World Heritage Turkey – Part 2

Part 2 of our piece on the UNESCO World Heritage listed sites in Turkey:

Catalhoyuk Restoration Çatalhöyük Close to Konya, and first discovered in the 1950s, the site of Çatalhöyük is currently being excavated and regularly provides new fascinating facts and treasures.  So far, the dig team have unearthed wall paintings, clay and stone figures depicting the mother-goddess, humans and animals, daggers with decorative handles and more, and have learned that residents of Çatalhöyük buried their dead underneath the floor.

What is particularly fascinating are the houses of Çatalhöyük (a recreation of one is shown in the picture to the left) – they had no doors and appear to have been entered through ladders from the roof.   The houses were built adjacent to one another, and the town did not have streets – most likely because of the layout of the houses. Çatalhöyük is important because it helps us gain an understanding of the development of early communities. Photo: Inside a model of a neolithic house at Catal Hüyük |Source= Wiki Commons Media|Date= 2005 |Author= Stipich Béla

Edirne mosque interior" by Piotr Tysarczyk - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Edirne_mosque_interior.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Edirne_mosque_interior.jpg

Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex Selimiye Mosque, located in the former Ottoman capital of Edirne, was designed by reknown Ottoman architect Sinan.  Selimiye Mosque is celebrated as being one of the best examples of architectural harmony in the design of a külliye, a group of buildings constructed around a mosque. Selimiye Mosque’s social complex includes a covered market, a courtyard and library, a hospital and a medrese (school) which included a medical school.

The interior of the mosque is beautiful – decorated with Iznik tiles from the period considered to be the “peak” of the production of this style of tile. The impressive dome of the mosque weighs in at 2 tonnes, and is 43.5 metres wide.  Its slender minarets are 85 metres high. Edirne mosque interior” by Piotr Tysarczyk – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons 

Xanthos Antique TheatreXanthos – Letoon Xanthos and Letoon are often considered to be one site because of their close proximity, and because the two were closely linked in history.  It is considered to be one of the most remarkable sites in Turkey.

During its history, Xanthos was attacked and occupied by the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans and the Byzantinians. The Xanthians were known to be very honourable and brave – and legend has it that upon invasion of Xanthos by the Persians, the Xanthian men, unwilling to submit to defeat, and knowing that death was inevitable, set their families and valuables on fire, the rather than submit these to their invaders.  They then proceeded to fight their invaders, however every Xanthian, save for 80 families who were away at the time of the invasion, died.  These 80 families rebuilt Xanthos only for the city to be razed to the ground again 100 years later.

Under excavation since the 1950’s, and located approximately 4km south of Xanthos, Letoon was once the sacred cultural centre of Lycia, and was dedicated to Leto and her twin children Apollo and Artemis. This site was never fully settled, but use more as a religious centre. Excavations continue today, and some of the biggest finds by archaeologists to date include the foundations of the Hellenistic temple dedicated to Leto, Artemis and Apollos and the Trilingual Stele – akin to the Rosetta Stone – this has helped in efforts to decipher the Lycian language.

Cappadocia LandscapeGöreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia Cappadocia’s landscape is probably one of the most striking in the World. Pinnacles,  formed by the effects of erosion on the soft rock that formed from volcanic ash, cover the landscape, giving it a fairytale-like feel. Home to early Christians, its landscape is dotted with small churches cut into the rocks, many with beautiful fresco paintings.  The region also has several underground cities, some, up to 8 levels below ground, which provided refuge for the Christians fleeing Rome’s persecution.  Cappadocia is a “must-see” for any visitor to Turkey, and is guaranteed to take your breath away.

Pamukkale

Hierapolis – Pamukkale Named after Hiera, the wife of Telephos, King of Pergamon, the ancient spa town of Hierapolis was integral to the spread of Christianity in Asia Minor, and is the place where St Philip died. People used to travel from far and wide to bathe in the healing waters of Hierapolis – it was a place for healing, and also a place where people came to spend their last years.  Because of this, the ruins of Hierapolis include a large graveyard filled with some very decorative tombs as well as an impressive theatre.  Visitors to the site have a chance to swim in the Antique Pool (entrance extra) where you can swim over fallen Roman columns and enjoy the warm thermal water.

Co-located with Hierapolis is the incredible natural marvel that is Pamukkale’s thermal water travertine (terrace) pools. The name Pamukkale translates to “cotton castle” in English – so named because of the travertines which cascade down the side of a hill and look somewhat like a frozen waterfall.

With another 52 sites on the UNESCO tentative World Heritage list, and cultural traditions such as drinking Turkish coffee and the art of Ebru also listed by UNESCO, Turkey is a treasure trove for visitors, and lives up to its name of being the World’s biggest museum.

Interested in visiting some of Turkey’s World Heritage listed sites? Most Fez Travel tours visit Pamukkale and Cappadocia.  Or alternatively, we can assist with developing private & custom-made tour itineraries.

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