Termessos Ancient City Top Archaeological Sites in Turkey

Top 10 Archaeological Sites in Turkey

Few countries in the world have as huge a variety of historical and archaeological sites as Turkey. The country contains significant ruins from every era of human civilization, from the world’s oldest Neolithic temples to lost capitals of mighty Bronze Age empires. The western part of the country, meanwhile, is home to some of the

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Selimiye Mosque Edirne Guide

A Weekend in Edirne: A Guide to the Former Ottoman Capital

Despite being located by Turkey’s borders with Greece and Bulgaria, Edirne maintains a distinctly Ottoman feel. The city functioned as the empire’s capital from 1369 until the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. But Edirne wasn’t forgotten, as later sultans would continue commissioning elaborate mosques and even large hospitals here. In the following Edirne guide, we’ll

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Bosphorus Cruise Top Things to Do in Istanbul

Top 5 Things to Do in Istanbul (Outside the Old City)

Istanbul is a huge city, and most first-time visitors focus on the Old City area – particularly the neighborhood of Sultanahmet. But for those wanting to venture further out, trying to decide where to spend an extra day or two can be overwhelming. To make things easier, below are some of the top things to

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Topkapı Palace Harem

Touring the Topkapı Palace & Harem: The Opulent Heart of the Ottoman Empire

At its peak, the Ottoman Empire was one of the largest empires in world history, spanning three continents. And for centuries, its administrative center was Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace. Topkapı also served as the sultans’ private residence, accessible to visitors who buy the special Topkapı Palace Harem ticket, an extra fee that few regret paying. Taking

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Hagia Sophia Byzantine Istanbul

A Guide to Byzantine Istanbul: Experiencing the Legacy of Constantinople

For over 1,000 years, Constantinople was considered one of the world’s most glorious cities. But exploring Istanbul today, the city’s Byzantine legacy largely goes unnoticed by tourists and residents alike. Most Byzantine churches are now mosques, while other structures have largely been left to rot. But if one puts forth the effort, there’s a lot

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Visiting Hattusa

Visiting Hattusa: The Long Lost Capital of the Hittite Empire

Hattusa gets relatively little attention compared with Turkey’s other ancient cities – probably due to its remote location. But as the capital of one of the Bronze Age’s most dominant empires, its historical importance cannot be understated. Visiting Hattusa today, you’ll find impressive ruins spread throughout a vast area and set amidst a beautiful natural

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Alaca Höyük

Alaca Höyük: Back to the Bronze Age in Central Turkey

Situated 160 km east of Ankara in the central Anatolian plains – a region where few tourists venture – is a largely ignored yet highly significant ancient site. Alaca Höyük was inhabited for thousands of years, but the most interesting findings come from the Hittites and the mysterious Hattian culture. Originally settled in the Chalcolithic Period (6000–3000 BC), Alaca

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Anıtkabir Ankara Guide

A Day in Ankara: The Top Sites of the Turkish Capital

Despite being Turkey’s capital, Ankara is seldom visited by foreign tourists. With only a handful of attractions and having only become a prominent city quite recently, it’s easy to see why. But for those touring central Turkey, Ankara has some significant landmarks and museums that are worth dedicating at least a day to see. We’ll

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Visiting Troy

Visiting Troy: Where History and Mythology Converge

Few ancient cities have captivated the imagination of the masses like Troy. The focal point of Homer’s epic poems, the city is so strongly associated with mythology that many have long doubted its existence. But Troy is indeed a real place. And by visiting Troy today, one can see remnants of buildings which date to

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Ayvalık Guide

Ayvalık & Cunda Island: Exploring Turkey’s Aegean Coast

The traditional Greek town of Ayvalık retains much of its historical architecture, while its scenic setting along the Aegean attracts visitors from all over Turkey. And for those looking for an even quieter vibe, Cunda Island is right next door. In the following Ayvalık guide, we’ll cover the top landmarks to see in both. Ayvalık

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Theater Pergamon Guide

Exploring the Thrilling Ruins of Ancient Pergamon

Ancient Pergamon is among the most interesting yet underrated Greco-Roman archaeological sites of Turkey. Once a major independent kingdom during the Hellenistic era, the city continued to thrive during Roman times. Today, the archaeological site is so vast that it comprises of several different areas, each of which will be covered in this ancient Pergamon

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Izmir Guide

A Day in Izmir: The Bustling Aegean City’s Top Landmarks

Izmir (also spelled İzmir), situated alongside Turkey’s Aegean coast, is the country’s third-largest city. Historically known as Smyrna, the city’s history dates back thousands of years. The following Izmir guide covers all the things you shouldn’t miss in town, which most visitors should be able to fit into a single day. While immensely popular among Turks, Izmir

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Temple of Apollo at Didyma

Ancient Ionia: Priene & The Temple of Apollo at Didyma

The ancient Ionian ruins of Priene, the Temple of Apollo at Didyma, and Miletus are three important sites that lack the crowds of nearby Ephesus. And given their proximity to one another, they’re commonly visited in a single day from Selçuk or Kuşadası. While one can typically join a small group tour, all such tours happened to

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Celsus Library Ephesus Guide

Exploring Ephesus: The Vibrant Capital of Roman Asia

Ephesus is one of Turkey’s best-preserved archaeological sites, and also one of its most important. It long served as the capital of Roman Asia Minor and it was the empire’s most thriving metropolis after Rome. Now, even centuries after its abandonment, it remains full of interesting and grandiose monuments. In the following Ephesus guide, we’ll

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Temple of Artemis Selçuk Guide

A Day in Selçuk: St. John’s Basilica & The Temple of Artemis

Izmir Province’s Selçuk is best known for being the town closest to the ruins of Ephesus. But Selçuk’s city center is also home to a unique collection of historical sites of major global importance. As such, it’s well worth setting aside an extra day to allow enough time to see all the landmarks in the Selçuk guide

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Aphrodisias Turkey

Aphrodisias: Turkey’s Best-Preserved Ancient City

Despite being one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in Turkey, Aphrodisias remains off the beaten path for most visitors. If you’re looking for something on par with Ephesus but without the crowds, Aydin Province’s Aphrodisias is the place to visit. Walking among the ruins today, the city still exudes luxury. In ancient times, it was a

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Pamukkale Travertines Pamukkale Guide

Pamukkale: The Travertines and Ruins of Hierapolis & Laodicea

Pamukkale, one of Turkey’s most popular travel destinations, is an enormous site comprising of two main sections: the travertine pool terraces and the Roman spa town of Hierapolis above them. In the following Pamukkale guide, we’ll be covering everything there is to see, along with the nearby archaeological site of Laodicea. Be sure to check the

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Patara Ancient City

Patara: The Beaches & Ruins of the Ancient Lycian Capital

Patara, located on the coast of western Antalya Province, was one of the most prominent Anatolian cities of antiquity. And today, Patara Ancient City is the perfect place for travelers to relax on the beach and go ruins hopping in the same outing.  Patara was located near the mouth of the Xanthos River – at

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Kayaköy Ghost Town

Wandering Through the Ghost Town of Kayaköy

Tucked away from southwest Turkey’s popular beach resorts is an eerie attraction like no other. The Kayaköy ghost town is not merely a collection of several abandoned buildings, but several hundred. And today, the town remains a haunting reminder of tragic events that transpired throughout the country a century ago. Situated about 8 km south of

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Kekova Island Boat Tour Kaleköy

Kekova Island & Kaleköy: A Boat Tour to the Sunken City

A sunken city, ancient sarcophagi, a Byzantine fortress and scenic turquoise bays are all part of the Kekova Island boat tour, an easy trip from Kaş or Demre. The excursion shouldn’t be missed by those touring Antalya Province, and it’s surprisingly affordable. The full-day trip, including lunch, only cost 100 TL (roughly $15 USD) at the

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Myra Ancient City Demre Guide

A Day in Demre: Lycian Tombs & The Church of Santa Claus

The overlooked town of Demre is worthy of your attention as you make your way across Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Once a thriving city and prominent member of the Lycian League, Demre was known as Myra in antiquity. In addition to its impressive Lycian tombs, Demre is also home to the Church of St. Nicholas, now

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Mount Chimaera Yanartaş

Olympos & Mount Chimaera: Ruins, Beaches & the Mountain of Fire

Olympos is one of Antalya Province’s most popular tourist towns, albeit with an altogether different vibe from your typical beach resort. Instead of highrise hotels, you’ll find simple rustic accommodations, while the town attracts a younger, largely Turkish crowd. In addition to the ancient ruins along the beach, nearby is the unique Mount Chimaera, known

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Phaselis Ancient City Antalya

Visiting the Seaside Ruins of Phaselis

The ruins of Antalya Province’s Phaselis can be fully explored in under an hour. But the site is also home to multiple beaches, completely unspoiled by high-rise hotels or restaurants. Today, the seaside location of the Roman and Byzantine ruins gives Phaselis a calming and altogether unique atmosphere. Once situated on the border between the kingdoms of Pamphylia

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Aspendos Theater Antalya

Perge & Aspendos Theater: Discovering Greco-Roman Antalya

While it may lack the scenery of mountaintop Termessos or seaside Phaselis, Perge is one of the best places to get a feel for the layout of a Greco-Roman city. What’s more, is that a visit can easily be combined with a trip to nearby Aspendos Theater – arguably the best-preserved Roman theater in the

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Termessos Ancient City Antalya

Termessos: Hiking Through the Eagle’s Nest

Just outside of Turkey’s summer tourism capital Antalya is a wholly unique and often overlooked archaeological site. Termessos, built at over 1,000 meters above sea level, was just one of two Anatolian cities that Alexander the Great failed to conquer. Largely untouched and unexcavated since its abandonment, Termessos makes for a challenging yet highly rewarding

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Antalya Marina Antalya Guide

A Day in Antalya: The Gateway to the Turquoise Coast

Antalya, Turkey’s largest city on the Mediterranean coast, is synonymous with tourism. Each summer, millions of visitors arrive to soak up the sea and sun. But for those not cooping themselves up in a private resort, the city center has plenty in store for history, culture and nature lovers. This Antalya guide will cover it all. Antalya

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Çatal Höyük

Çatal Höyük: Visiting One of the World’s Oldest Cities

Çatal Höyük, located 52 km southeast of Konya, was a Neolithic settlement founded over 9,000 years ago. Inhabited continuously for over a millennium, it was one of the largest settlements of its time.  Çatal Höyük’s unique layout isn’t what most people imagine when picturing ancient settlements. It was a surprisingly dense and crowded place, not unlike

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Whirling Dervish Ceremony Konya Guide

A Weekend in Konya: Experiencing the Legacy of Rumi

Konya, one of Turkey’s most significant cities from the medieval period, is still steeped in tradition. It was the capital of the Seljuk Empire’s Sultanate of Rum, and ornate buildings from this period remain standing throughout the bustling city. But most people visit Konya to pay homage to the legendary mystic and poet Rumi, who

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Göreme Open Air Museum

Top 5 Things to Do in Cappadocia (with Sample Itinerary)

Even with a full week in Cappadocia, there’s no way to see it all. And as most visitors only spend three or four days in the region, planning out your trip can be tricky. But after reading the following guide to the top things to do in Cappadocia, you should have a much better idea

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

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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 Turkey’s tourism map. But Urfa, as most people call it, is an essential destination in its own right. In addition to being the possible 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-day border between Turkey and Syria. Located 30 km southeast of Mardin, Dara Ancient City is an overlooked archaeological site from the Byzantine era that shouldn’t be missed by those touring the region.  In this guide, we’ll be

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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, with its elegant limestone buildings overlooking the Mesopotamian plains, is arguably Turkey’s most beautiful city. It’s also one of the country’s most historically rich and culturally interesting, with the region being home to a mix of Kurds, Arabs and Assyrians. In this Mardin guide, we’ll cover the top sights to see in town, along

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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 image of an ancient church on a small island in the middle of a bright blue lake looks like something out of a fairytale. But while Akdamar Island is indeed a real place, Lake Van is just about the furthest point in Turkey from Istanbul, and few actually visit. But making it out to

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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 interesting 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

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 this

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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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