess.
Kestel; It is located on the eastern side of the Kuruçay Stream and the slope galleries (mines) on the hills stretching along the stream; 1.5-2.5 km west of the Celaller Village; 4 km southwest of the Çamardi District; 31 km southeast of the Nigde Province as the crow flies.
Kura–Araxes culture; The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Kura–Araxes culture is sometimes known as Shengavitian, Karaz (Erzurum), Pulur, and Yanik Tepe (Iranian Azerbaijan, near Lake Urmia) cultures.
Lydia; At its greatest extent, the Kingdom of Lydia covered all of western Anatolia.
Pamphylia; In classical times Pamphylia’s most important cities were Adalia, Alanya, Perge, Aspendos and Side.
Pergamon Acropolis Archeological Site;Pergamon Acropolis Archeological Site dating back to the 3rd century BC, the Acropolis in Izmir province has preserved many of its structures and works of art.
Patara, Lycia; later renamed Arsinoe (Greek: Ἀρσινόη), was a flourishing maritime and commercial city on the south-west coast of Lycia on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey near the modern small town of Gelemiş, in Antalya Province. It is the birthplace of St. Nicholas, who lived most of his life in the nearby town of Myra (Demre).
Pınarbaşı Gölü; is an archaeological site in Turkey containing object from the Epipaleolithic period. It is located in Konya province, Central Anatolia.
Shirakavan (ancient city); The city was located on the right bank of Akhurian River to the northeast of Ani, corresponding with the current village of Çetindurak of Akyaka district of Kars Province, within the Republic of Turkey.
Syedra; The Roman historians Lucan and Florus both mention Syedra as where the Roman General Pompey held his last war council in 48 BCE, before his fatal voyage to Egypt.
Tell Judaidah; Tell Judaidah (Tell al-Judaidah, Tell Judeideh) is an archaeological site in south-eastern Turkey, in the province of Hatay.
Tırmıl; (also Tırmıl Höyük) is an tumulus (Turkish: höyük) in Mersin, Turkey.
Yervandashat (ancient city); Yervandashat was built around 210 BC by the last Orontid king Orontes IV of Armenia.
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Archaeological sites in TurkeyAn archaeological site is a place (or group of physical sites) in which evidence of past activity is preserved (either prehistoric or historic or contemporary), and which has been, or may be, investigated using the discipline of archaeology and represents a part of the archaeological record. Sites may range from those with few or no remains visible above ground, to buildings and other structures still in use…
Part of the Fertile Crescent, Anatolia is situated between Europe and Asia, and is the home to some of the earliest civilizations in the world. Early urban society began in Anatolia during the Neolithic Age (10th-5th millennium BC), with Göbeklitepe, Çatalhöyük and Istanbul (Yenikapı). Followed by the Chalcolithic Age (5th-3rd millennium BC) and the Early Bronze Age (3rd-2nd millennium BC) with Troy, Aslantepe, Alacahöyük, and Kültepe. After the period of Assyrian (25th or 24th millennium BC – 608 BC) and Hittites (18th millennium BC – 800 BC), with Hattusha, the Anatolian kingdoms of Urartu (860-580 BC), Phrygia (750-600 BC), Lydia (680-546 BC) with Aphrodisias, Caria (11th-6th century BC), and Lycia (395 BCE-1176 AD) grew in importance beginning at the dawn of the first millennium BC. Following the invasion of Anatolia, Ephesus and the Commagene kingdom, by the Achaemenid Persian Empire (546-334 BC) in the 6th century BC, they became its provinces. Alexander the Great then conquered Anatolia in the 4th century BC, and Greek cultural influence and power penetrated into Europe and Asia. Under the Roman Empire (133BC – 395 AD), Anatolia was absorbed into Roman territory, and the civilizations surrounding the Mediterranean, including Pergamon, Assos, Miletus, and Didyma, lived their “Pax Romana.” Ancient times aside, Turkey has been home to other great empires that have shaped history, most importantly the Seljuk, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires.
As a part of the process of modernization at the beginning of the 19th century, a number of Western-style institutions had already been established in the Ottoman Empire. In 1846, a collection of antiquities was established in Istanbul. In 1868, this collection was inaugurated as the Ottoman Imperial Museum. As the Empire was still controlling the Near East and most of the Balkans, its collections grew rapidly and, in 1891, it moved to a new building, now the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. The Museum was founded on June 13, 1891 with the title of Müze-i Hümayun (the Imperial Museum,) commissioned by archaeologist, painter and curator Osman Hamdi Bey. The main building of the Museum, which was built by the renowned architect of the period, Alexandre Vallaury, took its current form, with the construction of the two auxiliaries in the right and left sides in 1903 and 1907. Istanbul Archaeology Museum is among the richest museums in the world today with its collection of more than one million pieces that carry traces of various periods and cultures in world history.
The beginnings of Turkish archaeology date back to the early years of the 19th century during the Ottoman Empire. Kemal Atatürk created the basis of modern archaeological study in the modern Republic of Turkey, which was founded in 1923. At the same time, the Turkish Historical Society and the Faculty of Language, History, and Geography at Ankara University were established in order to train young archaeologists. These were followed by the Faculty and the Institute of Archaeology at Istanbul University in Istanbul. Famous archaeologists such as H. Güterbock, H. Th. Bossert, B. Landsberger and E. Bosch, were brought to Turkey to educate young Turkish archaeologists in Ankara and Istanbul. The Turkish government also sent them to Europe to study methods of archaeology. The excavations at Ahlatıbel and Alacahöyük were also carried out during this period.
By the first decade of the 20th century, there were already a number of archaeologists, institutions and museums in the Turkish provinces, including in Bursa, Selanik (Thessaloniki), Konya, Sivas, and Ankara; the holdings of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations has consistently increased. The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations was established in 1921 by Mübarek Galip Bey, who was also the Director of Culture, and is located on the south side of Ankara Castle in Atpazar. Its holdings are among the richest in the world. A great number of archaeological collections of the Paleolithic era, and continuing chronologically through the Neolithic, Early Bronze, Assyrian trading colonies, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian, Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman periods, are exhibited in the museum. There is also an extensive collection of artifacts from the excavations at Karain, Çatalhöyük, Hacılar, Canhasan, Beyce Sultan, Alacahöyük, Kültepe, Acemhöyük, Boğazköy (Gordion), Pazarlı, Altıntepe, Adilcevaz and Patnos, as well as examples of several periods. After remodeling and repairs were completed in 1938-1968, the Ottoman Mahmut Paşa Bazaar storage building and the Kurşunlu Han were opened to the public as the Ankara Archaeological Museum, and was selected for the first “European Museum of the Year” Award in Switzerland in 1997.
As of today, many excavation projects in Turkey have been conducted by national and international teams of archaeologists. Currently, 15 sites including archaeological properties in Turkey are included in the World Heritage List; 60 sites are nominated in the Tentative List of World Heritage sites by the World Heritage Centre of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).