Ephesus and Aphrodisias – The Ancient Ruins of Turkey

Historic Cities in Turkey: Where to Go

Excursions in Turkey: Ephesus

Ancient relics left by Romans and Greeks in modern Turkey could be very interesting pastime which will especially appeal to tourists who like architecture, art, and civilization of the past. We invite you to rich sightseeing tours all over Turkey with first class guides!

Below is a list of the 10 most interesting ancient ruins to visit in Turkey:

1. Ephesus The partially reconstructed Celsus Library is a true wonder of Ephesus, located in the heart of a fertile valley and formerly a major trading center of the ancient world. Today the ruins surround the village of Selcuk, serving as a base for many travelers. The city features theaters, columns, and ancient Greek temples, making it one of the most interesting open-air museums in Turkey.

A boat trip along the Lycian islands of Dalyan, Mira, and Fethiye offers a series of classical temples carved into the vertical cliffs. The Lycians treated the burial as an art, and their tombs stand out for their interesting and detailed decoration.

In Central Anatolia the Hittites once ruled, and their place of worship was Yazylikaya, a sanctuary with a series of carved images of deities in the rocks. The site is near Boğazköy and contains two galleries: a 13th century open-air pantheon of gods and goddesses and a large gallery in which evidence has been found that the Hittites also adopted gods from other cultures, namely Mesopotamian and Hurrian.

4. Hierapolis the “Holy City” Hierapolis is near the modern city of Denizli and is very popular with tourists who come here to admire the ancient theaters, white terraces of ruined houses and stone pillars. People have been coming here for ages because of the hot springs that are believed to have healing properties and were given to them by Pluto, the god of the underworld.

5. The Monasteries of Cappadocia All those interested in the ancient ruins should see the monasteries of Cappadocia, an ancient network of caves and chapels that were carved in the soft rock of Cappadocia. These rocky landscapes were once home to the first Christians fleeing Roman persecution. By the 4th century the monasteries were a system of underground houses, churches, stables, and warehouses. The monks worked tirelessly, decorating their dwellings with biblical frescoes that can still be seen today.

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6. The builders of Aphrodisias took advantage of the close proximity of the quarries and endowed the ancient city of love with a wealth of Hellenistic sculptures and monuments. In the quiet open-air museum you can feel the spirit of the ancient world and see the ruins of the temple dedicated to Aphrodite. The ruins of the city, destroyed by an earthquake in the 7th century, are located in Western Anatolia.

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7. St. John’s Basilica Located near the ancient ruins of Ephesus, the Basilica of St. John was one of the most revered religious sites during the Middle Ages. According to legend, the basilica was built in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian on the spot where St. John was buried. Over the centuries, the church has undergone destruction, in 1330 it was converted into a mosque, and in 1402 it was almost destroyed by the Mongols. Today visitors can witness the majestic ruins of a building that once possessed mesmerizing beauty.

8. Pergamum The ruins of this once thriving metropolis still retain the outlines of its former glory: the ancient library, the columns of the temple of Trojan, the public theater and the superb Acropolis amaze everyone. The place is located near the modern city of Bergama in the western province of Izmir and is popular among tourists.

9. Sardis When western Turkey was the center of a thriving ancient civilization, Sardis was a bustling metropolis and capital of Lydia. Throughout history, the city was a trading center or acted as a citadel where the ruler of Lydia resided. Since 1958, scientists from Harvard University and Cornell University have been excavating, revealing to the world the history of this ancient place.

10. Troy Located in northwestern Anatolia, Troy is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. According to ancient Greek legends, Troy was the center of the Trojan War, a notable Greek myth. The site was discovered in 1793 and is the subject of much scientific debate. Whatever these ruins really are, they are capable of awakening a passion for archaeology in everyone.

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Top 10 most famous Roman monuments in Turkey ?

Top 10 famous Roman monuments in Turkey? 1

The star of Roman sites in Turkey, without a doubt, can be called Ephesus, once an Ionian city, bequeathed to the Romans in 133 BC by King Attalos III. As the capital of the Roman territories in Asia, Ephesus was second in size only to Rome itself.

Ephesus has preserved such famous monuments of Roman culture as the Roman theater and the library of Celsus, built in the second century AD. But what really makes Ephesus fascinating is the stunning houses excavated by archaeologists in their entirety with wall murals and mosaic floors. Nowhere else can you so immerse yourself in the lives of wealthy first- and second-century AD Romans.

? Aphrodisias

Turkey's Top 10 Most Famous Roman Monuments ? 3

Aphrodisias was a city that supported the Romans during the war in exchange for its own freedom and the possibility of self-government. Today it is second only to Ephesus in its historical significance. It is worth visiting Afrodisisias in spring, when the ruins of the ancient Roman stadium are covered with beautiful poppies in bloom. Because of its geographical location, Aphrodisisias is less crowded with tourists, so you can enjoy the view of the ancient theater and the Odeon in peace.

? Hierapolis (Pamukkale)

Top 10 the most famous Roman monuments of Turkey ?? 5

In the rush to admire the famous travertines of Pamukkale, many travelers forget that it was once the location of the hotly beloved thermal center of the Romans. On this site are still buildings, along with the ancient theater and necropolis, stretching for two whole kilometers. And in a small local museum you can admire small Roman statues and sarcophagi.

? Bergama

Top 10 most famous Roman monuments in Turkey ?? 7

Bergama, the ancient city of Pergamon, is, in a sense, a sleeping beauty among the Roman sites in Turkey. Tourists too often overlook it, and in vain. Recently, these places have become more accessible thanks to a funicular railway that leads directly to the acropolis. It is also famous for the ruins of the enormous Temple of Trajan. But perhaps its most interesting attraction is the theater, specifically located at an angle to the mountain slope to evoke a dizzying experience in the audience. Of course, we should not leave out the museum at Bergama, which displays some finds from Allianoia, a nearby Roman thermal spa. Unfortunately, the resort itself was overtopped by a reservoir in 2011.

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? Patara

Top 10 most famous Roman monuments in Turkey ?? 9

The Lycian settlement of Patara surrendered to the Roman general Brutus in 42 B.C. He entered the city through a magnificent city gate, which is still intact today. With its picturesque ruins that stretch all the way down to the beach, it’s a place for romantics in particular. There are also the old odeon and the huge granaries, built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian (117-138), whose traces can be found in many of the Turkish settlements.

? Arukanda

Top 10 most famous Roman monuments in Turkey ?? 11

The city, originally belonging to the Lycians, was conquered by the Romans in 43 A.D. Without a shadow of a doubt, it is one of the true treasures of Turkey, although located off the main roads. Perhaps that is why many travelers are not destined to see either the ancient theater or the stadium towering over the mysterious ruins of Arukanda.

? Termessos

Top 10 most famous Roman monuments in Turkey ? 13

Hidden high in the mountains above Antalya, Termessos is perhaps one of the most memorable Roman sites in Turkey. Originally inhabited by mysterious Psidians, Termessos was able to withstand the onslaught of Alexander the Great, but still fell to the Romans in 70 B.C. The town nevertheless managed to maintain a part of its independence. One of the main attractions of Termessos is the theater, which was remodeled by the Romans. It was set so high that the audience must have felt as if they were floating in the clouds.

Top 10 most famous Roman monuments in Turkey ?? 15

Modern Side is better known as a resort destination, but in recent years a huge effort has been made to restore the impressive Roman city that was once located here. The huge theater was reopened to the public. You can admire the unusual fountain and several ruined temples, two of which stand right on the beach. It is also worth checking out the small museum located in a former bathhouse.

? Perge

Top 10 most famous Roman monuments in Turkey ?? 17

Like Side, Perge was occupied by the Romans in the second century BC, not without the help of local pirates. There are extensive ruins on the site, which is why it is worth spending more time than local tours offer. Here you can stroll along the ancient Roman road with its small stores, ending with an elegant fountain. Like Aphrodisias, Perge was famous for its sculptors, whose best works can be seen in the Antalya Museum.

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? Aspendos

Top 10 most famous Roman monuments in Turkey ?? 19

One of the reasons to get to know this city better is the huge theater, built in the second century AD by Zeno. This theater differs from the others in that it has a stage with a solid background rather than overlooking the city or the beautiful landscape, as the Greeks, for example, built it. During the Seljuk period the theater was turned into a caravanserai, but in spite of that, it has survived and can be used even now. If you have a little more time, be sure to check out the nearby Roman aqueduct.

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