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Turkey 2010

In May 2010 we spent two weeks in Turkey. We arrived in Istanbul and spent three nights there before flying to Izmir were we picked up a rental car and spent ten days driving along the west and south coast to Antalya. We then flew back to Istanbul for a couple of nights.

While in Istanbul we stayed in a small hotel called The Apricot Hotel in the Sultanahmet area Blue Mosque, Istanbul just a few hundred meters from the Blue Mosque. Sultanahmet is the “Old Town” area of Istanbul and is full of small hotels, good restaurants and most of the “tourist” things to see including the Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar.

After Istanbul our next stop Kusadasi where we visited Ephesus and the Temple of Apollo near Didim. Ephesus was an ancient Greek city near the present day Selçuk, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era and in the Roman period it was the second largest city in the Roman Empire with a population of more than 250,000. Ephesus contains the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean and only an estimated 15% has been excavated. Both St. John and St. Mary (The Virgin Mary) lived and died in the Ephesus area and remains of Churches and other monuments to them can be found in the surrounding hills.

We then moved on to Marmaris and drove part way down the Datca Peninsula.

We spent two nights in Fethiye which allowed us to visit a few of the Lycian tombs that are on the hills within the city. We took a day long open jeep tour which included a quick drive past Tlos, a rug craft co-op, canyon walk, mud bath and a beach – a tour I would not recommend.

Acropolis and Lycian Sarcophagi, TlosOn our drive from Fethiye to Antalya we stopped at the ancient sites of Tlos and Xanthos. Tlos is one of the most important religious centers of the Lycian region. It is the place where mythological hero Bellerophon and his winged flying horse Pegasus lived. The site dates back to before 2000 B.C. The top of the main hill has a castle from the Ottoman period and the lower part of the hill has ruins of walls and tombs built in the Lycian period and lower down, roman walls, a stadium, theatre and other buildings.

The ancient city of Xanthos is located on a hill above the present day town of Kinik, about 65km from Fethiye. Xanthos and the surrounding area were an important city for the Lycians, and later the Persians, Macedonians, Greeks, and Romans.

The main purpose of our Turkey trip was to visit friends who are living in Antalya so we spent several days there visiting and got the chance to explore Antalya and the surrounding area from a “local” point of view. We did day trips to the surrounding sites such as Side, Aspendos and Perge, and visited the Antalya Museum which has an impressive display of Roman sculpture excavated from nearby Perge.

Perge is 17km east or Antalya. The city was founded before the Trojan wars (1275 B.C.) and the ruins that are currently visible are primarily from the Roman occupation during the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D.

Aspendos is located about 50km east of Antalya. The site includes one of the best preserved ancient theatres in the world, some Roman aqueducts, and partial remains of a basilica and other buildings.The Temple of Apollo at Side

Side (SEE-deh) is located 75km east of Antalya. It is a mix of ancient ruins and a modern (and crowded) tourist resort town. There is a large Greek/Roman theatre, agora, Temples of Apollo and Athena and city wall and gate.

At the end of our trip we returned to Istanbul for two more nights and spent the better part of a day visiting the Topkapi Palace.

This was a great holiday and we had a wonderful time exploring a few of the many historic sites and experiencing modern day Turkey and the great people and food.