Turkey

Hot Air Ballooning Over Cappadocia

Hot Air Ballooning Over Cappadocia: Worth It?

When most people think of Cappadocia, the image of colorful balloons floating over a dreamlike landscape is often the first thing that springs to mind. But there are numerous other ways to experience the region’s stunning scenery, and a balloon ride is the most expensive by far. So, does hot air ballooning over Cappadocia really

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Zemi Valley Hiking Cappadocia

Hiking Cappadocia: Zemi Valley & Çavuşin Castle

As exciting as hot air balloons and group tours can be, the best way to explore Cappadocia is on foot. And for those staying in Göreme, there are a surprising number of scenic valleys you can simply walk to from town. In previous guides, we covered some of the longer loop trails in the area. But

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Red Valley Hiking Cappadocia

Hiking Cappadocia: Göreme – Meskendir – Red – Rose – Sword Valleys

Hiking Cappadocia is arguably the best way to take in the region’s surreal landscapes. And it’s also completely free. In this guide, we’ll be covering what’s possibly Cappadocia’s very best loop trail. Starting from Göreme, the hike will take you through Meskendir Valley, Red Valley, Rose Valley and finally Sword Valley – a long but highly rewarding

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Kaymaklı Underground City

Deep Within the Underground Cities of Derinkuyu & Kaymaklı

Millions of years ago, the ash spewed forth by local volcanoes hardened into a soft stone called tufa. And in addition to forming Cappadocia’s breathtaking landscapes, tufa deposits also extend far below the ground. Throughout the area’s tumultuous history, inhabitants could simply dig their way out of trouble. What ultimately formed were incredibly vast cave

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Halfeti Sunken City

Halfeti: The Sunken City of the Euphrates

In the late 1990s, residents of the ancient town of Halfeti, situated on the east bank of the Euphrates, found themselves in a dire predicament. The Birecik Dam was set to flood the town, forcing residents to flee while destroying millennia of cultural heritage. But fortunately, not all was entirely lost. Tourists now flock to

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Zeugma Mosaic Museum Gaziantep

A Day in Gaziantep: The Zeugma Mosaic Museum & More

Gaziantep, with a population of nearly two million, is southeast Turkey’s largest city and among the largest in the country. Like many places in the region, it has a rich history dating back to prehistoric times. Compared to its neighbors, however, it has relatively few landmarks. But the excellent Zeugma Mosaic Museum, which displays some

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Visiting Mt. Nemrut Western Terrace

Visiting Mt. Nemrut & Other Commagene Kingdom Sites

Due to its isolated mountaintop location, Mt. Nemrut’s mysterious stone sculptures and massive artificial mound managed to elude visitors for centuries. But for the past few decades, visiting Mt. Nemrut has been considered the thing to do in southeast Turkey (at least until Göbekli Tepe’s discovery). Even when compared with other landmarks from its era,

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Soğmatar Ancient City

Soğmatar, Şuayb & the Bazda Caves: Adventures in Şanlıurfa

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Şanlıurfa Province, home to sites like Göbekli Tepe and Harran, has plenty more to see within its borders. Following a morning visit to Karahan Tepe, I arranged for a driver and guide to take me onward to places like Soğmatar Ancient City, Şuayb (Jethro) and the Bazda Caves – all

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Karahan Tepe Keçili Tepe

Karahan Tepe: Even Older Than Göbekli Tepe?

Located within the Tektek Mountains, just east of the Harran Plain, is a site that changes everything we thought we knew about prehistoric civilizations. Karahan Tepe (or Keçili Tepe, as it’s locally known) lies just 46 km southeast of Göbekli Tepe, a site believed to be the world’s very first temple. But archaeologists now suspect

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Beehive Houses Harran Guide

Harran: The Ancient Center of the Sabians

While not much of ancient Harran survives, its atmosphere remains imbued with a sense of magic and mystery. The Mesopotamian city was a former dwelling place of Abraham and home to Anatolia’s first mosque. And it was long a center of stellar worship, remaining one of the ancient world’s last pagan strongholds. In this Harran

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Visiting Göbekli Tepe Enclosure D

Visiting Göbekli Tepe: The Site That Reshaped History

Dubbed the ‘Zero Point of History,’ the discovery of Göbekli Tepe, one of the world’s oldest temples, changed everything we thought we knew about prehistoric peoples. The 12,000-year-old temple complex reveals that not only did ancient humans have the capability to carve and move huge monoliths, but they also possessed intimate knowledge of the cosmos. Visiting Göbekli

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Şanlıurfa Fish Lake Urfa Guide

A Guide to Şanlıurfa: The City of Prophets

With the recent discovery of nearby Göbekli Tepe, the city of Şanlıurfa has been placed firmly on the tourist map. But Urfa, as most people call it, is an essential destination in its own right. In addition to being the likely birthplace of Abraham, Urfa is also home to significant Roman tombs and mosaics. And the new Şanlıurfa Museum,

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Dara Ancient City

Dara Ancient City: Touring the Ruins of a Historic Border Town

Originally built at the border between the Roman and Persian empires, Dara now lies just beside the modern Turkey-Syria border. Located 30 km southeast of Mardin, Dara Ancient City is an overlooked archaeological site from the Byzantine era that shouldn’t be missed while in the region.  In this guide, we’ll be covering the history of Dara, tips

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Midyat Guide

Midyat & Mor Gabriel Monastery: Exploring the Tur Abdin Plateau

Mardin Province’s Midyat is a historic city situated on the plateau of Tur Abdin, or the ‘Mountain of the Servants of God.’ The region is the historic heartland of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and its largest and oldest monastery, Mor Gabriel, attracts scores of visitors to this day. In this Midyat guide, we’ll be covering

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Mardin Guide

A Guide to Mardin: Turkey’s Most Beautiful City

Mardin is arguably Turkey’s most beautiful city. Historically, it shares much in common with nearby Diyarbakır. But Mardin’s elegant limestone buildings help give it an appearance all of its own. The hillside city even offers views of the Mesopotamian plains and northern Syria. In this Mardin guide, we’ll cover the top sights to see in

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Diyarbakır Citadel

Diyarbakır: The Ultimate Guide

Diyarbakır has long been considered a prized possession of the many kingdoms who managed to control it. Due to its strategic location along the Tigris River, it’s been continuously inhabited for thousands of years. And it’s now one of the most historically and architecturally rich cities in Turkey. In the following Diyarbakır guide, we’ll cover

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Çavuştepe Van

Çavuştepe & Hoşap Castle: Archaeological Hidden Gems in Van

Few tourists make it to Van, and even fewer visit the ancient castles of Hoşap and Çavuştepe. But for archaeology and history lovers, that’s a big part of their appeal. If you’re willing to make the effort, there’s a high chance you’ll have each site all to yourself. Hoşap Castle is an impressive fortress which dates back

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Van Castle

Van Castle: Visiting the Former Heart of Urartu

While most ancient fortresses in Turkey only require a few hours to visit, think of Van Castle as a full day outing. Not only is the fortress massive, but it also has a lot more surprises in store than first meets the eye. Van Castle was the headquarters of Urartu, one of the most overlooked

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Akdamar Island Lake Van

Akdamar Island: Visiting Lake Van’s Ancient Royal Getaway

The dreamlike image of a stone church standing on an island amidst a bright blue lake is something you may have seen on travel posters. Lake Van, however, is just about the furthest point in Turkey one can travel from Istanbul, and few actually visit. But Akdamar Island, the former getaway of an ancient Armenian

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Ishak Pasha Palace Doğubayazıt

Ishak Pasha Palace: The Opulent Estate at the Edge of an Empire

The small city of Doğubeyazıt, situated alongside Turkey’s border with Iran, is home to one of the finest examples of Ottoman palace architecture. The opulent Ishak Pasha Palace stands at the crossroads of civilizations and accordingly blends together Ottoman, Persian and even European styles. Doğubeyazıt may be a challenge to reach, but the splendor of the palace

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Kars Castle Kars Guide

A Day in Kars: Exploring Turkey’s Eastern Frontier

Nearly everyone who visits Kars does so to see the nearby ruins of Ani, some 40 kilometers to the east. But Kars is a unique city that’s a worthy destination in its own right. And it can easily be explored on foot in a single day. In the following Kars guide, we’ll be covering the

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Ani Guide

Ani: A Guide to the Lost Armenian Capital

Though currently situated within Turkey’s borders, the ancient Armenian capital of Ani is one of the region’s most interesting archaeological sites. Once home to 100,000 people, Ani was among the medieval world’s most magnificent cities. Now, in stark contrast, the site is a somewhat eerie ghost town. But Ani’s impressive architecture remains an inspiration to

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Uzungöl Trabzon

Uzungöl & Ayder: Discovering Turkey’s Black Sea Region

Turkey’s northeastern Black Sea region, known for its green alpine landscapes, has a look and feel quite unlike anywhere else in the country. The region is rife with scenic lakes and mountain villages to explore. But with the area gaining popularity so quickly, has it been able to maintain its tranquil, traditional atmosphere? I visited the

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Sumela Monastery Turkey

Visiting Trabzon’s Stunning Sumela Monastery

Built on a slope of Karadag Mountain in the Maçka district of Trabzon, Sumela Monastery is one of the defining images of eastern Turkey. The monastery appears to hover in the air at 300 meters above the valley. And most surprising of all is that it’s one of the world’s oldest, dating back to the

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Hagia Sofia Trabzon Guide

A Day in Trabzon: Turkey’s Biggest City on the Black Sea

Trabzon, with a population of a million people, is the largest urban area on Turkey’s Black Sea coast. But while the region is best known for the stunning Sumela Monastery and the serene lake of Uzungöl, be sure to dedicate at least a day to the city center. Situated at the foot of the Pontic Mountains,

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