The Most Important Archaeological Sites in Turkey

Make sure to visit the Apollo Temple in Didyma, Turkey
Make sure to visit the Apollo Temple in Didyma, Turkey | © Classic Image / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Feride Yalav-Heckeroth
13 September 2021

There are 28 archaeological sites in Turkey that shine a light on the world’s earliest civilizations. From the Neolithic Age to the Roman Empire, here is a look at some of the most important archaeological sites in Turkey that continue to fascinate humankind.

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Archaeological site
The remains of an ancient Neolithic sanctuary built on a hilltop.
© Ömer Keleş / Alamy Stock Photo

A Neolithic sanctuary near Şanlıurfa, experts believe that Göbeklitepe is one of the oldest man-made religious structures. The limestone pillars that stand on the top of a mountain ridge are decorated with reliefs of animals and abstract pictograms.


Archaeological site, Historical Landmark
Çatalhöyük, Turkey
© KENAN KAYA / Alamy Stock Photo

One of the most prominent archaeological sites in Turkey, the Çatalhöyük settlement was built during the Neolithic period and lies in the Konya Province. Due to its large size and its beautiful wall paintings, the site became world-famous when discovered in the late 1950s.


Archaeological site

During the construction of the Marmaray Metro in 2004, archaeological remains were found in Istanbul’s Yenikapı district, and one of the world’s largest archaeological digs took place from 2004 until 2013. Excavations unearthed more than 35,000 objects and 36 ships dating from the seventh to the 11th centuries, connected mainly to the Theodosian Harbor in Constantinople, built during the reign of Byzantine emperor Theodosius I.


Archaeological site
City walls in the ruins of Troy, Turkey.
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One of the most famous archaeological sites in the world, the ancient city of Troy dates back to the fourth century BCE and lies at the base of Mount Ida in Çanakkale. Troy became famous due to Homer’s epic poem The Iliad, which describes the Trojan War.


Archaeological site
© Maarten / Flickr

Once the thriving capital of the Hittite Empire during the late Bronze Age, Hattusha continues to amaze visitors. The site, located in Çorum and discovered in 1834, consists of a Lower City, with remnants of civic life, and the Upper City, where the temples lie.


Archaeological site
Aphrodisias, Turkey
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One of the most important sites in regards to the Greek and Roman period in Turkey, Aphrodisias sits in a valley 100mi (161km) from Izmir. The site’s most famous structure is the stunning sanctuary of Aphrodite.


Library of Celsus, elevated view, Ephesus, Turkey
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Certainly one of the most well-known archaeological sites for visitors to Turkey, Ephesus lies near the city of Selçuk in Izmir. Ephesus’s population thrived during the Roman period around the first century BCE, when it was one of the largest cities in the Mediterranean.

Mount Nemrut

Archaeological site
Mount Nemrut, Dagi National Park, Turkey
© Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy Stock Photo

Another fascinating site located on the heights of a mountain, Mount Nemrut, at 2,552m (8,372ft), is part of the Taurus Mountains. A personal funerary monument built by Antiochos I, the structures include large statues of the king, two lions, two eagles and various gods.


Archaeological site

Another important capital city, this time, during the Hellenistic period, Pergamon was the centre of the Kingdom of Pergamon. The most notable structures are the acropolis of Pergamon and the temple of Egyptian gods.


Archaeological site
Ruins of Roman theatre at Miletus, Aegean Coast, Turkey
© Angus McComiskey / Alamy Stock Photo

Once a great maritime power as well as a centre for science and philosophy during Archaic Greece, Miletus was even mentioned by Homer in The Iliad. The site’s important structures include the Hellenistic Theater, the sanctuary of Apollo Delphinium, the Baths of Faustina and the Church of St Michael.


Archaeological site
Apollo Temple in Didyma, Turkey
© Henkelmann / F1online digitale Bildagentur GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

One of the most famous sanctuaries of the Hellenistic period, Didyma was connected to Miletus via the 17km (10.5mi) Sacred Road. The site is known for its temple (once the third-biggest in the ancient world) and the iconic head of Medusa carved into stone.

These recommendations were updated on September 13, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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