This is the only nation that straddles between Southeast Europe and Western Asia. Officially known as the Republic of Turkey, this nation is also the largest hazelnut exporter globally. Are you curious to know the 11 famous landmarks in Turkey?
In this post, we explore the famous landmarks in Turkey, the languages spoken, the best things to eat, the most beautiful city, and what souvenirs that you can buy in Turkey.
- Where is Turkey?
- What are the 10 Famous Landmarks in Turkey?
- Which is the official language of Turkey?
- What are the best things to eat in Turkey?
- Which is the most beautiful city in Turkey?
- What can I buy from Turkey?
- Is Turkey worth visiting?
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Where is Turkey?
The Republic of Turkey is a transcontinental country that bridges Europe and Asia. The highest point in Turkey is Mount Ararat. This point is where Noah’s Ark landed during The Great Flood.
Ankara is one of the oldest and continuously inhabited cities in the world. Remnants of several Bronze Age civilizations such as Hattians, Hurrians, and Assyrians. It was Ionian Greeks on the Anatolian Coast who founded the cities of Ephesus and Byzantium.
However, it was the Ottoman Empire that made Constantinople, which is now Istanbul its capital. The Ottoman Empire reached its peak under the reign of Suleiman, The Magnificent. Some famous landmarks in Turkey with Ottoman influence are the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and the Grand Mosque of Bursa.
Origin of Name
Turkey is from the medieval Latin term, Turquia. The term was first recorded in English as Turkye and later, Turkie. The earliest inscription referred to Turkey as “Türk”. The current spelling of “Turkey” dates back to 1719.
It is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that manages the visa applications and processing of visas in and to Turkey. To determine whether you require a visa, check out the Visa Information For Foreigners.
Turkey uses electronic visas (e-visas) obtained within minutes in three steps. The full list of countries that are eligible for the e-visa and the documents required would make your application easier.
The Visa Policy Map gives you a clearer picture of whether you need to apply for a visa before arriving in Turkey.
Do note that the e-visa is only applicable for tourism, transit, and business purposes. The citizens of these nations are eligible for the Visa On Arrival facility with the length of stay subject to their citizenship.
What are the 10 Famous Landmarks in Turkey?
We will now explore the 10 famous landmarks in Turkey that could be on your bucket list to Turkey when you visit, whether it’s your first time or not.
The first of our famous landmarks in Turkey is the Hagia Sophia. The Hagia Sophia Holy Grand Mosque is a place of worship that was the largest Christian Roman Church of the Byzantine Empire. It was Roman Emperor Justinian I who built the original structure between 532 to 537 AD. It has been a mosque and a church many times in the past. In 2020, it became a mosque.
In 1935, Turkey’s first president and founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk turned this landmark into a museum. It is Turkey’s Top 10 Most Visited Museum.
What makes Hagia Sophia unique?
It is the dome of Hagia Sophia that makes it unique. Four spherical pendentives carry the dome. The pendentives curve upwards which allows the lateral forces of the dome to flow downwards. The original dome collapsed during an earthquake in 558 AD. The only two sections from the dome which date back to 562 AD reconstructions are on the north and south sides.
The famous feature of Hagia Sophia is the light that reflects everywhere in the interior which gives the appearance of the dome hovering above the structure.
Is Hagia Sophia free to enter?
Hagia Sophia is now a mosque which means that entrance is FREE.
Tips on Visiting Hagia Sophia
- Avoid visiting on Fridays.
- Women should dress modestly. Headscarves are at the entrance and returned after your visit.
- The best time to visit is in the mornings when natural light brightens the interiors.
Do you know that a famous Viking left his mark at Hagia Sophia?
After traveling for 1,200 days, a Viking named Halvdan from Lofoten arrived at Istanbul and entered Hagia Sophia. As he was a Pagan, he began exploring Hagia Sophia. On the second floor, he began scratching onto a marble. The scratching on the marble was ‘Halvdan was here.’
Fairy Chimneys of Cappodocia
The second of our famous landmarks in Turkey are the Fairy Chimneys of Cappodocia. A fairy chimney is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin. Turkey’s fairy chimneys are located in Cappodocia, a city that ran through the ancient Silk Road. These mystical rock structures took a million years to make when volcanic ashes rained on what is now the town of Göreme.
The ash hardened into rocks covered in basalt. The basalt erode and formed these beautiful fairy chimneys. During the Christian persecution by the Romans, they hid beneath these rocks. There was a network of subterranean cities that at one time, housed 10,000 people and 10 levels deep. A narrow passageway connected the floors.
Stone Heads at Mount Nemrut
The third of our famous landmarks in Turkey are the Stone Heads at Mount Nemrut. Mount Nemrut is east of the Taurus Mountain ranges. This UNESCO World Heritage site is about 25 miles from the town of Kahta.
King Antiochus, I ruled the Commagene Kingdom and built this tomb sanctuary. He built a giant statue of himself, seated among the Greek and Iranian gods. The gods at this site are Heracles-Ares-Artagnes, Zeus-Oromasdes, and Apollo-Mithras-Helios-Hermes.
This site is the “Throne of Gods”. The best time to visit this site is from April to October. Dawn and dusk are the preferred time to visit as the stone heads turn gold from sun rays.
How far is Nemrut from Istanbul?
Mount Nemrut is about 738 miles from Istanbul. If driving, this journey can take up to 15 hours. Rome2Rio provides the other options you can take to get to Mount Nemrut.
Why is Nemrut Dagi important?
Nemrut Dağı is important as it is a stunning and iconic UNESCO Heritage Site that dates back to the 1st century. Check out the 10 Ways To Time Travel In Turkey and On The Trail of Ancient Wonders in Eastern Turkey to know more.
Thermal Pools of Pamukkale
The fourth of our famous landmarks in Turkey are the Thermal Pools of Pamukkale. Pamukkale or Cotton Castle is in southwestern Turkey in Denizli Province. This area is known for its thermal pools that have been visited by tourists since the 2nd century BC.
The terraces of these pools are made from travertine, limestone found in hot springs. There are 17 hot springs in this area with temperatures between 35°C (95°F) to 100°C (212°F).
The ancient city of Hierapolis was built above these formations. There are many Greek baths, temples, and monuments within this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What is the best time to visit Pamukkale?
The best time to visit the thermal pools of Pamukkale is during the spring months of April to mid-June. Tourists can expect dry and moderate weather with longer daylight hours. Tourists can also opt for the autumn months of mid-September to October.
Check out Turkey’s Pamukkale Thermal Pools Are Seriously Pretty and The Ultimate Guide To Pamukkale to know more about these pools.
Tombs of Myra
The fifth of our famous landmarks in Turkey is the Tombs of Myra. These tombs are in Demre, in Antalya Province. In this area, there are two necropolises, the river necropolis, and the ocean necropolis.
These rock-cut tombs were still painted until the 1840s. The “Lion’s Tomb” is the most popular as it contains 11 life-sized stone figures that are believed to be the owner and his family. Among the many Greek and Lycian inscriptions, one seems to have been carved in modern times.
The inscription is “Moschos loves Philiste, the daughter of Demetrios”. And, no, it was not carved yesterday.
Is there a Saint Myra?
There isn’t a Saint Myra. There is, however, Saint Nicholas of Myra. If you are wondering if Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus are the same person, you are correct.
Saint Nicholas of Myra is the name of a bishop who was born and grew up here. He is the patron saint of sailors, merchants, repentant thieves, children, and unmarried persons. He was known for his secret gift-giving habit. This gave rise to the modern tradition of Santa Claus.
Among his many legends include distributing his parent’s wealth to the poor, saving three innocent girls, and healing a withered hand.
The sixth of our famous landmarks in Turkey is Sumela Monastery. This monastery is dedicated to Virgin Mary and is 1,200 meters above sea level. It was founded by monks Barnabas and Sophronios. The monastery is famous for its painting of the Virgin Mary painted by the Apostle Luke.
Within the complex are the Rock Church, chapels, kitchens, student rooms, a guesthouse, and a sacred spring revered by the Eastern Orthodox Christians.
What does Sumela mean?
The name Sumela is derived from the Laz word which means “Trinity”. Another theory is that the name is from the Greek word, “melas” which means either dark or black. This could be about the mountain valley where the monastery is situated or the Virgin Mary known as the “Black Madonna”.
Ruins of Aphrodisias
The seventh of our famous landmarks in Turkey are the Ruins of Aphrodisias. These small ancient Greek city ruins are in the city of Caria, in southwestern Anatolia. The ruins are about 143 miles from the city of Izmir.
The city was dedicated to the goddess of Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Love. The image of Aphrodite is related to the Lady of the Ephesus, who was widely venerated in the Greco-Roman world as Artemis of Ephesus.
This site was built on an earthquake-prone area with several tremors recorded in the area between the 4th and 7th centuries. A 4th-century earthquake altered a water table below the city which made the city prone to flooding.
It was a 7th-century earthquake that created the most damage. The town fell into disrepair and was abandoned. The few important structures within the site that are worth visiting are the Temple of Aphrodite, the Monumental Gateway, the Odeon or Council House, and the stadium.
Ghost City of Ani
The eighth of our famous landmarks in Turkey is the Ghost City of Ani. This abandoned Armenia medieval city of Ani is in Kars Province, near the closed border of Armenia. Ani was the capital city of the Bagratid Kingdom and was called the “City of 1,001 Churches”.
At its peak, this iconic city had about 100,000 residents and was the largest at its time. The city was sacked by the Mongols and suffered a devastating earthquake which it never recovered. The city was abandoned. This archaeological site is located a mere 400 meters from the Armenia border.
This city that once fascinated travelers is now a city of ghosts. If you decide to make the trip here, be sure to visit the Cathedral of Ani, built-in 1001, and is the largest and most impressive architecture of this ghost town.
Other sites are the Church of St Gregory of Tigran Honents, Church of the Holy Redeemer, the Walls of Ani, and rock-cut Cave Villages of Ani.
The ninth of our famous landmarks in Turkey is the City of Troy. The present-day city of Troy is in Hisarlik which is about 19 miles southwest of Canakkale. This city is famous for its setting of the Trojan War in Greek mythology.
This city was already a tourist attraction during the Greek and Roman periods where visible Bronze Age ruins became a site for pilgrimage.
How much of Troy is true?
Greek poet Homer Troy and the Trojan Horse in his epics, The Iliad and The Odyssey. According to The Illiad, it was the abduction of Helen, the Queen of Sparta by Paris, who the Prince of Troy sparked a 10-year war.
However, German archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann was convinced that the ancient city of Troy was, in fact, in Hisarlik. He discovered the ancient cities of Troy that date back to the Bronze Age and the most notable artifact he found was Priam’s Treasure.
Ruins of Ephesus
The last of our famous landmarks in Turkey are the Ruins of Ephesus. This ancient city is located in Selçuk in Izmir Province. This site is recognized as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and is one of the Seven Churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
The ruins at Ephesus give an idea as to the splendor of this once bustling city. Some notable sites are the Temple of Artemis, the Library of Celsus, the Temple of Hadrian, and the tomb of John, the Apostle at the Basilica of St John.
Which is the official language of Turkey?
Article 3 of the Constitution of Turkey states that the official language is Turkish with 70% of its population speaking the language. Turkey is an ethnically diverse country which means that 30% of its speak the ethnic languages of Kurdish, Arabic, Kurmanji, and Zazaki.
Turkish is the 16th most spoken language in the world spoken by the people of Iran, Germany, North Macedonia, Syria, Greece, and Central Asia. The oldest Turkic inscriptions are in Mongolia and are the Orkhon Inscriptions.
Every year, the Turkish celebrate Turkish Language Day on 26th September which marks the day of the First Turkish Language Convention held in 1932.
How do you say hello in Turkish?
Hello in Turkey is “Merhaba” while good morning or good day is “Günaydın”. Good evening is “İyi akşamlar” while good night is “İyi geceler”.
How do you say thank you in Turkish?
Thank you is “Teşekkür ederim” while I don’t speak any Turkish is “Türkçe konuşamıyorum”.
What is the best thing to eat in Turkey?
This Şakşuka is not Shakshouka. Shakshouka is from an Arabic word that means “mixture”. The shakshouka which we know consists of olive oil, peppers, onions, and topped with poached eggs.
Şakşuka, on the other hand, is a side with eggplant as its main ingredient. This dish is made with green peppers, tomatoes, and doused with olive oil, and is suitable for vegetarians. It is served as an appetizer.
Check out Mad for Meze: The Definite Guide To Turkey’s Starters and the recipe at The Spruce Eats.
Doner Kebab is meat that is cooked over a vertical rotisserie. The outer layer of the meat is thinly sliced before serving. This cooking method dates back to the 17th century and was popular during the Ottoman Empire. Several versions of this dish with shawarma are the Arabic version while Gyros is the Greek version. The meat is stuffed and served as a kebab.
This dessert from the Ottoman Empire is popular in Iranian, Turkish, and Armenian cuisines. Baklava consists of pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds. Filo pastry covers the top layer. Pistachio Baklavas from the Gaziantep region is a patented dish of the European Commission. This is Turkey’s only dish to achieve that status.
Try this easy Baklava recipe at home and let me know how it turned out in the comments section below.
Which is the most beautiful city in Turkey?
Istanbul, the city that has captured the heart of over 13.4 million visitors in 2018 and is of the 50 Most Beautiful Cities in the World. Constantinople, Byzantium, and now Istanbul is Turkey’s cultural, economic, and historical center.
This city is unique in that it lies in both Europe and Asia. The city has ideally prepared for trade and defense as it sits on the confluence of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus, and the Golden Horn.
Istanbul has two different climates, a borderline Mediterranean climate, and an oceanic climate. This means it has cool winters with mild precipitation, warm, hot, and dry summers. Spring and Autumn are mild.
Istanbul is famous for its Byzantine and Ottoman architecture and multiple Roman, Greek, Byzantine, Muslim, and Jewish monuments. The most famous landmark in Turkey and Istanbul is the Hagia Sophia. The oldest monument is the Obelisk of Theodosius. The Roman Emperor Theodosius erected this ancient Egyptian obelisk in the 4th century AD to celebrate his victory over Mitanni.
Other than ancient monuments, Istanbul is home to many shopping bazaars, from the must-visit Grand Bazaar to the lesser-known bazaars of Beyazit. Let’s see what each bazaar has in store for us.
This market needs no further introduction. The Grand Market of Istanbul is the oldest marketplace in the world and is home to over 4,000 stalls.
Address: Beyazıt Entrance, Kalpakçılar Cd. No: 22, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Opening Hours: 8.30 am (every day, except Sunday) till 7.00 pm
This is another one of Turkey’s largest bazaars. About 85 stalls are selling a variety of spices, dried fruits, and nuts. This bazaar is an extension of the New Mosque.
After soaking in the aroma of fresh spices, head to Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi. This coffee shop has served coffee and filter coffee to locals for over 150 years.
Address: Rüstem Paşa, Erzak Ambarı Sok. No:92, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Opening Hours: 8.00 am (except Sunday) till 7.30 pm
Haji Bekir’s sweets became so famous that they reached the Ottoman Palace. The sixth generation of his family is currently running his company whilst maintaining their traditional family recipe.
Address: Dumlupınar, Ankara Cd. No:76, 34896 Pendik/İstanbul, Turkey
Opening Hours: 8.30 am till 6.30 pm
What is the best month to visit Turkey?
Spring in Turkey is from April to May. During these months, moderate temperatures abound. Tulip season is March to April where you can find gardens filled with vibrant colors of red and yellow.
The summer months are in June, July, and August in Turkey. These months are ideal for those who want to relax along the Mediterranean coasts. Temperatures reach a high of 48°C along the coasts while other areas may reach 40°C.
Autumn comes to Turkey from September till October. The days get shorter as the weather becomes colder from mid-September onwards. These are the best months to explore ancient and historical ruins as the crowds become fewer.
The chilly weather continues till December until winter arrives from January till March. In winter, central and east Turkey is covered in snow.
What can I buy from Turkey?
A trip to Turkey would not be complete without some souvenirs. And, Turkey has several shopping streets with varied items on sale.
Check out the Top 5 Shopping Streets in Istanbul and Why Luxury Brands Are Suddenly A Lot Cheaper In Turkey to know more.
In our next section, we give you the three best things to buy from Turkey. These souvenirs are suitable for gift-giving and perfect for your home (and, tummy!).
Blue Evil Eye
The first thing you would see and definitely buy in Turkey is the Nazar Boncuk. These charms are a blue glass field with a black dot superimposed on a white background. Boncuk means pearl while Nazar means evil eye. This evil eye charm is known as the “Pearl of the Look”.
An evil eye can be given in the guise of a compliment and related to the destructive powers of jealously. These amulets are sought after as a souvenir. This is because of the belief that they have the power to protect against malefic gaze and negative energies by absorbing them.
Do you know that the symbol of the Turkish evil eye is from the Eye of Horus?
According to ancient Egyptian art, the Eye of Horus has protective magical powers. Fishermen use the Eye of Horus as a form of protection. The symbol used in jewelry protects its wearers against any evil eyes and ill will.
This delectable confection made from sugar and starch is distinctively Turkish. These sweets are rāḥat al-ḥulqūm means “comfort to the throat”. Chopped dates, pistachios, hazelnuts, and walnuts are used to make these sweets. The final process involves combining the nuts with a sugar gel. Rosewater, lemon, and, orange are flavoring agents.
And, if you are curious, try the recipe from All Recipes.
The third thing you can buy in Turkey is these beautiful lamps. These lamps are entirely handmade. These lamps are made from cut mosaic pieces that are glued onto the lamp. The best places to buy these gorgeous lamps are at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
Grand Bazaar Shopping Tips:
- When shopping for these lamps at the Grand Bazaar, make sure you haggle and confirm the price before making any payment.
- Don’t buy from the first stall you see. Walk around and you will be surprised to find the product you are looking for at a cheaper price. Always take your time, talk to the merchants and plan what you want to see or buy before coming to the bazaar.
- It is best to arrive here in the morning when the shops are just opening or late evening as the stalls wind down for business. Avoid mid-day shopping unless you want to shop with at least 400,000 people.
- If you fall in love with something, just haggle and buy it. Why? I’m sure you do not want to live with the regret of not buying something you loved. Secondly, that piece you love may be the last item which means you may see it if you are in Istanbul for the second time.
- With persistent vendors and a multitude of shops, the atmosphere may be overwhelming. Stay calm, walk away, and have some Turkish tea while taking a break from shopping here.
Is Turkey worth visiting?
Absolutely! Why, do you ask?
With beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, and delicious cuisine, there is more to Turkey than the Hagia Sophia and Baklava. In 2018, Turkey had about 42 million tourist arrivals. Here’s a list of why Turkey should be on your bucket list:-
- It’s People. The people here are famous for their hospitality and would always invite you for a cup of coffee or tea. Check out the 5 Important Safety Tips to Turkey to know more.
- Off-the-beaten-path tourist sites. From the Ghost City of Ani to the stone heads of Mount Nemrut and the Sumela Monastery, Turkey has retained the charm of still having a lot to discover.
- Hammam. Hammam’s have been in Turkey since Ancient Greek and Roman times. Check out the Best Baths in Instanbul to know more.
What is Turkey famous for?
If there is one thing Turkey is famous for, it is the Sufi whirling dervishes. It was Jelaluddin Rumi who founded this dance form. The Mevlevi Order maintains this dance tradition and its multiple rituals. The first ritual is dhikr which is a recitation of a devotional Islamic prayer. It is during this ritual that the dances reach a state of “ecstatic trance”.
The second ritual is that of sama which is listening or “hearing the sounds of the spiritual realm” so to speak. The practice of sama began around the 3rd century in Baghdad. The UNESCO proclaimed that the Mevlevi Sema Ceremony as one of Turkey’s Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Check out this Konya City Tour and experience the Sufi Whirling Dervishes for yourself!
Do you know who Rumi is?
Jelaluddin Rumi, Mowlana Rumi, or simply Rumi is a Persian poet, Sufi mystic, Islamic scholar, and Maturidi theologian whose works have transcended borders and languages. Rumi was born to Persian parents in present-day Afghanistan.
I’ll end this post with a quote from Rumi: