From: [email protected] (Burak Epir) Subject: Turizm mevsimi yakla$Irken yurdu tanIyoruz, 1 Date: 12 Apr 1995 00:21:13 -0500 from HH the DemiGod: Travel & Holiday
Turkey - What to Do There (A-I) Note: Ancient names are in parentheses following modern names. Adana (Seyhan) Akhisar (Thyatira) Alacahoyuk Alanya(Korakesion) ALASEHIR (Philadelphia) Anatolia Ankara (Ancyra, Angora) (more to follow here)

ADANA (Seyhan)--Turkey's fourth-largest city (pop. 1,250,000) merits an overnight visit. To enter the city, cross an ancient bridge--in continuous use since Roman legionaries built it in the 2nd century! Once in Adana, head first to the mosques. We think Akca Mescit's pulpit and Eski Cami's restored minaret are especially interesting. Be sure to allow time to see the 19th-century clock towers, the archaeological museum and the Kapali Carsi, or covered market. Day trips from Adana include Tarsus and Karatepe (see separate paragraphs). 240 mi/385 km southeast of Ankara. AKHISAR (Thyatira)--This small, rarely visited town was the site of one of the original Seven Churches of Asia Minor. Founded by the Greeks in 280 BC, Akhisar is a good place to overnight if you're making a two-day tour of Alasehir, Bergama, Sardes and Denizli (see separate paragraphs). Alternately, Akhisar can be seen on a very long day trip from Izmir. 52 mi/84 km northeast of Izmir, or about 300 mi/485 km west of Ankara. ALACAHOYUK--Home of the Hittite Sphinx Gate ruin, Alacahoyuk was a center of civilization during the Bronze Age. Plan a couple of hours there. The bronze and gold objects found in Alacahoyuk's Royal Tombs are now on display at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara (see separate paragraph). 100 mi/160 km east of Ankara. ALANYA (Korakesion)--Alanya once was given as a present to Cleopatra by Marc Antony. We can see why--it offers great beaches, ancient ruins and a fantastic citadel in a beautiful setting. We love Alanya, but we have to admit that it makes us uneasy that the beaches just outside of town are rapidly being "discovered" and developed. We recommend at least one night in town. 250 mi/400 km south of Ankara. ALASEHIR (Philadelphia)--Site of one of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor, this town was founded by Philadelphus of Pergamum, a Greek, in 150 BC. (Much later, Greece was again to play a role in the city's history--in 1922, Alasehir was leveled by Greek forces). Only portions of an early church and the city wall remain standing. Alasehir and Denizli (see separate paragraph) are usually seen together on a day trip from Izmir. 75 mi/120 km east of Izmir. ANATOLIA--Anatolia is the western half of the Asian portion of Turkey. It's an area of diverse scenery, weather, cultures, ruins and terrain; one can spend several weeks touring it. We especially enjoy the historic sites in Central Anatolia and the beaches along the southern coast. Visitors to the Mediterranean shore can enjoy superlative snorkeling and diving. ANKARA (Ancyra, Angora)--Ankara (pop. 3,000,000), founded in 2000 BC, gained its modern prominence after it replaced Istanbul as the capital in 1923. Consequently, it has distinct old and new sections; the former, "Ulus," is located on two steep hills and is characterized by narrow winding streets. The new part's hallmark is modern construction--the city continues its rapid expansion. Ankara is a cultural center: three symphony orchestras and five state-operated theaters (featuring opera, ballet and drama) perform regularly. There's also a fine modern-art museum in the city. Be sure to visit the Hisar (citadel) dominating Ulus Square; nearby are other ancient sites, including the Aladdin Mosque, the Temple of Augustus, the Roman Baths of Caracalla and the Haci Bayram Mosque (built on the ruins of the Temple of Augustus). Also in the area are the Grand National Assembly Museum, Julian's Column (near Ulus Square, it dates from the 4th century) and the Aslanhane Mosque. No visit to Turkey would be complete without a visit to the Mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, the revered father of modern Turkey (it was he who moved the capital to Ankara). The mausoleum, which overlooks the city, includes an interesting museum detailing Ataturk's life. Another must-see is the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, with its beautiful bronze and gold objects found in the ruins of Alacahoyuk (see separate paragraph). We also enjoyed the ethnographic museum, with its displays of many of the cultures that make up Turkey. Ankara can easily be seen in a two-night stay. 220 mi/355 km east-southeast of Istanbul. ANTAKYA (Antioch)--This ancient Syrian capital was once the third-largest city in the Roman empire, after Rome and Constantinople. Drive to the top of the mountain to see the ruins of the Byzantine fortress (though the view is more impressive than the ruins), and visit some of the city mosques. A special treat for Biblical scholars and history buffs is the red-rock St. Peter's Church, where Peter converted some of the earliest Christians. Also be sure to see the Baths of the Sinners (excellent reliefs) and the Hatay Archaeological Museum (don't miss the mosaic of Oceanus), and the nearby Crusader castle, built atop the foundations of a Hellenistic fortress in the nearby town of Bagras. Worth seeing as well is Yakacik, a restored 16th-century urban complex featuring a castle, courtyards, caravanserai (where caravans rested), mosque and covered market. Three nights are needed to see Antakya and vicinity. 325 mi/525 km southeast of Ankara. ANTALYA (Attalia)--All the right elements come together to make this Mediterranean town (pop. 400,000) on the Turkish Riviera one of the country's top beach resorts. Not only is it on a beautiful crescent bay, but dramatic cliffs and the Toros Mountains contribute a stunning backdrop. And Antalya offers variety: visitors can take a break from the sea and sand to visit Hittite, Greek and Roman ruins right in town, or take day trips to enjoy both natural and historic attractions. The beaches in the town itself are pebbly; the ones outside town are much better. Take time to walk the old quarter of Antalya, including the restored Roman Harbor (now used by yachts), Hadrian's Gate (the marble structure is also known as the Three Arches) and the Roman Hidirlik Kulesi tower. "Newer" structures include the impressive six-domed Yivli Minare Mosque and Kesik Minare Mosque (an old Roman temple with truncated minaret). To put things into context, start your tour with a few hours in the archaeological museum. Allow at least three nights in Antalya to see it and its vicinity. Several sites outside of town can be visited on day trips. Natural attractions include the Manavgat Waterfalls, the Upper and Lower Duden Waterfalls and the fascinating Kadinyari Cliff, from whose heights unfaithful wives were given the heave-ho. Other draws near Antalya include the eternal flame of the Bey Mountains and Patara, where St. Nicholas, the "real" Santa Claus, was born (see also Demre). Perge, Side and Termessos also merit visits (see separate paragraphs). An alternate base for travelers could be Kemer, a relatively new seaside resort. 240 mi/385 km south-southeast of Ankara. APHRODISIAS--This remarkable ancient Roman city was dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. Located near the village of Geyre, the ruins merit at least half a day of exploration. See the old walls, theater and stadium (it once held upwards of 30,000 people) and be sure to visit the museum, which contains several interesting sculptures found at the site. 100 mi/160 southeast of Izmir. ATAKOY--A beach resort strategically located only 15 minutes from the Istanbul airport, Atakoy is fast becoming a major tourist area. Area attractions include its excellent beach and a Roman-Byzantine palace; more-modern draws are a casino, shopping center and berths for private yachts. 6 mi/9 km west of Istanbul. BEBEK--Located on the Bosporus Straits, the small town of Bebek can be seen on a half-day visit from Istanbul. Bebek features Rumeli Hisar, a castle built by Mehmet II, and Bogazici University (formerly American Robert College, the first American university overseas). 10 mi/16 km north of Istanbul. BERGAMA (Pergamum)--Usually seen on a two-day tour of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor or on an Aegean sea cruise, Bergama is the site of the ancient city of Pergamum. While not quite as old or grand as Ephesus (see separate paragraph), we think Bergama merits a visit because of its glorious past as an ancient capital and cultural center. Among its ruins are an acropolis featuring an Altar of Zeus, palaces, gymnasiums, temples, the world's steepest amphitheater, an Aesculapium (ancient medical center) and a now-empty library (it once held 200,000 volumes). Note the familiar symbol of medicine on the base of the Serpent Altar; Pergamum was the home of early medical theoretician Galen, whose teachings held sway for 1,500 years. Unfortunately, the most spectacular treasures from Pergamum can't be seen there--they're at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany. Allow a few hours to tour the ruins. 50 mi/80 km north of Izmir. BODRUM (Halicarnassus)--Spread out on two crescent-shaped bays, this resort has an "artsy" feel. Recently, it has become a magnet for the jet-set crowd, while at the same time maintaining an intimate air (there are strict zoning laws preventing overdevelopment). The area is a popular tourist resort with good beaches nearby and is now also an important yacht-chartering center. Bodrum's a good spot to stay while visiting the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World) and the Castle of St. Peter, a Crusader fortification housing the excellent Museum of Underwater Archaeology inside. The highlight of the museum are artifacts from the oldest shipwreck ever discovered. Be sure to prebook far in advance if planning to visit during September--crowds are heavy for the annual Arts and Culture Festival. 162 mi/261 km south of Izmir. BOGAZKOY (Hattushash, Pteria)--The capital of the Hittite empire from 2000 to 1180 BC, Bogazkoy features interesting double walls circling its ruins. Be sure to see the Royal Gate, the Yer Kapi (underground tunnel), the Lion Gate and the Great Temple of the Storm God of Hattusas. Plan a half-day visit. 90 mi/145 km east of Ankara. BURSA (Prusa)--At the foot of Mt. Uludag (also called Mt. Olympus) is Bursa (pop. 1,000,000), the first capital of the Ottoman empire. The city, justly-famed for its tiled architecture, has several nice attractions, including gardens, the Ulu Cami (Great Mosque), archaeologic and ethnographic museums, the Green Mosque (Yesil Cami) and its adjoining tomb (Yesil Turbe--wonderful tilework). We also like seeing the town's old oak trees, relaxing in its Turkish baths and shopping in the covered market and silk shops (there's also a silk cocoon market in June and September). Don't neglect to visit the Muradiye Mosque, which is surrounded by 11 red-brick mausoleums holding the tombs of an Ottoman sultan and members of his nobility. The suburb of Cekirge is Turkey's best-known mineral spa. Most of the best hotels are located there, and many of them have their own thermal baths. Plan two nights. 60 mi/97 south of Istanbul. CAPPADOCIA--This ancient Christian kingdom, in central Turkey, sits within an eerie, surrealistic landscape of rock pinnacles, ravines and rock-carved dwellings. Caves in the region were used as shelters and still contain marvelous frescoes. Cappadocia encompasses the area bordered by the towns of Avanos on the north, Kayseri on the east (see separate paragraph), Nevsehir on the west and Nigde on the south. About 15 mi/22 km south of Nevsehir are the cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu; both are rock-carved cities that continue seven stories underground. The Goreme Valley, east of Nevsehir, features many churches carved out of the rock and magnificent frescoes. (Even though many of the frescoes have been severely defaced by vandals, it's still one of the major sights of Turkey.) The fascinating Zelve Valley (north of Goreme Valley) has a multilevel monastery and churches carved inside "fairy chimneys." If you're traveling independently, we suggest staying in the centrally located town of Urgup. Allow several days to see the area (be sure to take good walking shoes). Also nearby is the less-visited, but very scenic Ihlara Valley (28 mi/45 km southeast of Aksaray), which features yet more churches with frescoes. Cappadocia is approximately 100 mi/160 km south of Ankara. DEMRE (Myra)--If you think Santa Claus comes from the North Pole, think again: the original St. Nicholas was bishop of Demre in the 4th century, and was buried under the beautiful mosaic floor of the Church of St. Nicholas (most of his bones were removed to Italy centuries ago; a few remain in the Antalya Archaeological Museum). Near Demre are a Roman theater and some rock tombs of the Lydians. We suggest seeing Demre as an excursion from the nearby resort towns of Kas or Kalkan. Demre lies 81 mi/130 km southwest of Antalya. DENIZLI (Laodicea)--Though people visiting the spa at Pamukkale (see separate paragraph) sometimes end up staying in Denizli, it doesn't really have much to offer. There are some not-particularly-impressive ruins at Laodicea of one of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor in the hills near Denizli. 112 mi/180 km southeast of Izmir. DIKILI--Although not a major site, this Aegean port town is the landing site of cruise ships whose itineraries feature the ruins of the ancient city of Pergamum (see also Bergama). 35 mi/55 km north of Izmir. DOGUBEYAZIT--In the shadow of Mt. Ararat (see separate paragraph), this town has a rustic frontier atmosphere. Nearby is the spectacular and isolated Isak Pasa Sarayi (palace), set atop a high mountain. Though dry and barren, the area is impressive. One night there is adequate unless you're hiking up Mt. Ararat to seek the remains of Noah's Ark. 650 mi/1,045 km east of Ankara. EDIRNE (Adrianople, Hadrianopolis)--Rich in historical significance, Edirne saw the best and the worst times of the Roman Empire. Named after founding Emperor Hadrian, under whose reign the Empire reached its largest extent, the city was also the scene of the worst military disaster in the later Empire, when the Emperor Valens and all his troops were slaughtered by barbarian invaders. Its past has left the city with a heritage of cobblestone streets, outdoor shops, wooden houses and an Eastern European feel. Among the city's sights are the Museum of Islamic Art and the covered bazaar; the main reason to visit Edirne, however, is to see The Selimiye, a mosque that represents the best work of the finest Ottoman Turkish architect, Sinan--it's a true masterpiece. The Uc Serefeli and Eski mosques are also worth seeing. Mud wrestling occurs in Edirne in early July. Plan one night there. 146 mi/235 km west of Istanbul (near the Bulgarian/Greek border). EPHESUS--Of all the ruins in Turkey, the grandest and best-restored are at Ephesus. This prominent ancient capital was founded in the 10th century BC by the Ionian Greeks and flourished between 600 BC and 500 AD (it once had a population of 300,000). Biblical buffs may know the town as the inspiration for St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians and it was the site of one of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor. German archaeologists still digging at the site have reconstructed much of it, including a luxurious two-story library, private homes, the Temple of Hadrian and the Great Amphitheater (open-air concerts are still held there--Joan Baez, among others, has performed in summer concerts). Nearby is the reconstructed site where the Virgin Mary is said to have spent her last year. Ephesus and the museum in Selcuk (where many of the artifacts are on display--see separate paragraph) are often seen as a daytrip from Izmir (see separate paragraph). 35 mi/55 km south-southeast of Izmir. ERZURUM--This city (pop. 292,000) in eastern Turkey is surrounded by beautiful, gently eroded mountains. Though we wouldn't make a special trip to see Erzurum, it has several interesting sights for those passing through. If you have time to see only one attraction, stop at the Cifte Minareli Medrese (Koranic school), which dates from 1253. (During the early part of this century, it was used to store ammunition.) Other sights include the 12th-century Ulu Mosque ("Great Mosque"), the Yakutiye Medresesi (built by the Mongols in 1308) and Uc Kumbetler (Seljuk tombs). There's a citadel in town that was formerly used as a military installation, but can now be visited by the general public. Plan one night. 475 mi/765 km east of Ankara. GALLIPOLI (Gelibolu)--Across the Dardanelles from Canakkale lies the Gallipoli Peninsula. Its historic significance can't be underrated--World War I would have been considerably shorter (and the course of history changed) had the British Empire's troops merely secured their position on its heights rather than on its beaches after they captured the peninsula. (The astonished Turks, who had retreated from the heights, simply turned around and established machine guns nests above the troops to pin them down, effectively delaying any further Allied movement on the Eastern Front.) Given its historic importance, the site is very low-key; take a walk along the heights and look down on the sea to get a clear understanding of why the Australians and New Zealanders below had hardly a prayer. The Turkish commander, Ataturk, first gained his reputation and fame there in 1915. Though Winston Churchill was not on the scene, he had sent the expedition, and the disaster nearly ruined him politically. There are many war cemeteries and monuments on the peninsula. 125 mi/200 km southwest of Istanbul. HARRAN (Carrae, Charran, Haran)--In southeastern Turkey, this town is believed to be the city of Haran, home of Biblical Abraham. In 53 BC, the Roman general Crassus and his legionaries were defeated by the Parthians at the Battle of Carrae. There are gates, ruins, a citadel and the remains of the Umayyad Mosque. Plan a few hours there. Another attraction are the villagers' "beehive" houses made of mud. 425 mi/685 km southeast of Ankara. ISKENDERUN (Alexandretta)--A port city founded by Alexander the Great, Iskenderun has a long, rich history. Wander its cobblestone streets, peer in on the quaint shops, and visit the Theatre of Masks (a well-preserved Greek structure) and various mosques. Chief among the latter are the lovely blue-tiled Mosque of Al Kahira (built by Sinan) and the Mausoleum of Muktar IV (be sure to see the courtyard). A short distance away lie the ruins of a great library at Fodasi, as well as the mud baths of Albahomos. 300 mi/485 km southeast of Ankara. ISTANBUL (Constantinople, Byzantium)--Set on the Golden Horn inlet off the Sea of Marmara and sprawled across both sides of the Bosporus Strait (which separates Europe from Asia), Istanbul has both an Asian and European feel. It's very old (founded in 600 BC) and very large (the greater metropolitan area has a population of 6,000,000). It was the capital city for nearly 1,600 years and holds a great deal of historical interest. Most of the population and attractions are in the European section, primarily in the Old Town; the Asian portion is reached by ferry or bridge. Both sides feature colorful markets, wild traffic, beautiful architecture and fantastic museums--plan to stay at least three nights. In this city of spectacular attractions, a few stand out as absolute must-sees. One is the symbol of Istanbul, the lovely Blue Mosque, a massive and rounded structure contrasting beautifully with the airy, vertical spires of its minarets. The nearby Hagia Sophia was once the world's largest church, before St. Peter's in Rome was built--its interior mosaics and spaces are absolutely stunning. (After the Moslem conquest of Constantinople, the cathedral was turned into a mosque, but is now a museum.) Another wonderful attraction, the 19th-century Baroque Dolmabahce Palace, runs nearly 1/4 mi/1/2 km along the Bosporus Strait, and ranks among the world's most ostentatious palaces. It features beautiful marble, carpets and crystal. The Cistern Basilica (with 336 columns dating to 527 AD), the Museum of Ancient Oriental Art and the covered bazaar (some 4,000 shops) are the other must-sees. But those highlights aren't all that the city offers. Istanbul abounds in other attractions that would be the standout in any other city. For instance, Topkapi Palace, home of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire, sits on a hill overlooking the city and the Bosporus. Its spectacular treasury includes the dagger featured in the movie Topkapi, and the palace's harem is a dingy maze of staircases, corridors and bedrooms where women lived for the sole purpose of producing a male child. Each summer, Mozart's "Abduction from the Seraglio" is performed at the palace. Other Istanbul sights include the 6th-century Roman Hippodrome, the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, the Mosque of Sultan Suleiman,the Magnificent, and the Kariye Cami (Church of St. Saviour in Chora, holding some of the finest Byzantine art in the world). Also keep your eyes open for the Egyptian spice bazaar (Misir Carsisi) and the Galata Bridge (crossing the Golden Horn--beside it, fishermen bake fresh fish for sandwiches, or you can eat at the various restaurants underneath the floating pontoon bridge). Other sights include Yedikule Castle, the Anadolu and Rumeli fortresses, the Galata Tower, the Museum of Antiquities and the Aynalikavak Pavilion (18th-century Arsenal Palace building). If time permits, take in the view from the Hill of Camlica, across the Bosporus Bridge (at one time the only suspension bridge connecting two continents). There are literally hundreds of mosques, most of which can be visited. Istanbul is a city that's fun for sitting at sidewalk cafes or walking around, though it's best to be cautious in some areas (ask at your hotel which neighborhoods to avoid, and don't walk around alone at night beyond the major thoroughfares). Day trips may be taken by ferry to the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara (the boat passes numerous old forts and castles). Buyukada Island is one of our favorites; wooden Victorian houses dot this pine-covered island. Stop at the fishing village of Sariyer for an inexpensive fish lunch, and pick up the boat on its way back (about 2 hours later). For a delicious fish supper, head to the Old Town area of Kumkapi to choose from among some two dozen fish restaurants. If you're there from late-June to mid-July, participate in the Istanbul International Festival, a celebration of culture and the arts. Outlying areas such as Camlica and the beaches at Atakoy (Sea of Marmara) and Kilyos (Black Sea) can also be visited on day trips. IZMIR (Smyrna)--Izmir (pop. 1,500,000) is the unofficial capital of the Turkish Aegean area. This busy port is claimed to be the birthplace of Homer, and it also features one of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor (this one was rebuilt after a 1922 fire). Visit the bazaar, the Kemeralti, Sadirvan and Hisar mosques, the 17th-century caravanserai, the archaeological museum (ancient sculptures and other displays), the Agora (marketplace) and Kadifekale (the "Velvet Castle" atop Mt. Pagus--spectacular view). The Culture Park is a fairground. Day trips from Izmir include historical sites at Didyma, Asklepion and Priene. Izmir is also an ideal base for visiting the historic towns of Alasehir, Akhisar, Bergama, Denizli, Ephesus, Kusadasi, Sardes and Selcuk (see separate paragraphs). 210 mi/338 km southeast of Istanbul. IZNIK (Nicaea)--Most people stop for an hour in Iznik on the drive between Istanbul and Bursa. The site of the first Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church (in 325 AD), it was also where the "Nicene Creed" was developed. Iznik's major claim to fame is that it was the center of Turkish tile-making in the 16th and 17th centuries. Colored Iznik tiles are among the finest works of art in the world. 62 mi/100 km southeast of Istanbul. KARATEPE--Karatepe is an ancient Hittite city with a castle that's now an open-air museum. Allow several hours to see it all. While in the area, also visit the fortress of Kozan, Kadirli Castle (where the Istanbul Museum's statue of Hadrian comes from) and other Crusades/Hittite castles and ruins. It's possible to spend several days in this area, but most people see it on a long day trip from Adana. 50 mi/80 km northeast of Adana. KAYSERI (Caesarea Mazaca)--Lying in the shadow of Mt. Aergius, Kayseri was once the principal city of ancient Cappadocia (see separate paragraph). Today, this city of 450,000 is noted for its many carpet merchants. If you're going to shop for carpets, prepare yourself for a hard sell--take your time and don't allow yourself to be pressured. The small archaeological museum has interesting artifacts from Kanesh. Unusual buildings include the Huant Hatun Mosque and the Sahibiye Medresesi (with an especially fine portal); there are also several nice Islamic buildings in town. An excursion may be made to see the site of Kanesh (4,000-year-old silver mines--now just holes in the ground) on the way to Sultan Han, a restored 13th-century caravanserai (the latter is well worth seeing). A visit to Karatay Han (an Assyrian burial complex) could be made on the same excursion. 165 mi/265 km southeast of Ankara. KONYA--Konya, one of the world's oldest cities (dating from 7000 BC), is the spiritual center of Turkey--this is where the Whirling Dervishes sect began (a weeklong Dervish festival, which includes dancing, is held in December). Plan a day there. This city of 691,000 features numerous attractions: the tiled Theological School of Karatay, the Ince Minaret, Aladdin Mosque, Mausoleum of Mevlana (founder of the Dervishes) and a museum displaying beautiful ancient rugs and copies of the Koran. Some 30 mi/48 km south of Konya is Catalhoyuk, site of another very old settlement. There is little to see there today, so go only if you want to enjoy the "mood" of the place. To see some of the 9,000-year-old artifacts from Catalhoyuk, you need to visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara (see separate paragraph). 150 mi/241 km south of Ankara. KUSADASI (Bird Island)--Connected to the mainland by a causeway, this tiny island barely has room enough to hold a former fort (now a restaurant) and an even smaller park. The mainland town of the same name is where most activity is. Once a pleasant fishing village, it has become rather raucous in recent years and doesn't hold much of interest. Many people stay there, however, when visiting Ephesus (12 mi/19 km away) or Izmir (see separate paragraphs). Kusadasi is also the port where Aegean cruise liners tie up for their day visits to Ephesus. Day trips can be made to nearby Didyma to see the Temple of Apollo and to the Ionian port city of Priene to see its theater, lower gymnasium and Bouleuterion (town hall). Another excursion can be made to Miletus, an important ancient Greek town where a superb Greco-Roman theater still stands. In the town of Kusadasi, the best places to stay are near the Gulf of Kusadasi. 40 mi/65 km south of Izmir. MURTANA (Perga)--This Hellenistic town is where St. Paul preached his first sermon. You can visit a large stadium (once seating 15,000), restored triumphal arch and the ruins of a hillside Roman amphitheater. Perga can be seen as a half-day trip from Antalya or a full-day excursion if linked with Side (see separate paragraphs) and Aspendos (the latter features a huge Roman amphitheater and aqueducts from the 2nd century AD). 10 mi/16 km northeast of Antalya. MT. ARARAT--The 16,945-ft/5,165-m peak of Mt. Ararat is alleged to be the land first spotted by Noah after the flood. The peak is in eastern Turkey, near the town of Dogubeyazit (see separate paragraph). Because it's in an area near the Iranian/Russian borders, it's only possible to climb the mountain with a group that has official permission. This region, plagued by earthquakes, is only worth a visit by those particularly curious about Noah's Ark or in climbing the mountain. Climbs are only recommended for the physically fit and experienced hill climbers/walkers. 650 mi/1,045 km east of Ankara. NEMRUT DAGH--These Commagene (pre-Roman) temple ruins were built 2,000 years ago for King Antiochus I (Antiochus Commagenes). The most remarkable things about them, besides their location at an elevation of 7,054 ft/2,150 m, are the giant stone heads found there (frequently featured in Turkish travel brochures). The heads, called the Gods of Nemrut Dagh, were lopped off some huge statues long ago. At the base of the mountain is a relief of Hercules greeting a king. The trip up and down the mountain takes a day. Tours are available from the town of Malatya (50 mi/80 km due north) or Kahta (if possible, take the tour from Malatya; we discovered firsthand that the Kahta tour guides lived up to their reputation for being unscrupulous). The mountain can't be visited in winter. Take a jacket even in summer for visiting the top. 350 mi/565 km southeast of Ankara. PAMUKKALE (Hierapolis)--Water streaming down walls of white stalactites into hot mineral pools has made this a popular spa since before Roman times. When you've finished wading through the series of naturally pure-white travertine pools, see the well-preserved necropolis in the nearby ruins of Hierapolis. All the hotels in Pamukkale have pools filled with the naturally warm, calcium-rich water. Plan one night in the area, including a quick visit to Denizli (see separate paragraph) in southwestern Turkey. 250 mi/400 km southwest of Ankara. SAMSUN (Amisus)--A Black Sea port city of 354,000, Samsun is where the Turkish independence movement was born in 1919. Samsun merits a stop on the drive along the coastal route. 200 mi/320 km northeast of Ankara. SARDES--The ancient Lydian capital, Sardes is where the process for minting coins was developed. It's also the site of one of the original Seven Churches of Asia Minor (it's usually seen as a half-day tour from Izmir). Attractions include the Ionic Temple of Artemis, a restored Roman gymnasium and a 4th-century-BC synagogue that is said to be the ancient world's largest. 50 mi/80 km east of Izmir. SELCUK (Aya Soluk)--This ancient town was the site of the Temple of Diana (Artemis), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Selcuk is very close to Ephesus, so visit both sites on a daytrip from Izmir (see separate paragraphs). Other attractions are the Basilica of St. John and the archaeological museum (be sure to see the two statues of Artemis). 35 mi/55 km south-southeast of Izmir. SIDE--Side (pronounced SEE-day) is a town with fascinating Byzantine, Greek and Roman ruins, some dating from the 7th century BC. The setting for this impressive area is coastal mountains; allow a minimum of half a day to see it (a full day is better), either from Antalya or while driving to Adana (see separate paragraphs). Don't miss the towers and walls (fairly well-preserved), theater, Roman baths (now a museum--allow two hours to see it), various temple ruins and a beautiful fountain. Side tends to be crowded with European tourists during the peak summer months. To see the town at a less hectic time, try visiting in spring or autumn. 50 mi/80 km southeast of Antalya. SINOP (Sinope)--Sinop is best seen by walking; it's a very nice town of quaint stores, small mosques, hidden tombs, parks and historical sites. Visit the ruined Hellenistic temple and the site where Diogenes, the seeker of honest men, was born. Also see the Aladdin Keykubat Mosque, ruins of the Serapis Greek temple and a Hittite citadel. Sinop merits a half-day visit. 190 mi/305 km northeast of Ankara. TARSUS--Famous as the birthplace of St. Paul, Tarsus is easily visited on a day trip from Adana. It isn't worth a special trip unless you're passing nearby. Adam's son, Seth, is said to have founded this town (other local traditions hold that it's where Antony and Cleopatra met and where 7th-century Archbishop of Canterbury Theodore was born). Among the attractions are the Ulu Mosque, Sahmeran's Baths and the nearby Caves of the Seven Sleepers, in which Christians hid from persecution. 23 mi/37 km west of Adana. TERMESSOS--This ancient town is mentioned in the Iliad, in the story of Bellerophon. Termessos is locally famous as being the only town in the area that Alexander the Great didn't conquer. The ruins, located high in the mountains on a dead-end road and surrounded by stone walls, are a long half-day excursion from Antalya (see separate paragraph), but we feel it's well worth the effort to visit. Ruins of agoras (markets) and theaters abound, but what interests us most is the vast necropolis of stone sarcophagi. The trip isn't for the out-of-shape--visitors must walk almost 2 mi/3 km up a steep valley along a rocky path to reach the necropolis. While the walk can be tiring, the scenery is beautiful. 22 mi/35 km north of Antalya. THRACE--Thrace is the European portion of Turkey and comprises three provinces, the capitals of which are Kirklareli (northern part), Tekirdag (southern part) and Edirne (see separate paragraph). All three merit a visit, but Edirne offers the most to visitors. In mid-June, mud wrestling matches (see also Potpourri) take place in Thrace. TRABZON (Trapezus)--On the Black Sea, this historic ancient city (pop. 189,000) is well worth a three-night visit. Among the attractions is the 13th-century Aya Sophia Church (now a museum), one of the best-preserved Byzantine monuments in the country. Also see the 16th-century Gulbahar Hatun Cami (mosque) and the citadel. About 30 mi/48 km southwest is an impressive Byzantine Virgin built into a cliff at Sumela Monastery at an elevation of 3,900 ft/1,189 m. While in the area, take a day drive south through the stunning Zigana Gecidi Pass to see the varied scenery--we enjoyed passing shepherds with their flocks in the fields. 400 mi/645 km east-northeast of Ankara. TROY (Ilium)--Although celebrated in the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer and the Aeneid of Virgil, Troy exists today (3,200 years later) only as ruins. Believed to be fictional until von Schliemann's excavation in the last century, the site is near the modern city of Hissarlik, not far from the Aegean Sea. The Trojan Horse, the Trojan War and Helen of Troy were but a small part of the city's history--so far, nine settlements have been uncovered, dating from the Stone Age to the Roman Empire. Plan a few hours to walk through the archaeological site. Overnight in Canakkale, a town on the Dardanelles 20 mi/32 km north of Troy. 170 mi/275 km southwest of Istanbul. VAN (Thospitis)--This town lies in a beautiful, stark setting near the eastern shore of 2,256-sq-mi/6,620-sq-km saltwater Lake Van. Though remote, transportation links are good: Van can be reached by air, rail or bus. The primary reason to go is to shop for kilims (rugs) and other Kurdish weavings, and to visit the beautiful 10th-century Armenian church of Akdamar, on a nearby island in the lake. Other interesting excursions from Van are to the Hittite city of Cavustepe and the Kurdish castle of Hosap. The town of Hakkari, high in the mountains near the Iranian border, is the base for mountain-climbing expeditions. Two nights should be adequate for the region. (See also Travelers' advisory in the Introduction.) 625 mi/1,005 km east-southeast of Ankara. YAKACIK--Close to the Syrian border in southern Turkey (near the town of Antakya--see separate paragraph), this well-preserved 16th-century Turkish town features a mosque, covered market, a caravanserai and the Cinkulesi (castle). Most people visit it as a side trip from Antakya. 300 mi/480 km southeast of Ankara.