The Aegean shores of Turkey are among the loveliest landscapes in the country. The magnificent coastline, lapped by the clear water of the Aegean Sea, abounds in vast and pristine beaches surrounded by olive groves, rocky crags and pine woods.
Bird Paradise Izmir
Whether you prefer idyllic fishing harbours, popular holiday villages or the remains of ancient civilizations attesting to more than 5,000 years of history, culture and mythology, this region offers a holiday with something for nature lovers, sun worshippers, photographers, sports enthusiasts, sailors and archeologists. Along the whole length of the coast, accommodations to suit every taste and price range can be found.
Yachting in Fethiye , Mugla
Known in Turkish as “Beautiful Izmir”, the city lies at the head of a long, narrow gulf traversed by ships and yachts. The climate is mild and in the summer the constant, refreshing sea breezes temper the sun’s heat. Behind the palm-lined promenades and avenues, which follow the shoreline, the city, in horizontal terraces, gently ascends the slopes of the surrounding mountains. Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey and its port is second only to Istanbul. A cosmopolitan and lively city all year round, Izmir is especially vibrant during the international Arts Festival (June/July) and the International Fair (August/September).
Folk Dancer in Regional Dress
The original city was established in the third millennium B.C. (at present day Bayrakli), when it shared with Troy the most advanced culture in Western Anatolia. By 1500 B.C. it had fallen under the influence of the Central Anatolian Hittite Empire. In the first millenium B.C. Izmir, then known as Smyrna, ranked as one of the most important cities of the Ionian Federation. During this period, one of the city’s most brilliant, Homer is believed to have resided here. The Lydian conquest of the city, around 600 B.C., brought this era to an end, and Izmir remained little more than a village throughout the Lydian and subsequent sixth-century B.C. Persian rule. In the fourth century B.C. a new city was built on the slopes of Mt. Pagos (Kadifekale) during the reign of Alexander the Great. Izmir’s Roman period, beginning in the first century B.C., was its second great era. Byzantine rule followed in the fourth century and lasted until the Seljuk conquest in the 11th century. In 1415, under Sultan Mehmet Celebi, Izmir became part of the Ottoman Empire.
PLACES OF INTEREST MUSEUMS
The Archaeological Museum, near Konak Square, houses a superb collection of antiquities including the statues of Poseidon and Demeter which, in ancient times, stood in the Agora. (Closed on Mondays)
Next to the Archaeology Museum, the Ethnography Museum contains folkloric artifacts, which include a fine collection of Bergama and Gordes carpets, traditional costumes and camel bridles. (Closed on Mondays).
Poseidon and Demeter, Izmir Archaeology Museum
The Ataturk Museum is situated on Ataturk Caddesi in an old Izmir house used by the founder of the Turkish Republic. It exhibits photographs of the leader as well as some of his personal effects. (Closed on Mondays)
The Fine Arts Museum, located in Konak, showcases the works of famous Turkish painters. (Closed on Mondays)
The Seljuk Yasar Art Museum is a private museum on Cumhuriyet Bulvari with a collection of 20th-century Turkish art. (Closed on Sundays)
The Natural History Museum in Bornova serves as a natural reserve of the Aegean Region landscapes’ historical preservation. (Closed on Sundays)
The Odemis Archeological Museum about 60 km east of Izmir, displays regional artifacts. (Closed on weekends).
The Tire Archaeological Museum is about 50 km east of Izmir. (Closed on weekends)
Izmir Clock Tower
HISTORICAL SITES AND MONUMENTS
The excavations at Bayrakli have unearthed a temple dedicated to Athena and the wall of the Ionian city which flourished there between the seventh and fifth centuries B.C. Pottery dating back to the third millennium B.C. has also been uncovered.
On Kadifekale (Mt. Pagos) stands the impressive ruins of a castle, built by Lysimachus in the reign of Alexander the Great, which still dominates Izmir today. The castle offers an excellent vantage point to enjoy a magnificent view of the Gulf of Izmir.
The Agora, or marketplace, in the Namazgah Quarter was originally constructed during the rule of Alexander the Great. What remains today, however, dates from a rebuilding under Marcus Aurelius after a devastating earthquake in 178 A.D.
The Sirinyer and Yesildere Aqueducts, two examples of Roman engineering spanning the Meles River, supplied Izmir’s water throughout the Byzantine and Ottoman eras.
The Saint Polycarp Church is the oldest church in Izmir and symbolizes the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse. Saint Polycarp was martyred at age 86 in A.D. 155 at Kadifkale by the Romans. According to tradition, when they tried to burn him at the stake the flames wouldn’t touch him so they finally stabbed him to death. The church was reconstructed in 1620.
Kizlaragasi Inn, Izmir
The Kizlaragasi Han (inn), a fine example of 18th-century Ottoman architecture of the period, is being restored to its former glory.
The symbol of Izmir, the Saat Kulesi, or Clock Tower, stands in the heart of the city at Konak Square. A gift from Sultan Abdulhamid, it was built in 1901 in an elaborately decorated late Ottoman style.
Ataturk Memorial in, Cumhuriyet Square, Izmir
Hisar Mosque is the largest and oldest in Izmir. Built in the 16th century, and restored in the 19th century, it has a delightful interior with an interesting mimber (pulpit) and mihrab (niche showing the direction to Mecca).
Yali Mosque in Konak
Izmir’s other mosques are Salepcioglu (20th-century), Sadirvan (17th-century with 19th-century restorations) and Kemeralti (17th-century).
All are situated close to the Kemeralti Quarter.
Asansor Terrace, Izmir
Kulturpark, the principle park of the city, offers a variety of activities. It is the site for the International Izmir Fair and contains an amusement park, zoo, restaurant and quiet gardens.
Olof Palme Park, situated in Karsiyaka, is a relaxing place to explore. It also boasts sports facilities. Karsiyaka is ancient Cordelia.
Next door, the Adnan Saygun Park, a center for artistic activities, features an amphitheatre for concerts and theatrical productions, as well as the Open-Air Museum Park, which has statues scattered throughout the grounds.
Insan Haklari (Human Rights) Park exhibits lovely modern statues, including the huge Flying Dolphins Monument.
Muammer Aksoy Park is a lovely seaside park with a nice view of Izmir Bay. Turgut Ozal Recreation Park, located in Bayrakli, offers a number of recreational and sports activities
For many years Izmir has enjoyed a reputation as a cosmopolitan city of culture. The Izmir Cultural Center hosts opera and ballet performances as well as musical concerts. The city is home to the Aegean Philharmonic Orchestra and boasts a thriving theatrical community. During the annual Izmir International Festival, international and local artists perform at various venues in the city and surrounding area, including the theatre at Ephesus. Take a horse-drawn carriage along the promenade during the day and afterwards spend the evening in the lively atmosphere of the bars and cafes around Kordonboyu, Passport Pier and Karsiyaka.
Horse-drawn Carriage Tour, Kordon, Izmir
In the streets of the Kemeralti Market area, it is possible to find fascinating antiques, both fine and costume jewelry, a great variety of clothing, and the dried figs and raisins for which Izmir is famous. The fish restaurants in this colorful area serve up the local specialities of tranca and cipura, two types of sea bream. The most modern and elegant shops are on the Kordon Promenades in Alsancak and Karsiyaka and on Cumhuriyet Avenue and in Passport.
PLACES OUTSIDE IZMIR
Balcova, on the road to Cesme, is one of Turkey’s largest thermal spas, with excellent facilities for guests.
Camalti, 15 km west of Karsiyaka, is an area of coastal marshes and salt fields that is preserved as an important bird sanctuary the - Izmir Bird Paradise. Enthusiasts can spot many species, including flamingoes and pelicans.
Hot Spring, Balcova, Izmir
The Yamanlar Camligi, a pine forest near the lovely Lake Karagol 40 km northeast of Karsiyaka, is a popular picnic spot that also offers restaurants and a swimming pool.
A Hittite bas-relief is carved into the rock at Kemalpasa (20 km from Izmir) in the Karabel Pass.
Belkahve, the highest point above Izmir, overlooks the Gulf of Izmir and is a relaxing place to enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee. Formerly a favorite haunt of Ataturk’s, it is now the site of the country’s largest statue in his honor. In the village of Birgi is the Cakir Aga Mansion, a fine example of traditional Turkish architecture.
The cities of the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse, mentioned by St. John in the Book of Revelation, are all found in Turkey: Efes (Ephesus), Izmir (Smyrna), Bergama (Pergamum), Akhisar (Thyatira), Sart (Sardis), Alasehir (Philadelphia), and Eskihisar (Laodicea). Tours of one to four days can be arranged to see several or all of the churches.
Celsus Library, Ephesus, Izmir
Cesme Castle, Izmir
The very popular holiday center of Ilica boasts an excellent white sandy beach and the outstanding facilities of the Altin Yunus Marina and Holiday Complex. The bay here is ideal for water sports, especially windsurfing and sailing. The thermal baths around Ilica are very popular, the best located on Sifne Bay. Pasa Limani (Pasha Harbor) also has a campsite which offers comfortable facilities. In Ilica Bay, the colorful International Cakabey Optimist Yacht Race is held every July.
Ildiri, a quiet seaside village 20 km northeast of Cesme was ancient Erythrai. Those who climb up to the Acropolis at dusk are rewarded with a beautiful sunset over the bay and islands. Nearby Gerence Gulf is a pristine inlet northeast of the Cesme Peninsula which can be reached by boat or car. The natural surroundings are relaxing while the bay becons for water sports. In Dalyan, a fishing village built on a sheltered deep water inlet just north of Cesme some of the region’s best fish restaurants border the quay of the lively marina.
Tourists are attracted by the variety of accommodations at Ciftlik and by a long, sandy beach (Pirlanta Plaj), just outside the town to the southwest. Camping facilities are available to the south, and nearby is one of the area’s best beaches, the Altinkum Plaj (Golden Sand Beach).
Windmills, some of which have been converted into attractive restaurants, dot the hill above Alacati, a delightful and typical Aegean town. Alacati lies to the south inland from Ilica and the coast. A couple kilometers to the south is a good beach. Many lovely bays along the coast southeast of the town are accessible only by boat, ensuring peaceful and relaxing anchorage in this popular sailing region.
Cesme Beach, Izmir
Known in ancient times as Clazomenae, Urla Iskelesi offers a marina as well as plentiful accommodations in all price ranges. Restaurants on the top of Guvendik hill afford a marvelous view of the bay and its islands.
The prosperous little fishing village of Cesmealti is notable for its rustic yet excellent seafood restaurants.
Siren Boulders, Foca, Izmir
As you drive along the panoramic coastal road of Karaburun Peninsula you pass several peaceful bays and quaint fishing villages: Balikliova, Mordogan and Karaburun among others. At Karaburun, pleasant hotels, tea gardens and seafood restaurants sit between the beautiful mountain backdrop and the clear, clean water. From Manastir Mountain, you can enjoy an unforgettable view of the Karaburun coast, the Foca coastline opposite, and the entrance to the Gulf of Izmir. On the southern side of the Cesme Peninsula, near the town of Seferihisar, is the small picturesque marina of Sigacik. This important yachting center is surrounded by fortifications dating from the Genoese period and is a good point from which to visit the Temple of Dionysus at the ancient site of Teos, as well as lovely Akkum beach.
Serapis Temple, Pergamum, Izmir
South of Akkum, the New Neptune Holiday Village offers windsurfing and diving schools and it is the best area for these sports. Also in the Torbali area, between the villages of Ozbeykoy and Yenikoy lie the ruins of an ancient metropolis.
Gumuldur features excellent tourist facilities beautiful beaches, restaurants and hotels. Near Ahmetbeyli (Claros) to the east, stands the Apollo Temple and the remains of a colossal statue of the god. Here you can also enjoy a good fish dinner or a swim at the town’s wide beach. A winding panoramic coastal road leads from Ahmetbeyli south to Pamucak beach.
THE NORTH AEGEAN
The ancient Phocaea, Foca, once formed part of the Ionian Federation. Today it is a modem lively holiday resort on two deep bays. The pleasant accommodations, clean beaches and inviting restaurants make it an attractive vacation spot. Those seeking the perfect tan can find it on the natural rock terraces of the Siren Islands.
Bergama (Pergamum or Pergamon), once a great center of culture, survives as one of Turkey’s finest archaeological sites. In the Acropolis, above the modern town, are the remains of the celebrated library, impressive theatre, the temples of Trajan and Dionysus, the monumental altar of Zeus, the sanctuary of Demeter, a three terraced gymnasium and the Agora. The Asclepion, located to the southwest of the lower city, was a sanctuary dedicated to the god of health, Asclepics. In town is the Archaeological and Ethnographical Museum and nearby is the site of a temple dedicated to Serapis, the god of the lower world who was also worshiped in Egypt as Osiris. The temple was subsequently converted by the Byzantines into a basilica.
Dikili, frequented by cruise ships bringing visitors to Pergamon, is Bergama’s harbor town set in a relaxing atmosphere with many pleasant restaurants lining the Kordon Promenade. Stop at the little port of Candarli, the ancient Pitane, to see the Genoese fortress there, one of the best preserved in Turkey.
Fish Restaurant in Ayvalik
Ayvalik is a charming port, situated amid beautiful pine woods. Nearby, the Seytan Sofrasi (Devil’s Table) offers a splendid panorama of the archipelago along the Gulf of Ayvalik and the little island of Alibey (Cunda), where there are pleasant seafood restaurants. Sarimsakli Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the area.
The Gulf of Edremit, also known as the Olive Riveria, has a number of charming seaside resorts: Kucukkuyu, Altinoluk, Akcay (a thermal center with numerous springs), Edremit, and Oren. All boast beautiful beaches, ringing the Gulf of Edremit and presenting visitors a wide choice of hotels and guest houses with views of the sea. Here, too, is situated the beautiful Kaz Dagi National Park, with magnificent landscapes, restful green areas and several hot springs. According to mythology it was in this area that the world’s first beauty contest was held. Under the shadow of Kaz Dagi (Mt. Ida, 1774 meters) in Pinarbasi, west of Akcay, Paris gave the golden apple to Aphrodite in the famous “Judgement of Paris.”
Assos, the famous teaching center of antiquity is 87 km south of Canakkale in Ayvacik County. Aristotle, Plato’s most famous student, was invited to Assos and spent more than three years living and teaching there. He married the niece of Hermeia, founded a school of philosophy and conducted his early exploratory work in zoology, biology and botany.
The acropolis of Assos (Behramkale) is 238 meters above sea level. The Temple of Athena was constructed on this site in the 6th century B.C. This Doric temple is being restored to its former glory and role as guardian of the Biga Peninsula and Gulf of Edremit. Linger to see the moonlight scattered through the temple ruins, or rise early for the gently awakening dawn over the acropolis. From the top, you can take in the magnificent vista of the Gulf of Edremit and appreciate why this heavenly location was chosen. On the terraces descending to the sea are agoras, a gymnasium and a theatre. From the northern corner of the acropolis, you can see a mosque, bridge and a fortress, all built in the 14th century by the Ottoman Sultan Murat I. Down below lies a tiny, idyllic ancient harbor. Assos has gained the reputation of being the center of the Turkish art community with it’s lively bohemian atmosphere. This may be the trip you will remember for years to come. Twenty-five km west of Behramkale, in the village of Gulpinar is the ancient city of Chryse where the 2nd century B.C. temple of Apollon Smintheus is located. Babakale, a scenic village of houses terraced on a cliff which drops to the sea is 15 km west of Gulpinar on an unmarked road that follows the jagged coastline.
Assos (Behramkale), Canakkale
The city of Canakkale lies at the narrow, 1,200 meter entrance to the Canakkale Strait (the Dardanelles) that connects the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean. Passenger and car ferries run daily between Canakkale on the Asian side and Eceabat and Kilitbahir on the European side. Yachts navigating the straits stop at the well-equipped Canakkale Marina. Hotels, restaurants and cafes along the promenade offer a place to enjoy the traffic in the harbor, as well as a view of the Kilitbahir Fortress and the Canakkale Archaeological Museum.
Veterans’ Memorial, Gelibolu National Park
In 1451, Sultan Mehmet II, later the conqueror of Istanbul, built one fortress on the European side of the Canakkale Strait at Kilitbahir and one on the opposite shore at Cimenlik to control the passage of ships through the strait. Today the Cimenlik fortress serves as a military museum dedicated to the World War I Battle of Canakkale.
Gelibolu Peninsula Historical National Park was established to honor the 500,000 soldiers who gave their lives on Gelibolu, also known as Gallipoli. In 1915, Mustafa Kemal, commander of the Turkish army, led a successful campaign to drive out allied powers from the area. The park includes memorials, monuments, cemeteries amid the natural beauty of the Ariburnu Cliffs and Tuz Golu (Salt Lake). The beauty of the green hills, sandy beaches and blue waters provides an honorable resting place for the soldiers, who bravely fought and died in the historic battle.
You cannot help but sense the heart of the Turkish nation in the patriotic spirit of the place.
Homer immortalized Truva (Troy) in his stories of King Priam, Hector, Paris and the beautiful Helen. Archaeological excavations have revealed nine separate periods of settlement including ruins of city walls, house foundations, a temple and a theatre. A symbolic wooden Trojan horse commemorates the legendary war. The ancient harbor of Alexandria-Troas was built in the 3rd century B.C. St. Paul passed through twice, and then on his third missionary journey, he continued on to Assos. As you approach Bozcaada Island, the Venetian castle commands your attention. Then your eyes are drawn to the glistening white houses, restaurants and cafes which line the promenade. Wine seems as plentiful as water on this island, the consequence many vineyards and wine cellars. There are good, sandy beaches at Ayazma, Poyraz and Igdelik.
The largest of the Turkish islands, Gokceada is punctuated with pristine bays. Its hills, covered with the greens of pine and olive trees, are dotted with sacred springs and monasteries. Regularly scheduled ferry boats make the trip from Canakkale and Kabatepe. In August, islanders and tourists gather for colorful local fairs.
Legendary Trojan Horse, Canakkale
THE AEGEAN INTERIOR
Inland from the Aegean Sea, the fertile soil has endured the passage of many important early civilizations. Today the remains of these cultures can still be seen in the countryside, as well as in the cities, towns and villages. The more recent legacy of Ottoman rule is apparent in the well-preserved, traditional domestic Turkish architecture and Ottoman Mosques. Resorts have been built around the region’s hot springs, beckoning those seeking their pleasurable and beneficial effects.
The attractive Aegean city of Manisa preserves several splendid examples of Seljuk and Ottoman architecture. Endowed by Ayse Sultana, mother of Suleyman the Magnificent, the Sultan Mosque was built early in the 16th century. Every year in April, on the grounds of the mosque, a festival is held celebrating Mesir Macunu, a sticky elixir that reputedly cured the sultan’s ailing mother. The 16th-century Muradiye Mosque was designed by the great architect Sinan.
The adjacent medrese, or theological college, houses the Archaeological Museum. The annual Harvest Festival begins in September when the fruits of the vineyards are harvested amid great celebration. The region’s numerous vineyards produce grapes that are then dried for export. South of the city lies the Sipil Dagi National Park, home of the famous “crying rock” of Niobe. If you travel to the northeast you come to Gordes, a pleasant town particularly known for its fine carpets.
The ruins of ancient Sart (Sardis), once the capital of the Lydian realm of Croesus, lie on the Sart Cayi (Pactole River) plain. The world’s first coins were minted here. The Temple of Artemis and a restored gymnasium testify to the city’s past splendor, as does the important third century A.D. synagogue. On the south side of Sardis, Mt. Boz (ancient Mt. Tmolus) is good for hiking and other mountain sports.
Sultan Mosque, Manisa
Historically, Usak was an important carpet weaving center, a role it continues to play today. Visitors find the Archaeology Museum informative and interesting. The Kaftanci House Museum, along with the Ataturk Ethnography Museum, displays plays wonderful Usak carpets and kilims in Ataturk’s former residence.
The 226-meter high Afyon citadel dates back to 1350 B.C. and is ascended by means of stairs carved out of rock. It was used by Hittites and Phrygians. There are remains of a temple dedicated to the goddess Cybele near the citadel. The Archaeological Museum and the War of Independence Memorial underline Afyon’s place in history. Monumental bas-reliefs, a legacy of the Phrygian Kingdom, are carved into rock faces on hills north of the city. Aslantas is the largest. At Aslankaya, lion reliefs decorate the rock outcroppings.
The Acik Hava Muzesi (Open-Air Museum) is near the north entrance of the town of Dinar, 100 km south of Afyon. This is the site of the mythical music contest between Apollo and Marsyas (Pan). Byzantine and Roman gravestones, inscriptions and statues can be seen here.
Kutahya is one of the oldest Turkish cities, with many old Turkish traditions still being practiced today. It is home to important Ottoman architectural monuments, including a castle, mosques, medreses, baths, complexes, mausoleums, and mansions. One of the finest mosques is the 14th century Ulu Mosque. Kutahya Castle offers a wonderful, panoramic view of the old town on the western side of the city. The Kutahya Archaeology Museum was a medrese in the 14th century that now displays ethnographia, Roman and Byzantine relics, and Iznik and Kutahya tiles from Ottoman times. Lajos Kossuth, the 19th century Hungarian hero, lived with his family in what is now the Kossuth House Museum, where relics and documents related to Kossuth are exhibited.
Aizanoi, Temple of Zeus
The kilns of Kutahya produced exquisite ceramics since the 16th and 17th centuries. You can visit the workshops where skilled artisans produce tiles, plates and bowls renowned for their cobalt blue patterns on a milky white background.
Southwest of Kutahya is the Roman town of Cavdarhisar (Aizanoi) where a theater, stadium and the Temple of Zeus remain. In the same direction, Murat Mountain offers camping facilities and hot springs amid delightful scenery. Near Dumlupinar are the Baskomutan National Park and the War of Independence memorials.
Ceramic Fountain, Kutahya
THE SOUTH AEGEAN
A visit to Efes (Ephesus), once the commercial center of the ancient world, is a highlight of any visit to Turkey. The city, whose wealth and patronage supported its splendid architectural program, was dedicated to the goddess Artemis. Her enormous temple, once considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and rebuilt several times, in its latest form dates from the third century B.C. The ruins also include a theater, gymnasium, agora and baths, as well as the Library of Celsus.
Temple of Hadrian, Ephesus, Izmir
The nearby town of Seljuk is dominated by a Byzantine citadel which stands close to the 6th-century basilica of St. John, supposedly built on the site of the apostle’s tomb. The 14th-century Isa Bey Mosque, next to the basilica is accessed through its typical Seljuk portal. The Archaeological Museum houses an impressive collection of statues and other finds recovered during the excavations at Ephesus. The nearby Turkish Bath Museum, in a 16th century building, shows Turkish life at the hamam (bath). The Ephesus International Festival of Culture and Tourism is held annually in May.
Tradition has it that, after the death of Christ, John brought the Virgin Mary to Ephesus where she is said to have spent her last days in a small house (Meryemana Evi) built for her on Bulbuldagi (Mt. Koressos). Now a place of pilgrimage for Roman Catholics and a popular attraction for everyone, the house has received the official sanction of the Vatican, and a commemoration ceremony is held every year on August 15th. Near Seljuk is a TCDD Open-air Steam Locomotives Museum displaying historic train cars in Camlik. Sirince is 9 km east of Seljuk, known for its traditional 19th-century homes, some of which have been converted into guest houses. Wine is produced in this small hillside Turkish village, which itself resembles an open-air museum. Eighteen km from Seljuk are wine houses, for tasting the wines.
St. John’s Church, Selcuk, Izmir
The province’s capital, also called Aydin, enjoys a widespread reputation for its fine figs. Known as Tralleis in ancient times, it was at the center of a celebrated school of sculpture. Today’s remains date from the second century A.D. After 1186 the town came under Seljuk rule. The local museum displays artifacts from the different periods of its history.
Back along the coast, Kusadasior Bird island is a lovely port built along the shores of a glittering bay. The terraced town overlooks the most beautiful inlet of the Aegean, seemingly created purely for the delight of the holiday-maker. Be sure to visit the popular Kus shopping center in the Kaleici quarter, where there is also all nightly entertainment. A large, modern marina facilitates life for visiting yachters. The Tusan-Kustur Beach, north of Kusadasi is one of the cleanest beaches. twenty-three km south of Kusdasi is the charming resort town of Guzelcamli. West of Guzelcamli and 30 km from Kusadasi, is the Dilek Peninsula National Park, a must for those with the time. Here, amidst incredibly beautiful surroundings, are some of the most wonderful vistas and some of the rarest wild animals in Turkey, including the Anatolian cheetah and some of the last wild horses. The park is a wildlife preserve, a haven for many species of animals and birds.
The exquisite Menderes River valley, known in the West as the Meander, has been the cradle of many civilizations. Bordered by pine, olive and oleander trees, the magnificent Lake Camici (Bafa) is a lovely place for a stop. Tourists can choose between guest-houses or campsites. To the east of the lake rise the five peaks of the Besparmak Mountains (Latmos). The Iconoclastic priests who came here from Constantinople to live, built monasteries, churches, and chapels around the base of the mountains and on the lake’s islands. The ruins of the ancient city of Heraklia lie close to the lake, while the remains of Alinda are found on the eastern slopes of the Besparmak Mountains. The valley has witnessed the rise and fall of several great cities, notably Priene, Miletus, Didyma, Aphrodisias, and Hierapolis. This peaceful national reserve is an excellent place for bird-watchers, hikers, nature-lovers and photographers.
Milet (Miletus), like Priene, was a great Ionian port as well as the birthplace of several philosophers and sages. The theater itself justifies a visit. Also be sure to see the well-preserved ruins of the Faustina baths and the Archaeological Museum.
Although Didim (Didyma) can only boast of a single monument, it is a marvelous site. The Temple of Apollo was one of antiquity’s most sacred places. Many times looted and burned, the colossal sanctuary still impresses with its elegant beauty, surrounded by a double colonnade portico. Not far from the archeological site, the beautiful beach of Altinkum tempts visitors with its many guest houses. Akbuk is another holiday resort in the region with nice beach hotels.
Although the history of Geyre (Aphrodisias) stretches far back in time, the city, which was dedicated to Aphrodite, goddess of love and fertility, only rose to prominence in the first century B.C. Some of the richest treasures of ancient times were uncovered in the excavation of this city. The public buildings are handsomely adorned with marble that was carved with astonishing skill, producing remarkable temples, monuments, baths, a theater and a magnificent stadium. As the reputation of the city’s craftsmen for the exquisite finesse spread through the civilized world, Aphrodisias became the center of the greatest sculpting school of antiquity. Many of its marvelous works of art are now housed in the local museum. The theater and bouleuterion are among the city’s best-preserved ruins.
About 35 kilometers east of Aydin lies Sultanhisar, host to an Art and Culture Festival every spring. Nearby, in quiet groves of olive trees, are the ruins of ancient Nysa, famous in the second century A.D. as an educational center. You can choose among nearby Camlik, Incilipinar or Gokpinar Parks for a rest, a picnic, or simply a walk through the forest in the shade of pine trees. Fresh water springs and thermal baths attract many visitors.
Nestled in the high mountains near the Buyuk Menderes (Meander) River is Denizli. Surrounded by the natural beauty of a verdant valley, the area is also rich in culture and history. The Luvians were the first inhabitants, followed centuries later by the Hittites. Throughout time the fertile plain nourished other civilizations – The Phrygians, Lydians, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, and the Ottomans. Modern Denizli is a city of wide streets with parks and hotels. The Ataturk Ethnography Museum in the city center features folk art and ethnic artifacts. While shopping in the Kaleici Carsisi look for souvenirs of copper, jewelry, towels and silk blouses. You can choose among nearby Camlik, Incilipinar or Gokpinar Parks for a rest, picnic, or simply a walk through the forest in the shade of pine trees. Fresh water springs and thermal baths attract many visitors.
Hot Spring, Pamukkale
A magical, spectacular natural site, unique in the world, Pamukkale (Hiecrapolis) is a fairyland of dazzling white castles. Thermal spring waters laden with calcareous salts running off the plateau’s edge have created this fantastic formation of stalactites, cataracts and basins. The hot springs have been used since Roman times for their therapeutic powers. Both the thermal center with its motels and thermal pools, as well as the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis, are situated on the plateau.
Another thermal center northwest of Pamukkale is Karahayit, known for its water’s high iron content. Honaz Dagi National Park is 20 km east of Denizli, near the town of Honaz. Mt. Honaz is one of the most beautiful and highest peaks (2528 m) in the Aegean region, covered with a gorgeous alpine forest. The remains of ancient Colossae, a site of early Christian activity, can be seen on the northern slope.
An impressive medieval castle built by the Knights of Rhodes guards the entrance to the dazzling blue bay of Bodrum, where the Aegean and the Mediterranean meet. This charming town attracts a diverse population of vacationers who stroll along its long, palm-lined waterfront, while elegant yachts crowd the marina.
Not far from town, you can swim in absolutely clear, tideless, warm seas. Divers, especially, will want to explore the numerous reefs, caves and majestic rock formations in waters that offer up multicolored sponges of all shapes and sizes and an immense variety of other aquatic life, including octopus.
The reputation of Bodrum’s boat yards dates back to ancient times. Today, craftsmen still build traditional boats: the tirhandil with a pointed bow and stern and the broad beamed, rounded stern gulette. The latter are utilized for excursions and pleasure trips, and in the annual October Bodrum Cup Race.
Yacht Race, Bodrum
The yearly throng of visitors has encouraged small entrepreneurs to make shopping in Bodrum a delight. Leather goods of all kinds, natural sponges and the local blue glass beads are among the bargains to be found in the friendly little shops along the narrow, white walled streets. Charming boutiques offer kilims, carpets, sandals and embroidery as well as original fashions in soft cotton fabric.
Bodrum has gained the reputation as a center of the Turkish art community with its friendly, Bohemian atmosphere and many small galleries. This community has encouraged an casual day time lifestyle and a vibrant nightlife. The evenings in Bodrum are for leasurely dining one of the many seafood restaurants. Afterwards, daytime nightclubs (some with cabaret) and superb discos keep you going until dawn.
Bodrum, known in ancient times as Halicarnassus, was the birthplace of Heredotus and the site of the tomb of King Mausolus (4th century B.C.), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In the harbor, Bodrum Castle, or the medieval castle of St. Peter, is a fine example of 15th-century Crusader architecture. It has been converted into the Museum of Underwater Archeology, with remains dating as far back as the Bronze Age. The stunning panoramic view from nearby Goktepe, is often photographed by those who visit the second-century theater there.
The beautiful Bodrum Peninsula suits visitors interested in a understated relaxing atmosphere. Enchanting villages, with guest houses and small hotels on quiet bays, dot the peninsula. On the southern coast, Bardakci, Gumbet, Bitez, Aktur, Ortakent Yalisi, Karaincir, Bagla and Akyarlar have fine, sandy beaches (Bitez, Ortakent and Aktur are blue-flag beaches). Campers and windsurfers enjoy Gumbet, and at Bitez colorful sailboards weave skillfully among the masts of yachts in the bay. On shore you can enjoy quiet walks through the orange and tangerine groves bordering the beach. Ortakent has one of the longest stretches of sandy beach in the area and offers an ideal place for relaxing in solitude. One of the most beautiful beaches on the Bodrum peninsula is Karaincir, ideal for active days by the sea and relaxed evenings with local villagers. Finally, Akyarlar enjoys a well-deserved reputation for the fine, powdery sand of its beach.
Bodrum Museum, “Amphora Collections”
Turgutreis, Gumusluk and Yalikavak, all with excellent beaches, lie on the western side of the peninsula and are ideal for swimming, sunbathing and water sports. Gumusluk Beach is a blue-flag beach. In Turgutreis, the birthplace of a great Turkish admiral for whom it is named, you will find a monument honoring him. In the ancient port of Myndos (Gumusluk) you can easily make many friends from among the hospitable and outgoing local populace. In Yalikavak, white washed houses with cascading bougainvillaea line narrow streets. Small cafes and the occasional windmill make it particularly picturesque.
On the north coast of the peninsula Torba, Turkbuku, Golkoy and Gundogan can be seen by road. Even better, hire a boat and crew to explore the quiet coves, citrus groves and wooded islands. Little windmills, still used to grind grain, crown the surrounding hills covered in olive trees. Torba, a modem village with holiday villas and a nice marina is located eight km north of Bodrum. Golkoy and Turkbuku are small and simple fishing villages with a handful of taverns overlooking the lovely bay.
After a boat trip to Karaada, half an hour from Bodrum, you can bathe in the grotto where warm mineral waters flowing out of the rocks are believed to enhance the complexion.
The translucent and deep waters of the Gulf of Gokova, off the southern shore of the Bodrum peninsula, vary from the darkest blue to the palest turquoise, and the coastline is thickly wooded in every hue of green. During the evening, the sea reflects the mountains silhouetted against the setting sun, while it shimmers with phosphorescence at night.
You can take a yacht tour or hire a boat from Bodrum for a two, three or seven-day tour of the gulf.
The Gulf of Gulluk, and harbor of the same name, lie north of the Bodrum peninsula on the Aegean. The mythological Dolphin Boy is said to have been born a little farther to the north at Kiyikislacik (lassos). South of Gulluk, Varvil, ancient Bargilya, sits at the end of a deep narrow inlet surrounded by hillsides covered in olive trees.
Inland from Gulluk, is Milas, ancient Mylasa, known for its beautiful carpets a century-old tradition which continues today. The weavers rarely mind a visitor watching them at work. Plenty of old Turkish houses with carved timbers and latticed windows provide examples of the local architectural style. Gumuskesen, a memorial tomb, thought to be a small copy of the famous Halicarnassus Mausoleum, stands west of the city.
The ancients built Labranda high in the mountains as a sanctuary dedicated to Zeus. Today tourists have rediscovered this mountain retreat, escaping to its exhilarating air and breathtaking scenery.
Situated on a bay, backed by rugged pineclad mountains, Marmaris is a most attractive maritime parklands, ideal for water sports and sailing. It makes an excellent starting point for a “Blue Voyage” tour of the Aegean coastline. In May, the Marmaris Yacht Charter Show provides an opportunity to meet the yacht captains and crews. With plenty of provisions aboard you set sail in the craft of your choice and languidly explore the spectacular beauty of southern Turkey.
In Marmaris, sample typical Turkish cuisine in one of the marina restaurants and drink raki, anisette, the traditional Turkish way, over ice and diluted with water. Later stroll along the brightly lit palm-lined promenade and indulge yourself at one of the ice cream vendors. Energetic entertainment at a lively bar or dancing until dawn at a sophisticated disco can end a perfect day. There are many good buys in Marmaris’s boutiques, colorlul bazaars and markets.
Gumuskesen Memorial, Milas, Mugla
You can find excellent leather and suede goods, copper jewelry and other objects carved of onyx. Turkish carpets, textiles and embroidery make good handcrafted souvenirs, and the locally produced pine-scented honey called cambali is superb.
Ancient Marmaris, Physkos, was an important stage on the Anatolia- Rhodes- Egypt trade route. In the 16th century, Suleyman the Magnificent had a citadel built on a hill, the remains of which can still be seen today. Swimmers should not miss Ataturk Park, to the east of Marmaris, where a shallow beach, extending to the bay leads to safe waters. The clear blue sea is warm enough for swimming from early May until late September. Marmaris also has horseback riding and tennis centers for the sports enthusiast. This is also one of the few places in the world where you can delight in the heady aroma of the frankincense tree. Weekly ferry lines run between Marmaris and Venice during the summer season.
Near Marmaris, at Icmeler, the hazy mountains of the interior slope down to sandy beaches. Under blue skies, the clear sea presents opportunities for all types of water sports. Many find this area so irresistible that they stay longer than originally planned. There are some excellent accommodations here, in which you can prolong your experience of nature. As you drive down from the high mountains into the scenic small village of Turunc, the vista opens out onto the spectacular blue waters beyond the natural harbor. Most of the restaurants border the beach, while a few bars and restaurants farther back from the water’s edge offer fresh fish and superb views.
Kumlubuk, a turquoise paradise, lies on the southern side of the bay. On the northern, above the water, is the ancient Rhodian city of Amos. Loryma, at the tip of the Bozburun Peninsula, where the ruins of the ancient harbor and castle remain, can only be reached by boat. Quiet, natural bays and scattered islands punctuate the northern shore of the peninsula.
Sedir Island, in the Gulf of Gokova, was the ancient Cedrai. Its old city walls, theater and temples can be visited by driving from Marmaris north to Gelibolu Bay and then crossing over by boat. This trip also offers an unforgettable panoramic view of the mountain scenery across the bay. At the head of the gulf is the village of Gokova whose houses seem to cascade down the Mt. Kiran mountainside. Restaurants built over bubbling, fresh-water streams that cascade from the highlands create an unforgettable setting. The towering pines and cooling breezes of Gokova Park are often a welcome respite from the hot sun.
The Datca Peninsula provides a natural boundary between the Gulf of Gokova in the Aegean Sea to the north, and the Gulf of Hisaronu in the Mediterranean Sea to the south. Along the 75 km from Marmaris to Datca, the road winds among trees and hills, opening onto lovely views over the blue expanse. Campers have many wonderful settings to choose from. Those who are less adventurous can stay in one of the many comfortable resort villages. The beautiful blue-flag Aktur beach is 25 km from Datca. In Datca white-washed buildings hung with bougainvillaea decorate the town. The marina is on the southern bay and swimmers prefer the northern bay. Around the marina bars, cafes and a wide selection of shops keep the tourist’s interest.
Lycian Rock Tombs, Fethiye
Some shops remain open well into the evening. Relaxing over a pre-dinner drink and then a delicious meal in a friendly restaurant is a popular way to spend the evening hours. Of course, the local eateries offer both fresh fish and classic Turkish cuisine. With any remaining energy, take a stroll and find a disco to your liking until the early morning. The Kormen Harbor, 10 km north of Datca is connected to Bodrum by a daily ferry line.
As you travel out of Datca either by road or by boat, you will find unspoiled flays and golden sandy beaches. Kargi is one of the most popular.
At the end of the peninsula 38 km from Datca stands the ancient Carian city of Knidos, described by Strabo as “a city that was built for the most beautiful of goddesses, Aphrodite, on the most beautiful of peninsulas.” Famous as a center of art and culture in the fourth century B.C. the city had two harbors: one on the Aegean and the other on the Mediterranean. The remains of a circular temple dedicated to the goddess of love overlook the two harbors. The arcaded walkway was built of white marble in heart- shaped columns. Praxiteles’ legendary statue of Aphrodite, one of the most beautiful sculptures of antiquity, once graced this temple.
Knidos, Datca – Mugla
The town of Koycegiz lies at the northern end of the lake by the same name and is joined to the Mediterranean by a natural channel. This unique environment is being preserved as a nature and wildlife sanctuary. A road shaded with aromatic frankincense trees leads to the tiny village of Dalyan on the inland waterway. The maze of channels is easily explored by boat as you immerse yourself in this tranquil dream world. The restaurants which line the waterways specialize in delicious fresh fish.
Magnificent tombs were carved into the rock high on the cliff face, at a bend in the river, above the fascinating ancient harbor city of Caunos. The Dalyan Delta, with the long, golden, sandy lztuzu beach at its mouth, is a nature conservation area and a refuge for sea turtles (Caretta caretta) and blue crabs.
At Ekincik, a delightful yacht mooring, you can enjoy the breathtaking beauty of this area. Only a half hour’s drive from Dalaman Airport, Sarigerme has wonderful sandy beaches, and a pleasant resort village discreetly situated in a pine forest. The Dalaman River is the great for rafting, the best time being between May and October.
The road to Fethiye winds up and down hills through a heavily forested region that offers occasional glimpses of the sea and an islet or two basking in total seclusion. The Gulf of Gocek and its friendly marina is one of the best sailing spots on the Mediterranean. Dotted with islands and sculpted by many coves, its land and seascapes are irresistible. The ruins of Arymaxa, an ancient city at the southern tip of the gulf, lie at the edge of the azure water. Opposite, on Tersane Island, stand Byzantine ruins, including those of the ancient shipyards.
The popular resort, Fethiye 135 km southeast of Marmaris boasts an important marina at the head of a beautiful bay strewn with islands. A hill crowned by the ruins of the crusader fortress built by the Knights of Rhodes overlooks the little port. Above the town, (called Telmessos in antiquity), numerous Lycian rock tombs, reproducing the facade’s of ancient buildings, were cut into the cliff face. The Tomb of Amyntas, which probably dates from the fourth century B.C., is the most remarkable.
Harpy and Semerdam Monuments, Xanthos, Antalya
Swimmers head for the popular Calis Beach, four km west of town, or to Sovalye Island, opposite the harbor, which blazes with flowers in the spring.
The road to Belcegiz Bay takes you through the mountains, where cozy guest houses cater to those seeking mountain scenery. Ocakkoy is a mountain village must. Stay in one of the lovely guest houses and enjoy the numerous hiking possibilities. Hisaronu, also in the mountains, has very nice hotels. Kayakoy, four km from Hisaronu, is a picturesque ghost town of old houses and churches. Explore the bay and the beautiful Blue Lagoon (Oludeniz) where the calm, crystal clear water is ideal for swimming and other water sports. The Blue Lagoon is one of the best places in the world to do absolutely nothing but soak up the sun amid stunning natural surroundings. From Mt. Baba (1,969 m), you can paraglide into the Blue Lagoon. For those seeking accommodations, Belcegiz beach is highly recommended. Intoxicating scenery surrounds the beach and shady park at Kidirak. On Gemiler Island (St. Nicholas Island), Byzantine ruins are tucked amid the pines. South of Kidirak beach, Koturumsu Bay is reachable only by boat.
Beyond the idyllic beach, a forest, waterfalls and a valley filled with hundreds of varieties of butterflies await the intrepid explorer. High in the mountains above Fethiye a rushing torrent cuts a narrow gorge through the mountains, creating Saklikent (Hidden City) Canyon 44 km south of Fethiye.
A cool refuge on hot summer days, Saklikent is a favorite picnic spot, with rustic restaurants serving delectable fresh trout. Yakakoy (Tlos) 36 km south of Fethiye, is the oldest city in the Lycian region and the home of the Lycian Hero Bellerophon. Visitors can see the remains of a castle, the agora, the necropolis, the theatre, Roman baths and a good view of Esen Valley.
Two km east is Tlos Park, a terrific picnic spot. Pinara, 49 km south of Fethiye, is another ancient mountain city,popular for hikers who can see the remains of a theatre, an agora, a rock tomb, and baths.
About 65 km southeast Fethiye, near Kinik, are the ruins of Xanthos, an important Lycian capital in a splendid natural setting.
Nearby Letoon was formerly an important religious cult center where temples dedicated to Leto, Artemis and Apollo stood in ancient times.