Anatolia is a geographical and historical term for the westernmost part of Asia, comprising most of the Republic of Turkey. It has been home to many civilizations throughout history and is one of the archeologically richest areas in the world. There are more Greek ruins in Turkey than in Greece and more Roman ruins in Turkey than in Italy, as well as important neolithic and bronze age ruins; the country has a number of world heritage sites.
Map of Anatolia in the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul
and tourist map of Turkey marked with our group's itinerary.
Aphrodisias is a cult center of Aphrodite. It's a huge city site with an impressive museum of marble sculptures.
The Blue Mosque is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, one of the most beautiful mosques in the world and one of very few to have six minarets. The Istanbul hotel where we stayed is close by, so that our rooms looked out on it and we heard all the calls to prayer.
Cappadocia is a region of volcanic ash and tuff natural wonders in central Turkey with a unique historical and cultural heritage. We got to stay in a cave hotel, visit rock monasteries and an underground city, and make plenty of photo stops.
Catalhoyuk is the most famous neolithic city in Anatolia; excavations began in the 1960s and continue today. Since both Resit and Lydia are friends of the archaeological dig, our group got the royal treatment.
Ephesus was a major Greek and Roman city famed for its Temple of Artemis. Both the site and the nearby archaological museum were very impressive, and we arrived at the site just before the cruise ship buses got there.
Hagia Sophia in Istanbul started as an Orthodox Christian basilica, then became a mosque, and is now a museum. We visited here at the end of our trip rather than at the start because it turned out to be closed on Mondays.
Hattusa was the capital city of the Hittite Empire in Bronze Age Anatolia; a Hittite rock sanctuary called Yazilikaya lies nearby. It's a huge and isolated area but had the most determined vendors.
Hierapolis was a Roman healing/cemetery center in the midst of Pamukkale, a natural site of hot springs and travertines in southwestern Turkey. This place is a popular spa and vacation destination. The night we were there, a big wedding/party was held out by the swimming pool; surprisingly, the music was Sinatra.
Lagina is an ancient cult site in southwestern Turkey famous for its Hecate Sanctuary. We had Lagina all to ourselves.
Magnesia is an ancient city founded by Greeks and famed for its Temple of Artemis. We trekked out to a theater at some distance from the temple.
Midas City is a major Phrygian site with a rock wall Temple to Cybele, the Anatolian fertility goddess.
Pergamon has the Sanctuary of Asclepius (Asclepieion), a healing center, and the Serapis Temple (Serapeum), sacred to Isis.
Sardis was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia.
Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, now a museum, was the primary palace of the Ottoman Sultans and their concubines.