Must-Visit Attractions in Turkey

As the meeting point of Europe and Asia, Turkey has diverse architecture and monuments plus a fascinating history
As the meeting point of Europe and Asia, Turkey has diverse architecture and monuments plus a fascinating history | © Gaertner / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Feride Yalav-Heckeroth
4 September 2021

Having witnessed the rise and fall of many empires as well as the lives of many different cultures and religions, Turkey is chock-full of historical wonders. From abandoned monasteries and ancient cities to the most popular touristic structures, check out this round-up of the most important attractions in the country where Europe and Asia meet.


Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Ruins of old bridge and fortress at Hasankeyf, Eastern Anatolia, Turkey
© Michele Burgess / Alamy Stock Photo

Hasankeyf is an ancient town that runs alongside the Tigris River, and you should witness the stunning remains from the Artuqid period before a dam project floods it.


Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark
Historic centre of Mardin, Southeastern Anatolia Region, Anatolia, Turkey
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

The narrow streets, historic stone houses and hidden churches of Mardin are absolutely mesmerising.

Alahan Monastery

Alahan Monastery, 4. century A.D., Mut Mersin Turkey
© Images & Stories / Alamy Stock Photo
The Alahan Monastery dates back to the fifth century and is one of the best examples of Isaurian stonemasonry, hidden away at an altitude of 1,200m (4,000ft).


Historical Landmark
Ruins of the ancient capital of Bagradit Armenian Kingdom, Ani, in Kars, Turkey.
© MehmetO / Alamy Stock Photo

This once magnificent Medieval Armenian city may lie in ruins, but the remains continue to stun visitors, especially because of their location in the idyllic Kars province landscape.


Historical Landmark
Abandoned houses, village of Kayakoy
© Plrang GFX / Alamy Stock Photo

An ancient city once inhabited by a Greek-speaking population, Kayaköy is now a stunning ghost town with two beautiful Eastern Orthodox churches.


Historical Landmark
Traditional Ottoman villas of Safranbolu, Turkey. A UNESCO World Heritage Site
© funkyfood London - Paul Williams / Alamy Stock Photo

A Unesco World Heritage site, the city of Safranbolu is home to very well-preserved Ottoman-era houses and architecture.

Sumela Monastery

Sumela monastery one of the most impressive sights in the whole Black Sea region, in Altindere Valley, Trabzon province, Turkey.
© Hercules Milas / Alamy Stock Photo
Built into a steep cliff in the Trabzon province, the Greek Orthodox Sumela Monastery is not only beloved for the architecture but also the frescoes.


Architectural Landmark
Aerial view of Rumkale and Euphrates River, Halfeti, Turkey
© Sadik Yalcin / Alamy Stock Photo

Once a powerful fortress on the Euphrates river, Rumkale continues to amaze because of its location across a glistening blue peninsula.


Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Domed houses of the town Harran in Sanliurfa, Turkey.
© MehmetO / Alamy Stock Photo

Şanlıurfa is a stunning city where historic structures (dating as far back as 304BCE) stand alongside modern constructions, and the excellent cuisine reflects the deep history.


Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
© Hackenberg-Photo-Cologne / Alamy Stock Photo

Çıralı is not only known for its gorgeous beach but also the remains of the ancient Lycian city of Olympos, which is believed to have been constructed around the fourth century BCE.

Alanya Kalesi

Historical Landmark
Fortress in the city of Alanya (Alanya Kalesi).
© Sergey Fedoskin / Alamy Stock Photo

This beautiful castle was built in 1226 under the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum and continues to overlook the city from a rocky peninsula.


Library of Celsus, elevated view, Ephesus, Turkey
© Visions from Earth / Alamy Stock Photo
This ancient Greek city is among the most visited historical sites in the world due to the excellent state of the magnificent structures there.


Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Exterior of The Roman amphitheatre of Aspendos Turkey
© funkyfood London - Paul Williams / Alamy Stock Photo

This ancient Greco-Roman city in the Antalya province continues to wow with an incredibly well-preserved theatre.


Archaeological site
Trajan temple in ancient city of Pergamon in Turkey.
© Murat Tegmen / Alamy Stock Photo

Once a powerful ancient Greek city, the ruins of Pergamon, a Unesco World Heritage site, continue to amaze visitors.

Mevlana Museum

Mevlana Museum, Konya, Central Anatolia, Turkey
© Joana Kruse / Alamy Stock Photo
The mausoleum of the famous Sufi mystic and poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi is a hugely important attraction in Konya.

Nemrut Dağı

Historical Landmark
Head of Zeus, Mount Nemrut Dagi National Park, Turkey
Nemrut Dağı National Park is known for its statues | © Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy Stock Photo
At the summit of this 2,134m-high (7,001ft) mountain is a collection of ancient sculptures believed to be a royal tomb.


Historical Landmark
Anitkabir memorial to Kemal Ataturk founder of Turkish Republic Ankara central Anatolia
© Peter Forsberg / Alamy Stock Photo
The mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is a true feat of architecture.

Aya Sofya

Elevated view of Aya Sofya (Sancta Sophia), UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey, Europe
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
A visit to Istanbul would not be complete without exploring this stunning Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal basilica that now serves as a museum.


Historical Landmark
© Jakob Fischer / Alamy Stock Photo
The hot spring and pure white travertines of Pamukkale have become an iconic image associated with Turkey.
These recommendations were updated on September 4, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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