Cappadocia and Central Turkey

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  • 1. Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi

    The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is a real gem, showcasing many of Turkey's best ancient treasures and providing excellent insight into the incredible amount of...

    The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is a real gem, showcasing many of Turkey's best ancient treasures and providing excellent insight into the incredible amount of history that has played out here. Housed in a 15th-century bedesten (similar to a kervansaray), the museum covers every major civilization that has had a presence in Anatolia, going back more than 10 millennia. Highlights of the vast collection include finds dating from 7000 BC—among them famous mother goddess figurines and wall paintings of animals and geometric patterns from the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük, one of the oldest human settlements ever discovered. Other items on display include clay cuneiform tablets—the earliest written records found in Anatolia—from the Assyrian trade colonies period, as well as a 13th-century BC bronze tablet (the only such bronze tablet found in Anatolia) recording a Hittite treaty. A significant collection of monumental stonework from around Anatolia, including well-preserved neo-Hittite reliefs depicting the epic of Gilgamesh, from the archaeological site of Karkamış (Kargamış) in Gaziantep, is on display in the central hall.

    Gözcü Sokak 2, Ankara, Ankara, Turkey
    312-324–3160

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: TL50
  • 2. Anıtkabir

    Atatürk's picture is on every single piece of Turkish currency, his visage hangs in just about every office and official building in the country, and...

    Atatürk's picture is on every single piece of Turkish currency, his visage hangs in just about every office and official building in the country, and his principles and ideas are the foundations of modern Turkish political thought. So his vast mausoleum, perched on a hilltop overlooking the capital city he built, is on a scale suitable to his stature in Turkey. A marble promenade flanked with Hittite-style lions leads to the imposing mausoleum, where a huge sarcophagus lies beyond a colonnade with inscriptions from his speeches and below a ceiling of brilliant gold mosaics. An adjoining museum contains personal belongings from the revered man's life, including his clothes, automobiles, and personal library. The corridors underneath the tomb house an in-depth exhibit on the 1919–22 War of Independence. To reach the mausoleum, you can take the metro to Tandoğan and walk up the long road that ascends from the main entrance at the northern end of the grounds. A quicker way is to take a taxi to the alternate entrance on Akdeniz Caddesi, on the southeast side.

    Anıt Cad., Ankara, Ankara, Turkey
    312-231–7975

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 3. Göreme Açık Hava Müzesi

    The open-air museum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its spectacular landscape and amazing collection of cave churches decorated with elaborate Byzantine frescoes...

    The open-air museum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its spectacular landscape and amazing collection of cave churches decorated with elaborate Byzantine frescoes that were once part of a monastic complex. Within the museum is the 11th-century Elmalı Kilise (Church with the Apple), which has wonderfully preserved frescoes of biblical scenes and portraits of saints. The Karanlık Church (Dark Church) was extensively restored by UNESCO, and vividly colorful scenes, dominated by deep blues, decorate the walls and domed ceiling; the painting of Christ Pantocrator on the dome is particularly impressive (entrance to the church is an extra 30 TL). In the nearby kitchen/refectory, a huge dining table that could seat 50 is carved from the rock, and it's easy to imagine priests and members of the early Christian community here packing in for meals. The museum covers a large area with dozens of caves, nooks, and crannies to explore, almost all of them easily reachable on paved paths.

    Göreme, Nevsehir, 50180, Turkey
    384-271–2167

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: TL100
  • 4. Ihlara Valley

    The landscape changes dramatically when you head south through Cappadocia toward Ihlara: the dusty plains turn rich with vegetation along the Melendiz River, which has...

    The landscape changes dramatically when you head south through Cappadocia toward Ihlara: the dusty plains turn rich with vegetation along the Melendiz River, which has carved cliffs as high as 490 feet. Walking the entire valley takes the better part of a day, but if you just want to get a taste of it, the most interesting part is the middle section. A few fresco-decorated churches are within walking distance of one another, including the Ağaçaltı (Under-a-Tree) church, Kokar (Fragrant) church, Yılanlı (Serpent) church, and the Church of St. George. Belisırma village, about 2 km (1 mile) north of the Ihlara Vadisi Turistik Tesisleri and roughly a three-hour walk from either end of the valley, has a handful of scenic restaurants, some of which have open-air cabanas built on stilts over the river—an idyllic place for a simple meal, accompanied by the relaxing sound of running water. Just outside the north end of the valley, Selime Monastery is a huge rock-cut complex with a chapel, two levels of rooms, and lots of nooks and crannies.

    Aksaray, 68500, Turkey

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: TL55
  • 5. Mevlâna Müzesi

    When the Sufi mystic and philosopher-poet Mevlâna Celaleddin Rumi died in 1273, he was buried in Konya beside his father, and a great shrine was...

    When the Sufi mystic and philosopher-poet Mevlâna Celaleddin Rumi died in 1273, he was buried in Konya beside his father, and a great shrine was erected above them. Today, the museum is one of the most visited sites in Turkey, attracting more than 2 million people a year. The interior resembles that of a mosque, with its intricately painted domes, ornate chandeliers, and Islamic inscriptions on the walls. The main hall contains many dervish tombs, all of them with carved stone turbans wrapped in cloth atop the sarcophagi. The place is usually filled with Muslim pilgrims standing with their palms outward in prayer. Next to the mausoleum is a courtyard with a large şadırvan, or ablutions fountain, around which are rooms that formerly served as dervish cells. These have been turned into a museum, with each room illustrating a different aspect of life in the dervish brotherhood. A separate structure, the matbah, or kitchen, shows mannequins of dervishes engaged in the preparation and serving of food—activities that took on an almost ritual significance in the dervish hierarchy.

    Off Mevlâna Meydanı, Konya, Konya, 42030, Turkey
    332-351–1215

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    Rate Includes: Free
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  • 6. Uçhisar Kalesi

    The highest fairy chimney in Cappadocia, Uçhisar Kalesi has the most spectacular views in the area, save those from a hot-air balloon. Called "Uçhisar Castle"...

    The highest fairy chimney in Cappadocia, Uçhisar Kalesi has the most spectacular views in the area, save those from a hot-air balloon. Called "Uçhisar Castle" in Turkish, the giant rock outcrop was used as a fortress in the late Byzantine and early Ottoman periods, and it was later inhabited by locals. The striking formation is riddled with rock-cut dwellings, giving it a Swiss-cheese look, but it was evacuated in the 1960s when erosion put everything in danger of collapse, and the structure was declared a disaster zone (residents were moved to safer homes in the surrounding area). The top of Uçhisar Kalesi—reached by a steep climb on recently installed steps with good traction—is a beautiful spot to watch the sunset. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Mt. Erciyes, 57 km (36 miles) away.

    Üçhisar, Nevsehir, 50240, Turkey

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: TL8
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  • 7. Ankara Kalesi

    Ulus

    Ankara's main historic sites are clustered around its ancient citadel (known as the Hisar or Kale in Turkish), high on a hill overlooking the city....

    Ankara's main historic sites are clustered around its ancient citadel (known as the Hisar or Kale in Turkish), high on a hill overlooking the city. Though the citadel's precise origins are not known, the inner and outer walls standing today are thought to have been built between the 7th and 9th century, during the Byzantine period. Although the modern city has grown up around the citadel, the area inside the walls has retained an almost villagelike atmosphere, an entire neighborhood with winding, cobblestoned streets and old houses built with timber and plaster. The municipality has recently cleaned up the entrance area, but some parts of the neighborhood inside the citadel remain fairly rundown. The easiest place to enter the citadel is from Parmak Kapısı (Finger Gate), also known as Saat Kapısı (Clock Gate), across from the Divan Çukurhan. Head toward the center, where you'll see the restored Şark Kulesi (Eastern Tower). Climb the stone steps to the tower's upper ramparts for excellent city panoramas.

    Ankara, Ankara, Turkey
  • 8. Arkeoloji Müzesi

    Museum/Gallery

    A magnificent portal marks the entrance to what was formerly the Sahip Ata complex, a group of structures dating from the late 13th century...

    A magnificent portal marks the entrance to what was formerly the Sahip Ata complex, a group of structures dating from the late 13th century. A bit to the right is the small but interesting Arkeoloji Müzesi (Archaeology Museum), showcasing artifacts from a number of different periods. The most significant room has finds from the 7000 BC Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük, including pottery, jewelry, weapons and tools, and the remains of an infant burial; these are accompanied by quite informative explanations. There are also artifacts from the Bronze Age and Greek and Roman periods; the 3rd-century AD marble sarcophagus depicting the Twelve Labors of Hercules is outstanding.Around the left-hand corner from the Sahip Ata portal is the Sahip Ata Müzesi (Sahip Ata Museum), housed in the beautifully (but perhaps not that sensitively) restored dervish lodge of the mosque complex. Items on display include carved wooden doors from as early as the 13th century, ceramic fragments, calligraphic works and old Korans, and dervish accoutrements. It's free to visitors.

    Larende Cad., Konya, Konya, Turkey
    332-351–3207

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 5 TL, May–Sept., Tues.–Sun. 9–12:30 and 1:30–7; Oct.–Apr., Tues.–Sun. 9–noon and 1–5
  • 9. Arkeoloji Müzesi

    A magnificent portal marks the entrance to what was formerly the Sahip Ata complex, a group of structures dating from the late 13th century. A...

    A magnificent portal marks the entrance to what was formerly the Sahip Ata complex, a group of structures dating from the late 13th century. A bit to the right is the small but interesting Arkeoloji Müzesi (Archaeology Museum), showcasing artifacts from a number of periods. The most significant room focuses on the 7000 BC Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük, with finds including pottery, jewelry, weapons and tools, and the remains of an infant burial; these are accompanied by quite informative explanations. There are also artifacts from the Bronze Age and Greek and Roman periods—the 3rd-century AD marble sarcophagus depicting the Twelve Labors of Hercules is outstanding. Around the left-hand corner from the Sahip Ata portal is the Sahip Ata Müzesi (Sahip Ata Museum), housed in the beautifully (but perhaps not that sensitively) restored dervish lodge of the mosque complex. Items on display include carved wooden doors from as early as the 13th century, ceramic fragments, calligraphic works and old Korans, and dervish accoutrements. It's free to visitors.

    Sahibiata Cad, Konya, Konya, Turkey
    332-351–3207

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 10. CerModern

    Ankara’s first and only contemporary art museum is in a renovated former train maintenance depot not far from the train station. The space showcases both...

    Ankara’s first and only contemporary art museum is in a renovated former train maintenance depot not far from the train station. The space showcases both established international artists and up-and-coming local artists through well-conceived temporary exhibits (the museum has no permanent collection). The venue also hosts film screenings, concerts, and other events, and there’s a hip café and small gift shop.

    Altınsoy Cad. 3, Ankara, Ankara, Turkey
    312-310–0000

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: TL25, Closed Sun.
  • 11. Cumhuriyet Müzesi

    Ulus

    In Turkey's first parliament building, which now houses the Museum of the Republic, politicians debated principles and policies that would shape the Turkish Republic as...

    In Turkey's first parliament building, which now houses the Museum of the Republic, politicians debated principles and policies that would shape the Turkish Republic as a modern secular nation. The great hall where parliament convened from 1924 to 1960 is decorated in Seljuk and Ottoman styles, with an ornately inlaid wooden ceiling, enormous crystal chandelier, and a loggia-like gallery from which dignitaries addressed the assembly. The museum includes a small exhibit on the early years of the Republic. Although signs are only in Turkish, a free—and very informative—English audio guide is available.

    Cumhuriyet Cad. 22, Ankara, Ankara, Turkey
    312-310–5361

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: TL20
  • 12. Derinkuyu

    Meaning "deep well," Derinkuyu is the deepest of the known underground cities that have been explored. Eight floors are open to the public, though there...

    Meaning "deep well," Derinkuyu is the deepest of the known underground cities that have been explored. Eight floors are open to the public, though there may be many more. The subterranean labyrinth has stables, wineries, a chapel and baptismal pool, a school, scores of other interconnected rooms, and as many as 600 entrances and air ducts. You'll also see a ventilation shaft that plunges 180 feet from ground level. Claustrophobes, take note: spaces here are so tight that you'll have to walk doubled over for about 330 feet up and down steps in a sloping cave corridor.

    Nevsehir, Turkey
    384-381–3194

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: TL60
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  • 13. Eski Gümüşler Manastiri

    Some say the 11th-century Eski Gümüşler church inside this monastery complex has the only image of a smiling Virgin Mary in the world. Others say...

    Some say the 11th-century Eski Gümüşler church inside this monastery complex has the only image of a smiling Virgin Mary in the world. Others say that this is due to an error made during the church's restoration. Whatever the case, the frescoes inside, though dark, are beautiful and amazingly preserved. When facing the alter of the church's main nave (the room on the right-hand side), look for the "smiling" Virgin in a rock niche on the left-hand side. Parts of the monastery were carved as early as the 7th century, but most of the frescoes are from around the 11th. They were later painted over by local Turkish Muslims, who considered the depiction of human beings idolatrous. The monastery also contains a kitchen, rock-carved monks' chambers around the central courtyard, and two levels of underground rooms that may have been used in part as a water reservoir. The sign for the monastery is one of the first things you see as you approach Niğde; it's about 4 km (2½ miles) down the road from there.

    Nigde, Nigde, Turkey

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: TL12.50
  • 14. Etnoğrafya Müzesi

    Ulus

    Atatürk used this Ottoman Revival–style building as an office, and his body lay here for 15 years after his death while his enormous mausoleum was...

    Atatürk used this Ottoman Revival–style building as an office, and his body lay here for 15 years after his death while his enormous mausoleum was being built. This small museum mainly appeals to those interested in cultural artifacts. It houses a rich collection of Turkish carpets, folk costumes, weapons, Islamic calligraphy, and ceramics. The display of woodwork, which includes intricately carved doors, portals, minbars (mosque pulpits), and Seljuk thrones—some pieces dating as far back as the 13th century—is especially impressive.

    Talatpaşa Cad. and Türkocağı Sok., Ankara, Ankara, Turkey
    312-311–3007

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: TL17.50
  • 15. Gençlik Parkı

    Ulus

    The pleasant, well-tended Gençlik Parkı ("Youth Park"), though not large enough to make you forget you're in the middle of the city, is a nice...

    The pleasant, well-tended Gençlik Parkı ("Youth Park"), though not large enough to make you forget you're in the middle of the city, is a nice place for a stroll. Plantings are manicured, and a small, man-made lake is surrounded by a partly trellised, partly tree-lined walkway. Ankara's main tourist information office is also in the park.

    Cumhuriyet Cad. and İstiklal Cad., Ankara, Ankara, Turkey
  • 16. Hacı Bayram Camii

    Ulus

    Dating from 1427, Hacı Bayram Camii is one of Ankara's most important mosques. Built mainly of brick, it is named after the revered founder of...

    Dating from 1427, Hacı Bayram Camii is one of Ankara's most important mosques. Built mainly of brick, it is named after the revered founder of the Bayrami order of dervishes, Hacı Bayram, whose tomb is next to the minaret. A newer and showily decorated wing takes something away from the site's historic character. An attractive public square, with a fountain and landscaped flower beds, has also been built around the mosque in recent years. The location of Hacı Bayram Camii, practically abutting the ancient Temple of Augustus and Rome, indicates that this area has been a sacred site through the ages. Though it's in a rather sad state today, the temple, built 25–20 BC, is of great historical significance—inscribed in marble on its walls is the most complete Latin and Greek text of the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, in which Augustus, the first Roman emperor, lists his deeds. What's left of the structure is now largely supported by metal scaffolding, and it can only be viewed from a walkway that runs around it.

    Hacı Bayram Veli Cad., Ankara, Ankara, Turkey
  • 17. Hi Coffee

    Restaurant

    Just across from Mevlâna Meydanı, Hi Coffee opened as the first Western-style coffee shop in downtown Konya, serving espresso, cappuccino, lattes...

    Just across from Mevlâna Meydanı, Hi Coffee opened as the first Western-style coffee shop in downtown Konya, serving espresso, cappuccino, lattes, and filtered coffees from around the world in addition to teas and milk shakes. With a few tables inside and a handful more on the sidewalk outside, the tiny, hip venue provides a welcome dose of modern café culture amid Konya’s historic sights.

    Aziziye Mah., Hendem Sait Çelebi Sok. 9/A, Konya, Konya, 42030, Turkey
    332-352–4515
  • 18. İnce Minare–Taş-Ahşap Eserleri Müzesi

    The minaret of the 13th-century İnce Minare Medresesi, or "Seminary of the Slender Minaret," is bejeweled with glazed turquoise tiles. Unfortunately, due to a 1901...

    The minaret of the 13th-century İnce Minare Medresesi, or "Seminary of the Slender Minaret," is bejeweled with glazed turquoise tiles. Unfortunately, due to a 1901 lightning strike, it is only half its original height. Also worth noting is the especially ornate Seljuk-style decoration of the beautiful stone entry portal. The building itself houses the small but well-done Museum of Stone and Woodwork, which displays a fine collection of tombstones and other inscribed stone fragments as well as elaborate wooden carvings dating from the 13th century. Highlights are the fascinating Persian-influenced Seljuk stone reliefs, which include double-headed eagles, winged angels, and strange creatures that are part human and part bird or beast.

    Konya, Konya, 42000, Turkey
    332-351–3204

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: TL12.50
  • 19. Jülyanüs Sütunu

    Ulus

    A stone's throw from the Temple of Augustus and Rome, in a small traffic circle surrounded by government buildings, is the Column of Julian. It...

    A stone's throw from the Temple of Augustus and Rome, in a small traffic circle surrounded by government buildings, is the Column of Julian. It commemorates a visit by Julian the Apostate (Rome’s last pagan emperor), who passed through town in 362 en route to his death in battle with the Persians. The column, topped by a stork's nest, has 15 fluted drums and a Corinthian capital. A few steps away, in front of the Ankara Governorate, a section of Roman-era road has been excavated and covered with Plexiglass.

    Ankara, Ankara, Turkey
  • 20. Karatay Çini Eserleri Müzesi

    The Karatay Medresesi—a seminary founded in 1251 by Celaleddin Karatay, a Seljuk Emir—is now home to Konya's small ceramics museum. The main attraction is the...

    The Karatay Medresesi—a seminary founded in 1251 by Celaleddin Karatay, a Seljuk Emir—is now home to Konya's small ceramics museum. The main attraction is the building itself, which is topped by a stunning dome lined with blue, black, and white tiles representing the starry heavens. In the vaulted corners below are stylized ceramic inscriptions of the names of the prophets. The frieze beneath the dome and the vaulted hall, or eyvan, at the end of the building are just as dazzling. The emir's tomb is to the left of the main hall; other side rooms display smaller tile and ceramic works. Most impressive is a collection of rare figurative tiles from Kubadabad Palace in Beyşehir that show the Persian influence on Seljuk art. These include hunting scenes, people with distinctively Eastern features and clothing, and figurines of animals and mythological creatures, all highlighted in rich shades of cobalt blue and turquoise.

    Ankara Cad. at Alaaddin Bul., Konya, Konya, Turkey
    332-351–1914

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: TL12.50

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