The treasures of Turkey reach across both Europe and Asia, with cultural influences that span from the Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine, and to the Ottoman empires. From enjoying ancient history to having the perfect backdrop for the best Instagram picture to having a relaxing day in a thermal pool in the summertime, or even to test out bargaining skills at the Grand Bazaar, there is something for everyone. I have complied 5 must see treasures of turkey that I really appreciated.
1. Pamukkale Thermal Pools
The “cotton castle” in Denizli is a spectacular visit in the Summer time, and one of the more unique treasures of Turkey. The calcium-rich thermal pools and terraces mimic the look of snow from afar, and makes for the perfect picture contrast of floating in a pool of ice water in a bikini. I had the pleasure of visiting this incredible site in December, and it was far too cold for anyone in their right minds to be in their bathing suits, so dipping my legs in these shallow waters would have to do. The water, although warm in some parts where the hot spring directly flowed, turned icy cold from the Winter chill. Since this is a UNESCO World Heritage protected site, no shoes are allowed on these terraces, so it was a bit of a numbing walk.
Relevant post: The visit to Pamukkale in detail.
One of the historical treasures of Turkey, Hierapolis is an ancient city built right on hot springs. There wasn’t any real instructions in entering this site, so renting a little scooter to navigate this area was a godsend. The air was cold and crisp, and some parts of the area did not have paved roads, so it was quite an adventure riding on the scooter. The theatre looked like one of Acropolis of Athens, and Cleopatra’s pool looked spectacular.
Relevant post: The visit to Hierapolis in detail.
Cappadocia, the land best known for hot air balloons flying over its picturesque landscape, also has a large network of ancient underground cities, making this one of the more dreamlike treasures of Turkey. Along with watching hot air balloons rise from a rooftop at sunrise, there are tours to take you through tunnels and chambers to see how people lived underground thousands of years ago.
4. Hagia Sophia of Istanbul
There were also religious treasures of Turkey, like the Hagia Sophia, that was a church turned mosque, then a museum. The canon of entering with a robe and with shoes taken off were still in place. These two photographs outside the Hagia Sophia were taken just 2 days apart, and the contrast is stark.
5. The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul
One of the grander treasures of Turkey is the Grand Bazaar. It is dubbed one of the oldest and largest covered markets of the world. Like any street market, you can find anything from leather goods to hand woven rugs, to jewelry, and the best of all, mosaic hanging light fixtures. Most shops aren’t keen on having their pictures taken though. There are also shops that extend outside the Grand Bazaar. It is highly likely that at least one shop keeper will invite you into his store to sample his selection of Turkish tea and Turkish delights.
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