- Turkey is a unique blend of history and culture, with ancient sites and archeological treasures that attract tourists from all over the world.
- From the ancient city of Ephesus to the impressive underground cities of Cappadocia, Turkey offers a wide range of historic sites to explore.
- Whether it’s witnessing the architectural grandeur of Aphrodisias or visiting the famous Anzac Cove from World War I, Turkey has something to offer for every history enthusiast.
Turkey is one of those countries that has seen the rise and fall of many great empires — from Greece and Rome to Seljuq and Ottoman. This land has witnessed a lot to finally become the modern Turkish Republic. The ancient sites in Turkey and its deep-rooted culture attract a large number of tourists from around the globe every year.
Nestled in the Middle East and in Europe (yes, the national spills over Europe and Asia), Turkey is nothing less than a heaven for history enthusiasts, filled with some of the oldest archeological sites in the world. Travelers can experience the influence of different civilizations and religions that have given historical legacies to the country.
With plenty of ancient treasures, Turkey never fails to captivate its visitors. Here are ten of the best historic sites in Turkey to visit today.
Great Theater of Ephesus
An ancient Greek city on the Aegean coast of Turkey, Ephesus has been a city since neolithic times. Vacationers can visit the two popular monuments at Ephesus: Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre. Moreover, the remains of the Temple of Artemis, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, can also be witnessed here.
Being a port city, Ephesus was a major trading hub and the main commercial center of the time.
- Address: Selçuk, İzmir Province, Turkey, West Asia
- Best time to visit: April – May and October – November
Travelers can find multiple souvenir shops selling Turkish articles at the exit gates.
Ancient city of Aizanoi
One of the many amazing ancient civilization sites in Turkey that is worth a visit is Aizanoi. This was one of the most important cities during the Roman reign.
Visitors can find many historical sites such as Zeus Temple, the Macellum, the Complex of Stadium Theatre, and the Museum of Kutahya. Witnessing the ancient statues of Greek Gods at Aizanoi can amaze anyone.
- Address: Çavdarhisar, Kütahya Province, Turkey
- Best time to visit: October to November
Antalya Archeology Museum
Statue at Antalya Archeology Museum
One of the interesting historic sites in Turkey is the Antalya Archeology Museum. It is one of the most popular museums in the world, showcasing the masterpieces of the ancient civilization that once inhabited it.
Tourists can explore some astounding sculptures, such as the Neanderthal skeleton fragments, splendid figurines found in Perga, Elmalı coins, and a lot more. In 1988, the Antalya Archeology Museum was designated as the “Museum of the Year” by the European Council.
- Address: Bahçelievler Mahallesi Konyaaltı Caddesi No 88 Muratpaşa /Antalya
- Best time to visit: April to mid-June and September to mid-October
A Statue at Aphrodisias museum and art in Aydın, Turkey
A small, ancient Greek Hellenistic city, Aphrodisias is located in the upper valley of the Morsynus River. From the marble quarries to the archeological site of Aphrodisias, it is one of the unique places in Turkey with ancient sites to visit that can amaze history buffs. Its land is preserved as an agricultural site as it stays fertile due to the Morsynus River.
One of the many incredible ancient cities in Turkey, travelers can witness Aphrodisias’ architectural grandeur through its temples, theaters, agora, and bath complexes.
- Address: Geyre, Aydın Province, Turkey
- Best time to visit: April – May
Carry a hat and sunglasses and wear loose summer clothes and comfortable shoes, as visiting the different historical sites in Aphrodisias will require a lot of walking.
Antioch Mosaic Museum with the largest number of Mosaic works
Regarded as a major Roman and Crusader city in Turkey, Antioch should be on the bucket list of every history fanatic and those interested in early Christianity. Even though the city is now buried under the Orontes River, it was once the bastion of Christianity and still holds great historical significance.
There are many ancient ruins in Antioch to visit today; travelers can explore the remains of the city in the form of massive fortification walls, crusader castles, and Roman mosaics. A visit to the Hatay Archeology Museum will give more insight into Antioch’s past, which is one of the most historic places in Turkey today.
- Address: Antakya, Hatay Province, Turkey
- Best time to visit: April to mid-June and September to late October
An archeological excavation of a Greek amphitheater in Side, Turkey
Home to some of the best ancient sites in Turkey, Side is another ancient city that attracts tourists worldwide. It offers a lot of tourist spots, giving more than enough to explore and enjoy.
From witnessing some of the most incredible Roman ruins in Turkey (like amphitheaters and other monuments) to visiting the alluring temple of Apollo and the Pamukkale bath, vacationers can see plenty of amazing historic sites here.
Once done with sightseeing, visitors can enjoy water sports such as rafting, scuba diving, and parasailing at the beaches.
- Address: Antalya Province, Turkey
- Best time to visit: April–May and September–November
Anadolu Hisarı in Istanbul, Turkey
Anadolu Hisarı, previously called Güzelce Hisar (i.e., Beautiful Castle), is a stunning fortress in Istanbul that gives a glimpse of the Ottoman Empire. Built by Sultan Beyazid I around 1390, it is located on the Anatolian (i.e., Asian) side of the Bosporus.
It stands as one of the oldest Turkish monuments with great historical significance. Today, this complex has been converted into a museum and is open to the public.
- Address: Anadolu Hisarı, 34810 Beykoz/İstanbul, Türkiye
- Best time to visit: March to May and September to November
Ruins of the ancient town Laodicea on the Lycus, Turkey
Turkey’s Laodicea offers many reasons to visit, and being home to some of the most famous historic sites in Turkey is one of them. The entire site is built according to the Hippodamian system, giving a glimpse of the architectural intelligence of the ancients.
Besides a myriad of churches, visitors can also witness the largest stadium in Anatolia. Moreover, there are five stunning fountains, astonishing temples, long colonnaded streets, five agoras, and other amazing structures to delve into.
- Address: Goncalı, R4P5+HW, 20000 Merkez/Pamukkale/Denizli, Türkiye
- Best time to visit: April to May and September to October
Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli peninsula of Turkey, a famous World War I landing site of the ANZACs on 25 April 1915
Anzac is a popular cove in Turkey, well-known for being one of the sites of World War I. It is located on the Gallipoli peninsula. This place holds an important place in history as on 25th April 1915, the Army Corps of New Zealand and Australia, along with allied forces from many other countries, landed on the beaches of the Gallipoli Peninsula.
They stayed for eight months for the Gallipoli campaign. Today, people of these countries celebrate the anniversary of the Gallipoli landings every year on 25th April.
- Address: Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey
- Best time to visit: May to October
Cappadocia Underground Cities
Giant phallic-shaped formations in Love Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey
One of the fascinating historical sites in Turkey that travelers should not miss is Cappadocia Underground Cities. The beautiful subterranean cities of Cappadocia, carved from soft tuff, attract thousands of visitors every year to unveil these mysterious places.
These cities are interconnected and are believed to have been used by Christians as hiding places. They are well-equipped with rooms, kitchens, and a proper ventilation system.
- Address: Camikebir Mahallesi yeraltı şehri Belediye Caddesi, 50760 Nevşehir, Türkiye
- Best time to visit: April to May and September to October