A rich and diverse history
Turkey is full of archaeological sites which represent the remnants of thriving cultures long past. There is a baffling amount of archaeological tours available in Turkey, as the land is full to the brim with ancient treasures. Due to its unique geography bordering Asia and Europe, with the Mediterranean to the South and most of its land in the Fertile Crescent, Turkey was recognized by its initial settlers for its rich biodiversity and natural predisposition. The first civilizations developed here over 12,000 years ago, and most recent discoveries in neolithic archaeological sites in southeastern Turkey, namely Goöbekli Tepe in Sanliurfa and Çatalhöyük in southern Anatolia, represent findings of the very first signs of monumental constructions, as they are dated to be over 6,000 years older than Stonehenge, the invention of writing, agriculture and the first pyramids of Egypt. Indeed, Turkey was the cradle of nations and saw layers of culture bestow upon the land the symbols of powerful civilizational growth. The cultural heritage you see today scattered around the Turkish map represents numerous cultural and ethnic backgrounds, including those of the Greeks, Romans, Hittites, Seljuk, Persians, and Ottoman empires, all who have left their mark in the form of remarkable architecture, religious artefacts, and cultural influence.
A Vast Nation
Archaeological tours in Turkey are special because they teleport you back in time to the way people used to live hundreds or even thousands of years ago. More historical monuments are constantly being discovered here, from the Harran plains to the countless mountain ranges across the country, it seems that archaeologists will never run out of material. Turkey is truly a gigantic country, with 783,562 square kilometres, you can experience all types of weather, from snow to sand, and everything in between, notably some famous trekking routes such as the Lycian way and St Pauls route. Major historic attractions pepper the southern coast of Turkey, making cruising by traditional Turkish Gulet a particularly inviting method of exploration along the Turquoise Coast. From Gallipoli, Ephesus, Troy, Pergamon, Mount Olympos, Datca and Kabak amongst many more, you will be constantly in awe at the sheer abundance of nature in all it's forms.
For centuries, Byzantium or Constantinople was the predominant capital city of the entire Byzantine empire. It boasted a modern plan and many infrastructures. At the Hippodrome is the Basilican cistern, a gigantic underground tank constructed perhaps early in the 4th century AD by emperor Constantine. Its name derives from the fact that it was enlarged using the uncovered area of the nearby basilica. What is exceptional is its 336 columns, all supporting the masonry vault. Certainly, the most famous building of 6th century Byzantium is the church of Saint Sophia or Dome of Hagia Sophia, rebuilt as it appears today by emperor Justinian. Altered after the Ottomans invaded the city, 4 characteristic minarets were added. Beautiful mosaics were brought to light in the 20th century when the mosque was turned into the Hagia Sophia Museum. Saint Sophia was known as the incarnation of divine wisdom. Praying to her must have filled thousands of visitors over the years with a sense of spirituality and grace.
The Neolithic site of Catalhoyuk, dating back a good 9,000 years from the Stone age, was another addition to the historic heritage list in Turkey. It’s connection and resemblance in architecture and mural depictions of gods and goddesses, to the even older Gobekli Tepe, not too far from Catalhoyuk, is representative of the nomadic nature of the origins of the man who once thrived in what is today Turkey. As mentioned above, the Gobekli Tepe and other sites in Turkey, particularly with names ending with the suffixes "Huyuk" or "Tepe"are characteristic sites of truly ancient origins of man. These sites are constantly popping up, as archaeological works in Turkey are constantly being ramped up by local as well as international archaeological communities that recognise the extent of historical and universal value potentially locked underground, waiting to be discovered.