Top Attractions in Turkey
Edirne is home to the undisputed masterpiece of Ottoman architecture, the Selimiye Mosque, built by the architect Sinan in 1574. A former Ottoman capital, the Sultans gave Edirne a rich collection of architecture, which can be enjoyed in the relaxed atmosphere of this leafy provincial center. Edirne is also home to Turkey's annual Grease Wrestling tournament.
Aya Sofya was, for nearly a thousand years, the greatest church in Christendom. Built by the emperor Justinian in the 6th century, it's one the few buildings of this age, size, and grandeur to survive today. Its giant dome shelters numerous historic artworks, from Byzantine mosaics to Islamic calligraphy.
Dark basements with serious damp problems aren't normally tourist attractions, unless they happen to be evocative Byzantine cisterns, held up by ancient columns that are reflected in water teaming with fish. Built 1,500 years ago to preserve the city's water supply through siege and drought, it's a peaceful, surreal escape from the heat of an Istanbul summer.
The Blue Mosque
Elegant, cascading curves and a central location make the Blue Mosque (aka Sultan Ahmet Camii), the most famous mosque in Istanbul. Inside is a spectacular coating of blue İznik tiles, which give it its nickname.
Ephesus was the metropolis of Asia and archaeologists have revealed a treasure trove of ancient streets once walked by Alexander the Great and St. Paul. There are houses, theaters, temples, toilets, even a brothel, and the columned facade of the Library of Celsus.
Topkapı Palace was the home of the Ottoman Sultans and the heart of the empire. Its grassy courtyards once buzzed with the comings and goings of soldiers, ambassadors, eunuchs, and Pashas, while in the private chambers of the Harem, dripping with lovely blue tiles, the Sultan's women schemed to bring a son to the throne. Former storerooms overflow with gold thrones, gigantic diamonds, and the holiest relics of Islam.
Göreme Open-air Museum
The unique lunar landscape of Cappadocia is honeycombed with Byzantine churches cut from the rock in the Middle Ages, many decorated with beautiful frescoes. The most famous and easily accessible place to visit is the collection of churches and dwellings known as the Göreme Open-air Museum.
Stunning white travertine pools of water cascade down a hillside in the hinterland of the Aegean coast: this unique rock formation was created over eons by mineral-rich water and has attracted tourists for millenia.
Atop a lonely mountain overlooking the Euphrates, this ancient shrine to the megalomania of one man is an extraordinary archaeological site. The oversize heads of King Antiochos and his fellow gods litter the ground beside a great burial mound.
These jungle-entangled ruins in a valley by one of the Mediterranean's most beautiful beaches are overlooked by the natural eternal flame of the Chimaera. Few places combine Turkey's many attractions as does Olympos.
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