History, Culture, Nature Bike Tours
İSTANBUL HISTORICAL PENINSULA
The core of Istanbul is “The Historical Peninsula” surrounded by the Golden Horn on north, the Bosphorus on east and the Marmara Sea on south. Due to its strategic location connecting Europe and Asia, the herein reigning civilizations always played an important role in history.
With these characteristics the city has been the capital to Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. This splendid history made religions, cultures and communities to mingle here and now all of their monuments cover Istanbul. Therefore the city has been included into the World Heritage List of UNESCO with four major parts. These are the Archeologic Park including Hippodrome, Hagia Sophia, Hagia Irene, Little Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace; the Suleymaniye Conservation Area including Suleymaniye Mosque and its surrounding; the Zeyrek Conservation Area including the Zeyrek Mosque and its surrounding and the Historical City Walls Conservation Area.
Baths, fountains, mosques, churches, palaces and similar buildings form Byzantine and the Ottoman eras are the symbols of the Historical Peninsula. Besides owning many historical buildings this location is also the first settlement in Istanbul, so it deserves to be named as the Historical Peninsula.
The Historical Peninsula was first settled by the Greeks coming from Megara and the settlement was named as Byzantion. The city in the peninsula has been differently named throughout history and it was named as Dersaadet and Istanbul by Turks after the Conquest.
Cappadocia is the ancient name of a large region in the center of Anatolia, although when we speak of Cappadocia today we refer specifically to the valleys of Goreme and Urgup, with their natural pinnacles and rock churches.
Ancient Anatolia or Asia Minor, the large peninsula where modern Turkey is located, consists of several regions. One of the most important was Cappadocia.
Fairy chimneys and valleys formed by erosion of the incredible images that surprised everyone, for the sake of people's belief that they built and carved until now been able to preserve the vitality of rock churches, frescoes, gold-meters of the earth in order to save their lives, sometimes eight-fold-carved out of the underground settlements in Cappadocia today makes up the human and hand in hand with one of the wonders of the world has revealed that nature has given, and Strabo, who lived in the Roman Empire, which was written the name of the book Geographika Cappadocia, Malatya in the east, Aksaray at west, south and north of the Taurus Mountains in the Eastern Black Sea region dating back to the limit today is b ir equal to the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, the rock churches, underground cities of Cappadocia is the present, these formations have the highest density of Avanos, Urgup, Uchisar, Goreme, Ortahisar, Gulsehir, Derinkuyu valley near Aksaray comes to mind with the geological formation of Cappadocia Erciyes, Hasan, Melendiz, Göllüdağ with many small volcanic mountains, the region spanning the upper Miocene epoch started with bursts of lava, lakes, streams on the different hardness of 100-150 meters high plateau of tuff layer constituted more
Pamukkale is a natural site in Denizli Province in southwestern Turkey. Pamukkale is one of Turkey’s top attractions and a precious in the world with its cotton-look terraces.
What is the meaning of Pamukkale: Pamukkale; meaning ”cotton castle” in Turkish.
One of Turkey’s most famous landmarks. Pamukkale is wonderful place. Pamukkale has a surreal natural wonder that is a must-do on your Turkish travels. Rippling out in a series of semi-circular travertines, this pure-white mountain makes for some bizarrely beautiful photographic opportunities set as it is among green farming fields. Up on the summit lie the remains of the Roman spa town of Hierapolis with the renowned hot spring pools where you can do as the Roman’s did and bathe away your aches and pains.
İf you go to Pamukkale you can see Travertines, Hierapolis City Ruins, Hierapolis Theatre, Pamukkale Antique Pool, Hieropolis Museum, Pamukkale Castle, Laodikeia, Aphrodisias, Caravanserais, Çivril, Karahayıt Hot Springs, Kolossai, Sarayköy
Travertines: The dazzling white calcite cliff of Pamukkale formed from calcium deposits left by the area’s hot springs.
The presentation of the The World’s First Temple, Gobeklitepe … a pre-historic site, about 15 km away from the city of Sanliurfa, Southeastern Turkiye. What makes Gobeklitepe unique in its class is the date it was built, which is roughly twelve thousand years ago, circa 10,000 BC.
All pillars are T-shaped with heights changing from 3 to 6 meters. Archeologists interpret those T-shapes as stylized human beings, mainly because of the depiction of human extremities that appear on some of the pillars. What also appears on these mystical rock statues, are carvings of animals as well as abstract symbols, sometimes picturing a combination of scenes.
Each T-shaped pillar varies between 40 to 60 tonnes, leaving us scratching our heads as to how on earth they accomplished such a monumental feat. In a time when even simple hand tools were hard to come by, how did they get these stone blocks there, and how did they erect them? With no settlement or society to speak of, with farming still a far cry away, in a world of only roaming hunter-gatherers, the complexity and developed blueprints of these temples represented another enigma for archeologists. Do we have to change our vision of how and when civilized human history began?
Mount Nemrut (2552m) is located in southeastern Turkey, 87 km from Adıyaman, and is part of the Taurus Mountain range, above the Euphrates River valley. It is the site of extensive ruins of the tomb of Antiochos I (69-36 BC) of the Commagene Kingdom (163 BC – 72 AD).
The sanctuary at the top of Mount Nemrut was built by Antiochos I for himself as a funerary monument. It is a conical shaped tumulus with a height of 50m and 150m diameter and made up of 50,000 cubic meters of gravel. There were three terraces in the sanctuary on the East, North and West sides. The remains of the sculptures, which once decorated all three, give some idea of the size and grandeur of Antiochus' magnificent structure. Colossal heads of Apollo, Zeus, Hercules, and Antiochos I and several Greek and Persian gods surround the structure. The complex also includes a cave cistern, some reliefs and ruins of columns. The Commagene have been described as a semi-Iranian people that practiced the Zoroastrian faith and worshiped gods with combined Eastern and Western names like Zeus-Orimasdes and Apollo-Mithras.
Edirne is located at the south of Tekirdağ, the province between Turkey and Greece. The city had been the second capital of Ottoman Empire for years and in the 18th century had become one of the seven biggest cities of Europe.
As it was the capital city of the Ottoman Empire 100 years ago, there are numerous historical and architectural important structures in the province. Edirne is a living city – museum with its mosques, religious complexes, bridges, old bazaar places, caravanserais and palaces.
The ancient city of Troy, famous as the site of Trojan War that Homer described in his epic poem The Iliad, was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1998. It dates back to the 4th century BC and is located on the lower slopes of the ancient Mount Ida, within the boundaries of Çanakkale province. It is one of the most famous archaeological sites of the world.
Troy was first mentioned in Homer’s epic poem The Iliad, where it is described as the ancient site of the Trojan War. According to the Trojan Legend, the sea goddess Tethys and the titan of the Atlantic Sea, Oceanus, had a daughter called Electra. Electra would become Zeus’ wife and would give birth to Dardanus. Dardanus’ son Tros would found the city called Truad, and his son Ilus would found the city of Troy. The site of the infamous beauty contest that gave rise to the Trojan War was close to Mount Ida. The three beauties of the contest were Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, and Paris was the judge. Paris chose Aphrodite, as Aphrodite promised Paris the love of Helen, wife of the king of Sparta. Paris abducted Helen and took her to Troy, provoking the war.
Troy is known to have 9 archaeological layers, and, to date, house foundations, theatres, public bath houses, a sewage system and various artifacts have been found in the various layers. According to the excavations in Troy, the city was founded and devastated several times in its history. Consequently, layers of settlements marked 1 to 9 can be seen simultaneously in cross-sections.
The Trojans replaced the Sardis satrapy of the Herakleid dynasty, and ruled Anatolia for 505 years until the Lydian King Candaules’ reign (735-718 BC).
Archaeologist Schliemann’s excavations, starting in 1871, unearthed 9 ruins of ancient cities and 42 dwellings, and the treasure of Troy was also found during those excavations.
An amazing travel route in the footsteps of history Efes-Mimas Road.
An amazing geography, a history that comes from centuries and a culture enriched by it...This is Izmir's biggest gateway to the world. Now this geography has been turned into hiking and bicycling routes with the Efes-Mimas road that traces the footsteps of history from the Ionians to the Ottomans.
Izmir, which was described as the place in the westernmost point of the east and the easternmost point of the west, owes its existence to the sea. It has been the intersection of cultures since its establishment. Izmir owes its growth to trade and cultural relations established through its port and has been a port city for the past 8500 years.
The Peninsula is Izmir's biggest gateway to the Mediterranean and the world. Izmir Peninsula, which is home to many of the settlements of the Western Anatolia shores, consists of Karaburun, Çeşme, Urla, Seferihisar and Güzelbahçe boroughs. The peninsula, which is 171 thousand hectares, is one of the unique geographies of the Mediterranean culture. The peninsula, which is surrounded by the Aegean Sea in the west and north, Izmir Bay in the east and Kuşadası Bay in the south, encompasses the majority of the southern shores of Izmir Bay. The vicinity of Çeşme to Chios and Karaburun to Lesbos Island, give us clues about the intercontinental location of the region. The peninsula, where life began in the Chalcolithic Age, has a rich flora and fauna, fruitful lands and underwater riches.
When we speak about Ephesus, we are not speaking of an ordinary, touristic sightseeing spot. First of all once Ephesus was the second biggest city in ancient world and one of the cultural, economic capitals. Due to it's geopolitical location all the major events of the ancient ages left some traces here like ''The Battle of Ephesus'' where Greeks encirceled by Persian tyranny fought for freedom, construction of ''Artemis Temple'' which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, becoming the capital of the western Anatolia and having a population estimated to be in the range of 200,000 to 225,000, hosting St. Paul and St. John, hosting The First Council of Ephesus which was the third ecumenical council of the early Christian Church, held at the Church of Mary in Ephesus, birth place of Pope John VI and the list goes on more and more.
The city was also famous as a core of religious godliness. From earliest periods, it made around an oldest Temple of Artemis, and now regarded as the one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Before Christian time, the city played a very significant responsibility in the spread of Christianity. With the coming of St. Paul, who utilizes the Ephesus city as the main place to expand Christianity to Greece and nearby cities, the standing or reputation of this city improved and was later place to important cults which includes those of Virgin Mary and Saint John.
The ancient Didyma, called Didim today, situated in Aydın Province in the southwest of Turkey, was the most renowned sanctuary of the Hellenic world. It was connected to the great classical city of Miletus by a 17 kilometer-long Sacred Road. The area was settled in the Neolithic period, established as a colony of Crete followed by Mycenae in the 16th century BC, and subsequently possessed by Lycians, Persians, Seleucids, Attalids, Ancient Romans, and Byzantines as part of the province of Caria. The area came into the hands of Turks following the defeat of Byzantium at the Battle of Malazgirt in 1086. The town was captured again by the Byzantines in 1098, by Menteşe in 1280, and then Aydinids in 1300. Didim was brought into the Ottoman Empire by Sultan Mehmed Çelebi in 1413.
Apollo is considered to be one of the Twelve Olympians in Greek Mythology. He is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin-sister Artemis, the Moon-Goddess. According to the legend, their mother Leto gave birth to the twins in Ortyga Woods. Didymaion means "twins" and this is the reason why the place where the Temple of Apollo stands was called “Didyma.”
The Temple of Apollo was built two times at the same place. The earliest structure of the temple was built in the end of the 8th century BC. All sides of the temple were surrounded by columns in the 6th century BC. This old temple was in the charge of the Branchids, who acted as priests and oracles. This word was derived from the name of Branchus, a favorite youth of Apollo. Three prose oracles and one dedication survive from this period. They ruled in this region for a very long and peaceful period. Pausanius, one of the writers of the first century, informs us that the cult seen in this region existed long before the Ionians arrived in Anatolia. The temple was completely destroyed by the Persians in 494 BC at the Battle of Lade and its treasures, including the ancient bronze statue of Apollo, were carried off to Ecbatana in Persia. In 334 BC a larger scaled temple was rebuilt for the second time on the same place by Alexander the Great after his arrival to Anatolia. Seleucus I Nicator, one of the Diadochoi of Alexander the Great, and the founder of the Seleucid Dynasty, commissioned the architects to design the building and brought the statue of Apollo back to its original place in Didyma.
The Temple, 109 meters long and 51 meters wide, used to be the third biggest temple of the ancient world after the largest one, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, known as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and the Temple of Hera in Samos Island. All these historical monuments were located in a place of damaging earthquakes, even though the Temple of Artemis and the Temple of Hera were completely destroyed, the Temple of Apollo remained standing. It’s remarkable and unusual entablatures are decorated with lions and other wild animal figures. Its main function, besides safekeeping people’s valuables, was soothsaying.
The Hellenistic temple of Didyma began to lose its position of importance under Christianity. During the time of Roman Emperor Theodosius I, all kinds of prophecies of Hellenistic religion were proscribed, thus the temple lost its importance and the construction which had lasted for centuries remained unfinished.
Another picturesque attraction of the site, which is considered the symbol of Didyma, is a stone carved head of Medusa. According to the legend Medusa was a snake-haired lady, very ugly and wherever she looked at would turn into stone. She was the only one of the three sisters named Gorgons who was mortal. The legend informs us that she was a very beautiful lady and Athena, goddess in ancient Greek religion and mythology, was jealous of her beauty. Athena transformed Medusa's beautiful hair to serpents and made her face so ugly to behold that the mere sight of it would turn onlookers to stone. Such carvings are also found in several Greek and Roman historical sites to protect important places from the evil eye.
HALICARNASSUS / BODRUM
The tomb of Mausolus, a king of Caria, was built in the antique Greek city of Halicarnassus, in what is currently Bodrum, Turkey, between 353 and 350 BC by Artemisia who was the sister, wife and successor of Mausolus. Halicarnassus in Caria was a member of the Dorian Hexapolis and later controlled under Artemisia I of Caria after being expelled from the league. Mausolus and Artemisia ruled over Halicarnassus and the surrounding region for 24 years. After Mausolus’s death in 353 BC, Artemisia succeeded him as Artemisia II of Caria and commissioned the best artisans of the time to build a spectacular tomb on a hill in honor of her husband. Later, the tomb of Mausolus became the origin of the word “mausoleum” and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
A multilevel structure, approximately 45 m in height and primarily made of marble, was designed by two Greek architects, Pytheos and Satyros. There were many statues depicting gods and goddesses along the outer wall of the tomb. Various artists from neighboring countries were employed for this project, including sculptors such as Bryaxis, Scopas of Paros, Timotheus and Leochares. The inside of the tomb was decorated with many statues of animals and sculptural bas-reliefs of Greek and Amazon warriors in battle. The roof of the tomb was in the form of a stepped pyramid with 24 levels, and sculptures of Mausolus and Artemisia in a chariot being pulled by four massive horses carved by Pytheos were placed on the top of the structure.
In 334 BC, Halicanassus sustained severe damage during the siege of the Persians against the army of Alexander the Great. The tomb was also destroyed by earthquakes in the 13th century. Only the very base of the Mausoleum was still recognizable by 1404. In the 16th century, the mausoleum was raided by the Knights of Rhodes. Today, some of the remaining portions of the tomb can be seen in the walls of the Bodrum castle. Along with other artifacts, the statues of Mausolus and Artemisia were found during the excavation conducted by Charles Thomas Newton around 1846. These statues were restored and have been exhibited in the British Museum.
Marmaris is a touristic place in south of Turkey. Marmaris has seaside to Mediterranean Sea. It is clear and there are so many beaches. Sun shines during the almost whole year. In summer, tourists always comes here. Marine and fishing are improved much. There are many fish restaurants that are famous around both the city and the country. Also Marmaris is a historical place. There are many residuals that comes from old civilizations, cultures and religions. For example, there are many churches, mosques and castles. If you want, you may observe these evidence in the Museum of Marmaris. Moreover, there is a harbor that is huge. Therefore, trade is improved.
Lying on the south coast of the Bodrum peninsula, the Gulf of Gökova is a fascinating corner of Turkey, offering lovely views with charming combinations of colors. Pretty shorelines covered with woodland offer every tone of green, while the sea is a wide range of blues. The mountains shelter the setting sun under hues of red and yellow. Possessing the most special gifts of nature and history, Köycegiz stands beside the same named lake at the tip of which touches the Mediterranean. Now a nature and wild life preserve, this site is a real paradise with its rare and beautiful setting, and with a history going back to 3500 BC. It is possible to cruise over the natural labyrinth – like channel, walled with reeds, that link the sea and Lake of Köycegiz, which is described as “smooth as glass” till noon and suitable for wind-surfing in the afternoon; it contains almost every kind of seafood including carp and crab.
Dalyan can be reached at the end of a road decorated with scented frankincense trees. The Dalyan Delta is a unique site, lying peacefully with its golden beach. Sea turtles of Caretta Caretta, and blue crabs live here making the area more attractive. On the other side of the channel is the marvelous view of the ancient city Caunos, which was situated on the border between Caria and Lycia and was an important sea-port. The first sight here is the unique and fascinating tombs carved into the rock and overlooking the waterway. Also of interest in this district is the acropolis lying a little inland, together with a Roman temple, antique theatre, Ibrab and Susandaa castles.
Oludeniz beach is one of the most beautiful in the world in 2006 by eighty-two percent of the beach were chosen. Town, tourism is quite developed. Likyalılarda the land of light and Sun, in the middle ages, is recognized as a "Realm", located in the Southwest Anatolia Teke Peninsula is located in. Turkey is one of the Lagoon (lagoon) in carriers. Dead Sea, such as the name of a lake. All kinds of sea sports, mountain climbing, hiking and whitewater rafting can be done making safari, since facilities from Babadağ with 2000 meters "Paragliding" are jumping at the opportunity.
ST PAUL ROAD / ANTALYA
St Paul was responsible for the spread of Christianity to Western Europe. Jesus’ message, aimed at amending the Jewish religion, was preached exclusively to the Jews of Judea and Jerusalem. But Paul took this message to both the Jewish diaspora (those living outside Israel) and also to the worshippers of the traditional gods of the Greeks or Roman Empire, or of other cults. In the process he changed the religion of Christianity, partly by adding many instructions about forms of worship, partly by changing the message (especially regarding women). Paul had no standard text; he also had never met Jesus personally. Thus he was able to interpret Jesus’ message quite freely. If St Paul had not preached, Christianity would probably have died out when the Jewish rebellion of 66 AD was crushed and Jerusalem burned.
ASPENDOS / ANTALYA
Aspendos was founded on a hilltop near the Eurymedon River (now Köprüçay) and over the course of 800 years saw Lydian, Persian, Greek, Ptolemaic, Seleucid, Roman, Byzantine, and Seljuk rule. According to ancient tradition, the city was founded by Mopsus in the 13th BC. In the 6th BC, the Lydian King Croesus took Aspendos. After Cyrus’s victory over Croesus in the same century, the city became Persian. In the 5th century BC, Aspendos minted its own silver coins. Alexander the Great took over from the Persians in the 4th century BC. In the Roman period, Aspendos was a crucial port city.
Though the remains on the hilltop have not been systematically excavated, there are remains of an agora, a basilica, a market hall with shops and a nymphaeum. Water was brought to the city through a marvelous aqueduct, second only to the theater. Remains of two water towers belonging to the aqueduct can still be seen.
Aspendos Theater is one of the largest ancient buildings in Anatolia, and may well be accepted as the best preserved theater of antiquity. It was built by a local architect Xenon during the reign of Macus Aurelius (2nd century AD). According to an inscription, it was a gift from the two brothers, Curtius Crispinus and Curtius Auspicatus, who dedicated this monument to the gods of the country and to the Imperial House. With a diameter of 96 meters, the theater’s capacity is estimated to have been 20,000 people and the stage building was three stories high. The uppermost facade was used to support an awning like roof that projected out over the stage, erected more for its acoustical effect than for the shade it provided. The lower levels of the facade were decorated with a double colonnade with ten pairs of columns on each level: Ionic capitals below and Corinthian above. The central four columns on the upper level were surmounted by a pediment with a relief of Dionysus. Other panels were also decorated with many statues, portrait busts and reliefs.
The fact that the stage building is as high as the upper end of the colonnaded arcade surmounting the auditorium proves that it is a Roman theater; the skene and auditorium is one complex and not separate constructions as in the Hellenistic style. In the 13th century, the Seljuk period, the theater was restored to be a royal caravansaray for the sultans who resided there on the way to their winter residences in Alanya.
In the spring and early summer, the Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival, which has been organized by the Turkish State Opera and Ballet since 1994, offers an annual season of productions in the theater.
MERSİN / TARSUS
Mersin is one of the most modern provinces of the palm lined avenues, city park and modern hotels and a good base for visiting the nearby historical sites and beaches. Mersin is the largest port on the Turkish Mediterranean region. Although Mersin dates only from the 19th century, it occupies an extremely ancient site. At Mount Yumuktepe the excavations proved that there had been twelve successive settlements beginning from the Neolithic Period.
Tarsus is the birthplace of St. Paul. Situated on the edge of the fertile Cukurova plain in the city is middle of cedar groves. The city is also the meeting place of legendary loves Antony and Cleopatra, and there is the commemorative Cleopatra Gate. To reach St. Paul’s Cistern you pass through narrow streets of the city; the old houses on the sides will prepare for the things you will see . Then you may head for a rest to the Tarsus waterfalls and shady trees. The tombs of Prophet Daniel, Lokman Hekim, a famous legendary medical doctor, are here. There are also many historical places to visit such as Cleopatra’s Gate, the Gozlukule, Justinians Bridge, and the Tarsus Museum
Two hours west of Mersin, Anamur is a lovely town situated in the mountains and surrounded by banana plantations thanks to its climate. There are the ruins of ancient Anemorium, 10 kms to the west of the town on a fine beach. Anamur Castle is well preserved and provides a fascinating views of the landscape. The road between Anamur and Silifke passes through the pine clad mountains which descend to the sea offering splendid views of cliffs, coves and the brilliant turquoise waters of the Mediterranean.
Aydincik is a cute village with pleasant beaches. After Aydincik, to the east, is the most beautiful coastline in Turkey.
Silifke, 90 kms from Mersin, is a little bit inland, on the site of the acropolis of ancient Seleucia and Colycadnos. The old bridge crossing the Göksu River, the theatre and the temple from Roman times are of interest.
The road up to the magnificent ancient site of Olba – Diocaeserela is lined with large tombs. In the ancient city there are the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, Olbius and the Temple of Tychaion, and numerous arches, theater, Byzantine church and tower. Outside Silifke, on the road to Tasucu is the archaeological museum, while further on AyaTekla is the tomb and church of St. Thecla who was the first female martyr.
Tasucu is a pleasant resort town with good accommodations and fine sandy beaches, especially the Aphrodite Beach.
Around Narlikuyu an exciting excursion is to Cennet – Cehennem (Heaven and Hell), and the Astim Dilek Caves which are deep chasms, one of which has a chapel. They are really fascinating and you will understand why they carry these names once you visit.
60 kms from Mersin, to the west, is the ancient city Korykos, which is now the resort town of Kizkalesi, with sandy beaches and camping sites. There are important remains which are symbols of that region like The Castle of Korykos on the beach faces the Kizkalesi (Maiden’s Castle) which stands on an islet 200 m offshore.
HATAY / ANTAKYA
Antakya is the seat of the Hatay Province in southern Turkey, near the border with Syria. In ancient times the city was known as Antioch and has historical significance for Christianity, being the place where the followers of Jesus Christ were called Christians for the very first time. The city and its massive walls also played an important role during the Crusades.
Antakya Archaeological Museum has the second largest collection of Roman mosaics in the world, found when excavating Roman villas on the hillside at Harbiye.
the rock-carved Church of St Peter, with its network of refuges and tunnels carved out of the rock, a site of Christian pilgrimage. There are also tombs cut into the rock face at various places along the Orontes valley.
The seedy Gündüz cinema in the city centre was once used as parliament building of the Republic of Hatay.
the waterfall and restaurants at Harbiye.
The Ottoman Habib-i Neccar Camii is the oldest mosque in Antakya.
The labyrinth of narrow streets in the old market area
The views of the city from the hillsides above
With its rich architectural heritage, Antakya is a member of the Norwich-based European Association of Historic Towns and Regions. Sadly the Roman bridge (thought to date from the era of Diocletian was destroyed in 1972 during the widening and channelling of the Orontes
HATTUSHA / ÇORUM
Hattusha was the capital of the Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age. It is situated near modern Boğazkale, within the great loop of the Kızıl River in Çorum. There were several other settlements in the vicinity, such as the rock shrine at Yazılıkaya and the town at Alacahöyük.
The first settling around Hattusha took place in the 6th millennium BC during the Chalcolithic period, when small, widely scattered hamlets appeared, most particularly on mountain slopes and rocky outcroppings. Late in the 3rd millennium BC, towards the end of the Early Bronze Age, a Hattian settlement developed, marking the beginning of continuous occupation at the site. Hattusha exerted dominating influence upon the civilizations of the 2nd and 1st millennia BC in Anatolia and northern Syria. The palaces, temples, trading quarters and necropolis of this political and religious metropolis provide a comprehensive picture of a capital, and bear a unique testimony to the disappeared Hittite civilization.
The site, discovered in 1834, was not comprehensively excavated until 1906, which was the memorable date of the discovery of a copy of a peace treaty between Hattushili III and the Pharaoh Ramses II, which made possible the identification of Hattusha. Since then, joint efforts on the part of German and Turkish archaeologists have made decisive progress in knowledge of the Hittite capital. The exploration of Hattusha should serve as a model of long-term archaeological research planning and has given rise to a host of publications and to a specialized periodical issued by the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut.
Hattusha consists of two sites: the Lower City and the Upper City. Visible at the Lower City are the remains associated with civic life. The Great Temple is the principal cult building of the city. Due to its two cult rooms, this temple is believed to have been devoted to the Storm God and Arinna’s Sun Goddess, which were the greatest gods of the Empire.
In the Upper City, the Temple Neighborhood, which encompasses several temples, is noteworthy. The Upper City is situated on a broad arch and was protected by walls to the south. There are five gates on the walls. The Yenikapı ramparts and the sphinx gate stand at the highest point of the city, which is at the southernmost edge of the city walls. King’s Gate and Lion Gate are situated at either end of the southern walls. The Lion sculptures on the outer face of the Lion Gate are some of the best examples of Hittite stone carving.
Yazılıkaya Temple, which is situated 2 km northwest of Hattusha, is considered to be the most significant open air temple of the city. It consists of two rock cut rooms screened off by a single story building reflecting the architectural style of the Hittites. The rock cut rooms of Yazılıkaya Temple are called the “Greater Gallery” (Room A) and the “Lesser Gallery” (Room B).
The Western end of the rook face of the Greater Gallery (Room A) is decorated with a relief of gods, and the eastern end is decorated with a relief of goddesses. The figures of both ends face the central section, where the eastern and western rock faces meet the northern rock face. This is where the main stage was set. The Lesser Gallery (Room B), which has a separate entrance, is protected by a relief of demons with lion heads, human bodies, and wings. The relief decorating the western rock face of Room B depicts twelve gods lined up to their left, and on the eastern rock face there are reliefs depicting a deity-headed upright sword, which is believed to represent the god Nergal of Underworld, and the God Sharrumma escorting King Tudhaliya IV. In this section, besides the well preserved reliefs, there are three rock cut niches. It is believed that these niches were used for placing gifts, or possibly urns containing the ashes of members of the Hittite royal family.
As of today, Hattusha is an open-air archaeological museum and offers visitors a change to trace the history of the Hittite civilization. The site has been on the World Heritage List since 1986.
HASANKEYF / BATMAN
Hasankeyf is an ancient city, located on the shores of the Tigris River in the Batman province of southeastern Turkey. It was a strategic spot on the route from Upper Mesopotamia to Anatolia and a staging point on the Silk Road. The history of the old town goes back 10,000 years. In 363, the Romans built two fortresses in the area. The city became the Byzantine bishopric of Cephe in the fifth century. After the Arabs incursions in c. 640, the city was called as “Hisn Kayfa” (rock fortress), which later changed to “Hasankeyf.”
BLACK SEA HIGHLANDS OF TURKEY
Our gateway to the Black Sea highlands is Maçka, Trabzon province’s emerald forested township. Bisected by the waters of the Coşandere, which point to the Sumela Monastery, this township offers a surprise at every step, from the highlands themselves with their mysterious medieval monasteries to rousing folk festivals and traditional local dishes. The road into the mountains becomes more and more beautiful as one approaches the Zigana Valley; on it is the village of Hamsiköy, famous for its rice pudding. Scattered like emeralds throughout the Maçka Highlands are mountains and lakes with names like Uzungöl, Şolma, Lişer, Lake Sera, Mavura, Kiraz, Lapazan, Çakirgöl, Çatma Oba, Düzköy, Karadağ, Hidirnebi, Kuruçam and Sis Daği.
The route through Torul, Gümüşhane and Yayladere leads to the Black Sea’s hidden treasures. Along it, the valley of the Yağmurdere, reached via Salmankeş Pass, is the area’s highest point. The town of Dumanli on the banks of the Yanbolu River was once the center of seven ‘Rum’ (Anatolian Greek) villages by the name of Santa. Traditional specialties such as corn soup, ‘kuymak’ or ‘mihlama’ (a dish made with cheese, butter and corn flour), ‘kaygana’ omelette with anchovies, sauteed pickles, stuffed cabbage leaves, ‘minci’ cheese, and the blackberry syrup known as ‘fikoki’ will endear the region to you and your stomach! And you can add an extra dimension to your tour by extending it to Trabzon’s next-door neighbor Giresun with its natural-wonder highlands, the most popular of which is Kümbet. Meanwhile the Karagöl Highland in the township of Dereli is known for its four tiny mountain lakes. And Melikli ‘Oba’ (a nomadic campground) and the Kulakkaya Highland are only 50 kilometers from the city center.