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Highlights of the Aegean Region

Turkey's Aegean shores boast some of the most enchanting landscapes in the country.The impressive coastline and crystal clear waters of the Aegean Sea are teeming with idyllic beaches set against rugged cliffs, dense pine woods, and abundant olive groves. Charming fishing harbors, well known holiday villages and ancient ruins, bearing witness to the rich cultural, mythological, and historical heritage of the area, dating back more than 5,000 years. This spectacular region offers a wide variety of holiday choices, sure to satisfy nature lovers, sun seekers, sport and adventure enthusiasts, sailors, photographers, and archaeologists alike.A vast array of accommodation options can be found all along the coast, suitable for every taste and price range.

The Aegean coastal region possesses an exceptionally temperate climate, with a mild, lush springtime, tropical summers, clear, radiant autumns, and pleasant winters with occasional showers. This area is characterized by a mountainous shoreline, interspersed with valleys, allowing the sea climate to permeate the inner region, with the exception of a few inland provinces marked by a Continental climate. The summer months are ideal for those in search of sunbathing and water sports; for hiking in the scenic countryside and exploring the ancient ruins, spring and autumn are ideal.The Aegean serves as the perfect escape from the harsh northern winter,enjoying sunny, clear days,even in January and February.

This region comprises 11% of the total area of Turkey, with 79.000 square kilometers of land. The majority of the population can be found in the metropolitan areas concentrated on the coast, which is due to the convenience for sea transportation and tourism. The Aegean is both industrial and agricultural with the main products being: textile, leather,carpet weaving machinery and spare parts, marble, tobacco,sugar,olives, and olive oil.Roughly half of the total olive trees in Turkey can be found in this region,as well as many important tributaries feeding into the Aegean Sea.

 

Assos

The ancient Aeolian city of Assos,now officially known as Behramkale is located south of Ayvacık in the Çanakkale province of Turkey’s Aegean region.Assos had the only serviceable harbour on the northern coast of the Adramyttian Gulf making it a prime shipping point.

The city itself was established by Aeolians,from the nearby island of Lesvos, in the years of 700 BC.In 530 BC these settlers constructed the Temple of Athena,at the top of the hill overlooking the city.Several of the temple’s columns remain and the views from the site are spectacular, especially at sunset.In 133 BC Assos became part of the Roman Empire.It was after St.Paul’s missionary visit in 53-57 AD that Assos began its transformation into the small village it is today.

Assos is still in the process of being excavated,but there are currently enough remains on view to fulfil your interest in the area’s history. The 14th century Murad Hüdavendigar Mosque,from the Ottoman occupation is one of the best preserved places of interest. 

 

Bodrum

Bodrum,which is a harbour city, is located in the southwest of Turkey’s Aegean region.It is situated on the south coast of the Bodrum Peninsula,near the entrance to the Gulf of Gökova,where the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas meet.

Historically Bodrum was known as Halicarnassus,which was the Carian Capital and birthplace of the historian Heredotus. Bodrum is also historically famous for its boatyards and the manufacturing of traditional Turkish tırhandils and gulets.Craftsmen still continue to build these yachts, some of which are used for excursions around the peninsulas of Turkey.You can hire one of these vessels in order to explore the northern coast of the peninsula.Discover the peaceful coves, citrus groves, densely vegetated islands and small windmills, which continue to provide power for the purpose of grinding grain.Visit the village and marina of Torba,located 8 km north of Bodrum,or make your way to the quaint fishing villages of Gölköy and Türkbükü.You could also choose to cruise the southern coast of the peninsula, where the sea changes from dark blue to turquoise, lined with green forests.Alternatively you can enjoy swimming in the grotto at Karaada,approximately 30 minutes from Bodrum, where the warm mineral waters are said to improve your complexion.

The still and perfectly clear sea,just outside of town,provides perfect diving conditions.Divers make the most of the caves, reefs and geological formations; marvelling at the sponges of all shapes and colours and the eclectic sea life.

This region also has a rich history,of which much is still evident.  Marvel at the 4th century tomb of King Mausolous,which is one of the world’s seven wonders.Also visit the 15th century Bodrum Castle which guards the entrance to the bay and was built by the crusader St.Peter.It is an excellent example of architecture and has been converted into the Underwater Archaeology Museum, exhibiting artefacts from as far back as the Bronze Age.The Museum’s theatre, which dates to the 2nd century, is used by many to photograph the breathtaking views of nearby Göktepe.For those with a love of history and archaeology the nearby towns of Milas and Labranda (approximately 65 km away) should not be missed.

Bodrum has many beaches,with fine sand, and is home to one of the best beaches in the world, Akyarlar.Activities, such as wind surfing and other water sports,are available for those who wish to be more active. 

 

İzmir

The beautiful city of İzmir,which is the 3rd largest city in Turkey,is located in the İzmir province of western Anatolia.Situated at the head of the Gulf of İzmir,the city’s port is host to many sailing vessels and is Turkey’s second largest port.

It is known that İzmir was first occupied in 3000 BC, sharing prominence in the region with Troja.By 1000 BC,using the name Smyma, the city was one of the most prominent of the Ionian Federation.However,the city’s prominence came to end after the Lydian occupation in 600 BC.Alexander the Great constructed a new city on the slopes of Mount Pagos during his occupancy in the 4th century BC.İzmir was subsequently occupied by the Romans, Byzantines,Seljuks and Ottomans,which led to the city’s return to prominence.

Despite much of the city having to be rebuilt, due to destruction caused during the War of Independence,there are still some traditional houses located along the streets and terraces of the city, which remains on the mountain slopes. 

If you are more interested in the city’s history you can visit the Archaeological Museum, Ethnography Museum,Atatürk Museum,the 16th century Hisar Mosque (oldest in İzmir),the Saat Kulesi (clock tower), Saint Polycarp Church and aqueducts.Other sides of historical interest that can be reached from İzmir are located at Bayraklı,Ephesus,Pergamum and Sardis.

 

Kuşadası 

"Bird Island" in Turkish,is a seaside town,located in the beautiful Aegean region of Turkey.The clear turquoise sea, wide sandy beaches, marina (which can host up to 600 boats) and fantastic weather make this a popular destination.With over 300 days of sunshine per year Kuşadası has a typical Mediterranean climate.Kuşadası is within easy reach of a number of ancient sites, which include Ephesus,Didyma,Priene and Miletos,attracting a large number of sightseers yearly.Due to the brilliant weather conditions in the summer it can be difficult to find a space on the beaches close to town.If you yearn for some tranquillity you should seek out the Dilek Peninsula National Park,locally known as Milli Park,located 28 km (17 miles) away from Kuşadasi.

 

Didyma

Didyma is located 160 km from İzmir and 123 km from Bodrum in the Aydın province of Turkey’s Aegean region.Bordered by Söke in the north, the Aegean Sea to the west, the Gulf of Güllük to the south and Bafa Lake to the east, it is also only 73 km from the resort of Kuşadası.With a coastline that stretches approximately 80 km, beautiful scenery and crystal clear waters it is an ideal holiday destination.

 

Ephesus

The ancient city of Ephesus is located 30 km from Kuşadası and 70 km from İzmir,near the town of Selcuk.  

Evidence shows that the Carians were among the first to occupy Ephesus,in 2000 BC.

Many other civilisations are known to have subsequently occupied Ephesus, such as the Ionians, Cimmerians,Lydians,Persians and Byzantines.Traces of all of these civilisations have contributed to making Ephesus the region’s main centre of interest for archaeologists.

One of the main ancient ruins to visit is the Temple of Artemis.It was originally constructed in the 8th century BC, during the archaic period;however, in 356 BC the temple was destroyed and had to be rebuilt.As well as the Temple of Artemis you will also find the temples of Isis,Domitian,Memmius,Hadrian and Serapes.

The parliament building,town hall,baths,fountains, brothel,library, gymnasiums and agoras are some of the city’s other historic treasures.

The Great Theatre,which had a capacity of over 24,000 people, is the largest in Asia Minor.It is believed the building of the theatre commenced in the Hellenistic period.However,due to its well maintained condition it is still in use today.

As well as being home to one of the most impressive theatres in the region Ephesus was one of the few cities to benefit from street lighting, in the form of oil lamps.This emphasises the wealth and importance this city possessed in the past.

Not only was Ephesus important to many civilisations it also played an important role during the period of Christianity.  St. Paul came to the city in 50 AD and in the 2nd century St. John was buried on the hill of Ayasuluk. The Byzantines constructed the Church of St. John in the 6th century AD.It is said that St. John travelled to Ephesus with the Virgin Mary.  

A house situated on the Bülbül Mountain is believed to be where Mary lived out the remainder of her life.The house was rediscovered in 1951 and has since been a place of pilgrimage, having also been visited by the Pope.

 

Priene

An ancient Ionian city, Priene is located within the borders of Aydın province. With a history going back to 2000 BC the city exemplifies the finest city planning of the ancient times.

Constructed by employing the “grid system”,the Temples of Athena and Zeus Olympus, the theater and the agora are among the ancient structures still extant today welcoming visitors who want to get steeped in ancient history. 

 

Miletus

Miletus was an important commercial and governmental center from 700 BC until 700 AD. Although today this ancient city is surrounded by farm land, when it was at it's peak the Aegean Sea rose to it's city walls. You can still see where the harbor once brought goods to and fro. The most memorable part of visiting Miletus is to sit in one of the 15,000 seats of it's ancient theatre, and then wander the passageways that connect the sections of the theatre. Miletus was known as a city of philosophers who were at the forefront of scientific inquiry. Important Milesians were some of the first to make maps, explain the lunar eclipse, plan towns, recognize the atom and construct an accurate sundial. 

 

Pamukkale

Pamukkale is situated in the Aegean region of Turkey, 20 km from Denizli.

Pamukkale means ‘Cotton Castle’ and is derived from the white, cloud like, appearance of the travertine terraces.These terraces have been formed naturally, over thousands of years,by calcium spring water cascading down the slopes of the Çaldağ Mountain.In addition to these terraces are numerous thermal springs,famed for their therapeutic properties.Whilst you are here why not immerse yourself in the Karahayıt spring,which is said to relieve hypertension,rheumatism, skin diseases and much more.

The region has been influenced by numerous civilisations, such as the Romans, Byzantines and Hellenists.Traces from all of these civilisations can be found.

This is also the site of Hierapolis,which is believed to have been founded by the King of Pergamon,Eumenes II.He is said to have named the city after Hiera,the wife of Pergamon’s founder King Telephos.It was built around a colonnaded street,approximately 1 km long.This street ended with a gateway in the north, and another in the south.The north gateway was dedicated to Emperor Domitian.The 2nd century Roman baths can be reached via this street and are characteristic of this period in that they include a large courtyard,private rooms for the Emperor and ceremonies and a gymnasium.

A section of these baths has now been designated as a museum and exhibits archaeological finds from the city.Near the museum you can see the remains of the Temple of Apollo.

Although the temples foundations date back to the Hellenistic period the main structure dates to the 3rd century AD.  Other noteworthy sites are the Plutonium (a cave that emits poisonous gases),the ramparts, the theatre, churches and necropolis.

Within a short distance of Hierapolis are the sites of Colossae and Laodikeia where it is possible to see theatres,a stadium and gymnasium,the monumental fountain and Temple of Zeus.

 

Pergamum

Located on the Aegean Coast of Turkey’s Anatolia region, where the modern city of Bergama is now situated, is the ancient city of Pergamum.Being both on a river tributary and surrounded by mountains it was in an ideal location.The city could be easily protected and the surrounding area was ideal for agriculture.

Pergamum was originally a small settlement, until one of Alexander the Greats generals invested a vast sum of money in the city.  This money was used to the advantage of the city and its population, with Pergamum thriving during the Hellenistic period.  It is during the Hellenistic period that the city acquired its amazing library, school of sculpture and magnificent buildings and monuments; such as the Altar of Zeus.In 133 BC Pergamum came under the control of the Romans, playing an essential part in early Christianity.It is counted as one of the Seven Churches of Revelation.

Many of Pergamum’s historical aspects remain today.You can see the Hellenistic tombs to the left of the Acropolis,alongside the foundations of the Propylon (monumental gates).The 3rd Century BC theatre, which could hold 10,000 people, sits with a wide portico at its front.Near the theatre are the Temple of Athena, the Temple of Diomysos (Baccus) and the Altar of Zeus. 

The altar,shaped like a horseshoe,had reliefs showing the battle between the gods and the giants.The original altar is exhibited in a museum in Germany, since its removal from Pergamum in 1871.

Other remains you can see include the library,the Temple of Trajan, the agora and the Temple of Serapis.

The 4th century site of Asklepion is located nearby and boasts its own theatre (with 3,500 person capacity),library and the Temple of Asklepion.

The Archaeological Museum,exhibiting relics and artefacts from the area,is in the modern city of Bergama.

 

Mediterranean Climate

Due to its typical Mediterranean climate,which means summer days are hot and dry,the sea temperature is perfect for swimming,scuba diving and other water sports.

A nice sea breeze ensures a comfortable temperature for those who want to relax on the beach.

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