The Ancient Cities in Antalya
Xanthos, located in Antalya’s Kaş district, was the capital city of Lycia and dates to 3000 BCE. It was the administrative centre of the Lycians during antiquity. Xanthos was entered into the UNESCO World Heritage List along with Letoon in 1988.
One of the oldest settlements belonging to the Lycian Union, Patara Ancient City is one of the most important symbols in the history of Anatolia. At the archaeological site, you can see dozens of unique historical ruins of the ancient city including the theatre and Entrance Gate.
Located near Demre and Kaş, Simena is only accessible by sea and has a very impressive view over Kekova Island, the site of an underwater city. The castle is still standing today. The city also has underwater rock tombs.
In Demre, in the east of Antalya province, the ancient city of Myra was one of the most powerful cities of the Lycian Union. It is known for its perfectly preserved Roman Era theatre and tombs carved in the rocks overlooking the theatre. Demre is also home to the Church of St. Nicholas, the 4th C. bishop is better known nowadays as Santa Claus.
Phaselis Ancient City is situated near Kemer in Antalya Province. Established by the people of Rhodes in the 7th century BCE, Phaselis is an ancient port city with three natural harbours. It has a rich history, and its ruins are impressive.
The ancient city of Olympos is located on the seashore, close to Çıralı, on the southern side of the Mount Tahtalı. Olympos, which was a member of the Lycian Union, was a maritime trading city. The area is a National Park nowadays.
Termessos, situated to the east of the city of Antalya, is one of Türkiye's best-preserved ancient cities and most outstanding archaeological sites. The untouched ancient city was built on a steep hillside covered with pine forest. It is believed to be one of the few places that Alexander the Great failed to conquer!
Perge, situated to the east of Antalya city, was an important city of Pamphylia. Artefacts from various parts of the ancient city are being exhibited on the road to the ancient stadium.
Situated near the town of Serik in Antalya province, Aspendos has one of the best-preserved freestanding Roman theatres anywhere in the world. It is still used today for music concerts and opera festivals.
Side is among the best-known ancient cities in Türkiye. Side was a port in ancient times and its name means pomegranate. The theatre built on colonnaded arches is the largest in the area.
Maiden Castle (Kızkalesi) in Mersin
Maiden Castle (Kızkalesi), also known as the Sea Castle, is the symbolic structure of Mersin coastline. With its magnificent walls preserved until today, the castle is located on an islet in the middle of the sea in Erdemli.
There are various rumours about the construction of the castle. According to inscription found here that the castle was built by Leon I in 1199. However, according to famous historian Herodotos, the castle’s historical name is Korykos, and it was built by a Cypriot prince named Korykos. Strabon mentions that pirates used the castle as a shelter in the Roman Period. The establishment of Maiden Castle, which was dominated by the Seleucids, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, Armenians, French, Karamanids and Ottomans throughout the history, dates to 4th century BCE.
Anavarza Antique City in Adana
Anavarza Antique City is located in Dilekkaya Village which is 28 km south of Kozan district center. The Romans gave the administration of this region to Tarkondimotos, whom they appointed as Vassal king in 1st century BC. After coming under Roman rule in the 17th century BC, the Antique City grew and developed and became one of the most important metropolises of Anatolia. The colonnaded street, the bath, the ruins of the church, the theater, the amphitheater, the stadium, the waterways and the rock tombs, the necropolis, and the ancient road in the west of the city, the pool mosaic of the sea goddess Thetis, the triumphal arch with 3 entrances and Ortaçağ Castle on the hill rising like an island in the center of the plain of the antique city are important works. Anavarza Antique City was registered in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 2014.
The Ancient City of Sagalassos in Burdur
While the stunning sculptures of Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Emperor Hadrian from Sagalassos are now rehoused in the Burdur Museum, the city itself is huge and impressive and has been on the UNESCO World History Tentative List for almost a decade.
The ruins themselves lie on Mount Akdağ in the Western Taurus Mountains at an altitude of 1,450-1,700 meters. The city was known as "the first city of Pisidia" (i.e. the capital of the region) and one stroll through the ancient city centre is enough to see just why. During Hadrian's era the city was at its peak, and it remains one of the best-preserved settlements in all of Asia Minor.
Titus Vespasianus Tunnel in Hatay
The tunnel, which was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 2014, was started to be built in 69 AD by the order of the Roman Emperor Vespasian against life-threatening floods and high-water. The construction of the tunnel that would circumvent the city and change the direction of the currents continued until Vespasian’s successor and son Titus’s period 81 AD and it was completed by Antonius Pius in the 2nd century AD. Roman legions and slaves worked in the construction of the tunnel, which was completely carved into the mountain and is 1380 m long, 7 m high and 6 m wide.
The Ancient Roots in Isparta
Having changed hands continuously throughout history, Isparta still has many relics from earlier times. In the museum of the city, a rich collection of ancient coins, fine examples from Turkish folklore, several Roman reliefs and works of art from the Ottoman period are found. Firdevs Paşa Mosque, Yılan Koran Fountain and Kınık Minaret are also spectacular monuments, while Yalvaç, and Sarıkırkağaç, are two other sites with ancient roots.
Karatepe - Aslantaş Open-Air Museum in Osmaniye
24 kilometres east from Kadirli district of Osmaniye province, Karatepe Castle is a unique example of defensive architecture as a frontier castle of Adanava –a city state that has existed during Late Hittite Period in Anatolia. Its construction was ordered by “the region’s sovereign” Azatiwada in 8th century BCE to defend the city against attacks from the north.
Located in the 4341-hectare national park bearing the same name, Karatepe-Aslantaş Archaeological Site is a perfect example of successful archaeological conservation and welcomes visitors as the first and the biggest open-air museum of Türkiye. The site is surrounded by natural beauties, history, wildlife, and the Aslantaş Dam.
Karatepe-Aslantaş Archaeologic Site was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 2020.
The Ancient City of Germanicia in Kahramanmaraş
Marash was taken over by the Romans in 64 B.C., and the name of the Roman Emperor Gaisus Caesar Agustus Germanicus was given to the city and the city was called "Kaiseria Germanicia."
Germanicia Mosaics, which are Latin, Greek and Arabic sources of the age, belong to the Late Roman & Early Byzantine Period. These Mosaics reflect the political, social, cultural, and economic situation in the city at that time. The depiction in the mosaics include herbal and geometric motifs, the descriptions selected by daily routine, and the composition showing the architectural structure of the period.