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Turkey's Top 10 Attractions

If you could only do 10 things while visiting Turkey, make sure that you add these specific Turkish attractions to your travel itinerary. Make the most of your trip by using this list as a guide to your travels in Turkey.

1. Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia was built in the 500s and was and is a feat of architecture and design. At the time, it was the largest church in the world. Still of enormous cultural and religious value, the building towers over Istanbul. No trip to Istanbul is complete without a visit to the Hagia Sophia.

The building has UNESCO status but operates as a mosque. As such, women should expect to cover their heads and arms when visiting.The main section has Arabic artwork that represent Muhammad, Allah, and Islam. Much of the Christian artwork in the main room have been covered, but you can view Christian artwork in the entry hallway. The floors even have artwork for viewing!

Don't forget to look up. Read more about the Hagia Sophia.

2. Explore the Iznik tiles in the Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque is officially called the Sultanahmet Camii, after Sultan Ahmet I who commissioned the building of the mosque starting in 1609. Sultan Ahmet had dreams that his Camii would surpass the splendor and grandeur of the Hagia Sophia.

The Blue Mosque has a gorgeous 20,000 Iznik ceramic tiles of the tulip design lining the walls of the main room. Read more about the Blue Mosque.

3. Grand Bazaar

One of the most famous covered shopping centers in the world is the Grand Bazar. It is one of the world's oldest and biggest. Emphasis on oldest: Turks value tradition and doing things they have always done. It is possibly one of the first shopping malls in the world. (Side note: this may be why their modern malls are so good to visit! They've been doing malls for a long time!) The Grand Bazaar's construction began in 1455.

Things you can purchase include Turkish and Persian rugs, Turkish lamps, jewelry, leather goods, and traditional Turkish treats and goods. Be sure to check out some of the spices and other food options.

If you purchase an item, the shop keeper may offer you Turkish tea or apple tea.

Note: the Grand Bazaar is not the same as the Spice Bazaar. These are two different areas, and the Spice Bazaar is smaller.

Read more about the Grand Bazaar here.

4. Capadoccia / Kapadokya

Cappadoccia (pronounced Kap-a-dok-e-yah) is a city in the middle of Turkey. The resgion is world famous for their fairy chimneys and hot air balloon rides in the mornings. Stay in a traditional rock hotel and make a morning of seeing the formations from the sky.

5. Ephesus

Ephesus is a famous biblical city to which Paul wrote the book of Ephesians. Walk the marble streets that Paul and the disciples walked. Gaze upon the goddess Artemis mentioned in the book of Acts in the Bible. See the very theatre where the religious leaders tried to stone Paul.

Alexander the Great fell in love with Ephesus and the beauty of Artemis's temple. He offered to pay for the temple's reconstruction if the citizens dedicated the temple to him.

Once a port city and bustling metropolis, the city's residents abandoned Ephesus when the sea's shoreline receded.

Read more about visiting Ephesus here.

6. Gobekli Tepe

This site makes Stonehenge look shiny, new, and fancy. Gobekli Tepe is from 9500 to 8000 BC while Stonehenge is only from 3000 BC.

Read more about Gobekli Tepe here.

7. Pamukkale

Pamukkale is Turkish for cotton castle.

Water full of carbonate minerals flow down the side of a mountain and leave white deposits forming the stepped pools of Pamukkale. The area's hot springs attract many visitors to relax and climb the stepped and terraced pools up to the top of the mountain. Once you climb to the top of the pools, you can swim in the hot spring rumored to have healing properties.

The hot springs range in temperature from 95 F to 212 F (35 C to 100 C).

Pamukkale is as old as 2 BC. Pergamum built the city of Hierapolis near the pools.

Pamukkale became a UNESCO site in 1988.

Read more about visiting Pamukkale here.

8. Topkapi Palace / Topkapı Sarayı

Topkapi Palace served as the main residence for the Ottoman sultans between the 15th and 19th centuries. You can see the courts of empires past. The inside of the palace is gorgeous, and has tiles that line the walls and ceiling. It is a gorgeous piece of history.

The Harem housed as many as 300 concubines at one time. The ladies that lived here learned Turkish, religion, culture, language, makeup, dress, music, reading, writing, and more.

Read more about visiting Topkapı Sarayı here.

9. Mardin

Mardin is a city in Mesopotamia. It has a city center made of limestone. Cars are not allowed in the small streets, so it is a great place to walk, explore, and get lost admiring the shops and stalls.

As a city that homes both mosques and churches, the coexistence defined both the landscape and cityscape. You can even visit a monastery that traces its Christian origins to the time of Christ.

Must see places in Mardin: Kırklar Kilisesi, Zinciriye Medresesi, Mardin Castle, Deyrulzafaran Monaster, and the limestone streets. Read more about each of these sites in Mardin here.

10. Mount Ararat

Mount Ararat is the supposed resting place of Noah's ark. The mountain is a volcanic mountain. The taller peak is 16,945 feet.

A Persian legend denotes the Mount Ararat area as the cradle of civilization.

You can choose to either climb the mountain or view the mountain from its base.

In Turkish Mount Ararat is Ağrı Dağı.

Read more about visiting Mount Ararat here.

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