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Natural Sites in Turkey

Istanbul

Prince Islands (Turkish name Adalar)

The prince islands consist of four large islands;

Büyükada – the largest island. Includes several historical places like; Ayia Yorgi Church, Ayios Dimitrios Church and Hamidiye Mosque.

Heybeliada – the second largest island. Includes, Kamariotissa a Byzantine Church and the grave of the second English Ambassador to be sent to Constantinople by Elizabeth I of England, Edward Barton.

Burgazada – the third largest island. Includes a museum that was the residence of a famous writer Sait Faik Abasıyanık.

Kınalıada – this is the island most used by as a place of exile in Byzantine. It takes 40 minutes to travel to the island from Kabataş (European side).

The islands are mostly consist of private properties. The prince islands are one of the most visited places in Istanbul. There is no traffic on the islands so for transport bikes, horses and carts are used. It’s a ferry ride to go to the islands, which depart from Bostancı, Kartal, Maltepe and Kabataş. You are able to travel to the islands at all seasons, summer being the busiest.

Denizli

Hierapolis (Turkish name Pamukkale)

Hierapolis is a natural site, which is located in Denizli in the southwestern region in Turkey. Hierapolis contains hot springs, travertine and terraces of carbonate minerals that are left by the flowing water. Hierapolis is a great attraction to tourists. There are many tourists and Turks who come to see Hierapolis each year. Visitors are able to bathe in the pools even though there are many hotels around.

Nevşehir

Cappadocia (Turkish name Kapadokya)

Cappadocia is a historical region in the Central Anatolia. Following the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, Turkish clans under the leadership of the Seljuk’s started settling in Anatolia and together with the rise of the Turkish power in Anatolia, Cappadocia begun becoming a tributary to the Turkish states. Cappadocia is a popular destination for tourists and local citizens. The most important towns and destinations in Cappadocia are Ürgüp, Goreme, Ihlara Valley, Selime, Uchisar, Avanos and Zelve. In Cappadocia hot air ballooning can be done together with trekking.

Konya

Lake Tuz (Turkish name Tuz Gölü)

Lake Tuz is the second largest lake in Turkey. The Lake Tuz is located in the Central Anatolian Region. Mostly, throughout the year the lake is very shallow. During winter the salt is dissolved in the fresh water and in summer the lake dries and exposes about 30cm thickness of salt, which has a view of white desert.

Mardin

Mor Hananyo Monastery (Turkish name Deyrulzafaran Manastırı)

Mor Hananyo Monastery is located in the region known as Tur Abdin in Mardin. The Monastery was founded in 493 by Mor Shlemon as a citadel. Once the romans withdrew from the fortress Mor Shlemon converted the citadel into the Monastery. A bishop of Mardin then renovated the Monastery. The Monastery has 365 rooms inside, one for each day. In 1160 – 1932 the Monastery was the official seat of the patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church.

Muğla

Ölüdeniz (Turkish name Ölüdeniz)

Ölüdeniz is a village located in Muğla in the Fethiye district, which is in the Aegean region. Ölüdeniz beach was voted to be the World’s most beautiful beach in 2006 with collecting 82% of the votes. The Lycian’s called ölüdeniz the ‘land of light and sun’. The lagoon is a natural reserve and construction is forbidden. There are a lot of transport options to travel to Ölüdeniz via plane, car and boat. In the district there are various hotels, hostels and campsites. People are able to go for climbing, walking, rafting and go on a safari, there is also an option for people to do paragliding in Babadağ, which is 2000 meters high.

Butterfly Valley (Turkish name Kelebekler Vadisi)

Butterfly Valley is located in the Fethiye district of Muğla, in the Aegean region. Butterfly valley is the home to diverse butterfly species. The Butterfly Valley is totally a natural beauty and is an important attraction to tourists and local citizens. The valley is accessed via boat from Belceğiz Beach of Ölüdeniz. Butterfly Valley welcomes its visitors during daytime and has various outdoor activities like camping, hiking, canyoning, canoeing and scuba diving.

Köyceğiz (Turkish name Köyceğiz)

Köyceğiz is a town located in the Fethiye district of Muğla, in the Aegean region. Köyceğiz lies on the northern end of the Köyceğiz Lake that joins the Mediterranean Sea via Dalyan Delta, a natural channel. Koyceğiz has a unique and natural environment that is being preserved as a nature and wildlife sanctuary. Dalyan is very popular and has hundreds of local citizens and tourists visiting, especially during summer. Dalyan can be explored by boat rides. There are restaurants that line by the waterways. There are tombs that are carved into the rocks above the ancient harbor city of Caunos. The Dalyan Delta has a long gold sandy beach and a refuge for rare Caretta Caretta’s and blue crabs. Köyceğiz is full of natural beauties and citrus gardens.

Bolu

Seven Lakes National Park (Turkish name Yedigöller Milli parkı)

Seven Lakes National Park is located in Bolu, which is in the Black Sea region. Seven Lakes is categorized under the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and established in 1965. In the Seven Lakes there are seven lakes that are formed by landslides.

The seven lakes are:

  • Büyükgöl
  • Deringöl
  • Seringöl
  • Nazlıgöl
  • Sazlıgöl
  • Incegöl
  • Küçükgöl

There are also several streams that flow through the park and some have handcrafted bridges across them and there is a small waterfall. In the Seven Lakes visitors are able to do trekking and camping in tents, caravans, rent houses and bungalows. There are also hot springs and ski centers.

The vegetation in the Seven Lakes include: beech trees, oaks, hornbeams, firs, hazelnuts, spruces, alders, lime trees, black pines and Scotch pines.

The wildlife in the Seven Lakes include: Red Deer, Roe Deer, Wild Boar, Brown Bears, Wolves, Red Fox, Lynx, Jungle Cats, Otter sand Squirrels and many more.

Lake Abant (Turkish name Abant Gölü)

Lake Abant is located in Bolu that is in the Marmara region. Lake Abant is a freshwater lake formed from a great landslide. Lake Abant is a great attraction to local citizen’s as well as tourists and welcomes many visitors annually. The lake’s natural beauty is covered with dense forests. Lake Abant is a preserved park and has 2 hotels for visitors to stay. In the forest there are oaks, European black pine, willows, tamarisks, hazels, strawberry trees, hornbeams, ashes, wild boars, fallow deer’s, roe deer’s, red dears, brown bears, wolves, rabbits, red foxes and jackals.

Antalya

Damlataş Cave (Turkish name Damlataş Mağarası)

Damlataş Cave is located in the Alanya district in Antalya which is located in the Mediterranean region. The entrance to the Damlataş Cave faces Alanya’s famous beaches. The cave was discovered while mining operations where in action for the construction of Alanya Harbor in 1948 and then was opened to the public. The cave is full of stalagmites and stalactites that were formed in 15.000 years. The cave is also used to cure asthma. In 2010 the cave was visited by 114.000 tourists of which 2.100 suffered asthma in seven months. In 2014 the number increased up to 4000 and is still increasing. There are special opening hours for visitors coming to cure who also pay a lower fee.

Düden Waterfall (Turkish name Düden Şelalesi)

Düden Waterfall is located in Antalya, which is located in the Mediterranean region. The recycle water forms the Düden waterfall. The waters that fall from the waterfall drop down from a rocky cliff and meet the Mediterranean Sea. There are parks and forests that surround the waterfall. In the park area around the Düden Waterfall there are restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops. Visitors spend a lovely time in nature while also exploring the natural beauties around them.

Şanlıurfa

The Pool of Abraham (Turkish name Balıklı Göl)

The Pool of Abraham is located in Şanlıurfa, in the Anatolian region. The Pool of Abraham is a major landmark of the region and is visited by thousands of tourists and local citizens each year. The Pool of Abraham is believed to be the place where Nimrod threw Abraham into fire. The Pool is a very special place for practicing Muslims because Abraham was the same prophet to sacrifice his son for Allah. According to the belief, Abraham landed into fire and Allah turned the flames into water and the burning logs turned into fish and for this reason the pool is called ‘Balıklı Göl’ in Turkish, which means the lake of fish. In the Pool of Abraham fishing is not allowed, but visitors are able to feed the fish.

Sivas

Green River (Turkish name Yeşilırmak)

The Green River is located in Sivas that is in the Central Anatolian region. The Green River flows from Sivas through Tokat and Amasya and reaches the Black Sea at Samsun. The Green River is 519km long. The Green River is an important location to do rafting and canoeing. There are different rafting tours done each weekend in different circuits.

Trabzon

Long Lake (Turkish name Uzun Göl)

Long Lake is located in Trabzon, in the Black Sea region. Long Lake is also the name of the village that lies beside the lakes coast. Long lake is a popular tourist attraction and attracts hundreds of tourists and local citizens annually. Long lake was formed by a landslide that transformed the streambed into a natural dam, in the valley of Haldizen Stream. Long Lake is surrounded by high rising mountains and is well known for its natural beauty. There are lots of hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops around in the village.

Historic and Cultural Sites in Turkey

ISTANBUL

Hagia Sophia (Turkish name Ayasofya)

Hagia Sophia was constructed in 537 and used as a Greek Orthodox Cathedral until 1204, and was the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople. In 1204 – 1261 it was converted to be used as a Roman Catholic Cathedral under the Latin empire. From 1261 – 1453 it was again used as a Greek Orthodox Cathedral. In 1453 Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, who ordered for the cathedral to be converted into a mosque. With his orders the cathedral was converted to be a mosque and continued to serve as a mosque until 1931. Christian features were removed by the orders from the Ottoman rulers and replaced with Islamic features like the Mihrab, Minbar and four Minarets. In 1931 the mosque was closed for 4 years and re-opened in 1935 to be a museum by the Republic of Turkey. Hagia Sophia is the second most visited museum in Turkey, which attracts around 4 million visitors a year.

Grand Bazaar (Turkish name Kapalı Çarşı)

The Grand Bazaar was started to be built in the winter of 1455, after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople with the orders of Sultan Mehmet II. The construction ended in the winter of 1460. The Grand Bazaar is one of the biggest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3000 shops in Istanbul. There are about 400,000 visitors daily. In 2014, Grand Bazaar was chosen as number 1 out of the worlds most visited tourist attractions with 91,250,000 annual visitors. The Grand Bazaar is located in the Fatih district in Istanbul, and is very easy to be traveled.

Basilica Cistern (Turkish name Yerebatan Sarnıcı)

Basilica Cistern is the biggest of many ancient cisterns which lie under Istanbul. The Cistern is located 150metres southwest of Hagia Sophia on the historical peninsula of Sarayburnu. The Basilica Cistern was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian. There was round 7000 slaves working during the construction of the Basilica Cistern. The Basilica Cistern provided water filtration system for the Topkapı Palace during the Ottoman conquest in 1453.

Çemberlitaş Bath (Turkish name Çemberlitaş Hamamı)

Mimar Sinan who was an Ottoman architect built çemberlitaş bath in 1584. Çemberlitaş bath is located on Çemberlitaş square, next to the Vezirhan monument erected by Constantine I (324 – 327). Çemberlitaş bath was established by Nurbanu Sultan who was the wife of Selim II and the mother of Murat III.

The Maidens Tower (Turkish name Kız Kulesi)

The Maidens Tower was built in 1110. According to a Turkish legend, an emperor had a beloved daughter and one day an oracle prophesied that she would be killed by a snake on her 18th birthday. He built the tower in the middle of the Bosphorus to protect his daughter until her 18thbirthday. On her birthday the emperor brought a basket of exotic fruit as a birthday present, which a snake had hid into. The princess got bitten by the asp and died in the arms of her father just like the oracle had predicted. The Maidens Tower has been converted into a restaurant and café with a wonderful view. Private boats take people to and from the Maidens Tower couple of times a day.

Topkapı Palace (Turkish name Topkapı Sarayı)

Topkapı Palace is one of the most attractive historical places in Istanbul. It is rich in the history of the Ottoman Empire. The palace is placed on a hill which is overlooking the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. Topkapı Palace was an official royal residence of the Ottoman Empire sultans for nearly 400 years, and the seat of the Turkish government but now it is converted into a museum and opens its doors to everyone. Topkapı Palace is considered to be the largest and oldest palace in the world. In Topkapı Palace a collection of old weapons, a glimpse of the harems quarters, the kitchens, jewels, sword and the cloak of Prophet Muhammed is on display with many more historical objects.

Galata Tower (Turkish name Galata Kulesi)

Galata Tower is a medieval stone tower which is located in the Galata quarter of Istanbul. The Galata Tower is one of the city’s most striking landmarks. The tower was built in 1348 during an expansion of the Genoese colony in Istanbul, which was then called Constantinople. The upper section of the tower was modified during the Ottoman period when it was used as an observation tower to spot fires. The Galata Tower is to the north of the Golden Horn’s joint with the beautiful Bosphorus. When the Galata Tower was built in 1348 it was the largest building in Istanbul. It was around 66.9m high (219 ½ feet). To a travelogue of Evliya Çelebi who was a traveler and historian during 1630-1632 Hazarfen Ahmet Çelebi (Ottoman aviator), climbed to the Galata Tower and flew from the top of the tower, over Bosphorus and landed in Üsküdar which is located in the Asian side of Istanbul, (6km away from the Galata Tower).

Rumelian Castle (Turkish name Rumeli Hisarı)

Rumeli Hisarı is also known as the Rumelian Castle, which is located in Sarıyer. Rumeli Hisarı was built by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II between 1451 and 1452 before his army’s conquest of Constantinople. With the orders of Celal Bayar (president of the time), in 1953 the inhabitants were relocated and extensive restoration of Rumeli Hisarı started on 16th May 1955 and ended on 29th May 1958. Since 1960 Rumeli Hisarı has been used as a museum and open air stage for concerts and many other events especially during the summer. Rumeli Hisarı is open to the public every day except Wednesdays.

The Golden Horn (Turkish name Haliç)

Haliç is a major urban waterway and the primary inlet of the Istanbul Bosphorus. Haliç is 7.5km long and 750metres wide. The Golden Horn takes its name from its shape like a horn. The Golden Horn is spanned by five bridges which are located next to each other. The bridges begin with

  1. Haliç Bridge which was constructed in 1974 and connects Sütlüce and Defterdar
  2. Eski Galata Köprüsü (The Old Galata Bridge), connects Karaköy and Eminönü
  3. Atatürk Köprüsü (Atatürk Bridge), constructed in 1940 and connects Kasımpaşa and Unkapanı
  4. Halic Metro Köprüsü (Haliç Metro Bridge), constructed in 2014 and is used as a railway station for the Istanbul Metro line
  5. Galata Köprüsü (Galata Bridge) completed in 1994 and connects Karaköy and Eminönü

Ortaköy Mosque (Turkish name Ortaköy Camii)

Ortaköy mosque is located in Ortaköy near Beşiktaş in Istanbul by the sea, which makes it one of the most popular visited places in the Bosphorus. The mosque was built on orders from the Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid, and was built in 1854 – 1856. The architects of Ortaköy Mosque were Garabet Amira Balyan and Nigoğayos Balyan (an Armenian father and son) who also designed Dolmabahçe Palace and Dolmabahçe Mosque which is also located quite close to Ortaköy Mosque.

Chora Church (Turkish name Kariye Müzesi)

The Chora Church was built as a part of a monastery in Istanbul, on the south to the Golden Horn. The building was built in the 5th century. In 1453, the last siege of Constantinople, Theotokos Hodgetria who was believed to be the protector of the city was brought to the church to assist the defenders against the Ottomans. 50 years after the fall to the Ottomans, the grand vizier of Sultan Beyazıd II, Atık Ali Paşa ordered for the Chora Church to be converted to a Muslim mosque. Since 1958 the Chora Church has been accepting its visitors as a very historical museum.

TRABZON

Sumela Monastery (Turkish name Sümela Manastırı)

Sumela Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery that was dedicated to Virgin Mary, located in Maçka which is a district of Trabzon. The monastery was found in AD 386 during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius. The monastery has been ruined several times and has been restored by several emperors.

MUĞLA

Bodrum Castle (Turkish name Bodrum Kalesi)

Bodrum Castle was built from 1402 onwards by the Knights of St John as the ‘Castle of St. Peter’. During 1962 the Turkish government decided to turn the castle into a museum for underwater discoveries of the ancient shipwrecks in the Aegean Sea.

KONYA

Mevlana Museum (Turkish name Mevlana Müzesi)

The Mevlana museum is located in Konya. The museum is the mausoleum of Celaleddin Muhammed Rumi who is a Sufi mainly known as Mevlana. After the death of Mevlana on 17th December 1273, Mevlana’s successor Hüsamettin Çelebi built a mausoleum over Mevlana’s grave. Until 1854 several other sections were added and decorated. On 2nd march 1927 the mausoleum was turned into a museum and opened. The mausoleum was then renamed and called Mevlana Museum since.

IZMIR

Ephesus (Turkish name Efes)

Ephesus is located in Izmir. Ephesus was built in the 10th century BC by the Attic and Ionian Greek Colonists. Once the city came under control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC it was flourished. The city is famous for the Temple of Artemis and is one of The Seven Wonders in the Ancient World. The ruins of Ephesus is a great attraction to tourists and local citizens and welcomes hundreds of visitors annually. Ephesus is also believed to be the city of the seven sleepers, by Orthodox Christians and Catholics.