15-day trip to Turkey and Cappadocia visiting Istanbul, the Bosphorus Channel, Troy, Pergamum, Ephesus, Priene, Miletus, Didime, Anatolia, Cappadocia, Aphrodisias, Pamukkale, Hierapolis, Konya, Sultanhani, Selime, Ilhara Valley, Valley of Soganli, Derinkuyu, Goreme Valley, the Valley of the Fairy Chimneys, Love Valley, Zelve, Orthaisar, Kizilcuzur, Uchisar, Ankara.
Istanbul: Blue Mosque, Saint Sophia Mosque, Mosque of Suleiman, Grand Bazar, Galata Tower, Topkapi Palace, Dolmabach Palace, Rumeli Hisar Fortress
We did not miss a visit to the Topkapi Palace made world famous by the homonymous film for the splendour of the Imperial Treasury which include large and beautiful diamonds and emeralds.
The whole complex of the Palace is worth a visit with its three Courtyards, the Harem and the Audience Chamber.
Troy, Pergamon, Ephesus
We left the capital and, with a rented car, we started to cross Turkey driving southwards along the road that follows the Aegean coast.
At first, we met the most famous city of antiquity: Troy.
The city was built and destroyed nine times. Nowadays, the ruins that can be visited mainly belong to Troy nr. VI ( 1800-1275 BC).
It was very interesting the visit to the Acropolis of Pergamon (Bergama) because there are really spectacular ruins (in particular the Theatre and the Sanctuary of Trajan) in a beautiful location on the top of the hill. But even the Asclepius (an healing centre) has significant ruins such as the Sacred Way and the Temple of Telesphorus.
The better preserved city, among all the visited ones, is, without doubt, Ephesus (800 BC) whose most significant monuments are the Library of Celsus (two floors), the Great Theatre, the Gate of Augustus and the museum.
Priene, Miletus, Didyma, Aphrodisias city dedicated to Aphrodite Pandemos, Pamukkale (Roman Hierapolis)
Priene and Miletus were maritime cities that lost their importance when their ports were covered by the sand. It is excellent the state of preservation of the theatre of Miletus.
Before leaving the Aegean coast, we visited the temple of Apollo of Didyma. The ruins, which are now visible, belong to the temple rebuilt (and never completed) over the original temple which was destroyed by the Persians in 494 BC.
We began our journey in Anatolia, a trip that took us to Cappadocia. At first, we visited the city of Aphrodisias which was already famous in the eighth century BC but then was destroyed and covered by its own ruins so that it laid forgotten for ages. It was only after the earthquake of 1956 that the city dedicated to Aphrodite Pandemos, the goddess of physical love and fertility, was rediscovered.
In Aphrodisias, there are numerous monuments, all of great beauty and magnificence, like the gateway of Tetrapylon.
We went on to Pamukkale which is known worldwide for its white petrified waterfalls.
In ancient times, Pamukkale was known as Hierapolis, famous for being one of the most renowned therapeutic centre.
Anatolia: Konya (Selimiye and Alaettin mosques and Mevlana Museum), caravanserai Sultanhani (Han Selgiuchidi), volcano Asan
With a long transfer trip we arrived in Konya. It is a very religious Muslim city located in the middle of the steppes of Anatolia. It has important mosques (Selimiye and Alaettin) and the Mevlana Museum, which is a sanctuary more than a museum, with the sarcophagi of the Sultan Rum covered by rich shrouds and huge turbans.
We reached one of the most important caravanserai (Han Seljuks) of Anatolia, known with the name of Sultanhani. The entrance is finely decorated and the wooden door is exquisitely carved.
The volcano Hasan, 3.250 meters high, dominates the Cappadocia region that we started to visit.
Cappadocia: Selime, Ihlara Valley, Peristrema gorge, Soganli Valley
The first village that we met in Cappadocia is the village of Selime placed at the beginning of Ihlara Valley. There, we visited the nice Peristrema gorge which can be reached descending 400 steps of a staircase. At the bottom we could visit the various churches which have been named after the subject of their frescoes (the snake, the hyacinth…).
We continued to the isolated valley of Soganli walking along trails that pass through the vineyards and we visited several churches that, for local customs, are named after the main subject of their frescoes: the dome, black head, the snake.
Cappadocia: Derinkuyu, Goreme Valley, Valley of the Fairy Chimneys
We visited the most important underground city of the region: Derinkuyu, whose name means ”deep well”. Archaeologists date back that troglodyte city to 2000 BC. The visit was exciting, even if limited to the upper floors (there are eight habitable floors). The cylindrical doors, used to close the passage from one level to another, are impressive.
The most famous valley in Cappadocia is the Goreme valley which has been converted into an open-air museum.
In addition to the numerous frescoed churches, the landscape is extraordinary for the presence of rock formations characterized by weird and varied shapes.
The Valley of the Fairy Chimneys is another very beautiful valley which hosts a large number of pink volcanic cones with a dark brown rocky top.
Cappadocia: “Valley of Love”, Zelve village, Church of Grapes (Uzuhlu Kilise), Orthaisar, Red Valley (Kizilcuzur), Uchisar
Not far, we visited another beautiful valley named “Valley of Love” with spectacular views.
On a stall, we saw a multiplicity of wool with strong colours.
Cappadocia is all beautiful and unpredictable. In the village of Zelve, which offers beautiful sights, there are several churches. Uzuhlu Kilise (Church of grapes) is particularly nice.
I want to remember the panorama of Orthaisar, with a high rock whose top can be reached with an iron staircase of 140 steps, the sight of Kizilcuzur (or Red Valley) and the one of Uchisar. There, we climbed the high rock (Kale), filled with holes and crossed by numerous galleries, from where we could enjoy a great view over the below valleys and the countryside.
Ankara: Museum of Anatolian Civilizations
We returned to Italy from Ankara where we visited the famous Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.