Must visit archaeological sites in Turkey

Visiting Turkey is an opportunity to connect with the civilizations before us. Here are the must visit archaeological sites in Turkey.

Archaeological sites you need to add to your yacht charter itineray

The amount of well-preserved ancient ruins in Turkey is mind-boggling. No fewer than 28 archaeological sites shine a light on the ancient civilizations spanning from the Neolithic age to the Roman civilization. For travelers who lack time to see them all, Boatsters has compiled a list of 14 must visit archaeological sites in Turkey.



1. Göbekli Tepe: A Neolithic Temple

At the highest point of a mountain range near Şanlıurfa is the Neolithic archaeological site called Göbekli Tepe. This structure is one of the earliest man-made religious monuments in the world. The monuments are massive limestone pillars are embellished with Intricate animal and abstract pictograms.

Photo Copyright: Cultural Heritage News

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2. The Çatalhöyük Settlement

The Çatalhöyük settlement, one of Turkey’s most important archaeological sites, was erected during the Neolithic period. The discovery of these ruins at Konya province during the late 1950s gained global tourist attraction. The site stands out for its vastness and the beautifully designed wall paintings.

Photo Copyright: National Geographic

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3. Yenikapı: Marmaray Excavations

The discovery of the archaeological site at the Yenikapı district of Istanbul was borne out of sheer providence. While building Istanbul’s new metro line in 2004, archaeological artifacts were unearthed. This led to one of the most extensive archaeological digs in the world, lasting from 2004 to 2013. 

Unearthed were over 35,000 artifacts and 36 ships dating back to the 7th to 11th Century when Byzantine emperor Theodosius I established the Theodosian Harbor in Constantinople. Named the Marmaray excavations, the artifacts are by some distance the largest collection of Ancient craft ever unearthed.

4. The City of Troy

High on every tourist’s sightseeing list is Troy, home to one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites. Considered a rumor spread by Homer in his epic poem about the Trojan war, The Iliad, Troy was a myth until Heinrich Schlieman’s 1870 discovery. 

That year, a huge bronze age city was uncovered at the base of Mount Ida in Çanakkale, Turkey, along with gold initially believed to belong to Priam the King of Troy. It was later discovered that the gold was far too old to belong to him. The remains found at this archaeological site date back to the 4th century BCE, perfectly matching the description of Homer’s city. 

5. The Cities of Hattusa

Hattusa, formerly the capital of the Hittite Empire in the Late Bronze Age, still awes visitors today. Archaeological excavations at the site, discovered in Çorum in 1834, unearthed a Lower City with memorabilia of civic life and an Upper City. 

A visit to this ancient Turkish city should take about 3 hours and take you through the reconstructed city walls, the lion gate, the Sphinx Gate, King’s Gate, and Southern Fortress. The Hittites are known as the first Indo-European civilization and were among the most dominant forces in the region in 2000BC.

Photo Copyright: Daily Sabah


6. Aphrodisias

Located in a valley about 100 miles north of Izmir, Aphrodisias is one of Turkey’s most significant sites from the Greek and Roman periods. Aphrodite’s Sanctuary is the most well-known edifice on the site.

7. Ephesus

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey, Ephesus, is located near the city of Selçuk. Once an ancient Greek city that thrived in the first century BCE, Ephesus was a dominant power in the Mediterranean. After the Romans took control of the city in 129BC, the population multiplied. 

Many of the monuments there today were built by the Romans. These include the Ephesos Amphitheatre – whose remains are mostly intact to date – the Library of Celsus, Temple of Hadrian, bath complexes, aqueduct systems, and sawmills. Ruins of these structures are still intact for your viewing pleasure.

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8. Mount Nemrut

At the summit of Mount Nemrut are a remarkable number of statues erected around a 1st Century BC royal tomb built by Antiochos I. Measuring approximately 2,134 meters Mount Nemrut, one of the highest peaks east of the Taurus Mountains. Notable monuments include colossal statues of the king, two lions, an eagle, and several other deities.

9. Pergamon

Pergamon, the Hellenistic-era capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon, was yet another significant metropolis. Preserved structures at the site that are significant include the Egyptian god’s temple and Pergamon’s acropolis.

Photo Copyright: Daily Sabah


10. Ruins of Miletus

Referred to by Homer in his epic poem, Iliad, the Greek city of Miletus was once a major maritime and scientific center. Found along Turkey’s Aegean Coast, this city is home to famous ruins of the Hellenistic Theater, the Apollo Delphinium Sanctuary, the Faustina Bathhouses, and the Church of St. Michael.

11. Didyma

A short distance from Miletus is the ancient city of Didyma, connected to its Greek neighbor by a sacred road. This road still exists to date. At this location, tourists will find the temple, once revered as the third biggest in the ancient world, and the mythical snake-haired head of Medusa carved into stone.

Photo Copyright: Turkish Archaeological News

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12. Pamukkale, Hierarpolis

The travertine pools of Pamukkale are well-known. However, few people are aware of the ancient city of Hierapolis that is just a few miles away.  While the city’s ancient Roman theatre is no longer open to the public, it is still possible to enjoy the city’s curative hot springs and take a dip in the mineral-rich waters. Romans used this water for its therapeutic powers.

13. Sardis

During the Roman and Byzantine eras, Sardis served as the capital of Lydia, an important city in the Persian Empire, and a major metropolis. The Temple of Artemis, royal burial mounds, and a synagogue, are the city’s most notable remains.

Photo Copyright: World History Encyclopedia


14. Priene

Priene, an ancient Greek city perched on a cliff overlooking the sea, is home to some of the most important Hellenistic art and architecture. The Temple of Athena, an agora and stoa, an assembly hall, and a well-preserved theater are prominent structures.

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