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.

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

Istanbul welcomed us with a pouring rain that did not stop us from visiting it meticulously.The Blue Mosque, built in 1600, is superb with its very rich interior. It was built to try to overcome the elegance and harmony of the nearby Saint Sophia which was built a thousand years earlier and was the most impressive church in Christendom (later turned into Hagia Sophia (Ayia Sofya Mosque). Its interior is embellished by mosaics of great beauty. I mention in particular the “Madonna and the Child” and “Christ  Pantocrator”.

Agia Sofya Mosque

Agia Sofya Mosque

Istanbul
The Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent (Süleymaniye Camii) is the largest of Istanbul.We did not miss the Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi), the covered market of Istanbul with more than 4.000 shops.We also visited the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora and admired frescoes and mosaics of unique beauty.We began the tour of the Bosphorus Strait and soon we saw, high on the left side, the Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi), the highest point of the Genovese fortification.We made a visit to the Yerebatan Sarayi, a Byzantine cistern characterized by two columns, each one supported by the visage of Medusa.We reached the Dolmabahçe Palace and, on the Asian side, the Beylerbeyi Palace. Then, the Rumeli Hisar Fortress and the new bridge that connects Istanbul with the rest of the Asian Turkey.

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.

Solimano Mosque

Solimano Mosque

Istanbul

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.

Troia

Troia

Turchia

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.

Library of Celsus

Library of Celsus

Ephesus – Turkey

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.

Temple of Apollo

Temple of Apollo

Didyma – Turkey

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.

Pamukkale

Pamukkale

Turkey

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.

Sultanhani

Sultanhani

Turkey

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.

Kubbeli Church

Kubbeli Church

Soganli – Cappadocia

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.

Goreme

Goreme

Cappadocia – Turkey

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.

Village of Zelve

Village of Zelve

Cappadocia – Turkey

Ankara: Museum of Anatolian Civilizations

We returned to Italy from Ankara where we visited the famous Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.

Museum of Anatolian Civilizations

Museum of Anatolian Civilizations

Ankara