Must Visit Historical Sites in Turkey

Updated on Jun 08, 2024 | Turkey e-Visa

Turkey is a treasure trove filled with history and diverse human civilization. The country beholds a rich history passing through the land throughout centuries. Turkey is home to many historical sites that lived the test of time and still stand as a testimony exhibiting the country's endless glory. The country, where the East meets the West, witnessed the rise and fall of many empires, leaving behind a lasting mark on the diversity of the land. From the popular landmark to the hidden gem, each historical site of Turkey is embedded with a rich past. 

Venturing into Turkey’s historical site transports travellers to the past. Whether you are a history lover or not, the ancient buildings, temples, churches, monuments and the historical significance of each site in Turkey never failed to amuse the travellers. 

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The magnificent Patara history dates back to the 2nd century B.C. The ancient, beautiful Lycian city of Patara is a place of unique buildings, theatre, city gate, ancient lighthouse, etc., which are worth exploring. The city of Patara is home to one of the oldest Mediterranean civilizations, known as the Lycian civilization and the capital of the Lucian league. The monuments of Patara bring to light the ancient history etched in the stones of the city. The city gate Triumphal Arch was built at the end of the Roman Empire. Other remarkable buildings are the council house and the theatre. 

The council house is where the Lycian Legal meet took place and was also the platform for musical activities during the Roman period. The Theatre built during the Hellenistic period with an audience capacity of 6000 people was the central part for art and cultural events. The city of Patara was the birthplace of St. Nicholas, who later became the bishop of Myra. 

Van Castle

The castle was built during the period of Urartu Kingdom, which dates back to the 9th century B.C. Van Castle is located in the Van province of Turkey on a hill slope near the banks of Van Lake. The historical site witnessed the mark of many civilizations, namely the Urartian and Ottoman civilizations. Van was the capital of Urartu state, and its history continued even after the fall of Urartu. The castle has a majestic wall, water fountain, rock chambers, open-air sanctuaries, animal inscriptions, terraces, etc., exhibiting the marvel of Urartian architecture. 

Van Castle underwent few additions during the Ottoman period such as the inner walls, warehouse, towers and a mosque. The construction of the mosque marked the first Islamic work in Van city. The city is home to 5000 years old human settlement and civilization. The stunning city of Iron age stands as a testimony for the historic past of the country.


Goreme, a top tourist destination in the central Anatolian region of Turkey, holds a massive collection of historical monuments and fantastic cave churches. Goreme's open-air museum in Cappadocia is the home to 15 churches and 11 reflections. The history of the churches in Goreme dates back to the 11th century. The historical site also includes 4th century sanctuaries and Byzantine art. All the ancient churches of Goreme are carved into the rocks. Out of many churches in Goreme, the remarkable ones are the Dark Church (Karanlik Kilise) and the Buckle (Tokali) Church

The frescoes of Tokali Church of the early 10th century depict the 12 apostles, life of Jesus, New Testament scenes and life of St. Basileios. The Dark Church (Karanlik Kilise) dates back to the 12th century which has bright and beautiful paintings. Goreme open air museum in an impressive historical monument carved out of soft rocks.

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Derinkuyu, the ancient underground city of Turkey in Cappadocia, dates back to the 7th century B.C. The city was discovered in the 1960s. The Derinkuyu subterranean extends 280 feet deep into the surface of the Earth. The eight-story underground city can provide shelter for 20,000 people. Every single detail of the city, from the massive stone doors, marvellous ventilation system, drinking water, multiple rooms, warehouses, kitchens, bedrooms, etc., is the historical significance of the Byzantine Era. The underground city was called Elengubu in ancient times.

The inhabitants of ancient times used the underground city to protect the inhabitants from enemies. The city was home to continuous civilization, from Phrygians to Persians and Byzantine-era Christians. The Christians expanded and renovated the city by adding schools, churches and other chambers. The underground city, with its incredible architectural brilliance, continues to be the top historical tourist attraction of Turkey.   

Alanya Castle

The city of Alanya is well-known for its castle. The marvellous mediaeval castle dates back to the 3rd century B.C. The history of the Alanya city lies deep in the walls of the castle. The castle was built during the 13th century by the Seljuk Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat I and was inhabited by various civilizations. The castle has 83 towers and stands 250 metres above the sea, at the top of a rocky peninsula, surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea on three sides. The museum of the castle holds artifacts belonging to the Seljuk, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods. The invasion of various civilizations brought substantial changes to the castle, such as the addition of inner walls, a mosque, etc. 

The inner castle, walls, towers, ancient buildings, churches, mosque, museum and the hilltop view of Mediterranean Sea provides a breathtaking experience for the travellers. The architectural brilliance makes the castle as Turkey’s famous historical site in Alanya. Exploring the castle feels like travelling back in time, as the castle and its inscription on the wall offers a glimpse of Turkey’s glorious past. 

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Göbekli Tepe

Göbekli Tepe, located near the Germuş mountains of south-eastern Anatolia of Turkey, is quoted as the oldest historical place in Turkey. The structures and remains of Göbekli Tepe date back to the Neolithic age, and it became the top historical attraction of Turkey. The shape of construction and inscription of wild animals bring to light the lifestyle, beliefs, and practices of the lost civilization. Göbekli Tepe is home to the oldest ancient ruins, which include limestone pillars constructed by hunter-gatherers. Each T-shaped pillar constructed in the circle has animal and bird pictures inscribed on them. 

Moreover, abstract depictions of human forms are found in some of the pillars. The monumental architecture of Göbekli Tepe stands as a living testimony of human architectural genius during the early days. The massive limestone pillars of Göbekli Tepe are the home for the evolution of human civilization. Göbekli Tepe, the world’s oldest temple, unfolds the rich history and ancient human civilization of Turkey. 

Discovering the historical path of Turkey is a never-ending journey. Besides the above-mentioned historical site, Turkey is filled with numerous other fantastic historical sites such as Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Ephesus, Mount Nemrut and the list continues. All the historical sites that have endured the test of time stand as a great evidence of Turkey’s diverse civilization and rich culture of ancient empires. 


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