The Best Historical Places to Visit in Turkey

Turkey has a long history that spans over millennia. This country is brimming with historical monuments that are worth visiting.

From ancient Greek towns hewn precariously into steep hills, to imperial Roman capitals sprawling across open plains, these ruins tell the stories of myth and legend.

Some of these ruins are more popular than others, but they are all well worth a visit. If you are planning a trip to Turkey, check out these top places to visit!

Hagia Sophia

The grand Hagia Sophia is one of the most popular historical places to visit in Istanbul, Turkey. It is a place of worship and a museum, but it also has a significant role in Turkish culture. It was built in the sixth century as a cathedral and has been a major part of the city’s history ever since.

Its interior is awe-inspiring. You can find marble statues and columns, and intricate mosaics of different sizes and colors. It’s also a place where religious officials would hold meetings.

You can visit the church without a guide, but a professional Istanbul tour guide will make your trip much more enjoyable. They can also explain the history of the building, as well as its architecture.

During the Byzantine Empire, Hagia Sophia was known as the “Great Church.” In 1453, the Ottomans took control of the city and transformed it into a mosque. Although it has been a church, museum, and now a mosque again, Hagia Sophia is still an important historical site and remains one of the most important holy sites in Turkey.

As a result, the Hagia Sophia has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building is a beautiful example of Greek Orthodox Christianity and was the spiritual center of Byzantine Constantinople.

Its dome is 56 meters tall and 40 windows allow natural light to flood the interior. It also has two semi-domes and two arched openings that create an enormous uninterrupted nave.

The ceiling is covered in elaborate mosaics of six-winged angels called hexapterygon. These mosaics are the inspiration for many of the decorative designs in other Christian churches.

You can find urns from the Hellenistic period, which are used to distribute sherbet during prayers. These marble urns can hold up to 1250 liters of water and have taps on the bottom for other purposes.

Aside from the dome, Hagia Sophia is famous for its mosaics and marble sculptures. Some of the most notable include the Deesis mosaic, which depicts Jesus’ birth.

Another mosaic in the upper gallery, a gilded cross, was carved by an Italian artist in the 19th century. It is thought to have been commissioned by Sultan Abdulmejid I to celebrate the conquest of the Ottoman Empire.

Sumela Monastery

If you’re a history buff and love exploring ancient sites, you’ll be thrilled to know that Turkey is home to many historical places. One of these is the Sumela Monastery, a Greek Orthodox monastery located on a mountain in the Trabzon Province.

The monastery is built into a cliff around 1,200 meters (3,937 feet) above sea level in the Zigana Mountains. It was originally built in the 4th century, and it has been rebuilt and altered numerous times throughout its history. The monastery has its own aqueduct, several chapels, kitchens, student rooms, a guesthouse, library, and a sacred spring.

As a tourist attraction, Sumela is renowned for its stunning scenery and the breathtaking views it offers to visitors. The monastery is also known for its spectacular architecture, and visitors will find that the monastery’s exterior features are particularly striking at night.

During the time when Sumela was active, it became a popular pilgrimage destination for both Christians and Muslims. The monastery was active until the Russian occupation of Trabzon in 1916-1918.

In 1923, the Ottoman Empire collapsed and the Turkish Republic was founded by Ataturk. In accordance with the provisions of the Treaty of Lausanne, the Greek and Pontic Greek populations of Asia Minor were sent to Greece, and priests and monks immigrated to their new home.

When the Greeks and Turks were separated, some of the treasures of Sumela were left behind. These items were buried, and they are thought to still be buried today.

The rock church and its adjacent chapel are adorned with beautiful frescoes. This style of painting is often found on ancient Georgian icons, which were made to emphasise the mysterious expressions on the Virgin Mary’s face.

Aside from the religious significance of the monastery, it is also considered a symbol of strength and protection. It was the place where Mary was thought to have visited and prayed before she died.

It is a remarkable place for faith tourism and sightseeing, but it can be difficult to visit on your own. It is best to book a tour.


Patara, located near the town of Gelemis in the Kalkan district of Antalya, is an important historical site containing many remains that have survived to this day. It was the capital of Lycia and was known for its prosperity in the ancient world.

There are a number of interesting things to see when you visit Patara, including the City Gate (Triple Arch) that dates back to the Roman era. This gate is considered to be the symbol of the city and has been preserved well to this day.

As you enter the ruins, you’ll come across a number of other interesting structures. The colonnaded Harbor Street, which dates from the Hellenistic era and was once lined with shops, is one of them.

Another impressive structure in Patara is the lighthouse, which was built by Roman emperor Nero 2,000 years ago. While it is only 4.5 meters tall in modern times, it still stands out from the crowd and evokes feelings of mystery.

According to the head of the excavations, Havva Iskan Isik, the lighthouse is one of the most significant sites to be found in Patara, as it shows that the Lycian people had a high level of technology. It was built by Nero as a safety measure for sea travelers.

Besides the lighthouse, you can also explore the Council House. This was once the meeting place for the Lycian League, an organization of 23 cities that was founded in the first century BCE and was governed by French philosopher Montesquieu.

There is also a temple, the Temple of Apollo, which was said to be the center of prophecy. A large bust of Apollo was found in the area, indicating that this may have been an important religious center in ancient Patara.

You can find a number of other interesting things to see in Patara, such as the Stadiasmus Patarensis (an ancient Roman milestone), which is considered to be the oldest and most comprehensive road-sign in the world. You can also see the Hurmalik Bath and the triple-naved Basilica at the port, among other monuments.

Mount Nemrut

Mount Nemrut is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Turkey and a renowned landmark that houses a fascinating funerary mound. It is located in the eastern Taurus mountain range near the town of Adiyaman.

In addition to its fascinating history, it also offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area and is a great spot to watch the sunset or sunrise. It can be reached by hiring a car or joining one of the many tours available in Malatya, Kahta, Sanliurfa, and Cappadocia.

The tumulus, or burial chamber, of Antiochus I (69-34 BCE), King of the Commagene Kingdom, was carved into the top of the mountain in the 1st century. This enigmatic site is a must-visit for all history buffs.

This tumulus is known for its colossal statues, which depict gods from different religions including Greek, Armenian, and Persian. These statues are a major draw for tourists to this mountain.

There is no doubt that this funerary mound is one of the most impressive and imposing structures in Turkey. Not only is it a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it is also one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country.

During the Hellenistic period, the tumulus of Nemrut was the most important place for the people of the Kingdom of Commagene to worship. It was considered the hierothesion, or a place where all the gods were assembled next to the heavenly thrones.

However, even this enigmatic monument was not well-known until a German engineer named Karl Sester started to excavate it in 1881. While he was laying out transport routes for the Ottoman Empire, the inhabitants of the nearby settlements were able to show him the amazing structure on the top of the mountain.

Since that time, it has been a hot spot for both local and international tourists. The monument has also become the focus of a number of scientific research projects.

In fact, the discovery of this tumulus was a big surprise for researchers. It took the attention of several different people for years before it finally caught the eye of Friedrich Karl Dorner, an historian who began systematic research in 1939.


What Are The Best Historical Places To Visit In Turkey?

Turkey is home to many incredible historical sites, including the ancient city of Ephesus, the iconic Blue Mosque in Istanbul, and the world-famous Hagia Sophia. Other must-visit historical places include the Cappadocia region, the ruins of Troy, and the ancient city of Pergamon.

What Are Some Historical Places In Turkey That Are Worth Visiting?

In addition to the popular historical sites mentioned above, there are many other amazing places to explore in Turkey. Some lesser-known but still worth visiting sites include the Hierapolis-Pamukkale UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ancient city of Ani, and the Sumela Monastery in Trabzon.

What Are Some Less Famous But Worth Visiting Historical Places In Mugla, Turkey?

Mugla is home to many fascinating historical sites, including the ancient city of Stratonikeia, the beautiful Bodrum Castle, and the Loryma Ancient City. Other must-visit places include the ancient city of Euromos, the ruins of Kaunos, and the impressive Dalyan Rock Tombs.

What Are Some Less Famous But Worth Visiting Historical Places In Antalya, Turkey?

Antalya is filled with amazing historical sites, including the ancient city of Perge, the stunning Aspendos Theatre, and the Düden Waterfalls. Other lesser-known but still worth visiting places include the Phaselis Archaeological Site, the Selge Ruins, and the Karain Cave.

What Are Some Less Famous But Worth Visiting Historical Places In Edirne, Turkey?

Edirne is home to many amazing historical sites, including the Selimiye Mosque, the Üç Şerefeli Mosque, and the Eski Mosque. Other lesser-known but still worth visiting places include the historic Bulgarian Church, the ruins of Adrianople, and the old Ottoman Bridge.