HomeEurope10 Most Iconic Historical Sites In Turkey 

10 Most Iconic Historical Sites In Turkey 

Turkey has the most diverse historical timeline as it witnessed the rise and fall of several empires. Most of the historical sites in Turkey carry roots from Roman Empire, Byzantine, Seljuk, and the Great Ottoman Empire. 

The legacy of Turkish history can be well defined by the numerous historical ruins, religious monuments, medieval architecture, and some abandoned villages. 

Turkey’s most famous historical places include the Grand mosque of Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Ephesus, and the Cappadocia.

To help you get started, we have selected the 10 most iconic historical sites in Turkey.

Top 10 Historical Sites in Turkey

1. Topkapi Palace

Topkapi palace

Sultan Mehmed II constructed Topkapi Palace in 1459 following the 1453 conquest of Constantinople. The structure of this palace shows the wonderful Ottoman Style architecture with multiple courtyards.

It served as the major political and social residence during the Ottoman region. Nonetheless, it also houses a mosque, hospital, and mint. There are 400 rooms in the Sultan’s harem where his wife and concubines used to reside. 

Today, Topkapi Palace is a museum and has a collection of Muslim as well as Christian relics alongside more than 13,400 manuscripts.  

Notable Collections:

  • Belongings of Prophet Mohammad 
  • Pot of Prophet Ibrahim(Abraham)
  • Turban of Prophet Yusuf(Joseph)
  • Sword of Dawud(David)
  • Hazrat Fatimah”s Cloth

How To Reach:

Situated in Old Istanbul and just a few walking distances away from the grand mosque Hagia Sophia.

Grab a taxi and stop at Gulhane Parki or reach via tram by using terminal 1 and stop at Gulhane Istasyonu. Gulhane Istasyonu is just 5 minutes walking distance away from Topkapi Palace.  

Also Read: 10 Most Beautiful Mosques In Turkey That Are Not To Be Missed

2. Aspendos


Aspendos is among the most popular historical sites in Turkey. According to some historians, Aspendos is one of the well-preserved theatres in the world.

The theatre was constructed between 161 to 80 AD during the golden age of Aspendos. It is located just 44 km away from the city of Antalya and lies in southern Turkey.  

Later the theatre was used by the Seljuk empire as caravansarai during the region of Sultan Alauddin Keykubad I. Today several events and festivals are held in this theatre including concerts, live shows, and operas. 

How To Reach:

There are three options to get here, via bus or car/Taxi.

Take public transport directly from the Antalya Airport or a taxi for comfortable travel. The Antalya airport is around 38 km away from the Aspendos Theatre.

3. Hagia Sophia

Aya Sofia

Hagia Sophia is one of the most prominent Islamic historical sites in Turkey. It was built in 537 as a cathedral church and later converted into a mosque by Sultan Mehmet Fatih.

However, it was converted into a museum in 1934 to promote secularism in Turkey. It was reconverted into a mosque in 2020 by Turkish President “Recep Tayyip Erdogan”.

Even being a place Muslim site of worship, Haghia Sophia allows visitors from all faiths and ethnicities. 

The Grand Mosque symbolizes the influences of both Christian and Muslim architecture.

How To Reach:

Sits in the heart of the historic city of Istanbul. Can be accessible via 0-3 and D020 roads.

Take the tram from Istanbul airport which will take you here within 45 minutes at the Sultanahmet tram. Complete the remaining 5-minute distance on foot.

Also Read: 11 Best Beach Resorts in Turkey to amaze you!

4. Ephesus


Located in the East Mediterranean region is the historic city of Ephesus. The roots of Ephesus date back to Ancient Greece till it became the capital of the Roman Empire. 

While visiting this incredible city, you may even feel like living in the same era of the Roman Empire. 

Today, the city is home to some of the oldest yet well-preserved Greek and Roman architectures. 

Ephesus is no less than a treasure for history geeks as it allows visitors to explore several middle-age architectures including ancient temples, stadiums, some old houses, and community buildings. 

Top Attractions:

  • Basilica of St. John
  • Ayasuluk Fortress 
  • Isa bey Mosque 
  • Remains of Artemis Temple
  • Meryemana (pilgrimage site of Maryam)

How To Reach:

Located in the center of Selcuk(Seljuk) and is only 6 minutes walking distance away from 1045 and around a 2-minute drive away from Cd./D550.

If you are coming from Istanbul, then reach here within 5 hours by taking 0-5 road. 

5. Mount Nemrut

Mount Nemrut

Mount Nemrut is a massive mountain with a height of over 2,400 meters above sea level. There is a bunch of majestic Iranian and Greek Gods sculptures sitting at the top of the mountain. 

The Statues were built by Antiochus I who later placed them at the top of the mountain. He was a self-proclaimed God, thus he added his own statue too. 

These statues remained undiscovered for many years but it later discovered by archeologists and are now one of the top tourist attractions in Turkey.

How To Reach:

Adiyaman is the closest city to Mount Nemrut which can only be accessible from the city of Ankara and Istanbul.

Get here by rented car which will cost you around ₺580 to ₺750 Turkish Lira. 

Also Read: 10 Best Historical Sites In The United States To Visit

6. Mardin


Situated in the southern region of Turkey, Mardin is another most important historical town in the country. 

The city is bordered by Syria and Iraq, thus it is known to have a perfect blend of different cultures and religions. 

Also, Mardin remained under the rule of many empires including the Ottoman, Roman, Byzantine, Babylon, Persia, and Assyria. 

Top Attractions:

  • Ulu Cami
  • Mardin Muzesi
  • Old Bazaar 
  • Sakip Sabanci CIty museum
  • Tellalar Carsisi

How To Reach:

The airport is around 20 km away from main Mardin city. It can also be accessed via bus from some major cities like Istanbul and Ankara.

7. Ani


Ani is an ancient city based in the eastern province of Turkey, bordered by Armenia. It is an open-air museum offering a range of things to explore. 

Ani was established between the 10 to 11 centuries and houses over 50 churches, 20 chapels, and 30 caves in total. 

According to Archaeologists, there are more than 1000 structures that are yet to be discovered in Ani. 

The first thing you will see, the moment you arrive in Ani are the majestic City Walls. 

Head towards the main road and witness the most remarkable architecture of Ani, the Cathedral. 

Best Time To Visit: May and September 

Top Attractions:

  • Kars Castle
  • Tigran Honents Church 
  • Saint Gregory Church 
  • Kizkale Church 

How To Reach:

Ani is accessible from both Istanbul and Ankara. First, get yourself to Karas from Istanbul. 

  • Istanbul to Kars: You can reach Kars either via flight or bus. The flight will take around 2 hours to reach here, while the direct bus will take 19 hours to reach. 
  • Ankara to Kars: the flight from Ankara will only take 1.5 hours and a direct public bus will take 15 hours.
  • Kars to Ani: Take a shuttle bus from Cihangir Zade Cafe which hardly takes 45 minutes to reach Ani.

Also Read: Discover The 12 Best Historical And Beautiful Places In France

8. Grand Bazaar

Grand bazar

The old Grand Bazar is one of the significant historical sites in Istanbul and is the most popular place to shop. The Bazaar is held in the 500-year-old building. 

Primarily, there are jewelry and carpet shops in the Grand Bazaar in addition to some souvenir and dessert shops. 

The has a total of 67 streets and over 3000 shops, which can be difficult for first-timers to locate directions.

As a first-timer, don’t hesitate to bargain while purchasing a product or you may end up paying a higher price. By Bargaining, you can earn a discount of 10% to 20%. 

Opening Hours: 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM 

Things To Buy:

  • Turkish rugs and carpets 
  • Jewelry 
  • Iznik Tiles 
  • Handbags 
  • Kaftans 
  • Turkish Delight 

How To Reach:

You can easily reach here from Sultanahmet. Follow the route from Nuruosmaniye street. From Nurousmaniye street, pass through the mosque and enter gate number 1. 

Another option is to take the tram that will drop you at Beyazit tram station. The tram station will lead you towards gate number 7.

9. Cappadocia


Cappadocia is arguably one of the best sites to visit in Turkey if especially for its geographical setting. The roots of Cappadocia goes back to the early Christian region.

There is an endless list of things to do in Cappadocia including rock churches and some Roman architecture.  

Nonetheless, there are some natural formations that are worth exploring. Many of the natural sites are believed to be formed more than a million years ago. 

If you are here, then don’t forget to take a hot air balloon tour which is widely popular among international tourists. 

Apart from this, do visit the underground cities which were initially built to hide from Romans. 

Best Time To Visit: September to October

Things To Do:

  • Witness Sunrise from Cappadocia Hotel 
  • Tour to Pigeon Valley and Love Valley 
  • A Visit to Open Air Museum
  • Visit the Underground cities 
  • Carpet Shopping

How To Reach:

Cappadocia is located in heart of Turkey in central Anatolia. It is 726 km away from the city of Istanbul. There are numerous options to get here including flights, rented cars, and buses.

Also Read: 10 Must-visit Historical Places In Spain

10. Hattusa


Situated just a few distances away from the Turkish capital “Ankara, Hattus is around 2,300 historical sites.

Hattusa played one of the most important roles in shaping the history of ancient Egypt and Babylon. The people of Hattusa i.e Hittites are the same people who went against the cruel Pharaohs of Egypt.  

Hattusa is a perfect place for a day trip if one is willing to explore something other than tourist sites. In fact, it made into the 2022 list of best historical sites to visit in Turkey .

How To Reach:

It is best advised to get here in your own car as it is much easier. However, you can hire a taxi but it may cost you 60 to 70 Turkish lira. 

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Recent Comments