One of Turkey's most popular resort towns, the port
city of Kusadasi is famed for its sparkling turquoise water, bright
sun and large marina set on the Aegean Sea.
This inviting town has many restaurants and cafés overlooking
picturesque Pigeon Island, and a stroll along its waterfront
esplanade makes for a delightful afternoon. Surrounding beaches
such as Kadinlar Denizi offer white sand and beach chairs for rent,
but can be very crowded in the summer.
This is one of the world's most complete and
extraordinary excavations of a lost classical site. Dedicated to
the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, it flourished during the
Hellenistic period, and then later under Roman and Byzantine rule.
In the 13th century it was abandoned and buried by a series of
earthquakes. What has been unearthed includes a stadium with more
than 30,000 seats, the Temple of Aphrodite and Baths of
The Philosphers of Ionia
The southwest coast of
present-day Turkey was a province of Greece known in ancient times
as Ionia. It is a region rich with archaeological wonders, but is
also of great histroric significance as the site where the Ionian
School of Greek philosophy flourished in the 6th century B.C. This
intellectual epicenter of the pre-Socratic era greatly influenced
Western science and thought. Philosophers of the Ionian School
rejected the prevailing reliance on superstition and myth as a
means to explain phenomenon, instead promoting a naturalistic view
of the universe, the scientific method of inquiry and rational
thought. These giants of Western thought, including Thales,
Anaximander, Heraclitus, Anaxagoras and Diogenes, changed the
course of history through their teachings.
Assos is best known for its ruins of the Temple of
Athena, goddess of wisdom, justice and war. What's left of the
acropolis is wonderfully situated on a hill above a quaint
picturesque bay. It is also pleasant to stroll along the waterfront
of the small village below during your tour of Turkey, visit the
14th century mosque, and see the original defense walls, which can
only inspire respect for the masons who built this fortification
2,500 years ago.
Pergamum was a great ancient capital during the
Hellenistic period. Like nearly all great cities of Hellenistic
Greece it featured monumental public works such as a massive
outdoor theater, an imposing temple, a library, and an acropolis
crowning it all, this one modeled after the one in Athens. The
Great Alter of Pergamum, thought to be dedicated to Zeus, is
spectacular-however it is difficult to see on a trip to Turkey
since it is, in fact, housed in a museum in Berlin.
Many classical antiquities that originate in
present-day Turkey are on display in museums from New York to
London. Some were excavated and restored by European and American
archaeologists and removed with Turkish permission to museums
abroad, while others were carted off in wartime or by other
questionable means. Turkey is appealing for their return in many
cases. However, since the Turks were in the Altai Mountains (where
the Turkish people originated, near Mongolia) 3,000 miles to the
northeast when these structures were built, the antiquities would
arguably be more at home in present-day Greece.
Ranking the Ruins
With so many
spectacular Greco-Roman ruins along Turkey's west coast it can be
overwhelming trying to decide which to visit during a Turkey tour.
We recommend, in order of importance, Ephesus, Pergamum,
Aphrodisias, Aspendos, Perge and Assos.
If that doesn't quench
your thirst for antiquity, ask your Travel Specialist about
including a few more of the country's 60+ classical ruins on your
Turkey itinerary. Other top candidates would be Sagalassos, Knidos,
Priene, Patara, Sardis and Xanthos.
Çanakkale connects the Sea of Marmara to the
gorgeous Aegean. This port town is the gateway to Gallipoli and the
ancient archeological site of Troy. The locals don't seem to have
learned their lesson regarding accepting wooden horses as gifts: a
replica of the Trojan horse from the 2004 movie Troy
starring Brad Pitt as Achilles graces the waterfront.
This is the actual site where the legendary city of
Troy lay, immortalized in Homer's Iliad. It is a
fascinating stop for those traveling Turkey who possess a keen
interest in history or archaeology, but may prove underwhelming to
the casual observer. Troy has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage
site due to its historic significance.
During World War I, when Turkish troops were under the command
of their national hero Mustafa Kemal (later called Ataturk, Father
of the Turks) the Turkish army maintained the defense of the region
against the British, Australians and New Zealand forces. The
victory of the Turks effectively ended British hegemony in the
area. To honor the 100,000 soldiers who gave their lives, this
peninsula has been made a national park of remembrance, and its
Anzac Cemetery and memorial monuments are a moving and sobering