Classical sites with stunning locations that you should include on a holiday to Western Turkey
There are many wonderful classical sites in Western Turkey. Leaving Istanbul and planning a tailor-made itinerary south along the Aegean coast and beyond to Antalya will afford the opportunity to discover many of them. Below is a list of five firm favourites that have the added bonus of a dramatic location.
The twin villages of Assos and Behramkale are home to one of Turkey’s most dramatically located classical ruins. Built at the top of a precipitous cliff, that offers stunning views over the deep blue Aegean Sea and the Greek island of Lesvos (Lesbos) beyond, the bucolic ruins of ancient Assos are noted for their fine Hellenistic walls and lovely 8th century BC Temple of Athena. This charming rural site is a hidden gem that merits inclusion for anyone looking to get off the beaten when travelling along Turkey’s west coast. Assos can be combined with visits to Troy and the Gallipoli battlefields.
Once the capital of a powerful empire, Pergamum was one of the most important centres of healing in the ancient world and was home to Galen – the greatest physician and medical writer in the Roman period. Access to Pergamum’s mighty acropolis is via a dramatic cable-car ride that rewards the visitor with spectacular panoramas and bird’s eye views over the lower part of the site.
Pergamum is celebrated for its precipitously steep theatre and Temple of Athena. It was also the location of the famed Altar of Zeus (now in Berlin). Some walking is required to see the historical splendours of Pergamum but the reward is an archaeological wonder that is less visited than other, more popular sites in Western Turkey.
Assos and Permamum are both included on Corinthian’s Turkish Odyssey: Gallipoli to the Aegean Sea and can also be incorporated in a tailor-made holiday to Western Turkey.
Located high on Mt Mykale, when first built in 4th century BC this ancient Greek city of Ionia overlooked the Aegean Sea. Nowadays, after centuries of changing landscape, this is no longer the case but the city’s location atop the rocky escarpment on Mt Mykale, ensures there are still fine views in every direction and the city’s streets and crumbling buildings are a delight to explore. Situated a short distance from Turkey’s premier archaeological site of Ephesus, historical Priene is a welcome inclusion to a tailor-made itinerary of Western Turkey and is also featured on the suggested tour Istanbul & the Ionian Shore.
The classical city of Hierapolis commands a unique location, looking down on the hot springs and gleaming white terraces of Pamukkale, one of Western Asia’s most stunning natural wonders. Once a Roman and Byzantine spa city and now recognised by UNESCO, the ruins at Hierapolis have been well preserved throughout the ages and strolling the city’s compact streets, discovering the huge Roman theatre and traversing the calcareous travertine shelves is a rewarding way to spend half a day or more.
The spectacular location of Hierapolis can be enjoyed on several of Corinthian Travel’s suggested Turkey itineraries including The Turquoise Coast & Classical Turkey, Classic Western Turkey, Turkey & the Jewish Heritage Trail and a Turkey Family Holiday.
A city of warriors, Termessos was inhabited by Pisidians. Located at an altitude of more than 1,000 metres above sea level on the south-west side of Mount Solymos in the Taurus Mountains, Termessos’s natural defences helped its inhabitants fight off Alexander the Great and his encroaching armies in 333 BC and also assisted them in establishing a deal with the might of the Roman Empire to retain independence and forge an alliance in 71 BC. It is above all the spectacular mountain top location that makes Termessos’s tumbled ruins so memorable – and the steep hike up – so worthwhile. The theatre here arguably has the most dramatic backdrop of any classical city on the Mediterranean.
Explore Termessos on a private tour of the Turquoise Coast & Classical Turkey.