While following the traces of thousands of years of civilizations, we discover the architectural, administrative and cultural values of the past with admiration. We have examined the most beautiful ancient cities of Turkey, which is one of the culturally and historically richest lands in the world. We have written for you 25 ancient cities that must be seen in Turkey. Here are the priceless ancient cities of Turkey:
1- Anavarza ancient city, Adana
Located in Adana Kozan and included in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, the Ancient City of Anavarza is known as the “invincible city”. Covering an area larger than the Ancient City of Ephesus, the ancient city contains traces of different civilizations. Known as the largest city of ancient times, Anavarza arouses admiration with its preserved city remains, the only example in the Cilicia Region, the triumphal arch with three entrances.
2- Ani ruins, Kars
The Ancient City of Ani, founded on the banks of the Arpacay River, located at a point close to the Turkey-Armenia border, is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is possible to see the traces of different states, from Bagratuni Armenians to Byzantines, from Seljuks to Georgians, in the ancient city of Ani, which is also referred to as the “City of 1001 Churches” in the pages of history and archeology. There are monasteries, mosques and church structures among the surviving ruins of the ancient city of Ani, which has witnessed dozens of wars against different civilizations throughout history.
3- Dara ancient city, Mardin
Although it is called the “Ephesus of the East”, in fact, the ancient city of Dara is unique. According to researches, the ancient city of Dara, which was established in 507 to protect the eastern border of the Eastern Roman Empire against the Sassanids, has been an important center for many years as it is on the historical Silk Road. The ancient city, which remains from a religious, cultural, military and commercial center, fascinates everyone who sees it.
4- Göbeklitepe, Şanliurfa
Göbeklitepe, which was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2018, is a treasure that gives a new direction to what we know about history. Archaeological remains dating from 9,500-8,000 BC at a point overlooking the Harran Plain and dating back to a period of approximately 1500 years shed new light on human history. The obelisks in Göbeklitepe are among the oldest monumental structures in the world.
5- Mount Nemrut, Adıyaman
Mount Nemrut, which is of great value as a volcanic mountain, natural monument and man-made historical artifact, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987. The statues, which are thought to have been designed by the Commagene King, who ruled here in the 1st century BC, to gather all religions and cultures under one flag, continue to preserve their mystery and splendor even today. Known as the “closest place to the throne of Zeus in the sky”, Mount Nemrut is a must-see with its giant statues, magnificent sunrise and sunset views.
6- Aphrodisias ancient city, Aydın
We owe our arrival to the ancient city of Aphrodisias, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, because photographer Ara Güler lost his way and took pictures of it. The ancient city, named after Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, took the name Aphrodisias, having a sacred importance, with the strengthening of the Roman Empire’s dominance in the 2nd century BC.
7- Uzuncaburç (Diocaesarea-Olba) ancient city, Mersin
The ancient city of Uzuncaburç Olba, known as the ‘Ephesus of the Eastern Mediterranean’, is one of the precious treasures of our country. The 2,500-year-old ancient city is witnessing a history with its thousands of years old churches, temples and mausoleums. It reminds the Ancient City of Ephesus, especially with its long columns. The ancient city, which is 30 km from Silifke, is an indispensable part of the Mersin route.
8- Alacahöyük, Çorum
Alacahöyük Ancient City is one of the precious treasures of Anatolia, bearing the traces of 4 different civilization layers. There are traces of Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk-Ottoman periods in the ancient city, which is famous in the scientific world with its king tombs, which are understood to belong to the Old Bronze Age Hatti period.
9- Hattusa (Boğazköy) ruins, Çorum
Known as the “City of a Thousand Gods”, the ancient city of Hattusa hosts the legacy of the Hatti and Hittites, one of the first civilizations of Anatolia. The ancient city in the Boğazkale district of Çorum is among the first to be included in both the UNESCO Memory of the World and the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. The ancient city of Hattusa, which was the capital of the Hittites for 450 years, fascinates those who see it, especially with the Yazılıkaya Open Air Temple hidden among high rocks.
10- Assos ancient city, Çanakkale
The ancient city of Assos, whose history dates back to the 6th century BC, is located on an extinct volcanic hill. Assos, which came under the rule of Lydia, Persia, Pergamon and Rome, is also of great importance with the school of philosophy that the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle founded while living here.
11- Troia ancient city, Çanakkale
The first settlement layer of the Troia Ancient City, which started with the Early Bronze Age with 3000-2500 BC, the last settlement layer of the Ancient City ends with the Roman Period. Traces of different civilizations can be seen in the ancient city of Troia, where life continued for 3000 years. Included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, the ancient city in Homer’s Iliad is a real treasure.
12- Ephesus ancient city, İzmir
The ancient city of Ephesus, which was founded in 6000 BC and is located in the Selçuk district of İzmir, is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Ephesus, which is the largest Greco-Roman city excavated in the world, was named as Asia Minor and became the capital of the Anatolian state. The ancient city, which was under the control of the Greek civilization and then the Roman civilization, carries the architectural and cultural traces of these two rich civilizations.
13- Metropolis ancient city, İzmir
The history of the Ancient City of Metropolis, located in Torbalı district of İzmir, dates back to 3000 BC. Triyanna and Tripolis, which are the other names of Metropolis, which means “City of the Mother Goddess”, are shown as the source of the name of today’s Torbalı. While it is strategically important to be located on the route between Izmir and Ephesus, the ancient city also hosts the Hellenistic Period monuments that are rarely seen outside of Priene.
14- Ancient city of Pergamon, İzmir
Bergama Multilayered Cultural Landscape Area, which contains layers from different historical periods, consists of 9 components in total, including the Cybele Sanctuary, İlyas Tepe, Yığma Tepe, İkili, Tavşan Tepe, X Tepe, A Tepe and Maltepe Tumulus. Cultural landscape values belonging to Hellenistic and Roman periods; It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List with its Ottoman Period structures spread over the layers belonging to the Roman and Eastern Roman periods.
15- Hierapolis ancient city, Denizli
Pamukkale Travertines, created by the calcium oxide-containing waters coming from Denizli, Çaldağı, preserve their uniqueness with their white and unique appearance. The Ancient City of Hierapolis, built in this white world, contains remains from the late Hellenistic and early Christian periods. Hierapolis, which means “holy city”, has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1988.
16- Laodikeia ancient city, Denizli
The ancient city of Laodikeia, shining next to the center of Denizli, takes its place in history as the most important ancient city of the Lykos (Çürüksu) Valley. Seleukos King II. The traces of the oldest settlement in the city, which was founded by Antiochus in the name of his wife Laodike, date back to 5500 BC. The city, where the largest stadium built in Anatolia is located, has the distinction of being the largest ancient city in Denizli.
17- Kaymaklı underground city, Nevşehir
Kaymaklı Underground City, which was built as an 8-storey city in the Hittites Period, dating back to 3000 BC, was enlarged by carving more in the Roman and Byzantine periods. The city, which was formed by carving the tuff rocks, consists of rooms, halls, water cellars, kitchen and supply warehouses, ventilation shafts, water wells for the temporary living of the communities. The 4 illuminated floors of the underground city are open to visitors.
18- Ancient city of Kaunos, Muğla
The ancient city of Kaunos, which was an important port city in the Lycian-Carian period, is one of the ancient cities that must be seen and its story to be learned, with its nature and thousands of years old tombs, architectural traces such as baths and theaters. Famous for its flamboyant rock tombs, the Ancient City of Kaunos is on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. It is just as enjoyable to go to the city located in Marmaris, Dalyan. After traveling for 10 minutes with the boats departing from Dalyan, you have to walk for 15 minutes on the tree lined road.
19- Knidos ancient city, Muğla
Knidos, which was built at the farthest point of the Datça Peninsula, is known as the powerful and rich port city of the ancient age. The city, which has a history of 2600 years, is one of the most important cities of maritime trade, as it is located at a point where the Aegean and the Mediterranean meet. According to the researches, Knidos, where the traces of the first civilization are based on the Carians, and then the Dorians of Ancient Greece came, is a city that has also left its mark in science, art and architecture.
20- Sagalassos ancient city, Burdur
The ancient city of Sagalassos, located in Burdur’s Ağlasun district and arguably one of the best preserved ancient cities in the Mediterranean, dates back 12,000 years. The ancient city, which arouses curiosity with most of its original stones preserved and preserved, is full of the best examples of Roman architecture. Sagalassos Ancient City, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, is one of the ancient cities that every traveler must see.
21- Kibyra ancient city, Burdur
The ancient city of Kibyra, which was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 2016, is located in the Gölhisar district of Burdur. The ancient city of Kibyra, which is shown as one of the best examples of the Romanized eastern cities category, has a history of 2,300 years. It is known that gladiators have been performing in the stadium since the 1st century BC in the city known as the “city of gladiators”.
22- Xanthos ancient city, Antalya
Xanthos Ancient City and Letoon Ancient City, which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List together, are 5 km from each other. Xanthos Ancient City, the administrative center of the Lycian League, is located in the Fethiye district of Muğla, and Letoon Ancient City is located within the borders of Antalya’s Kaş district. Xanthos Ancient City became one of the important religion and administrative centers of the Lycia region; It carried the traces of different civilizations such as Helen, Persia, Rome and Byzantium. Letoon Ancient City, on the other hand, contains many temple ruins as the sanctuary of Xanthos.
23- Olympos ancient city, Antalya
Today, the exact foundation date of the Olympos Ancient City, which is located within the borders of Olympos Beydağları National Park in Antalya, is unknown. The power of the ancient city of Olympos, which is mentioned in the Lycian Union coins minted in 167-168 BC, comes from the fact that it is one of the 6 cities in the Lycian League with three voting rights. Although most of the ruins that reached today are covered with trees and bushes, you can cool off in the clear waters of Çıralı after visiting the ancient city in this forest.
24- Patara ancient city, Antalya
Patara Ancient City, located in the Xanthos Valley between Fethiye and Kalkan, is one of the greatest historical values with its location and legacy. It is possible to see the traces of Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods in Patara, which has always been known as an important port city in history because it is the only place in the valley that opens to the sea. If you are going to visit the city in fine weather, then you can swim in Patara Beach.
25- Aspendos ancient city, Antalya
Located in Antalya’s Belkıs Village, the Ancient City of Aspendos was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 2015. Founded by the Achaeans in the 10th century BC, the city is known for its theater built by the Romans in the 2nd century AD. While the best preserved Roman theater in the Mediterranean continues to preserve its splendor, the ruins of the ancient city’s agora, stadium, bath, and cistern are also worth seeing.
26- Aizanoi ancient city, Kütahya
Aizanoi Ancient City, which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List since 2012, is located in Çavdarhisar, 50 km from Kütahya. The ancient city, named after Azan, son of Erato and Arkas, is especially known for the Temple of Zeus. The temple, which is the most important religious structure of the city, is one of the best preserved Zeus temples in the world.