Turkey Things to Do Tips by Paul2001
Turkey Things to Do: 1,113 reviews and 1,733 photos
The Mausoleum of Ataturk
The Anit Kabir is more famously known mausoleum of Ataturk or Mustafa Kemal. For those who have yet to visit Turkey, Ataturk is the first president the new Republic of Turkey. He was also a general of superior ability who was largely responsible for the defeat of the Allies in Gallipoli and the Greeks in the Turkish War of Independence. I do not have enough room to go into more detail and do Ataturk justice but he was quite simply one of the most important world leaders of the 20th century and certainly the most decisive figure in modern Turkish history. His picture is posted everywhere. Be on guard and do not talk negatively of him if you do not want to offend the Turks.
I did not know what to expect when visiting the mausoleum. The Anit Kabir is located on a large hill and the grounds are immaculately maintained. Most visitors are likely to approach the tomb via the Anit Cad. Part of the walkway is flanked by 24 lions hence is given the name the Lion Road As you do so you will pass a set of soldiers in dress uniforms who will present arms and march around on que. The mausoleum of Ataturk is located in a eight columned tomb that is rather stark upon an initial glance. However when you consider the surrounding building, it is rather impressive. Inside of the tomb is a marble sarcophagus which contains Ataturk's remains. In front of the tomb is large ceremonial ground which is 129 m. long and 84 m. wide. Along the perimeter is on the north side, there is a wall where there are many reliefs with images of Turkish patriotism. Along the west and south side of the ceremonial grounds is a passageway. In this passageway there is a small museum dedicated to Ataturk and the battles he fought. There are uniforms, weaponry and automobiles that he drove in. There are also dioramas depicting the Battle of Gallopili that were very impressive.
The Anit Kabir is free to visit. It is open from 9am to noon and from 1pm to 5pm.
Directions: The Anit Kabir is located 2km west of the city centre. The nearest metro station is Tandagon.
Mosaic in the Archaeology Museum in Bergama.
One of the bigger surprises I had while touring Turkey was the superb Archaeology
Museum in Bergama. The museum is fairly large for such a small city as Bergama but it really should not be such a shock that the museum as a collection of such quality, Pergamum is just 3km away. Many of the artefacts that are displayed here are from there. Others are from Allianoi, another archaeological site near Bergama but this one is about to disappear thanks to a new dam. The museum's collection is extremely well displayed and is located in a pleasant modern building in the centre of Bergama.
The museum cost $2.50 to visit and is open from 8:30 to 5:30 daily.
Address: Cumhuriyet Cad. 10
Directions: Zafer Mah. (on left across from the BP gas station)
The Mihrab and tomb, Yesil Turbe
Commonly known as the Green Tomb, this remarkable monument is in fact teal blue. The tiling that gives the tomb its name was actually the work of 19th century restorers. The interior houses the tomb of Mehmet I. It was originally constructed in 1421 upon the orders of Mehmet to house both his own remains and those of his family. You will see the tombs of his sons also inside of the building. Both inside and out the tiling and calligraphy is quite beautiful. The mihrab, pictured here, is particualarly impressive.
The tomb is located just east of the Yesil Camii. Both buildings are surrounded by a lovely park with high pine trees and good views of Bursa spralling out below.
Directions: one kilometer east of the city centre of Bursa
The Theatre at Pergamum
Perhaps after Ephesus, the most remarkable ancient ruin in Western Turkey is Pergamum. This stunning ancient site extends along a series of terraces down a 300m hill overlooking a fertile valley and the modern town of Bergama. For sure its Acropolis and theatre are the most scenically situation of any in Turkey.
Pergamum has existed since the 12th century B.C. but its heyday was during the rule of Eumenes II (197-159 B.C.). It was Eumenes who added many of the buildings that you see today amongst the ruins. They include the Acropolis, the Alter of Zeus, the library and the astonishing hillside theatre. The latter was built in three tiers along the hill and could seat over 10,000 people. Although the theatre is spectacular and the most photographed aspect of Pergamum, it is the library that is the most important ruin in the site. The remarkable library at onetime rivaled that of Alexandria's and it was here that parchment was first used for keeping records. Also quite interesting is the Temple of Trajan which was built during Roman rule of the region. It is here that you find most the well preserved columns of any of the old temples.
Pergamum does not receive anywhere as near the visitors that Ephesus. I find this very odd because I thought they these ruins were nearly as interesting. In fact because there were so few people about I probably enjoyed my visit here more than at Ephesus.
The ruins of Pergamum are open from 8:30am to 5:30pm daily. It cost $7.00US to visit. As you are exposed to the sun on top of the hill, I highly recommend some sunblock or a hat.
Directions: Pergamum is located just north of Bergama. To reach it you can take a taxi up the hill along a road that stretches for 5km.
Prisoner in the Dungeon of the Castle of St. Peter
Beneath the Gatineau Tower at the Castle of St. Peter is the dungeon. It is meant to be be scary and in fact those with a weak heart are advised not to decend to its depths. Actually that might because of all the steps that you have to climb going down and coming back up because it far to kitschy to be scary. This because of all the flashing light and Halloween decorations. I was struck by the appearance of this poor fellow chained to wall for the fact that he is the spitting image of a homeless person who hangs out where I work in Toronto. The one exception is the fact that this prisoners arms seem to be disproportionally long. Perhaps he had been placed on the rack? Anyway the kids should love this part of the castle.
The lagoon at Olu Deniz
Probably the most picturesque beach in Turkey if not all the Eastern Mediterranean is the beach at Olu Deniz. That said it might be in some opinions also be one the of the greatest tourist trap. I say that because it overrun with hordes of tourists primarily from Britian and Germany. Still the extreme beauty of the beach sitting in a blue lagoon surrounded by high pine-forested mountains cannot be beat. However one cannot help but think that this is a prime example of what the travel books mean when a onetime off the beaten track location becomes over developed.
Thankfully when I visited in early October of 2003, there were not that many tourist about so that I could find a restful spot on the beach without being crammed in by other tourists. The lagoon is portioned off from the rest of the beach and one has to pay a small fee of about 50 cents to enter. Inside of the lagoon all kinds of water sport equipment can be rented. Another drawback in my opinion was that the beach is very pebbly which is not my preference when it comes to beach going.
Directions: Olu Deniz is located 8.5km south of Fethyie.
The Asklepion in the famous ancient medical centre located in Bergama. The hospital was built in honour to the Greek god of medical, Asklepios. Dating from at least the early 2nd century A.D., but probably even earlier, the Asklepion is one of the earliest medical centres ever. For certain it is the earliest psychiatric hospital. Asklepion was also something of a sanitarium where you would go rest and treatment. Psychotherapy, massage, herbal remedies, mud and bathing treatments were all practiced here.
Today the ruins are very interesting to visit. Amongst the most interesting remains is the Temple of Asklepios which has an unusual circular formation. The even more unusually shaped Temple of Telephorus can be decended into where you can find a long tunnel that extends all the way to the Sacred Baths. There is also a small Roman theatre and forum that you can explore.
I had the whole ruin to myself when I explored Asklepion. That was because I visited first thing on a very chilly morning. I would have to think that the site gets very crowded later judging by the size of the parking lot.
The Asklepion is open daily from 8:30am to 5:30pm with an admission price of $7.00. I walked to the site from the town centre of Bergama. This meant walking through a large Turkish military base. I was briefly intimidated by the scores of jogging soldiers but they were actually very friendly, waving at me as the ran by.
Directions: The Asklepion is located about 3.5km west from the town centre of Bergama.
The Theatre and mountain backdrop in Termessos
Termessos is one of the great ancient sites in all of Turkey. Located on a plateau in a high mountain valley it probably the most dramatically situated.
Termessos was home to the Solyms, who were a fiercely independent people. Little is known about their history. The Solyms built this fortified city in order to ward off invaders. They were very successful as the city was never captured. Even Alexander the Great failed to conquer Termessos. The Romans awarded them independence rather than attempting to capture the city. Like the rest of the region, Termessos fell into decline the 5th century A.D. and the city was abandoned.
Termessos is especially notable for it's awe inspiring theatre. Cut into the rocks and overlooking a mountain panorama, I heard other visitors exclaim that it reminded them of Machu Picchu. Wandering around the site you will also see the remains of old temples and sarcophagi.
The only reason that it does not receive the hordes of tourists that the other sites like Ephesus receive is that it is not the easiest place to get to. If you chose to visit, it means that you must find your own means of transport as there are no buses. If not by your own car, a tour or taxi will be the best substitute. Also remember to wear proper walking shoes and lots of water. It is rugged and hot up in the mountains, especially in the summer.
Termessos is open daily from 8am to 6pm and it cost about $10US to visit.
Directions: 34km northwest from Antalya.
The Roman theatre in Side
The Roman Theatre in Side is the first ancient monument that you will see as you enter the village. It is one of the largest ancient theatres in Turkey and could seat 15,000 people. The theatre was built during Hellanistic times but the Romans expanded it. Today the theatre is used for the Aspendos Festival events. Like other ancient ruins in Side, there is much in the way of restoration going on and there is a huge unsightly construction crane hanging over the threatre. Another downer for me was the price of admission to explore the threatre. At 10million Lira it is certainly overpriced. The theatre is open from 8am to midnight daily.
The Citadel in Ankara
After a tour of the Museum of Anatolian Civilization and visit to the citadel further up the hill is recommended. This massive fortress on top of the large hill that overlooks Ankara has been a fortified stronghold since pre-historic times. Most of the present day walls were built by the Byzantines and some where again built during the Ottoman period. This includes the two interior castle keeps. At the time of my visit only one of which could be explored. The views on top of these ramparts are rather interesting as you can see all of Ankara sprawled out at your feet.
Within the outer walls of the citadel are is an actual village. Wandering around it is like stepping back into time as there are few modern conveniences. It is easy to get lost as you explore the streets. Surprisingly I came across few foreign tourists when I visited the citadel. I should also mention that the place is free.
Directions: On top of an outcrop overlooking Ankara. About a five minutes walk the hill from the Museum of Anatolian Civilization.
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