The detailed explanation is below the pictures.
There are lots to do in Aegean region, beautiful seaside resorts and delightfully wacky towns with an amazing variety of hotels; or you can sit around and still enjoy yourself doing not much of anything at all. Aegean shores and cities are one of the most popular destinations in Turkey for people looking for historical sites, some sun, fun and relaxation. Here you can sit back and enjoy the benefits of a sunny southern Aegean location, many vibrant beaches and nightlife scene with literally hundreds of bars and nightclubs, and the feel-good atmosphere that comes when thousands of travelers from the world over gather in these places looking to have a good time.
Another of the Seven Churches of the Revelation, or Seven Churches of Asia- all of which are in modern-day Turkey, Thyatria was addressed by St. John in a letter of the New Testament, revealing the Revelations of Jesus Christ. In the letter, St. John speaks of a Jezebel (not the Jezebel of the Old Testament), who led others in the worship of idols- namely, an important temple of Apollo, once this city’s favored deity. By the 3rd century, Akhisar city was entirely Christian, though today it contains a mix of cultures and religions, with 7,000 Greek schismatics and over 1,000 Armenians and Jews out of a total population of 22,000.
In the New Testament St John writes to the church in Philadelphia, from the Revelation of Jesus Christ, “for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name…I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.” Now called Alasehir, this picturesque city of narrow, winding streets was singled out for praise by St. John, and has remained a small, unassuming village in spite of its long history and great fame.
Asansor / Dario Moreno Street
Dario Moreno was born in 1921 in Izmir to a Turkish father and a Mexican mother. It is said that he acquired his love of song at an early age, while singing at synagogue. Though he travelled the world, becoming a famous composer conversant in eight languages, he retained his Turkish citizenship and his love of Turkey throughout his life. Today the main pedestrianized thoroughfare to the Asansor bears his name. The Asansor itself is an elevator built in the 19th century and still functioning. Hop on and it will take you from the lower to the upper streets, traversing 51 meters (160 feet) to do so. Once at the top, enjoy the beautiful view and perhaps stop for a bite at the restaurant there. You may even notice a song by the city’s favorite musical son sweetly playing in the background.
Given to the city of Izmir by Sultan Abdul Hamit II in 1901, this ornate clock tower will be hard to miss once you arrive- not only because of its central location near the Governor’s Mansion, but because it has become the official symbol of the city. You should vistit the Clock Tower- it’s worth a look. Besides, you couldn’t avoid it even if you wanted to.
Every few years there seems to be a debate over who is going to build the next “world’s tallest building.” It seems that human nature hasn’t changed much in this respect since antiquity… The structure that is the fame of Didim- its Temple of Apollo, took over 500 years to build and still, because of huge costs and engineering setbacks, was never entirely completed. Travellers from across the ancient world used to come here, seeking the counsel of an oracle who was the voice of Apollo, the God who could not tell a lie. Although only 3 of the original columns still rise to their original height (out of a total of over 100 columns), the massiveness of the bases there guarantee that you will have little difficulty imagining the imposing beauty of this site as it once stood. It was the third-largest manmade structure of the ancient world.
The Ephesus museum is actually located in Seljuk, and is definitely worth a visit. One of the more interesting sights in this museum is the row of marble statues of Cybele, later called the goddess Artemis, which you’ll just have to see… The museum also contains a remarkable collection of beautiful statures, including the famous bronze Boy on a Dolphin, the enormous statue of the emperor Domitian, mosaics of all sorts, ethnographic sections depicting Turkish and Ottoman life, and countless significant artifacts from nearby historic Ephesus, the “first and greatest metropolis of Asia.”
House of the Virgin Mary
Clinging to the side of Bulbul Mountain outside of Ephesus, this site is believed to be the last home of the Virgin Mary, who is said to have come here towards the end of her life in the company of St. John sometime around AD 40. Officially recognized by the Vatican in 1896, after being described in visions by a German nun who had never seen the place- it hadn’t even been discovered yet – every year both Christians and Muslims, who honor “Meryemana” as the mother of a great Prophet, make religious pilgrimages to the site. There is a sacred spring here whose waters you may drink, and which are said to have healing powers. This site is one more example of Turkey’s absolutely amazing religious history. Throughout this country you will have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of incredible people of all eras of history, both divine, and otherwise.
How is it that Miletus, a city nearly 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the sea, was once a great seafaring city and an important Aegean port? The answer comes in the form of the Meander river, which over the course of the past 3,600 years (or so) has left large deposits of silt, gradually building up the shoreline and distancing the city from what was once its most important resource- the sea. Thought to be the oldest of the Ionian cities, Miletus was home not only to explorers and traders, but to a significant intellectual community, including residents such as Anaximenes, who contemplated the heavens, Anaximander, the “father of geography”, Thales, a pioneer in astronomy and geometry who calculated the height of the pyramids in Egypt by measuring their shadow, and Hippodamus, the ancestor of modern city planners, whose earliest work you can inspect here, as you wander about Miletus’ organized, grid-like pattern of streets.
Situated on a natural platform overlooking the Menderes Valley, you will look out from Priene over long stretches of cotton fields and irrigation channels to the mountains, overlooking a gorgeous Turkish landscape that will no doubt stay with you long after you leave. Less visited than other sites near Kusadasi, Priene retains a great deal of its ancient Greek heritage, which you can explore here in relative solitude. The ruins of many of temples built to the gods, a well-preserved theatre, and a stadium thought to be from the 4th century BC can still be appreciated, contributing to Priene’s reputation as the best-preserved of the Hellenic cities in Ionia, with little of the later Roman influence to be found here.
Home today to just over 800 permanent residents, the name of Sirince means “loveliness.” Surrounded by vineyards and orchards, this traditional Ottoman village produces some of its own potent wines, which you will probably be invited to try as you walk the cobbled, well-preserved streets lined with half-timbered mansions. If you’re up for it, you may as well try some, though be warned that a little wine may loosen you up for a sale when a local woman invites you into her house to look at the lace that is produced here in abundance.
Temple of Artemis
This temple is so old that it has survived a goddess’ change of name, not to mention the advent of the automobile, television, running water, parchment, etc. Originally built to honor Cybele, who was later assimilated into the myth of Artemis, it was destroyed by a fire in the 4th century BC by a man named Herostratus. The reason ? -He wanted to be a part of history. It seems that he succeeded, as his name, in most texts, has become inextricable linked with the statue. However, after his contribution to history, the temple was rebuilt in grand style to become the largest in Western Asia, whereupon it was dedicated to Artemis, and upon completion was recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the (Ancient) World.
The Ruins of Ephesus
After the Sultanahmet area in Istanbul, the ruins of Ephesus (Efes) are the most-visited touristic site in all of Turkey. It is also one of the best-preserved classical cities in all the world, on par with Rome and Athens in scope, quality and feel. St Paul, St. John, and the Virgin Mary have all been placed in this, the “first and greatest metropolis of Asia”, as well as a host of other characters, including rich old Croesus, General Lysimachus and the Emperor Hadrian. In ancient times Ephesus was the center of the cult of Cybele, the fertility goddess who later became Diana (Artemis in Greek). The city was also a Roman provincial capital and home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Diana, whose massive foundation can still be seen today after nearly 3 millennia. St. Paul lived here for 3 years in the 60’s (that is, 0060’s AD), when the city is supposed to have had a population of nearly 250,000, and here wrote one of his most famous epistles as a letter to the Ephesians. The ruins of Ephesus are vast and extraordinary, and you can take up the larger part of a day to see them. Among the most impressive are the Great Theatre, capacity 25,000, a marvellous library facade, still standing, which once held 12,000 scrolls, beautiful statues, mosaics and frescoes, and any number of structures sprawled across the ancient city. For those who like to take a step back into time, there are few places in the world better to do so.
Bafa Lake was once a gulf of the Aegean Sea but was transformed into a lake as the sea retreated due to silt deposits dropped by the meandering Meander River. Today it is filled with freshwater, and the abandonment of nearby towns due to townspeoples’ need for access to the sea has left us with some beautifully preserved cityscapes around the enormous, picturesque, mountain-ringed lake. Bafa Lake has become a park, and is now protected because of its importance as a wintering area for numerous species of birds.
The “Blue Voyage” refers to any number of cruises which now sail between Bodrum and Antalya, from the South Aegean to the Turkish Mediterranean. Whether you are on a cruise, have your own boat, or charter one for the day, you will be treated to beautiful, crystal-clear bays, fantastic sea-coves, pristine landscapes and stunning waters in a myriad of shades of blue.
Castle of St. John
This marvellous structure, built by the Knights of St. John of Rhodes over an existing Seldjuk castle in 1402, served for a very long time as a Christian bastion at the edge of Ottoman territory. Defended by Knights from across Europe, the castle was finally seized by Suleyman the Magnificent during his conquest of Rhodes. The Underwater Archaeology Museum housed inside the castle makes it worth visiting, rather than simply admiring from afar, which is a pleasure in itself, a truly spectacular and massive medieval sight jutting out into the blue Aegean, ringed by pine-covered mountains and colorful sailboats.
Also called Latmos, and at the end of a long, winding rocky mountain road, Heraklia is home to some impressive ancient architecture. The town is closely linked to the myths of Selene, the moon goddess, and the mysterious air the place exudes may give you an idea why. The most impressive ruins are from the Byzantine era, and include a fortified castle and its high walls. Heraklia is a quiet town, where you will no doubt have the opportunity to sightsee at leisure and also to observe a slice of authentic contemporary Turkish village life.
Underwater Archaeology Museum
Located inside the Castle of St. John, the Underwater Archaeology Museum is a unique and fascinating museum, well worth visiting. Inside, you can see such displays as a Glass Shipwreck Hall, a full-sized reconstruction of a 7th-century Roman ship – the oldest shipwreck ever discovered, which carried 25 tons of commercial glass and sank around 1025 AD – and finds from along the coast dating as far back as the Bronze Age. There is much to see, and much to make you appreciate the dangers of a seafaring life, as well as the exceptional, surprising levels of sophistication and comfort enjoyed by the people of ancient times.
This city, named after the goddess of love, looks as if it were built upon a hill. Not so. In fact, the mound that elevated the village has actually been built up by successive generations of inhabitants, like an anthill built in super slow motion, going back to the Early Bronze Age. Excavations here by American, French, and Turkish archaeologists have uncovered some impressive ruins, many of which have been moved to the town’s museum. There, you may be particularly impressed by the products of the famous Aphrodisias sculpture school, prolific and much renowned in the ancient world, whose works you can admire here, though unfortunately the students have long since passed away.
When the ancients wanted to relax, many of them came here… Hieropolis was a spa and cure center for both the Romans and the Byzantines. Close to Pammukale and part of the same national park, though less widely touted than its partner, you will probably find the sights here even more impressive. The painstaking excavations are sponsored by Fiat, and include a sacred pool, the famous Roman baths, impressive Hellenistic and Roman theatres, and significant remnants left by early Jewish and Christian communities. You can easily spend an entire day here, strolling through the ruins and admiring the creations of a spectacular past.
Once home to a large Jewish community, Laodicea quickly acquired a significant Christian population as well, and is singled out in the New Testament as one of the Seven Churches of the Revelation. In his letter to them, speaking on behalf of Jesus, John counsels the Laodiceans to “be zealous and repent.” The city was fairly large, and fairly rich- large enough to have two theatres, and rich enough to feel themselves, according to John, “in need of nothing.” The ruins here are more widely spread out than at some other sites, so it’s helpful to have some transportation, otherwise you may be in for a bit of a trek. The principal reason for coming here, though there are ruins to be seen, is Biblical, and for real ruins-watchers, those in nearby towns of Hieropolis and Aphrodisias are both a bit more impressive, and more accessible, though certainly with different historical contexts.
Pamukkale means “Cotton Castle” in Turkish, and the images of crystal-clear water running over these snow-white shelved calcium formations is one that will surely be familiar to anyone who has ever stepped inside a Turkish tourist office. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the degradation of the site due to heavy tourism has come to the attention of conservationists, and steps have been taken to reverse the process. With the help of their efforts, hopefully this beautiful place will be around for many more years, and for many more to enjoy…
The Asklepion, named after the Greek deity of medicine, was Pergamum’s medical center, and offered treatments that today sound more like something out of a spa vacation: mud baths, massages, sacred drinking water, and rubs made of herbs, oils, and ointments. Galen, who made much progress in our understanding of the circulatory and nervous systems, was born in Pergamum in 131 AD and lived here much of his life, adding to its fame as a significant center of learning. Today the Asklepion is not as impressive as it once must have been, but you’ll still have a good opportunity for a healthful stroll through one of the most important medical centers of antiquity
Walk around the ruins of one of the great cultural centers of the Hellenic world. In ancient times the city now known as Bergama was known as Pergamum, and was the capital of an empire. A short anecdote may suffice to give an impression of the scope of this city’s cultural heritage: Egyptians in Alexandria, fearing that the library of Pergamum would one day rival their own magnificent collection, cut off the supply of papyrus from the Nile. In response, resourceful scientists here developed pergamen, a type of parchment made from hide rather than seeds, and proving that necessity is indeed the mother of invention. Other testaments to the glory of this ancient city abound in present-day Bergama, a truly breathtaking site with ruins scattered dramatically about the top of a steep and imposing mountainside.
The acropolis of Bergama, high above the city, affords a beautiful and impressive view of the city below. From here you will see parts of the library, which rivalled the library in Alexandria, still standing, and the marble Column of Trajan, which is the only Roman structure surviving here. The most spectacular view comes from the theatre, a fantastic structure built vertically and scaling the mountainside, offering you a dazzling, dizzying view of city far below.
Bergama Archaeological Museum
Chances are, you’ll feel as if you’re walking through a vast outdoor archaeological museum for the entire time you’re in Bergama. Nonetheless, there’s an indoor collection as well. A sizeable array of artefacts has been given over to this museum located in the town center. Newly renovated, with nice sculpture and ethnography sections, this museum is a pretty good site for the traveller who hasn’t seen quite enough of the impressive relics
Red Basilica (Court)
Originally a temple to a trio of Egyptian gods, this enormous basilica, ‘Kizil Avlu’ in Turkish, was described by St. John the Divine in Revelations, in language much less than complimentary. Specifically, he called it one of the 7 churches of the Apocalypse, and the Abode of the Devil. Despite his protestations against its unholy character, it was eventually converted into a Christian church when a new basilica was built inside the old one, which should give you some idea of just how massive this crimson structure really is. This mixed temple-church-basilica-mosque still stands straddling the River Bergama, which passes underneath it via a pair of tunnels. You will easily spot the red-bricked, cathedral-sized roofless structure from quite a distance, along with the flood of fearless tourists and worshipers who dare enter this one-time house of the devil.
Dalyan is still a peaceful riverside town known for its oranges, cotton, and wheat, despite its growing popularity. It is a charming and attractive place to spend some time in, with an pleasing boardwalk, a lazy river meandering its way through, and a simple rustic Turkish atmosphere. The beach is quite popular, though primarily for visitors of a very special sort- Dalyan is home to one of the most important nesting sites of the endangered loggerhead turtle, whose unspoiled habitat here is being vigorously defended.
According to Herotodus of Bodrum, the first man to write a text of world history and therefore the “Father of History,” the Kaunians were a prosperous people afflicted by a scourge of malaria, which gave them yellow skin and yellow eyes. Some of the inhabitants of whom he spoke may be found today in the tombs for which the village is now known. Wandering through Kaunos you will also see some interesting architectural meshings accumulated over the centuries and combined with elements from the Greeks, Lycians, Carians, and Turks. The city’s prosperity came to an end long ago with the silting of the Dalyan River. Today, tourism may help to bring it back.
Founded in 400 BC by Dorian traders, Knidos was once one of the wealthiest cities in the ancient world! Well, not exactly so anymore. But there is still a rugged beauty to the place, and some ancient ruins endure, most notably what’s left of the statue of Aphrodite, the famous first nude representation of the Goddess, of much fame and sculpted by the master Praxiteles. Don’t expect to be too enraptured by the naked goddess of love, however, as only the foundations of her sculpture remain.
Built by Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, it’s amazing to think that this small castle once held over 200,000 troops, who were massed here for the siege of Rhodes in 1522. The siege, defended by the Knights of St. John who had their own substantial castle in nearby Bodrum, was successful, and the great Christian fortification in Bodrum, long the last Christian bastion at the Ottoman frontier, was packed up and most of its knights sent to exile in Malta. Today this castle houses a museum that is mostly nautical in nature, with an assortment of exhibits and some nice views out from atop the castle walls.