Capturing the top position on the tourism charts, Turkey has been successful in offering travellers a melange of culture as well as adventure experiences. But apart from the famous cities like Istanbul, this abundantly blessed destination has more sights and sounds to offer which are located along the southwestern and southern coast of Turkey called the Turkish Riveria, which is along the Mediterranean coast near Antalya.
A treasure trove of natural and archaeological sites of interest which include the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: The ruins of the Mausoleum of Maussollos in Halicamassus and the temple of Artemis in Ephesus, this coastline makes it one of the perfect place for a cultural sojourn apart from the quintessential points of interest in Turkey. If culture is what is of interest to a traveller, then this coastline serves as the perfect point for a tryst with a fascinating mix of facts and mythology, conflicts and events which have been points of reference in many stories throughout history. Regarded as home of scholars, saints, warriors, kings and heroes, as per legends, Marc Antony of the Roman Empire chose the Turkish Riveria as the most beautiful wedding gift for his beloved Cleopatra of Egypt. Home for internationally known Blue Voyage, travellers can choose a week long trip along the Turkish Riveria on the locally built gullet type schooners to ancient cities, harbours, tombs, mausolea and secluded beaches.
Other places of interest include the sites of Ephesus, Troy, Pergamon, House of Virgin Mary, Pamukkale, Hierapolis, Trabzon (where one of the oldest monasteries is the Sumela Monastry), Konya (place where poet Rumi spent most of his life), Didyma, Church of Antioch, religious places in Mardin and the ruined cities and landscapes of Cappadocia. Seeing small tourism interest, Diyarbakir is another important historic city. The pre-pottery neolithic settlement of Cayonu dates to over 10,000 years ago and its excavated remains have been showcased at the Diyarbakir Museum. Another important site is Girikihaciyan Tumulus in Egil. Ankara a gateway town to Cappadocia, is also not well known as a tourist destination though the city has lots of cultural and museums experiences. Apart from Ephasus, the other places of interest with captivating beauty and places with numerous stories waiting to be told include: Fethiye, Nemrut, Hasankeyf, Zeugma, Belek, Side, Bodrum, Kusadasi, Marmaris, Pamukkhale (Hierapolis). Each of these places have their cultural essence which stands out.
Last year the destination received 31.4 million foreign tourists of which 74,000 were Indians. Ozgur Ayturk, culture and tourism counsellor, Turkish Tourism informs that Turkey has always been famous for its culture and historical attractions, but the destination is now opening options for honeymooners and golf enthusiasts as well. Ceylan Özen, Turkish Consul General in Mumbai says, “There are so many interesting destinations, to name a few: Ankara, the capital of Turkey, has lots to offer to Indian tourists as Central Anatolian History and also shopping. Konya, another Central Anatolian city neighbouring Ankara, is a must see for Mevlana, Sufism and whirling dervishes. Mardin, for example, is a holy city for Christianity. It is the house for Syrian Christians which is the oldest Christianity sect in existence. Out of four million faith followers worldwide, two million are in India.”
On the key places of interest for Indian tourists, she opines, “The most visited place other than Istanbul are Antalya, Izmir and Cappadocia. Istanbul is known as the International Gateway City to Turkey and attracts the most number of Indian tourists. It is also known as the Turkish Riviera. Cappodocia is a ‘must visit’ for tourists to Turkey. Besides the weird fairy chimney landscape, the cave dwellings, churches, fortresses and mind-boggling underground cities are fascinating and unforgettable. Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey. It has a special cultural and historical identity. It is not far from Ephesus that was home to Mother Mary during her last days and has now become a shrine for Christian followers worldwide.”