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Turkey – The Land of Ancient Civilizations

Oct 24, 2010 | Europe, Our Travels | 0 comments

Turkey’s incredible history dates back to pre-historic times, ever since the first man was seen on earth. It was remarkable to see so many sites under excavation, each one of them more incredible than the next. One could spend weeks touring all of the sites to be found in Turkey. Below are the ones we saw in just 3.5 days. We spent a lot of time in the car driving to and from each destination. I would recommend doing this trip over a longer period of time.

Troy

After overnighting in Cannakale, we headed to the legendary city of Troy where Greek and Trojan heroes fought the Trojan War—the first of many ancient sites that we would see. You are probably familiar with the story of the Trojan Horse and the role it played in the burning of Troy in 1200 BC. The horse in the picture below was donated to the city of Troy, after it was used in the Brad Pitt movie depicting the battle, and stands prominently near the city center.

Troy’s history goes as far back as 3,000 BC and excavations are visible of Troy I through Troy IX, the Troy of the Roman period.

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Pergamum

Turkey – The Land of Ancient Civilizations 3Pergamum, dating back to 301 B.C., is where parchment was first invented. Pergamum once boasted the greatest library of the ancient world, given by Anthony to Cleopatra, which held 200,000 scrolls. Both the Asclepion , the center for healing (similar to a modern day wellness center),  and the Acropolis of Pergamum are world famous.

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Pamukkale

A 2.5 hour drive from Kusadasi, this tourist site is very popular for its healing, hot mineral springs. The calcium rich waters flowing down the side of the mountain have built up deposits of white travertine over time, creating what looks like a white mountain.  Pools of water have been naturally created that tourists can dip their feet into or they can pay to swim in the government run spring baths. This was an ancient health resort for the Romans in 133 B.C.

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Aphrodisias

Dating back to the 2nd century B.C., Aphrodisias was dedicated to the goddess of love, Aphrodite. It became a cultural and artistic hub known for its exquisite marble sculptures made from quarries of beautiful white and blue-gray marble that lay about a mile east of the city. Sculptures produced in Aphrodisias were exported as far as North Africa and Rome.

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There are some memorable ruins at this location and the museum displaying some of the artwork created here is very interesting. The Stadium (not shown) was one of the finest ancient stadiums ever built and it is the best preserved of all ancient stadiums in the Mediterranean. Seating 30,000 people, it is 860 x 194 ft—large enough to hold chariot races and Olympic style games.Below is a picture of the Theatre at Aphrodisias

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Ephesus

Ephesus is among the best preserved classical cities of the Mediterranean, and one of the best places in the world to get a feeling for what life was like in Roman times. Its Temple of Artemis was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ephesus was one of the greatest cities of antiquity with a population approaching 100,000. It encompassed everything that was necessary for education, politics, entertainment, sport, and the good life in general.

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Pay the extra fee to see the recent excavations of the luxurious mansions, decorated with mosaics and frescoes.

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Since all cruise ships in Turkey stop in either Kusadasi or Izmir and bus people to the site, you have to share the ruins with thousands of tourists. I would suggest opting for a private tour as opposed to booking this tour on a cruise ship.

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Also in Ephesus (about 10 minutes from the ruins), you can visit the house where the Virgin Mary spent the last years of her life.
A tour of Turkey and the ancient ruins should be on your “bucket” list.  It is an amazing country to go back in time and imagine what life was like in the Roman times and before.  I work with a wonderful tour company that can customize your entire experience. I learned a lot from this trip and have some recommendations on itineraries and how best to experience Turkey based upon the amount of time you have to spend there. Contact me today for help in planning your dream trip.