Historical Tour Of Turkey Part 2

Turkey is a country steeped in history. It has been subject to settlement by many different eras and empires, including the Greeks, Romans and Byzantines, and there is no shortage of historical monuments and ruins to visit. This is part one of a three part series of articles that will give readers a guide of where to go, what to see and how to get there. For convenience, this guide will map a course which is recommended, for those who do not wish to be limited by the standard guided tours. Readers can choose to take the outlined routes or may wish to vary it to their personal needs. The amount of time which you may to wish to take to explore each location can vary, so it is important to arrange accommodation to suit your needs.

Part 2 – South Western Turkey

The south western region of Turkey is home to some quite remarkable and spectacular historical sites. As well as visiting some amazing historical sites, most locations are located by the sea and have some stunning views. Most of the locations are within a short drive of each other so on some occasions you can visit several sites a day, depending on your personal choice, capabilities and weather conditions. This guide will start from the city of Izmir, which is the third largest city in Turkey. From there you can either hire a car (recommended) or take one of the many bus services that run to the south western corner. Please note that whilst there are many bus services available, the times may not always suit your exploration plan.


Ephesus is located 81 kilometres south east of the city of Izmir, just outside of the town of Selcuk. It is thought to have been built around 1000bc by the Ionian Greeks. In around 500bc, the Temple of Artemis was built, which was known as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world before being partly destroyed in he war with the Goths. There are several amazing structures which are still standing, including a library, amphitheatre, terrace houses and a temple. The city was ruled by many different empires, including the Greeks, Byzantines, Romans and Ottomans 1). You can visit this location and explore it in your own time, or join one of the many half and full day tours of the site. To find out more about tours, opening hours, costs and other information please visit this site http://www.ephesus.us/.




Priene is located approximately 60 kilometres south of Ephesus, just outside of the town of Soke. Like Ephesus, Priene was also constructed in around 1000bc by the Ionian Greeks. When first constructed the city overlooked the sea, but due to geographical changes it is now slightly inland. It was used as a port city and trade centre, and had one of the biggest populations in the district. After the region was conquered by Alexander the Great, he decided to built several structures, including a Temple of Athena, some of which still stands today. The city had to endure several wars, and was occupied by the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans at various stages of it's history 3). There are tours available of the ancient city on certain days depending on the season, please check with local operators, or you can visit the site at your own leisure. For more information about opening hours, tours or other knowledge, please visit this site http://www.priene.net/.




Miletus is located approximately 25 kilometres south of Priene, 2 kilometres inland from the Aegean sea. Like Priene and Ephesus, the city was founded by the Ionian Greeks at around 1000bc, although recent archaeological finds can detect possible human settlement during the neolithic age, around 3000-3500bc . Miletus went on to become one of the wealthiest cities in the region, it was used as a trading centre due to it's sea port. It was partially destroyed during the Trojan wars, but was rebuilt after being conquered by the Romans. It was also occupied by the many empires that ruled the region over the years, including the Byzantines and Ottomans. The ancient city was rediscovered in the late 1800's, and there are still many impressive structures standing today, including a stadium and temples 5)




Didyma is located approximately 15 kilometres south west of Miletus, on the Aegean Coast. Didyma was first built by the Ionian Greeks, and is one of the most significant locations in Hellenic history. It was built as a sanctuary where people could worship the gods, with many temples and statues being built in their honour. The most impressive of these is the Apollo Temple, which was one of the largest structures in the area in it's time. The city was partially destroyed during the Persian invasion in around 500bc, but was rebuilt after the Romans conquered the region under Alexander the Great. Like most of the other sites, the city was occupied by various different empires during it's history. 7). Today you can still see many of these once great structures which look magnificent in the backdrop of the Aegean Sea. For more information about this amazing site and opening hours and tours, please visit this website http://www.didyma.com/.




Knidos is located approximately 280 kilometres south of Didyma on the beautiful Datca peninsula, directly across from the Greek islands of Iraklidis and Kos. Knidos was first thought to be founded in the fifth century b.c. By the Carian Greeks. It was mainly used as a trading hub due to it's natural harbour, and was also used to house the parliament. It was most famous for it's statue of Aphrodite, however unfortunately the statue was thought to have been destroyed during one of the many wars this region had to endure 9). The ruins are scattered over a couple of kilometres, but it is worth visiting here not only for the ruins but the natural beauty of the bay also. For more information on opening hours, costs and tours please visit this website http://www.muze.gov.tr/knidos-en.




Aphrodisias is located approximately 290 kilometres west of Knidos, and is close to the inland town of Karacasu. The city is thought to have been founded by the Carian Greeks in around 800bc, however this date is not known for sure. Like it's name suggests, it was built in honour of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Due to it having a marble quarry nearby, Aphrodisias had many spectacular buildings erected, including the Temple of Aphrodite, Teraplyon, which is a monumental gateway, a large stadium and also an amphitheatre. Many of the structures are still standing today which makes this site one of the best preserved in the country 11). You can visit this site and explore it at your own pace, or take one of the guided tours. For more information on opening times and other knowledge on the site please visit this web page http://www.muze.gov.tr/aphrodisias.




Laodikeia is located 75 kilometres west of Aphrodisias, just outside of the Turkish city of Denizli. Laodikeia is the site of some of the earliest fossil records on earth, with remnants in the area found from the Chalcolithic period, which dates back to around 5,500bc. The city of Laodikeia as it became known was thought to have been build in around the year 700bc by the Hellenic Greeks. It suffered many earthquakes throughout it's history, and that is the reason the city is thought to have been abandoned. The design of the streets of the city were done in a grid pattern, making it one of the first places in the world to use this planning design. Laodikeia still has some impressive structures standing, including the massive stadium which measures 285 metres by 70 metres, theatres, baths, fountains, houses, temples and many more 13). This is a site which you will need most of the day to visit. You can do so at your own leisure or take one of the many guided tours.




Hierapolis is located just 10 kilometres north of Laodikiea in the Denizli Basin, in a town called Pamukkale. This is one of the biggest and best preserved historical sites anywhere in the world, and is also well known for it's calcite travertines, which flow as fountains down a series of terraced pools. The city iteslf was thought to have been first built in the third century b.c by the Seluicid Empire and used as a spa and treatment centre due to it's hot thermal springs. After the conquest of the city in the year 150bc, many new structures were built, including a Temple of Apollo, a large stadium, a Necropolis, temples, houses, fountains and also the Cleopatra Pool, in which you can still swim today 15). In order to see all of this site, you will need to spend at least the whole day here, however many people tend to do it in two or three days. It is open all year round, and guided tours are available if required. For more information about opening times, prices and other information please visit this site http://www.pamukkale.net/.




Whilst all care has been taken, please check with local authorities and operators prior to visiting any of these sites. Certain events can affect access to historical sites, such as safety issues, weather or new discoveries that require areas to be demarcated. It is recommended to visit these sites between the months of March and November. The winter months can bring snow and ice to some venues, along with cold winds which may make it unpleasant for visitors. For visas and other information about Turkey, please visit this site http://www.goturkey.com/.

Travel | Turkey

Ephesus.us, 2014, 'Ephesus', Available: http://www.ephesus.us/
Priene.net, 2013, 'Priene', Available: http://www.priene.net/
Priene by Jose Luiz licence CC 3.0, Available: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ruins_at_Priene_(5).JPG
Miletus by jiuguangw licence CC 2.0, Available: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Theater_of_Miletus.jpg
Didyma.com, 2014, 'Didyma', Available: http://www.didyma.com/
Didyma by Elilicht licence CC 3.0, Available: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Didim_Didyema.JPG
Historvius.com, 2014, 'Knidos',Available: http://www.historvius.com/knidos-1773/
Aphrodisias.com, 2014, 'Aphrodisias', Available: http://www.aphrodisias.com/
Aphrodisias by Marcus Cyron licence CC 3.0, Available: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aphrodisias_in_2010_14.JPG
Unesco.org, 2013, 'Laodikeia', Available: http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5823/
Unesco.org, 2013, 'Hierapolis', Available: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/485

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