Extraordinary Turkey … the destination at the middle between East and West cultures. Cappadocia’s underground cities first began to be chiseled out of the ground in the Bronze Age Hittite era, but they are most famous for their early Byzantine history (6th and 7th centuries), when the region’s Christians took to living underground for long periods to escape from Arab and Persian invaders. Kaymakli Underground City is Cappadocia’s largest example, with a labyrinth of rooms connected by tunnels that extends for eight levels. Four of these levels can be explored by visitors.Heading underground into the mazy network of tunnels is a fascinating experience, but those with claustrophobia should be aware that some of the tunnels are exceedingly narrow.
Located in Istanbul, the Hagia Sophia was originally a basilica constructed for the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I in the sixth century. A masterwork of Roman engineering, the massive dome (31 meters or 102 feet in diameter) covers what was for over 1000 years the largest enclosed space in the world. The church was looted by the fourth Crusaders in 1204, and became a mosque in the 15th century when The Ottomans conquered the city. The Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1935 and is now one of the top attractions in Turkey.
With its stunning, lonely setting, built into a cliff face, Sumela Monastery (Monastery of the Virgin Mary) is the star attraction for visitors along the Black Sea Coast. Wandering around this abandoned religious complex, with its church interiors crammed with dazzling and vibrant frescoes, is a must for anyone who makes the long journey to Turkey’s northeast region. The monastery first opened during the Byzantine era and was only closed in 1923. Today, wandering its empty cells, it’s easy to imagine the isolated lives of the monks who once lived here.
The fifteenth century former residence of the Ottoman Sultans, the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul is a huge, ornate palatial compound which was a focal point of Istanbul’s social and political life for hundreds of years. A UNESCO World Heritage site, visitors flock through its gates to see its Ottoman architecture, courtyards and famous Muslim and Christian relics. A must see sight, it consistently ranks among the top attractions in Turkey. The Harem is also quite popular, but costs extra. Audio tours are available.
Immerse yourself in fantasy and uncover Cappadocia treasures, be captivated on a Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon ride, see the honeycombed hills, distinctive chimneys and tall cone-shaped rocks that are clustered in the Monks Valley. Cappadocia tours are one of the many highlights when visiting this region of Turkey. A great way to see all of the beautiful valleys that lie between the stunning Goreme and charming Cavusin is on any Cappadocia Turkey tours. Extra details on Cappadocia hot air balloon ride.
Travelers who love to shop shouldn’t miss out on a visit to the Grand Bazaar, with 5,000 shops making it one of the largest indoor marketplaces in the world. Receiving more than a quarter-million visitors a day, the bazaar features such items as jewelry, carpets that may or may not fly, spices, antiques and hand-painted ceramics. The bazaar dates back to 1461 and today is home to two mosques, four fountains, two hammams or steam baths, and the Cevahir Bedesten, where the rarest and most valuable items have been found traditionally. Here is where shoppers will find old coins, jewelry with precious gems, inlaid weapons and antique furniture.