9 Ancient Sites and Cities You Should Visit in Turkey

A panorama of the famous Termessos theater
A panorama of the famous Termessos theater | © Chris Walsh / Flickr

The number of ancient sites in Turkey is truly staggering. Here are some of the most popular and some of the more remote (though equally stunning) ancient sites in Turkey.


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The magnificent Celsus Library in Ephesus | © michael.berlin / Flickr
Certainly the most popular and well-preserved of the archeological sites, Ephesus dates back to the 10th century, and combines Greek, Roman, and early Christian culture. Its most famous structures are the Library of Celsus and the Temple of Artemis, as well as the nearby House of the Virgin Mary.

Göbekli Tepe

Archaeological site
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The main excavation site at Göbekli Tepe | © Dan Merino / Flickr
Discovered by German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt in 1994, Göbekli Tepe was an astounding find that completely altered what was known about prehistory. It’s believed that the temple structures were built about the 10th millennium BCE, and therefore are the oldest example of such large-scale architecture in the world.


Archaeological site
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The captivating theater of Termessos | © Panegyrics of Granovetter / Flickr
Another very well-preserved ancient site, Termessos is famous for its theater that looks out over the breathtaking Taurus Mountains, at an altitude of more than 1000 meters. Once a Psidian city, the site is almost entirely concealed by beautiful pine forests.


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Tetrapylon, entrance gate to Aphrodisias | © oarranzli / Flickr
The ancient Greek city of Aphrodisias took its much-deserved place on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2017, but continues to remain quite unknown to travelers. Named after Aphrodite, the goddess of love, the site’s most stunning structure is the Temple of Aphrodite.


Archaeological site
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The beautiful ancient city of Hierapolis in summer | © Chris Parfitt / Flickr
Many are familiar with the travertine pools of Pamukkale, but fewer are familar with the ancient city of Hierapolis nearby. Once a significant destination for its healing hot springs, it’s still possible to swim in the hot mineral waters and visit the city’s great Roman theater.


Archaeological site
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The Lion's gate at the ancient city of Hattusha | © Maarten / Flickr
Once the capital city of the Hittite Empire, Hattusha is one of Turkey’s most important archeological sites, dating back to the Bronze Age. The remains continue to stun visitors, including one of the ancient world’s most sophisticated libraries, as well as underground tunnels, temples, and palaces.


Archaeological site
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The Temple of Athena, funded by Alexander the Great in Priene | © oarranzli / Flickr
An ancient Greek city that once overlooked the sea from its steep slopes and terraces, Priene is famous for its significant works of Hellenistic art and architecture. Notable structures include the Temple of Athena, an agora and stoa, an assembly hall, and a well-preserved theater.

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