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Ephesus & Environments

Ephesus is the best-preserved classical city on the Mediterranean,and perhaps the best place in the world to get the feeling for what life was like in Roman times. As a strategic coastal gateway to the Eastern World, this Ionian refuge grew to be the second largest city in the Roman Empire, the site of a Christian shrine, and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Legend has it that the Virgin Mary, accompanied by St. Paul, came to Ephesus at the end of her life, circa 37-45 AD. Renaissance church historians mentioned the trip, and it is said that local Christians venerated a small house near Ephesus as Mary's. In 1967 Pope Paul VI. visited the site, where a chapel now stands, and confirmed the authenticity of the legend. Also the Basilica of St. John is located near Ephesus. St. John is said to have lived the last years of his life here and after his death, a shrine was located over his grave.

The Basilika, which was made in the name of St. Jean by the Byzantian emperor Justinyen in the 6th century A.D., is located on the Ayasuluk Peak. The ediface, which has the dimensions 40X110 m. and is entered from the west, is the shape of a cross. The real church section is covered with six big domes carriedby thick elephants feet. The nartex is covered with 5 domes. There are sections in which priests lived in the middle of the basilika, under the dome and on the east side of St. Jean's tomb which is underground. These structures separate from the church in a half circular form. Frescos made up of pictures of saint are found on the north of the grave area. Monograms of the Emperor Justinyen and his wife Theodora are found on the heads of the columns which were restored in the church. St. Jean's grave is under the section of the dome in the center. It is believed that the sacred dust that comes out of a hole in the grave is good for curing illnesses. St. Jeans grave has been one of the most important places in the world throughout the medieval ages.

It is believed that the place of the seven sleepers was built in the period around the 5th and the 6th century. It is a center of religion. According to the legend, before the acceptance of Christianity as an official religion, seven young people ran away from pagans and took refuge here and they fell asleap and woke up 200 years later. When they woke up christianity had become an official religion. After this miraculous event it is believed that the 7 people were buried here again after they died and a large structure was made in their name. In the excavations a large structure, mostly carved rock grave remains two churches and catacombs were found. The remains of which we can see four floors of is possibly seven floors in total. The corridors found on the ground floor which were used for religious education, gives it the appearance of a monastary.

The House of Virgin Mary, the sacred mother of Christianity is situated on the BULBUL(Canary) Mountain. Mary was handed over by Christ to St. Jean, Mary's friend and a postle right before he was crucified. After Christ was crucified St. Jean thought it was dangerous for Mary to stay in Bethlehem so he carried her off and brought her here. Eventhough these rumors became legends, there are indications of proof that it is real. St. Jean who was given the sacred duty of spreading the religion of Christianity chose. Ephesus, the greatest city of the era, as a larget. He hid Mary in a cabin in a corner covered by dense trees at the feet of the Bulbul Mountains because he did not want to let Mary into the Pagans land. It is known that St. Jean secretly visited her everyday, brought her food and something to drink, and checked on her. It is stated that the holy virgin lived in the Bulbul Mountains until she was 101 and she died here. St. Jean buried Virgin Mary somewhere on this mountain where nobody else knows. A cross shaped church was built by the Christians who found the place of Virgin Mary with the guidance of a German nun who was paralyzed and could not come to Turkey, after Christianity was spread.

One of the first seven churches built in the name of Virgin Mary was erected in Ephesus. The Christian people around Ephesus continued a tradition which came from their ancesters and organized religios ceremonies for Virgin Mary every year on August 15th. This and similar signs seem to prove that the Virgin Mary spent the last years of her life around Ephesus. Based on this fact the Papacy approved that this was Virgin Mary's House in 1957 and it has become a place that is famous for its visits by Christians as well as Muslims.

Selcuk Isabey Mosque is on of the most important structures of Aydinogullari Beyligi (dynasty) ; a dynasty of the Selcuks. The mosque was erected in 1375 by Aydinoglu Isabey , the son of Mehmet Bey from Aydinogullari dynasty. It was designed and built by architect Ali of Damascus.One third of the Structure covers part of the mosque and two thirds of it is the courtyard.

The courtyard has a smooth wooden roof, colonnade and an octagon pool. It shows the transition to the Classic period Ottoman architecture. At the present time , the colonnades in the courtyard are lost. Twelve pillars whic h surrounded this courtyard still stands. Two long nave with a smooth wooden roof, being parallel to the mihrap, intersects through the tow domes in this mosque (Crosswise nave). You can enter the real mosque building trough a gate vay with Three arches.

The triangle pendentives of the dome in front of the altar is filled with turqoise, dark blue and brown mosaic porcellains, small hexagon plagues and is Ornamented with hexagon geometrical stars. There are stalectite fiilling with turquoise porcelain pieces on the octagon tembour of the cupole. The filling is a reminder of the Selcuks Style.

The Mosque seem like Diyarbakir Ulu Mosque and Artukogullari remains the scheme. There were one-brick minarets on the eas and west gateway on the west facades is a niche with the grooved archmoulding and with colorful st one Decorations on stalactite rows. The windows and the door are embelished with rich ornamentation. In the earlier building there were wooden arches upholding the tow sides of the domes.

Isabey Mosque was vanguarded with its architectural facade and the order of the colonnade courtyard to the first grand Ottoman Period's structures in Bursa, Edirne and Istanbul.

This pretty old Orthodox village, 12 km away from Ephesus and 30 km from Kusadasi, was once Cirkince ("ugly"). Indeed its habitants gave this name on purpose as they did not want to be bothered by foreigners nor to share the beauty of their village.

Still after years, visitors understood that the village was not ugly at all and called it Sirince ("pretty"). As the village is located on the top of a mountain, anyone will enjoy the impressive wine yards' and peach trees' views on his way.

Today the village is a perfect synthesis of Turk-Greek culture as of the 1920's: after the Independence War, people exchange between Greek and Turks has occurred and all those typical Greek houses, though they kept their original outside characteristics, have received the local layout inside. The most beautiful specimens are open to visitors. And even in the courtyard of one of them, one will discover a nicely restorated Orthodox church.

All the narrow streets of the village belong to the women, selling handcrafts of all kinds, olive oil. Another attraction of Sirince is its wine: try its taste in small cafes or in the former municipal school restorated.

Though Sirince is developing its tourism very quickly, it has been able to preserve its authenticity and the meaning of its name.


Pamukkale is an extraordinary natural wonder. The mineral-rich waters rise from the ground at a temperature of 35°C and tumble down the mountain from a height of 100 metres, forming a myriad of pools. Cream colored stalactites are formed as the water overflows the pools, creating a breathtaking sight unequalled in the world. Water is the sole instrument in the creation of this gleaming fairy castle that resembles cotton (hence the name "Cotton Castle"). There are an abundance of hot springs in this wonderland which are recommended for the treatment of heart disease, circulatory problems, high blood pressure, nervous disorders, rheumatism, eye and skin diseases, nervous and physical exhaustion, and digestive maladies.

The road to Pamukkale (19 km from Denizli) is lined with oleander bushes which anticipate the relaxing atmosphere of this ideal holiday center. The hotel pools are in garden like settings; the natural ones on the hillside, with their tiny splashing waterfalls, are particularly appreciated by nature lovers and sunbathers. The ruins of Hierapolis are the other main attraction. The city was founded in 190 B.C. by Eumenes II, king of Pergamon. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. it reached the height of its development as a Roman thermal bath center. Hierapolis has such extensive ruins that the following route is suggested: After admiring the city walls, start with the 5th - century octagonal Martyrium of St. Philip, cross to the 2nd- century theater for some fine marble reliefs above the stage, all quite well-preserved.

Next to the Temple to Apollo is a sacred area a deep hole in the ground (known as Plutonium) that used to emit noxious fumes (carbon diox- ide) which the priests said were fatal to all except them- selves.

A memorial fountain is nearby. In the pool of the Pamukkale Motel are large marble slabs belonging to what was a Roman bath. Next, go to the basilica, then up a colon naded street and through memorial gates dating from Byzantine and Roman times, to the West Bath, and finish at the necropolis. The necropolis area stretches 2 km and contains some of the best examples of tomb styles; it is one of the best-preserved cemeteries in all of Anatolia. The now-restored East Bath is an archeology museum housing many artifacts from Hierapolis.

The few shops in Pamukkale offer various calcified objects unique to this area. In contrast to this very white back ground, the colorful kilims seem even more brilliant. Five km northwest of Pamukkale is the Karahayit thermal center with plentiful accommodation as well. The water in the thermal baths here has a high iron content.


Istanbul, the only city in the world built on two continents, stands on. both shores of the Istanbul Bogazi (Bosphorus) where the waters of the Black Sea mingle with those of the Sea of Marmara. The Golden Horn divides European Istanbul in two. Here on this splendid site, Istanbul guards the precious relics of three empires, of which she has been the capital; a unique link between East and West, past and present.

However, Istanbul is not only historic, it is also a magnificent city that is fascinating and vividly alive. Beneath the unchanging skyline of her domes and minarets there is the continual bustle and movement of crowds, the rumbling of vehicles along andent cobblestone streets, the incessant coming and going and the cries of street sellers mingling with shipping sounds from the busy port. Istanbul has endless variety: museums, andent churches, palaces, great mosques, bazaars and the Istanbul Bogazi (Bosphorus). However long you stay, whether for just a few days or longer, your visit to this eclectic city will be unforgettable.

Topkapi Palace: Overlooking the Istanbul Bogazi and the Marmara Sea stands amaze of buildings that was once the great palace of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th to the I9th centuries. The first courtyard is a magnificent wooded garden. To the right of the second court, shaded by cypress and plane trees is the palace kitchen, now housing an exquisite collection of crystal, silver, and Chinese porcelain, while on the left is the Harem, the secluded quarters of the wives and concubines of the sultan. The third court contains the Audience Hall of the sultan, the Library of Sultan Ahmet III, an exhibition of robes worn by the sultans and their families, the famous jewels of the Imperial Treasury' and finally, an exhibition of miniatures. In the center of the third court is the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle, enshrining relics of the Prophet Mohammed. (Open every day except Tuesday.)

Dolmabahce Palace: Built in the mid-19th century by Sultan Abdulmecit, it has an impres- sive 600-meter frontage on the Istanbul Bogazi. The most important part is the vast reception salon, with 56 columns and a huge 750-bulb crystal chandelier weighing 4,5 ions. The architecture of the Harem is in stark contrast to that of the rest of the palace. The Bird Pavilion, where birds from all over the world were once kept is unique to this palace. Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, died here on November 10. 1938. (Open every day except Monday and Thursday.)

Beylerbeyi Palace: On the Asian side of the Istanbul Bogazi, this palace was built of white marble by Sultan Abdulaziz in the 19th century. It possesses a beautiful garden with mag- nolia trees and was used as a summer residence of the sultans and as a guest house for visiting foreign dignitaries. (Open every' day except Monday and Thursday.)

Yildiz Palace: This palace includes a complex of pavilions and a mosque which were built over a long period and finally completed by Abdulhamit II at the end of the 19th century, The Sale, the largest and most exquisite of the buildings, reflects the life of luxury of over a century ago. Yildiz Palace is set in a huge park with plants and trees brought from ever}' part of the world. Situated on the top of a hill. it has one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the Istanbul Bogazi. At present only the Sale and park are open to the public. (Open every day except Monday and Thursday.)

Sultanahmet Imperial Mosque (Blue Mosque): Across from St. Sophia is the supremely elegant, imperial, six-minaret mosque of Sultanahmet I. Built between 1609 and 1616 by the architect Mehmet, it is known as the Blue Mosque because of its magnificent interior decoration of blue Iznik tiles. During the summer months, there is a light and sound show in the evening.

Suleymaniye Imperial Mosque: The mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent, where he and his wife, Hurrem Sultan (Roxelane), are buried, is considered the most beautiful of all imperial mosques in Istanbul. It was built between 1550 and 1557 by the famous architect Sinan whose wish was to surpass the builders of St. Sophia. Erected on the crest of a hill, it is con- spicuous from its great size, emphasized by the four minarets rising one from each comer of the courtyard. Inside, the mihrab (prayer niche showing the direction to Mecca) and the mimber (pulpit) are of finely carved white marble, and there are fine stained glass windows, Adjoining the mosque were theological schools, a school of medicine, a soup kitchen and hospice for the poor, a caravanserai and a Turkish bath.

Rustem Pasa Mosque: Another skillful accomplishment of the architect Sinan, this mosque was built in 1561 on the orders of Rustem Pasa, Grand Vizier and son-in-law of Suleyman the Magnificient. The exquisite interior is covered with some of the finest examples of Iznik tiles.

Imperial Fatih Mosque: This imperial mosque, constructed between 1463 and 1470, hears the name of the conqueror of Istanbul, Fatih Sultan Mehmet, and Is the site of his mausoleum. Standing on top ol one of the hills of Istanbul, it is notable for its vast size and the great complex of religious buildings surrounding it: theological schools, hospices, a hospital, baths, a caravanserai and a library.

Eyup Mosque: The Great Mosque of Eyup is situated outside the city walls near the Golden Horn where Eyup, standard-bearer of the Prophet Mohammed, died in an assault on Constantinople in 670 A,D. His tomb is greatly venerated and attracts many pilgrims. This was the first mosque built after the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul,

Yeni Mosque: Built between 1597 and 1663, this mosque, located at Eminonu, is one of the best known sights of Istanbul. An elegant fountain for ritual ablutions stands in the large courtyard and the sultan's section is decorated with marvelous Iznik tiles.

Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Mosque: This 16th-century mosque, contructed on the slope of a hill below Sultanahmet Square, is one of the most beautiful examples of classical Turkish architecture and is a masterpiece of the architect Sinan. The pulpit and prayer niches are of special interest being covered with beautiful Iznik tiles.

Mihrimah Sultan Mosque (Edirnekapi): This mosque was also designed by Sinan and built in 1555 by Mihrimah Sultana, the daughter of Suleyman the Magnificent, This majestic mosque has 161 windows (some with stained glass) in three rows on each side, filling this mosque with an abundance of light.

Ayasofya Museum (Saint Sophia): This ancient basilica, built by Constantine the Great in the 4th century and reconstructed by Justinian in the 6th century, is one of the architectural marvels of all time- Its immense dome rises 55 meters above the ground and is 31 meters in diameter. The beautiful decorations include stunning Byzantine mosaics. (Open everyday except Friday.)

Kariye Museum: The 1th-century church of "St. Saviour" in Chora is, after St. Sophia, the most important Byzantine monument in Istanbul. The walls are decorated with superb 14th century frescoes and mosaics on a gold background. The church is a remarkable museum of Byzantine an that influenced the European Renaissance, Here you will find a quiet, carefully tended garden facing old wooden houses where you can enjoy tea or coffee. (Open ever day except Tuesday.)

Yerebatan Sarnici: Close to St. Sophia 1s the 6th-century Byzantine cistern known as the Yerebatan Sarnici, Fine brick vaulting is supported by 336 Corinthian columns. (Open everyday except Tuesday.)

Archeological Museums: These are situated on the perimeter of the first court of Topkapi Palace. The very rich collection of classical antiquities in the Archeological Museum includes the celebrated Alexander Sarcophagus, and the Athena Temple from Assos. The Museum of the Ancient Orient displays antiquities from the Sumerian, Babylonian. Assyrian, Haiti and Hittite civilizations, (Open everyday except Monday.)

Cinili Kosk (The Museum of Turkish Ceramics): This kosk, or pavilion, was built by Mehmet the Conqueror in the 15th century. It contains beautiful Iznik tiles from the 16th century and fine examples of Seljuk and Ottoman tiles and ceramics. (Open everyday except Monday).

St. Irene Museum: St. Irene was the first church in Istanbul built by Constantine in the 4th century and rebuilt by Justinian. It is reputedly the site of a pre-Christian temple (Open everyday except Monday but by appointment only.)

Ibrahim Pasa Palace: (The Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art) Built in 1524 by Ibrahim Pasa, Grand Vizier of Suleyman the Magnificent, it was the grandest private residence ever built in the Ottoman Empire. It is now used as a museum for many beautiful Turkish and Persian miniatures, Seljuk tiles. Korans and antique carpets. (Open everyday except Thursday.)

Military Museum: The exhibits from Ottoman military history include the great field tents used on campaigns. There are performances by the Mehter Takimi (the Ottoman military band) between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. (Open everyday except Monday and Tuesday.)

Sadberk Hanim Museum: A charming museum housed in two restored wooden villas.The museum is dedicated to old Turkish arts and handicrafts and includes an archeological section, It is situated on the Istanbul Bogazi at Buyukdere. (Open everyday except Wednesday.)

Museum of Fine Arts: Located in Besiktas, it is one of the best museums in Turkey for paintings and sculptures from the end of the 19th century to the present. (Open everyday except Monday and Tuesday.)

Museum of Turkish Carpets: A museum near the Sultanahmet Mosque which contains a fine collection of Turkish carpets and kilims, including some very old ones. (Open everyday except Sunday and Monday.)

Mosaic Museum: This museum was built to preserve "insitu" the exceptionaly fine mosaic pavements from the 5th and 6th centuries which " were in the Great Palace of The Byzantine" Emperor. (Open everyday except Monday.)

Sehir (City) Museum: This museum houses a collection of objects dating from the Turkish conquest of Istanbul to the present day. The entrance is by the Yildiz Palace Garden. (Open everyday except Thursday.)

Yildiz Palace Theatre and the Historic Stage: Costumes Museum with their rich scenery, full- size stage and exquisite costumes, are located within the garden of the palace. (Open everyday except Monday.)

Museum of Industry (Rahmi Koc Industry Museum): Located in the suburb ol Haskoy on the coast of the Golden Horn, this 18th-century Ottoman iron and steelworks building (formerly known as Lengerhane, "iron works"), has exhibits tracing industrial development. (Open every day except Monday).

Caricature Museum: This museum in the Fatih quarter is in the 16th-century Gazanler Aga Medrese. (Open weekdays 09:00-18:00).

Sultanahmet Square: In front of the Blue Mosque is the site of the ancient Hippodrome, the scene of chariot races and the center of Byzantine civic life. Of the monuments which once adorned it, only three remain: the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column and the Column of Constanline. Remains from the curved end of the Hippodrome wall can be seen to the south of the these three monuments. Today, it is the center of historical, cultural and touristic activities. The square, with its surrounding area. resembles an open-air museum. The 18th-century houses on Sogukcesme Street, delightfully restored, are now guest houses for tourists and also contain a fascinating library of books on Istanbul.

Ahmet III Fountain: Situated at the entrance to Topkapi Palace and built in 1729 as a gift to Ahmet III. it is one of the most magnificent free standing fountains. Highly ornamented and covered with a generous pointed roof, it is a fine example of fountain architecture.

Rumeli Hisari: The Rumelian Fortress, built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452 prior to the conquest of Istanbul, was completed in only four months, and is one of the most beautiful works of military architecture anywhere in the world. Its amphitheater is now used as the setting for some ol the events in the Istanbul Music Festival, (Open every day except Mondays.)

Galata Tower: This huge tower, built by the Genoese in 1348 is 62 meters high. From the lop, there is a wonderful view of the Golden Horn and the Istanbul Bogazi. It has houses, a restaurant, nightclub and bar now.

Beyazit Tower: Located on the grounds of Istanbul University, it was built by Mahmut 11 in 1828 as a fire lower, and is 85 meters high.

The Istanbul Walls: Built in the 5th century by the Emperor Theodosius II, the walls (with some sections completely restored) stretch 7 km from the Sea of Marmara to the Golden Horn. With many towers and bastions, they were once the mightiest fortifications in Europe. UNESCO has declared die walls and the area which they enclose cultural heritages of the world.

Bozdogan-Valens Aqueduct: Built by the Emperor Valens in 368 A,D., this aqueduct supplied first the Byzantine and later the Ottoman palaces with water. About 900 meters of the doubletier arches remain.

Kiz Kulesi (The Tower of Leander): Kiz Kulesi is one of the romantic symbols of Istanbul. First constructed in the 12th century on a tiny islet at the entrance to Istanbul Harbor, the present building dates from the 18th century.


Cappadocia is the ancient name of the region which is located in the central part of Turkey with a history dating back to the Neolithic age. The first settlement in the area was at Catalhoyuk. Many years later, two major volcanoes erupted in the Hasan and Erciyes mountains. The lava which was expelled, called tufa, has created the carved landscape which it appears as today. In that tufa mixture there was mainly two materials: Basalt and Andesite. Over time, the soft basalt eroded leaving behind the andesite, which formed surrealistic rock shapes, now called 'fairy chimneys'.

The major places to see these fairy chimneys are Zelve, Pasabag, Pigeon valley, Red Valley, Goreme, Urgup. Due to the fact that the soil is not fertile for agriculture, it is used instead for vinyards. The surrounding flora of the area consists of these vineyards, onion and potato fields. As the earth was so easily pliable, the inhabitants of the area lived for long periods in underground cities like Kaymakli, Derinkuyu, Mazikoy... when threatened by enemies. There are 36 underground cities like these in the region.

The very first Christians of Anatolia settled in Cappadocia and built rock cut churches with beautiful frescoes in order to educate the community. Almost in every valley there is a church with magnificent frescoes inside, but the most popular ones are the ones which are in Goreme Open Air Museum.

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