Arts & Life
16 astonishing UNESCO sites you probably didn’t know were in Turkey
16 astonishing UNESCO sites you probably didn’t know were in Turkey
Turkey has been the host to many ancient civilizations and empires for ages. Its heritage can be seen in its preserved sites, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Some of them remain largely undiscovered, though. Click through for our list, prepared by İnci Hazal Özcan, including the 16 UNESCO sites in Turkey that you should --but probably did not-- see.
City of Safranbolu: The historical city of Safranbolu is located along the way which connects western, southern and central Anatolia with the Black Sea coast. It has been under Turkish control since the 14th century and was an important region that made trade between Europe and Asia available in 18th century. With the city’s traditional and preserved architecture, UNESCO inscribed Safranbolu to its World Heritage List in 1994.
Aphrodisias: “I chose this city among all Asian cities,” as Roman emperor Octavian Augustus had put. The site of Aphrodisias, located in the southwestern province of Aydın, was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2017.
Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük: Çatalhöyük, the first city known to humankind, marks the beginning of urban civilization. Located in the Central Anatolian province of Konya, the archaeological city’s history dates back to 7,400 B.C. Consisting of only residents, the city is believed to have a population of at most 10,000 people. The findings also show that apart from hunting and gathering, Çatalhöyük’s residents in the ancient age involved in agriculture too. The notion of property ownership is thought to have emerged during this era, based on the baked clay seals. The Neolithic Site was inscribed to the World Heritage List in 2012.
Bursa and the village of Cumalıkızık: Located in northwestern Turkey, the province of Bursa and the village of Cumalıkızık mark the birth of the Ottoman Empire. Many Ottoman sultans, from the second ruler Orhan Ghazi to Mehmet the Conqueror’s father Sultan Murad II, improved the city’s social, cultural, religious and educational aspects by establishing schools and mosques. The region has six components including public kulliyes of five sultans and the village of Cumalıkızık. The area was inscribed to the World Heritage List in 2014.
Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape: Located on the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, the archeologically protected area has two main components: Diyarbakır Fortress, in the district of Sur, and Hevsel Gardens, along the Tigris River. The historical fortress is known to exist for at least 7,000 years.
Hattusha, the Hittite capital: The ancient city of Hattusha, capital of Hittite Empire, is believed to have been founded around 1,650 B.C. It is located in Boğazkale district of the central Black Sea province of Çorum. The site consists of two regions: The Lower City and the Upper City. The Great Temple, located in the Lower City, has two rooms devoted to the Strom God and the Sun Goddess. Many other temples, royal residences and fortifications along with Lion’s Gate, the Royal Gate and the rock sanctuary of Yazılıkaya are preserved in the archeological site. Hattusha was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1986.
The Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği, inscribed in the World Heritage List in 1985, is located in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas. The site, consisting of the two-domed Great Mosque, its adjoining hospital and tomb were founded by Emir Ahmet Shah from the Principality of Mengücekli.
Xanthos-Letoon: Located near the Fethiye district of the Aegean province of Muğla, Xanthos was the largest administrative center capital of ancient Lycia. Letoon, located two miles near Xanthos, was the religious center of the Lycian Civilization. The two cities, influenced by Anatolian, Greek, Roman and Byzantine civilizations, have inscriptions in the Lycian language, engraved in rocks and huge stone pillars. The marbles, monumental zones and churches are included in Xanthos. Both cities were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1988.
Archaeological Site of Ani: The historic city of Ani, located near the northeastern of Kars, on the border of Armenia, dates back to 500 BC. Ani was a branch of Silk Road, which made it a multi-cultural trade center.
Pergamon is the only capital city from the Hellenistic era, having multi-cultural characteristics from Hellenistic, Roman, Eastern Roman and Ottoman Periods. Located in the Aegean province of İzmir, Pergamon (Bergama in Turkish) was inscribed to the World Heritage List in 2014.
Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex: Selimiye Mosque, located in the Thracian region’s province of Edirne, was built by the great Ottoman architect, Sinan, between 1569 and 1575. It is considered as Sinan’s finest work with four slender minarets reaching over 260 ft. high.
Archaeological Site of Göbeklitepe: Located near the Örencik village of the southeastern province Şanlıurfa, the archaeological site was discovered in 1963 during an excavation done jointly by Istanbul University and Chicago University. After 30 years, during new excavations, it was discovered that Göbeklitepe had a history dating back to 12,000 years. The archaeological site belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic Age is the host to the first temple known to humankind. The site includes three- to six-meter-long T shaped pillars that have carvings of wild animals. Thus, it is significant in the sense that the sight provides insight on the Mesopotamian life from thousands of years ago. Turkey named 2019 as the Year of Göbeklitepe, which was inscribed on the UNESCO list in 2018.
Mount Nemrut: Registered in the World Heritage List in 1987, the 7,000-ft-long Mount Nemrut is located near the southeastern province of Adıyaman. The mysterious site consists of giant statues of gods, tombs, inscriptions and reliefs. The monumental statues and the mausoleum were made at the behest of Antiochos I, the King of Commagene on behalf of gods. The colossal artifacts are significant such that it provides insight to the civilizations of Hellenistic era.
Let's finish with three, more famous sites... The region covering Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia are located on the central Anatolian plateau. The archeological site, which was inscribed to the World Heritage List in 1985, is unique with its “fairy-chimney” components, formed by weather conditions through millions of years. Its history dates back to the Paleolithic Era.
One of the most famous ancient cities, Troy is the setting for Homer’s epic poem Illiad. The Bronze Age city, located in the northwestern province of Çanakkale, was a strategic geopolitical point where ten different cities were established in different periods of time. Inscribed to UNESCO’s list in 1998, the ancient city of Troy, the site of the famous Trojan War, has been the subject to many books and movies.
Hierapolis- Pamukkale: The white land of Pamukkale, located in the Aegean province of Denizli, was registered to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1988.
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