UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey - Izmir Estate

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey

UNESCO, a social organization affiliated with the United Nations community, protects the richness of history, architecture and the diversity of nature with its World Heritage List. There are 18 places from Turkey in the UNESCO World Heritage List, which also undertakes the mission of protecting, making known and promoting places that have important roles in terms of historical, scientific and natural values.

Here are Turkey’s 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that will inspire your travels…

 

1: Historical Peninsula of Istanbul

QUALIFICATION: Cultural heritage

Date of Inclusion in the World Heritage List: 06.12.1985

The settlement history of Istanbul dates back to 300 thousand years, its urban history is about 3 thousand years, and the history of its capital city dates back 1600 years. It is a world city located at the intersection of the continents of Europe and Asia. With this glorious past, it brings together different religions, cultures, communities and works in a unique geography. These unique historical sites of Istanbul were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985 in 4 parts: Sultanahmet Archaeological Park, Süleymaniye Mosque and Its Environment Conservation Area, Zeyrek Mosque and Its Environment Conservation Area, and Istanbul Land Walls.

 

2: Goreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia

QUALIFICATION: Natural and Cultural Heritage

Date of Inclusion in the World Heritage List: 06.12.1985

Cappadocia region is a place where nature and history are integrated. While geographical events were creating fairy chimneys, people also carved houses and churches into these fairy chimneys, decorated them with frescoes, and brought the traces of thousands of years of civilizations to the present day. Göreme National Park, Derinkuyu and Kaymaklı Underground Cities, Karain Pigeons and Soğanlı Archaeological Site are also included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

UNESCO Turkey tip: this is one of the most extensive UNESCOs we’ve visited and we’d recommended spending a few days exploring Cappadocia.

 

3: Great Mosque and Hospital of Divrigi

QUALIFICATION: Cultural heritage

Date of Inclusion in the World Heritage List: 06.12.1985

Placed on the UNESCO World Heritage site list of Turkey in 1985, the unique architecture of the 13th-century Mosque and Hospital of Divrigi instantly draws the eye. Displaying in some parts, a mixture of Gothic, Islamic, and Baroque styles, this landmark is another that does not receive the admiration it deserves due to its distant location in the south-eastern Sivas. The Divrigi Mosque represents more than decorative artworks, it represents the artistic aspects of “architecture”.

 

4: The Hittite Capital of Hattusa

QUALIFICATION: Cultural heritage

Date of Inclusion in the World Heritage List: 28.11.1986

Hattusha, located in Çorum-Boğazköy, was the capital of the Hittites in the late bronze age period. As the capital of the Hittite Empire, it has been a very important center in Anatolia for centuries. Although the region has been inhabited since 3000 BC, it took its place in the historical scene as the capital of the Hittite Empire between 1700-1300 BC.

UNESCO Turkey tip: Hattusa is a large UNESCO and, when we visited in 2018, visitors were able to self drive through the site and park close to the key structures.

 

5- Nemrut Mountain:

QUALIFICATION: Cultural heritage

Date of Inclusion in the World Heritage List: 11.12.1987

Perched on one of the highest peaks in south-west Turkey, Nemrut Day is a 2,134 metre high mountain where, in 62 BC, King Antiochus I of Commagene built a tomb sanctuary as a monument to himself. The tomb is flanked by huge statues of the King, two lions, two eagles and various gods, the heads of which are now scattered throughout the site. The mausoleum is one of the most ambitious constructions of the Hellenistic period and is a unique artistic achievement.

 

6- Xanthos-Letoon:

QUALIFICATION: Cultural heritage

Date of Inclusion in the World Heritage List: 09.12.1988

The ancient city of Xanthos was the capital of Lycia and Letoon, a cult sanctuary of Leto and one of the most important religious centres in the region, is located nearby.  The two sites make up a remarkable archaeological complex and are considered to represent the most unique surviving architectural example of the ancient Lycian Civilization, one of the most important cultures of the Iron Age in Anatolia.

UNESCO Turkey tip: Some of the monuments from Xanthos reside in the British Mmuseum, the most well known being the Nereid Monument and the Payava Sarcophagus.

 

7- Hierapolis-Pamukkale:

QUALIFICATION: Natural and Cultural Heritage

Date of Inclusion in the World Heritage List: 09.12.1988

Pamukkale consists of magnificent white travertine pools formed by calcium oxide-containing waters coming from the south of Çaldağı. It is 2700 meters long and 160 meters high. With its bright white color, it is possible to see Pamukkale from 20 km away. On its top is the holy ancient city of Hierapolis from Rome.

 

8- Safranbolu

QUALIFICATION: Cultural heritage

Date of Inclusion in the World Heritage List:

Also in the Black Sea region of Turkey, the old town of Safranbolu has graced the UNESCO list since 1994, and many travel magazines place it center spread because of its traditional heritage. It was a stopping point for traveling salesmen on the old Silk Road from east to west, and its old houses have been preserved to reflect its history. The bonus of visiting is that it holds the crown as producing the best Turkish Delight in the whole of the country.

 

9- Archaeological Site of Troy

QUALIFICATION: Cultural heritage

Date of Inclusion in the World Heritage List: 02.12.1998

With 4,000 years of history, the world famous archaeological site of Tory was immortalised by Homer in the Iliad as the site of the Trojan War. In an early beauty contest, Paris of Troy had to choose between the three beauties Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. Paris chose Aphrodite who had promised Paris the love of Helen, the Queen of Sparta. Paris’ subsequent abduction of Helen to Tory provoked the Trojan war. The site is designated a UNESCO due to its extensive remains which are considered the most significant evidence of the first contact between the civilizations of Anatolia and the Mediterranean world and Tory has inspired great artists throughout the world ever since.

 

10- Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex

QUALIFICATION: Cultural heritage

Date of Inclusion in the World Heritage List: 27.06.2011

The Selimiye Mosque and Social Complex are located in Edirne. The mosque, commissioned by Sultan Selim II and built by renowned Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan between 1569 and 1575, dominates the skyline of Erdine. It is considered a highlight of Sinan’s career and is one of the most notable achievements of Islamic architecture. The complex includes Islamic schools, a covered market, a clock house, an outer courtyard and a library.

 

11- Neolithic site of Catalhoyuk

QUALIFICATION: Cultural heritage

Date of Inscription on the World Heritage List: 01.07.2012

Dating from the Neolithic era, this extensive collection of human habitats marks the transition of living tendencies from hunters and nomads to farmers. The UNESCO World Heritage website specifically marks their importance as “Two hills from the 37 site on the Southern Anatolian Plateau. The taller eastern mound contains eighteen levels of Neolithic occupation between 7400 BC and 6200 BC, including wall paintings, reliefs, sculptures, and other symbolic and artistic features.”

 

12- Bursa and Cumalikizik

QUALIFICATION: Cultural heritage

Date of Inscription on the World Heritage List: 2014

Notably remembered as the first capital of the Ottoman Empire during the 14th century, the central city of Bursa is just a 2-hour drive from Istanbul and ideally done as an overnight trip to explore all the major landmarks. Nearby the small village of Cumalikizik likewise dates from the foundations of the Ottoman Empire, but it is the 200 unique historical houses that attract tourists from all over the world.

 

13-The Cultural Landscape of Pergamon

QUALIFICATION: Cultural Landscape Area

Date of Inscription on the World Heritage List: 2014

Founded in 281 BC, Pergamon was one of the most important cities of the ancient world and the Acropolis of Pergamon was the capital of the Hellenistic Attalid dynasty. It was bequeathed to the Romans in 133 BC and the landscape shows evidence of Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. The city housed theatres, gymnasiums, the Great Altar and the library. The UNESCO listing is made up of 9 locations which includes the site of the Acropolis, the Asclepieion healing centre and other Ottoman and Roman remains in the area. The Trajan Temple is impressive and the theatre, the steepest surviving Roman Theatre, is a highlight.

UNESCO Turkey tip: The Great Altar at Pergamon is on display at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin after the frieze was removed by German archaeologists in the late 19th Century.

 

14: Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens

QUALIFICATION: Cultural heritage

Date of Inscription on the World Heritage List: 2015

Diyarbakır has been a city of great significance from the Hellenistic period until the present. The site contains Diyarbakır’s 5.800km-long city walls, as well as the Hevsel Gardens, which provided food and water supply to the city.

 

15: The Ancient City Ruins of Ephesus 

QUALIFICATION: Cultural heritage

Date of Inscription on the World Heritage List: 2015

The ancient Greek city of Ephesus was built in the 10th Century BC and contains successive settlements from the Neolithic, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Selçuk and Ottoman periods. The UNESCO listing comprises the Cukurici Mound, the Ancient City of Ephesus, the area of Ayasuluk
Hill including the Basilica of St John, the Medieval Settlement and the Temple of Artemis and the House of the Virgin Mary. Ephesus is a major place of Christian pilgrimage: it was one of the seven churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation, is believed to have been the last home of Mary the Mother of Jesus and the Gospel of John is reported to have been written in Ephesus The highlights are the magnificent Library of Celsus, the remains of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the huge theatre and the excavation site of the terraced houses.

UNESCO Turkey tip: go early or late to avoid the huge crowds and the midday sun. We visited at opening and made a beeline for the Library of Celsus where we spent an incredible 30minutes enjoying one of the most iconic sites in the world all by ourselves!

 

16- Ancient City of Ani

QUALIFICATION: Archaeological Site

Date of Inscription on the World Heritage List: 2016

On the eastern border with Armenian sits the ancient city of Ani. Rarely featured in guidebooks because of its remote location, it deserves much more admiration, not only for its historical importance but also for restored buildings like the Fethiye Cathedral, and Church of Tigran Hornets. Ani was home to the great Bagratid Kingdom during the middle ages. After the Mongolian sack in the 13th century and an earthquake in the 14th century, Ani is abandoned until its rediscovery in the 18th century. 

 

17- Aphrodisias

QUALIFICATION: Cultural heritage

Date of Inscription on the World Heritage List: : 2017

The latest addition to Turkey’s UNESCO list, Aphrodisias was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017. The UNESCO listing consists of both the ancient ruins of Aphrodisias and the quarries which provided marble for the site. The small ancient Greek Hellenistic city was named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and the highlights include the monumental gateway leading into the site, the temple of Aphrodite which dates from the 3rd Century, the stadium which is one of the best preserved of its size and the museum which house the friezes from The Sebasteion building.

 

18- Gobeklitepe

QUALIFICATION: Cultural heritage

Date of Inscription on the World Heritage List: : 2018

In 2018, the Archeological site of Gobeklitepe in Sanliurfa was announced as one of the World Heritage by UNESCO. It is currently known as the first worship site in the world. The site consists of T-shaped limestone pillars with figurative and zoomorphic decorations are dated to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic Period which corresponds to the 10th and 9th millennia BC.

 

 

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