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  • Hayasofya
  • Dolmabahce Palace
  • Pergamon
  • Topkapi Palace
  • Ancient City of Troy

Turkey is considered to be one of the richest countries in terms of archaeology and is by far the biggest “open air museum” of the world. It has always been a bridge between the East and West and has been noted by scholars as the “melting pot” of various cultures where classical culture was shaped.


The Basilica of Hagia Sophia was constructed by Roman Emperor Justinian in 537 AD. This was the largest church in the Christian world for a thousand years.Its immense dome rises nearly 200 feet above the ground and its diameter spans more than 100 feet. The mosaics covering the walls are among the most important works of art that have survived to this day of the Byzantine era. Large round buildings had been successfully covered by domes before, but Hagia Sophia had a rectangular floor plan, and covering a large rectangular structure by a huge central dome was being tried for the first time in history. The dome collapsed and was repaired many times. The Ottomans converted the basilica to a mosque in the 15 th century after the conquest of Istanbul. Recognizing its historic and universal importance, the Turkish Government turned it into a museum in 1935

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Dolmabahce Palace

Dolmabahce Palace, built in the mid-19th century by Sultan Abdulmecit 1, stretches for 600 meters along the European shore of the Bosphorus. It is said that 14 tons of gold and 40 tons of silver were used for the decoration of the palace. The palace contains 285 rooms, 43 salons and six baths. Its walls and ceilings are covered with paintings by the famous artists of that age. Rare handmade art objects from Europe and the Far East decorate every room in the palace. The ballroom is the largest of its kind in the world. A 4.5 ton giant-sized crystal chandelier with 750 bulbs hangs from the 120 feet high dome. The floors are parquet, of exceptional quality and are laid with high-quality silk carpets, hand-woven in the Imperial Factory of Hereke. Ataturk used to stay in this palace when he visited Istanbul. He died here in 1938. All the clocks in the palace were stopped at 9:05 am, the time of his death, in memory of this great Turk. The Palace which is a museum today is open on certain days of the week, and it is one of those historic places in Istanbul that must be visited.

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Pergamon (or Pergamum), once a great center of culture, survives as one of Turkey’s finest archeological sites. It is located 100 km north of Izmir. In the Acropolis, above the modern town, are the remains of the library, a steep and impressive theatre, the temples of Trajan and Dionysos, the monumental Altar of Zeus, the sanctuary of Demeter, a gymnasium and the Agora. The site of Pergamon was first excavated by the German archaeologists between 1878 and 1886. It was during this time that the magnificient reliefs of the Altar of Zeus were discovered and carried to Berlin and now displayed in Berlin Museum. Ancient authors tell us that the Pergamon library at one time contained 200 000 volumes. Mark Anthony carted them off to Egypt as a gift for Cleopatra, to replace the ones that had been lost when the Alexandrian library was burned during Caesar’s campaign. In the middle of the library’s main reading room is the podium on which there stood at one time the 3.5 meter high statue of Athena that is now in the Berlin Museum.

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Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace is certainly the most important historical site to be visited in Istanbul. In 1924, it was turned into a museum upon the orders of Ataturk. The Palace is a complex of buildings spread out over one of the seven hills of Istanbul. The total area of the Palace is twice the area of Vatican and half of Monaco in size. Besides being the official residence of the Sultan, the Topkapi Palace served as the headquarters of the government. It also housed the state treasury and the archives. The mint, as well as the highest educational institution were located on the Palace grounds. On exhibitions are the imperial collections of crystal, silver and Chinese porcelain; imperial handmade costumes worn by the sultans and their families, the famous jewels of the treasury; the richest collection of clocks in the world; the sacred relics of Islam including the swords of Muhammed, his bow and his mantle; priceless collection of miniatures and many other priceless objects. One of the largest diamonds in the world, the Spoonseller Diamond, is displayed in a special showcase in the hall. The rooms are exquisitely decorated and tiled.

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Ancient City of Troy

Ancient city of Troy is located 30 km south west of Canakkale province in the Marmara Region of Turkey. This is one of the most important historical cities of Anatolia. Archeological excavations have revealed nine separate periods of settlement at this site, including ruins of city walls, house foundations, a temple and a theater. The earliest settlement dates from five thousand years ago and the last coincided with the late Roman period. Famous Trojan wars, depicted in Homer’s epic Iliad took place here at about 1200 BC. A symbolic wooden horse at this site commemorates this legendary war.

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