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Which country in the World has hosted the earliest known human cities, has amazing beaches, has preserved the thousands of years of history and has a delicious culinary? TURKEY! This land of culture, cuisine, and history, of course, has lots of ancient cities which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List, too. So, who's ready for an epic tour? Everyone? (Embraces Oprah's voice).
With its cobblestoned pavements, its historical houses, its saffron and its amazing nature, Safranbolu is definitely an one of a kind city in Turkey. Safranbolu is also known as "Müzekent", or in English "Museum City", since 1007 of its 2000 historical traditional buildings are registered and protected throughout the years. However, It's not only its history that makes it unique, but also the fact that this city is covered with the saffron plant. If you read "The Iliad" by Homer, you will recall the city of Paplagonya, which is in fact Safranbolu! With a 3000-year-old history, Safranbolu has been ruled by many nations, such as the Hittites, Khmers, Lidia, Persians, Romans and of course the Ottoman Empire! Safranbolu is famous for its Tarihi Safranbolu evleri, which is also known as the "Ottoman houses". These historic houses are typical Anatolian houses with stone floors and lots of windows. Built in the 18th Century, these houses and their details are great examples of the city's culture and history. That's why these Ottoman houses, aka Tarihi Safranbolu evleri, are on the UNESCO World Heritage List! Every house has an amazing ceiling engraving and some have little pools or fountains upon their entrance.
Cappadocia is located in Nevşehir, Turkey and it is a unique place on earth with its valley, canyon, hills and unusual rock formations, which were caused by eroding rains and winds for thousands of years. The volcanic mountains such as Erciyes, Melendiz and Hasan were active and erupted more than 2 million years ago and the lava created has covered the surface around Nevşehir. Throughout the years, the wind and rain eroded this surface and created today's otherworldly appearance. This might be the reason why, Cappadocia also hosted many civilizations such as the Hittite Empire, the Persian Empire, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine and many more. With its fairy chimneys, amazing nature and fun hot air balloon activities, Cappadocia offers a great time to its visitors. With its fairytale-like landscapes with chimneys, pigeon houses, orchards and vineyards, it is so surreal to fly over the beautiful valley and have the most romantic time while gazing the sunset! A lot of marriage proposals take place in here. Göreme is a town in Nevşehir, where you can find all the fairy chimneys and get mesmerised by nature! This town is also an historical region, which was discovered between 1800 and 1200 B.C. Göreme was not only a cultural hub, but also a religion hub during the Roman era. When Christians were retreating from Rome, they used Göreme and its underground cities as home! You can find lots of ancient churches in here, plus it is so beautiful; it has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1985!
With its mineral-rich hot springs, the ancient Greco-Roman city with its natural phenomenal calcium cliffs, Pamukkale, is a natural site, located in Denizli, Turkey. Pamukkale literally means "cotton castle" in Turkish, which suits perfectly its amazing calcium-rich springs, that shaped its snow-white limestones over the centuries. This natural spa attracts everyone's attention since the second century BC! Its thermal, mineral-rich waters gather on top travertines and spill into milky pools on the surface, fact that makes them look like the place, where Aphrodite would actually bath in. This UNESCO World Heritage site has been a huge tourist attraction, not only for its natural pools which carry the elixir for youth, but also for its holy ancient city of Hierapolis! Hierapolis was founded as a thermal spa early in the 2nd century BC. This ancient city hosted many civilizations and suffered from earthquakes throughout the centuries. Since there are lots of religious constructions, it is also known as the "Holy City". After the archeological digging, many significant structures came to light; gorgeous Byzantine gates, a theatre, temples of Apollo, Cybele, Artemis, Pluto, Poseidon and Pluto, thermal baths and an extensive necropolis. Hierapolis is also known as the emperors' retirement place, with its amazing architecture and healing waters. It is definitely worth a visit.
Edirne, the city of gypsy festivals and amazing food... Every year, Romani people go down to the edge of Tunca river, in Edirne, on the 6th of May and celebrate the miraculous escape of the oppressed in ancient Egypt! This 1000-year-old tradition arose when Pharaoh and his army drowned, while following the oppressed people in Egypt; that's why the festival starts in the river. The tradition was also kept alive with so many fun activities. Since it is a "salvation festival", people celebrate that pretty colourfully and joyfully! But Edirne is not only famous for its festival. This old city can be visited too, for its food! In here, you can eat the best-fried liver, Kavala cookie and the best marzipan in the world. Another reason to visit this fun city is of course, the Selimiye Mosque. The Selimiye Mosque was built by the architect Mimar Sinan between 1569 and 1575 and was considered to be his masterpiece. This mosque is definitely the highlight of Islamic architecture. Surrounded by four tall minarets, this impressive mosque has a hospital, library, a timekeeper's room, a medrese, hospices, baths, soup kitchens for the poor, markets and a cemetery! It is so magnificent that sooner or later became part of the UNESCO World Heritage List!
I mean do I really need to explain İstanbul? Just visit it already. For the ones who were just born or stepped out from their cave, İstanbul is so beautiful that there are lots of poems and songs inspired from and dedicated to this beautiful mess. Istanbul is mostly famous for its strategic location, the bridges that bring together Asia and Europe, mosques, tulips, seagulls and Turkish bagels/tea duo. It is also a very crowded and big city, too. With a population of over 20 million with the foreigners, it is one of the biggest cultural hubs in the entire world. The old part of the city is mainly on the European side and the modern part is mostly on the Asian side. But it gives a kind of a yin-yang perspective; you can of course find modern parts on the European side, and history and tradition on the Asian side. This city is covered with historical masterpieces, but if you can only visit one place in here, you should visit the Topkapı Palace. The Palace was used as a residence in the 15th Century by Ottoman Sultans. Today, this lovely palace is a great museum that you can see hundreds of rooms and chambers, Ottoman harem and treasury, and the Spoonmaker's Diamond -which is one of the World's biggest diamond-, clothing, weapons, armor, scripts etc. Of course, it is included in UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Cover Picture © Credits to iStock/AlexBrylov
Each month. Our best stories. Zero effort.