7 must-see UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey

The Celsus Library in Ephesus, Izmir. (Shutterstock Photo)

Source: Daily Sabah

BY ARGUN KONUK
TRAVEL MAR 05, 2021

Not many people know the nation of Turkey has 18 of the protected locations, among the most in the world, with more on the waiting list. Today, we will take a look into seven of these most fascinating spots

At the beginning of 2020, I set a personal travel target to visit all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey. So far, I have crossed 11 out of 18 off my list. You can check out our “World Heritage in Turkey” series to see how many you’ve seen so far as well!

Turkey’s cultural and historical diversity is stunning to many. Every square inch of this land, known also as the “cradle of civilizations,” abounds with history. You look around and easily come across ancient Greek ruins in one direction, the remains of an ancient Roman city in another direction all while being surrounded by glorious Ottoman structures. Throughout the past centuries, many kingdoms and empires fought for the rulership of Asia Minor. The Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, Anatolian Beyliks and Ottomans are only the tip of the iceberg. In addition to these historic settlers, countless figures and empires reigned over Anatolia.

Aphrodisias is one of the most well-preserved ancient cities in Turkey. It is located in the town of Karacasu, a part of the Western (Aegean) Turkish province of Aydın.

The oldest artifacts unearthed in Aphrodisias show that the earliest human activity in the area dates back to 5000 B.C. The lush valley, cut by the Dandalaz River, upon which Aphrodisias was built was settled by the ancient Greeks in the sixth century B.C. By the second century B.C., when the city received the name Aphrodisias, it was one of the most important cities in the Carian Province of the Roman Empire.

Besides its marvelous intact ruins and massive size, Aphrodisias also boasts one of the best-preserved stadiums of the ancient Greek world, with a seating capacity of 30,000.

It became the center for the cult of Aphrodite, for whose worship the Temple of Aphrodite was constructed. A magnificent sculpture of Aphrodite stood within this temple sanctuary that attracted people from all over Ancient Greece.

You’ll also find Aphrodisias has an abundance of meticulously carved artisanal sculptures that were produced in the Sculpture School within the ancient city. Sculptors in Aphrodisias were highly advanced given the abundance of marble reserves around the city. These reserves made the city relatively wealthy, which is reflected in all the monuments, sculptures and other works that are still gloriously standing. Most of these date back as early as the first century B.C., defying the centuries and disruptive natural elements.

Before commencing your visit, I highly recommend you to stop by the Aphrodisias Museum, located inside the ancient city, which has one of the most impressive collections of artifacts unearthed during the excavations in Aphrodisias.

Compared to other heritage sites on this list, Aphrodisias is relatively undiscovered among tourists, yet at a time that socializing is limited by the COVID-19 pandemic, you can benefit from the unpopularity of this site and safely visit it.

Read further

Additional reading and viewing

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Categories: Asia, Europe, Travel, Travel News, Turkey

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