The Beautiful Hagia Sophia of Istanbul and Why You Should Visit

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Ah, the glorious Hagia Sophia of Istanbul – Turkey. The former church, Ottoman Mosque, official museum and now mosque again has saintly ambiences combined with Islamic and Byzantine architecture. Sitting in Istanbul’s old city part known as Sultanahmet, Hagia Sophia joins other nearby landmarks belonging to Turkey’s UNESCO World Heritage list. The large dome, Christian frescoes and Islamic – Ottoman calligraphy hanging from upper galleries portray the history of 3 cities; Istanbul, Constantinople, and Byzantium. I cannot criticize Hagia Sophia … Read More

Guide to the Majestic Ephesus Ancient City and Ruins

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Ah, to see the Ephesus ancient city ruins is to see one of the world’s most significant historical sites. The colourful timeline of Turkey’s history means the country is awash with historical sites dating from many civilizations. Out of all them, Ephesus is probably the most well-known, attracting thousands of visitors every day. Ephesus ancient city is to Turkey what the pyramids are to Egypt or the Colosseum to Rome, and every year, an average of 3 million people walk … Read More

The Basilica Cistern of Istanbul and the Heads of Medusa

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I walked down 55 stone steps, sensing dampness from water as I reached the bottom and the Basilica cistern. Sitting in Istanbul’s touristic district near the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque, it had been on my bucket list for months. The only sounds were whispers from tourists and odd drip of water. A vendor of souvenir stands in the far-left corner beckoned me over. I could dress up as an Ottoman princess for a small fee and go home with … Read More

The Impressive Stadium of Magnesia on the Meander

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I’d drove past the sign for Magnesia ancient city ruins many times. Hardly talked about or featured in guidebooks, I figured there was not much to see, yet curiosity still made me want to visit. So last month, our hobby photography group piled into the cars and made our way there. Sitting in the Aydin region of Aegean Turkey, it was just an hour’s drive away from my home, and when we arrived, only one other group was there. Magnesia … Read More

Secrets of Yüksek Monastery & Church

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Wherever I go, when locals tell me about an attraction or landmark that isn’t in my guidebooks, I fill up with frenzied excitement, and an intense urge to get there. That was my initial feeling when I found out about Yüksek Monastery and Church. On this occasion, my private guide and driver was taking me to the small district of Güzelyurt in the Cappadocia region. I’d wanted to see it for a long time because out of all the villages … Read More

Exploring Hattusa and Yazilikaya

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Hattusa, on the edge of the central Anatolian and Black Sea regions of Turkey is one of the country’s less visited attractions that was added to the World UNESCO Heritage site list in 1986. Don’t underestimate it’s historical importance, though. While the guidebooks overshadow it with the likes of Istanbul, Ephesus, and Cappadocia, it is equally significant when discussing past civilizations of Turkey, because Hattusa was the capital city of the ancient Hittite Kingdom. Since I was in Cappadocia that … Read More

The Stunning Saruhan Caravanserai of Cappadocia

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The travel industry of Turkey in years gone by was very different to what we see now. People didn’t travel for leisure unless they were of the upper-class members of society such as the literary great Mark Twain, the female pioneer Gertrude Bell or the Ottoman version of Marco Polo, who was Evliya Çelebi. Aside from the affluent members of society, people mainly traveled for business, to sell their wares and tares and the perfect example of this is the … Read More

14 Impressive Historical Places To Visit in Turkey

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Since I started this blog, it has become evident to others and myself that history has become my main passion while exploring Turkey. Ask me to choose between visiting a nightclub or historical site and I will always choose the latter. Ask me to write a recipe for a Turkish food dish or pen an article about some ancient ruins and the ruins will always win. Perhaps my fevered enthusiasm is because the number of historical places to visit in … Read More

Saint John’s Basilica in Selcuk : Was He Really Buried There?

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Saint John’s Basilica in Selcuk is one of those places that still intrigues me, long after my visit. Actually, if you are a Christian, the whole district is worth visiting because the nearby grand theatre of Ephesus is where Paul the Apostle faced the wrath of the silversmith crowds, who were angry that he questioned the validity of the goddess Artemis. Also, the suspected last home of the Virgin Mary and the place of her assumption is high in the … Read More

The Isa Bey Mosque of Selcuk

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Finding the Isa Bey Mosque was easier than expected. I had geared myself up for a bus ride or long trek, but felt quite the fool when the hotel receptionist said, “leave the hotel, turn left, walk 50 metres and it’s there.” Situated in the heart of Selcuk town at the bottom of a hill, Isa Bey Mosque was originally built in 1375 in honour of the ruler of the Selcuk region from 1360 to 1390. It doubles up as … Read More

Cave of the Seven Sleepers at Ephesus

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Visiting the cave of the seven sleepers near the ancient ruins of Ephesus, (one of the biggest cities of the Roman Empire) was a disappointment. I had previously read many websites describing graves, a church and ancient inscriptions on the wall, yet I was stood looking at three walls of rusty colored bricks that could resemble an old village house. My guide with an “I told you so” smile confirmed we were in the right place yet I could not … Read More

Walking the Sacred Path of Miletus

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Walking the sacred path of Miletus was an immense physical achievement for me. Not only did I do it with a raging hangover, garnered from a heavy night before, but as well as the long distance of 14 kilometers, the rugged path is a winding route of grass and stones, going up and down hills through the country land. My walking partner that I met for the first time was Pat Yale, a famous author of many travel guide books … Read More

Priene Ancient City in Aegean Turkey and the Historical Wonders

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According to history books, Priene ancient city in Aegean, Turkey is important for two reasons: the Priene Inscription and Calendar, two informative scripts passed down for future generations. Although no city could ever leave behind a more significant legacy like that, for me, strolling around the ancient ruins provoked a state of joyful excitement, even though they are not as extensive as other ancient cities like Ephesus. As a hobby, I love reading about Turkish history and have visited enough … Read More

Iasos: The Forgotten City of Bodrum in Turkey

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For fame and glory, Iasos in Bodrum is one of Turkey’s humble historical sites. Iasos receives typically no more than a paragraph mention by websites and guidebooks, and the excavation team has officially recognized this problem. Yet to Bodrum peninsula locals, Iasos is a small, cherished historical landmark. I had first attempted to visit in 2010, and staying true to habits, I got lost and ended up sitting in the middle of a mining quarry wondering what the rental car … Read More

Standoff in the Byzantine Chapel of Açik Saray

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My aim was to visit the Açik Saray Open Palace in Cappadocia. Sitting in the front passenger seat, I watched the young taxi driver speed down the highway, weaving in and out of traffic like a race car driver. Clutching my map in both hands, I feared that if we came up to a set of red lights, the puddles from the rainfall would send us skidding off the road. The fear for my safety came shortly after I had … Read More

5 Years Later : The Goreme Open Air Museum

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I first visited the Goreme Open Air Museum of Cappadocia in 2010 and my write-up was neither kind nor full of praise. I accused the guidebook of incorrect information and my exact words to describe the historical UNESCO World Heritage site were… “Goreme Open Air Museum is 13 cave churches that all look the same. Throw in the Cappadocia tour guide that screams at you, the overpriced entrance fee, the vile coffee, the mile-long toilet queue, seven coaches of selfish … Read More

Mustafapasa: The Greek Sinasos

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Like many other small villages of Turkey, Mustafapasa in the central Cappadocia region of Turkey is steeped in Greek Orthodox history, specifically the Ottoman years before the Turkish War of Independence in the early 20th century, when Turks and Greeks lived side by side in harmony. Stories of the ethnic groups residing together throughout Turkey are told extensively by author Giles Milton, who featured Turk, Greek, Armenian and Jewish communities of Izmir, or as it was then known Smyrna, in … Read More

Cavusin old Greek village and the Church of Saint John

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Cavusin old Greek village in the Cappadocia region of Turkey is rarely featured in travel articles. If it does appear, it garners a couple of sentences before the author talks about other more well-known places such as Goreme, the transport and accommodation hub. For this reason, even though, I had been to Cappadocia twice before, I had never bothered to go there. It is separated into 2 parts; the new town and the old greek village and on my third … Read More

The Celsus Library in Ephesus – Turkey and Majestic Architecture

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The Celsus library in Ephesus is probably Turkey’s most photographed historical structure of Turkey. It belongs to the ancient city on the Aegean coast, near Kusadasi holiday resort and Selcuk in the Izmir province. One of my interests while living here is Turkey’s history, so naturally, I have tremendous respect for excavated ruins and their magnificent architecture. However, to write from the heart and extensively about the ancient city of Ephesus would take a book, so I have singled out … Read More

A Travel Guide to Turkish History

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From the first chapter, this travel guide to Turkish history by writer and poet, Richard Tillinghast had me hooked. He is the second author; I have read who uses one of my favourite styles to portray the history of Turkey by combining interviews and research with a personal story. I also give respect where it is due because Richard is not a newbie visitor to Istanbul or Turkey. He first visited the country in the 1960s when tourism was a … Read More

8 of the Best Museums to Visit in Istanbul

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I am a history enthusiast and have been eagerly compiling a list of the best museums to visit in Istanbul. This is quite an extensive task since there are hundreds of them in Turkey’s largest city. However, it is possible for you to narrow down your choice of which ones to visit simply on your interest. For example, art museums have become particularly popular in the city during the last 10 years. Some like the Pera Pera museums can contribute … Read More

Aphrodisias in Turkey: Ruins of the Ancient City of Sculptures

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Along with my guide, I arrived at Aphrodisias in Turkey, the city of sculptures, creativity, ancient ruins, and a story of how the ruins dominated one man’s life nearly 500 years after the city fell into oblivion. Sitting near current-day Aydin city, in Aegean, Turkey, Aphrodisias centred itself around the goddess Aphrodite, who represented love. However, because of small statues found during excavations, historians determined the original city Aphrodite was the mother goddess of fertility called Cybele from the Neolithic … Read More

The Ruins of Ephesus Theatre

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To be truthful, the Ephesus theatre is not my favourite place. I feel detest for this prominent ruined structure of the ancient Greco-Roman city, because it was also the scene for gladiator and animal fights. I don’t want to pay homage to a place, where unnecessary death and pain reigned simply for the pointless pleasure of human beings. Having said that, the natural course of human evolution has buried those days, and now, the Ephesus theatre is one of the … Read More

The Roman Terrace Houses of Ephesus

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When the Roman terrace houses of Ephesus opened up to the public, I was absolutely thrilled.  I had listened with jealousy as other people described the extensive finds of pain-staking excavations and read with envy as other bloggers wrote about how much they enjoyed their visit to the new attraction and significant landmark of the ancient city. Often postponing planned visits again and again, I finally made it back to Ephesus in March of this year. As well as the … Read More

Laodicea & the Seven Churches of Revelation

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Laodicea was one place that I wanted to visit in Aegean, Turkey. The city was one of the Seven Churches of Revelation mentioned in the New Testament of the Bible. In its prime, Laodicea was an extremely profitable trade centre that did exceptionally well in wool because nearby plains provided sheep with ample grazing food. Turkey has a solid Biblical history that any hard-core Christian would be a fool to ignore, and slowly over my travels around Turkey, I learned … Read More

The Ghost Village Of Kayakoy

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Kayakoy ghost village lies a short distance from the bustling and popular resorts of Fethiye and Olu Deniz. It is deserted, it is lifeless, the houses are crumbling and the streets are empty. However, there is an aura and an overwhelming presence that hovers over the village. Some visitors might not sense it, but I did and it washed over me in waves.I truly believe that because I researched the history before going, I was able to appreciate my visit … Read More

Santa Claus and His Life in Turkey

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Every year around Christmas time, millions of parents across the world take part in the biggest deception concerning Santa Claus.  It starts in the early years of a child’s life when the parents promise an abundance of presents from Santa for good behavior. They tell stories of the North Pole, the fat man who lives there and the elves who  make presents of all shapes and sizes. Some parents even take children to Lapland and the misguided infants spend the … Read More

Gertrude Bell : Follow Her Footsteps in Turkey

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These days, society sometimes portrays women who travel solo as… A: Totally mad with a death wish B: A raging feminist who hates men and cannot make friends C: Totally cool and so confident. She should be a role model and UN ambassador One solo female traveller that makes a good case study is Gertrude Bell. She travelled throughout Turkey and many other countries. Here is the jaw dropping fact though. She did all of that, more than 100 years … Read More

Best Places To See Ottoman Houses in Turkey

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Beypazari is a popular weekend getaway for Turks, especially those from the big cities of Ankara or Istanbul. Before visiting, I had considered myself widely educated on places in Turkey, yet had never heard of Beypazari which is actually my shame because the region is widely respected for its traditional Ottoman houses. Ottoman Houses of Beypazari I arrived in the town during the night so my first sight of a traditional Ottoman house was actually my strange but quaint hotel … Read More

Why You Shouldn’t Visit the Temple of Artemis, One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

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The Antipater of Sidon, a famous Greek poet lived during the latter half of the 2nd century BC. During his travels, he visited landmarks belonging to the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. This included the Temple of Artemis that now stands near the ancient ruins of Ephesus, in Selcuk on the Aegean coast of Turkey. The Greek Temple, also known as the Temple of Diana, was built in honour of the goddess of fertilely Artemis and was rebuilt two … Read More

The Sunken Ruins of Kekova

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Visit the Mediterranean resorts of Kas and Kalkan and it will instantly be obvious that every local travel agent is selling boat trips to the sunken ruins of Kekova. Facing the historical village of Simena (Kalekoy), the sunken ruins receive little attention in mainstream travel guides, yet during the height of summer, I estimate that hundreds of people will daily sail past. As well as the daily boat trips, the area is a primespot for yachts to dock in, as … Read More

Visiting the Temple of Apollo in Didim – Turkey

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The Temple of Apollo in Didim is a major Aegean landmark for surrounding touristic resorts. The temple receives thousands of travellers and tourists every year, and in historical times was referred to as Didyma. Even today, signs of Greek history are everywhere. This is not the only Apollo Temple. There are four ruined temples dedicated to Apollo in Greece, three in Italy and five in Turkey. I saw the temple in Side in Mediterranean Turkey about six years ago and, … Read More

The Story of Ayse Metin and Her Connection to Harpagos, the Persian General

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Lately, I have been spending more time reading books than traveling. Don’t ask me why because I don’t know but I feel compelled to inject new energy into my life, travel style and writing. Something is missing and solutions are coming to me via the books that I read. In another time, only travel guides and maps sat on my book-shelves. I refused to read fiction, biographies or any topic that did not benefit my travel plans. This year though, … Read More

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

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Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is the one man who you are going to see everywhere you go in Turkey. Displayed on the Turkish money, on flags and in shops, and offices, you will also see a statue of him in every town. It jogged my memory to tell you, as I was out the other day and there was a huge flag of him displayed next to the Turkish flag. You may spend all your holiday wondering who he is, as … Read More

Travel Scam Alert : Fake Antique Coins in Selcuk

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Last month, on impulse, I stayed in the town of Selcuk, near the ruins of Ephesus. Due to my hasty decision, I did no research but despite my lack of planning, the trip was fantastic. I made new Turkish friends, explored recommended attractions, ate good food, and drank lots of beer! However, I was seriously disappointed by a travel scam, targeting foreign tourists. Infact, the same scam was tried on me, twice in two days! The scam artists definitely have … Read More

The Gumruk Hani in Sanliurfa and Failing to Blend In

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Sanliurfa boasts of many highly recommended attractions for visitors to the region. Nicknamed the “City of the Prophets,” most fit in with the historical travel genre, and the ancient Gumruk Hani was at the top of my bucket list. Built in 1566, it was the main commercial centre. Tradesman met there to trade goods and if they were tired from traveling, used the bedrooms before continuing on their journey. Due to its importance as a business hub, many bazaars, and … Read More

Gobekli Tepe: The Ancient Religious Temple that Threw the History World into Chaos

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Turkey covers an enormous amount of land, 783,562 km² to be exact. Many empires throughout history have existed within the boundaries, so obviously, thousands of historical sites have been uncovered and it seems every month; a new and exciting discovery sends international and domestic history experts into a joyful frenzy. As the central hub between East and West, Turkey is a playground for historians and a treasure trove for archaeologists. It can make-or-break careers depending on discoveries made and theories … Read More

The Ancient Ruins of Olympos in Turkey

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The Mediterranean coast of Turkey has a marvelous collection of ancient ruins dotted along its jagged coastline. Most belonged to the Lycian empire including the ruins of Olympos, situated next to a hippy village of the same name, which is popular with back packers. I wanted to visit the ruins, so considered an overnight stay in the rustic village boasting of unusual tree house hotels, basic and shared facilities, and low prices. I was however, travelling as a solo female … Read More

Where to See Lycian Rock Tombs in Turkey

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Everyone who visits this country should see the Lycian rock tombs in Turkey. They are a reminder of the past, and a previous civilization but more important, they will astonish you, even if you have no interest in history. Citizens of Lycia, a previous empire that occupied the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, carved tombs into the sides of hilltops and mountains. They were a resting place for prominent members of society, who were buried with their most treasured possessions that … Read More

Ruins of Tlos & Lycian Tombs : Home of the Winged Horse, Pegasus

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With a passion for exploring historical sites in Turkey, I always considered myself knowledgeable about most ancient ruins. The Mediterranean coast in particular has plenty, providing Turkey with its most famous walking trail called the Lycian way. Yet, when I discovered an article about the ancient ruins of Tlos, I read it repeatedly because I had never heard of this city. What was its history? Why did historians say, it did and still holds immense importance, regarding cultural trends throughout … Read More

Idyllic Phaselis in Turkey : Ancient Ruins and Beautiful Beaches

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Phaselis is backed by magnificent mountains and surrounded by the clear waters of the Mediterranean sea. It is an idyllic setting in which to spend the day relaxing on a beach and soaking up the vibes of a Turkish holiday. Phaselis Ruins There is an added bonus though as Phaselis is not just about golden sand beaches. It is also an old sea-port city dating back to the 7th Century BC which was a delight for me as I have … Read More

The Flawless Ruins of Ancient Myra

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My eagerness to visit the historical ruins of Myra came about because in its prime, it was one of the  most important cities of the ancient Lycian league. Known as the first democratic union in history, the Lycian league can also take credit for influencing the United States constitution The league left their footprint in history through ancient ruined cities all over the south west coast of Turkey and I was determined to visit as many of them as possible. … Read More

Abraham’s cave in Sanliurfa and the Mevlid-I Halil Mosque

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Coming from a Christian background, but living in a Muslim country, has enabled me to learn of many similarities between the two religions. One such example is the prophet Ibrahim, known in the Bible as Abraham. He was born in Mesopotamia, in an area called Edessa that is current day Sanliurfa, although the Bible lists the same region as “Ur.” He is mentioned frequently in the book of Islam, but very few online guidebooks, recommend visiting Abraham’s cave in Sanliurfa, … Read More

Midyat Old City : Churches and Culture in the Mardin Region

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It was an hour’s drive from Mardin to Midyat old city. I had wanted to stay the night but my travelling companion didn’t. He insisted there was nothing to do there, having driven through it three years earlier. He compared it with Mardin where Arabic architecture and narrow streets are the norm. He also called me a nosy bitch when I explained to him that my planned visit was more about the people that lived there. You see, a few … Read More

Haci Bektas. Seeking and Finding in Cappadocia

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“Seek and find” were the first words that I came across when visiting the town of Haci Bektas last week. They were listed on a sign that also said “The feature of man lies in the beauty of his word” I thought it is a perfect way to sum up any traveler or blogger, but I wondered why the words were written in English because looking around Haci Bektas, it become obvious that there were no other foreigner visitors. No … Read More

Church of the Redeemer at Ani City

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The church of the Redeemer ( Kurtarici kilisesi ) was one of the first churches that I came across when walking around Ani, an ancient Armenian kingdom that has now been added to the UNESCO World Heritage site list. The crumbling church stands near the foundations of an old house. The most prominent feature of the church is its destruction, which happened during a storm in 1957 and an earthquake in 1988. Today the structure is at strong risk of … Read More

The Cathedral of Ani aka the Fethiye Mosque

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Many historians consider the Holy Virgin Cathedral of Ani to be the biggest and most impressive historic building in the region.Built in 1001AD and converted into a mosque in 1071, it has seen much controversy in recent years despite its dormant state. Controversy number one was the decision by the famous fashion magazine Elle to base a photo shot in the cathedral. Public opinion was split in two as fashion lovers declared they loved the article while some Armenians said … Read More

The Tigran Honents Church of Ani

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On the border with Turkey and Armenian, a ruined ancient city holds some stunning landmark structures of which one is the Tigran Honents church. Dating from 1215, it took its name from the wealthy Armenian merchant that ordered and paid for its construction. Upon first sight, its small size dumbed down the intricate architecture but on closer inspection, the extreme detail on the outside of the church won my admiration. Ornate animal carvings were placed on each exterior wall and … Read More

The Ruins of Ani – The City of 1001 Churches

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The ruins of Ani are the remains of a medieval Armenian kingdom. They are a collection of stunning churches and beautiful mosques spread over a large area on the border with Armenia. They are also in my opinion, one of the most underrated historical sites in Turkey. Ruins of Ani – North east of Turkey on the border with Armenia In its prime, the city of Ani housed more than 100,000 people who lived within the city walls for protection. … Read More

Sumela Monastery and the Black Madonna

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Clinging to the side of a mountain in the green and lush area of Maçka  is Sumela monastery, which was built in the fourth century.  I had joined a tour and traveled from the nearby city of Trabzon to visit the iconic building. We drove as far as possible and walked the last two hundred metres uphill. Most of it was uneven ground, sometimes narrow and large tree roots protruding out of the ground were an accident waiting to happen. … Read More

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