Istanbul, formerly Byzantium and Constantinople, is the largest and most populated city in Turkey. It sits like a bridge, along the Bosphorus Strait, between the continents of Europe and Asia. Visitors to this enchanting city will catch a glimpse of its ancient past and bustling modern city. Highlights of this beautiful city include the Topkapi Palace, St. Sophia Basilica, the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar.
The town of Pamukkale, nicknamed the Cotton Palace, is known for its calcium rich mineral springs which flow down white travertine terraces. In ancient times, the Greeks built the thermal spa of Hierapolis which derived its soothing thermal waters from Pamukkale. The baths, temples, and monument ruins can still be seen today.
The well preserved ancient Greco-Roman ruins of Ephesus lie in Turkey’s Central Aegean region, near modern-day Selcuk in the province of Izmir. Ephesus was a trading city and center for the followers of Cybele, the Anatolian fertility goddess. Later Cybele became Artemis, the virgin goddess and a temple was built in her honor. After the Romans took control, Artemis became Diana and Ephesus became the fourth largest city in the empire after Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch.
Ankara is the capital and second largest city in Turkey. It is located in the northwestern part of the country (Central Anatolia). This contemporary city offers travelers a look into its diverse history and rich cultural heritage which can be viewed through sites such as the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and Mausoleum of Ataturk.
Cappadocia, located in east central Anatolia, is a geological wonderland due to its unique lunar-like landscape and honeycombed hills. With the help of erosion, soft volcanic rock has been shaped into towers, cones, valleys, and caves. Visitors can explore the Kaymakli Underground City and open Air Museum in Goreme that date from the Byzantine and Phrygians era. A popular activity is taking a ride in a hot air balloon over Cappadocia.
Troy was an ancient city located in western Turkey, at the mouth of the Dardanelles Strait. Greek mythology tells a story about a war that was waged against the city of Troy by the Greek army after Paris of Troy took the wife from the King of Sparta for himself resulting in the Trojan War, as depicted in the writing of Homer's Iliad. Whether this took place or not is still being debated today. The present-day name is Hisarlik.