There are 15 Cultural and Natural Heritage sites registered by UNESCO in Turkey and I hope this number will increase in 2016. Besides the 10 sites and buildings in the 2015 tentative list, Turkey has 50 more members for the Cultural and Natural Heritage List of UNESCO. From the nominees and the registered sites, one can see the great Culture and History Anatolia has since UNESCO members and nominees of Turkey range in a history of more than 12 millenniums. Here is the tentative list of 2015 of UNESCO from Turkey;
Akdamar is one of the islands of Lake Van which is located in the East of Republic of Turkey. The lake is named after the city on the Eastern shores of the lake: Van. Local people call it the Sea of Van because of its size and the soda waters. The islands on the Lake Van were very convenient for monastic settlements and Akdamar church stands on the biggest island of Lake Van and now a nominee to UNESCO. According to the legend, island and the church is named after Tamar who was not allowed to meet and marry her shepherd lover who used to follow the candle light while swimming to the island to reach her. However, when Tamar's father learnt how this young couple met every night, he put the candle light on a boat and started to row into the deep waters of the Lake Van drowning the lover of his daughter. Tamar committed suicide after seeing her lover drowning in the Lake and her name and their love survived in the region thanks to the Island and the Church. The Akdamar Church we visit today was built in the 10th Century and has beautiful engravings outside the structure form the old and the new testaments. The cross on top of the church was sent by the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul in 2010. There is a mass held in the church every year by the Armenians and I hope to join one of them in the near future personally.
Stratonikeia Ancient City
Seleucid King Soter had built the city in the name of his wife Stratonice according to Strabo. Besides the many stories behind the name of the city, it is the first Lycian city built in Anatolia and had many names along with Stratonikeia. Like many other ancient cities in the west coast of Turkey, Stratonikeia had lived in prosper during the reign of Hadrian. Today, the ancient theater built by the Romans and the Temple of Serapis are seen however the Temple of Zeus has not been excavated yet. The theater has capacity of ten thousand giving us a clue about the population of the city during the Roman times. There is a sebasteion as well which is a temple built to honor the sovereign of the Romans and best example of it in Anatolia can be seen in Aphrodisias. The ancient city is located underneath the village of Eskihisar today and you can visit the little museum there with artifacts found during the excavations of the area. The most notable finding in the museum is a Mycenaean stirrup-cup of buff with horizontal red stripes which is almost three thousands years old.
Eshabi Kehf Kulliye
Everybody knows the story behind the Seven Sleepers and there are multiple sites in Turkey which are believed to be the caves those religious people had sheltered. The one nearby Ephesus is more popular but the one in Afsin, Kahramanmaras is in the tentative list. The Seven Sleepers stories told in Anatolia are shifts of people from Paganism to Christianity and to Islam. While seven people are sheltering in a structure and sleeping there for three centuries in Christianity, a dog named Kitmis or Al-Rakim companies them in Islam culture. They are both arrested for grave digging since their gold coins were not void anymore but they were able to convince the people arrested them since they were sharing the same religion after all those years in a cave. The site visited today has an architectural history going all the way back to the Emperor II Theodosius who built a little chapel like structure in front of the cave. A mosque, a han, a madrassah and a masjid for ladies were added to the structure until the era of the Soliman the Magnificent. A shrine highly respected by the Muslim community living in Anatolia is now a nominee to receive international publicity thanks to the UNESCO.
Ismail Fakirullah Tomb and its Light Refraction Mechanism
The tomb of Ismail Fakirullah and its light refraction mechanism is located in Aydinlar, Siirt of Eastern Anatolia. The tomb and the tower was built by Ibrahim Hakki who was the student of Ismail Fakirullah because he wanted the sunbeams touch to his scholars tomb before it does to the villagers. Every year in 21st March and 23rd September, because of the wall built on top of the hill overlooking the valley the tomb stands, sun beams go through the designated gap on the wall and cracks on top of the tower built next to the tomb reflecting the sunlight to the tomb of Ismail Fakirullah before the whole village. There is a great respect to this scholar by his student Ibrahim Hakki and it shows us the level of education in the madrassahs of Anatolia. You can see the tomb and the tower in the above picture.
Historic town of Mudurnu
Mudurnu village was built on the ancient trading routes and Silk road passes through the narrow valley formed by the river Gallos where Mudurnu town stand today. Besides the Silk Road, Crimean Road was passing through the town as well which was connecting Bursa and Damascus making the town a prosper trading settlement during the Byznatium, Seljukian and Ottoman times. Mudurnu has an important place in the establishment of the Ottoman Empire because Halil Hayreddin Pasha was raised in the Ahi lodges of Mudurnu who played an important role in the establishment of the Ottoman Treasury and Army systems. He established the administrative system of the Ottomans as well after becoming the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Sultan Orhan. The trading routes has brought prosperity to the town leaving beautiful Ottoman houses behind and today, visited by many local tourists. I hope more foreigners will visit the town of Mudurnu if registered by UNESCO.
Rock tombs of Amasya
Amasya town is a beautiful city located in a narrow valley created by the Yesilirmak (Green River). It has a history of approximately eight thousand years and most of the historical structures are visible today. The city is the birthplace of Strabo who is believed to be the founder of Geography. The riverside is embellished by wooden Ottoman mansions and crowned by rock carved graves on the knife cut slopes of the high mountains. The city became very popular especially in 2014 when an young Ottoman Prince statue was put making a selfie. Since the city was an important capital of the Eastern State during the Ottoman times, many powerful Ottoman Sultans were raised in this city. This heritage has encouraged the municipality of Amasya to put a statue of an Ottoman Prince making a selfie which immediately became famous in Turkey. The rock cut graves over the city of Amasya today were carved for the Pontic kings who ruled the city in between 330s to 20s BC. Amasya became a city of scholars during the Roman times and was connected to the Galatian state and Cappadocian state of the Romans until it became a metropolis. It was taken over by the Turkish people ending a seven century Roman Rule in the 11th Century AD. The city has an important place in the establishment of the Republic of Turkey since she hosted Ataturk during the Amasya Circular and announced the Independence war of Turkey.
Phrygians are Trak tribes that has lived in the western Anatolia who overtook the Hittite land. Many heroic and famous kings of Anatolia were Phrygians such as Gordios whose knot was going to be cut by Alexander the Great and Mygdon who fought the Amazons. The most famous among them was Midas who was believed to have donkey ears. Lydians, Romans, Persians and Hellenistic communities gradually assimilated the Phrygians who left a big heritage behind. The mountainous area in the East of the Phrygian land is now a nominee of UNESCO thanks to the rock carved open air temples and monuments. It is a 52 ha. area where one can see castles, mounds, tumulus, necropolises, rock-cut worshiping places, inscriptions and reliefs, altars, cisterns, monumental rock-cut tombs and niches. There are more Phrygian settlements nearby the mounds they have erected during their reign in the region.
Uzunkopru bridge is in Edirne province of Turkey neighboring the Greek and Bulgarian borders. Edirne is home to world famous traditional oil wrestling and also has another UNESCO heritage structure; Selimiye Mosque. It means long bridge in Turkish and it is the longest ancient bridge of the world. It was built by the architect Muslihiddin in between 1427-1443 and was opened by the Sultan II Murad in 1444. Its original length was 1392 meters but due to the constructions around the river bed, it is 1238.55 meters of part is visible now. The main reason behind the size of the bridge are the swamps in the area and the Ergene River causing a lot of floods. It has experienced many restorations and the number of arches were increased and decreased during the history and latest one will convert to bridge to its original form and will pedestrianize it.
The Theater and Aqueducts of Aspendos
Aspendos is an ancient city which is 7 kilometers away from Serik city of Antalya province. It was established by the Greeks coming from Argos in the 10th Century BCE and became rich thanks to the great volume of salt, oil and wool trade. The ancient city is visited by thousands of tourists coming to Antalya and is world famous thanks to the best preserved theater of the ancient times. 96 Meters of diameter creates more than seven thousand seating capacity. It was built in 155 AD by a Greek Architect named Zenon who was a local person. The theater survived during the Persian and Roman times and gone some restorations during the Seljukian times who used the structure as a palace. Today, it is home to The Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival in every spring and early summer. Besides the festival, you can watch the greatest dance show of Turkey there; Fire of Anatolia.
Yildiz Palace Complex
Yildiz means star in Turkish and the complex of the palace is a nominee to the UNESCO now. It was built in the late 19th Century and was home to the Ottoman Sultans and his court until the fall of the empire. The are where the palace was built became an imperial land by the Ottoman Sultan I Ahmed in beginning of the 17th Century. His successors has used the are for vacationing and in 1880, a palace was built among the woods by Sultan II Abdulhamid. The main reason behind moving the throne there was Sultan II Abdulhamid was scared of a seaside attack. His earlier residence was Dolmabahce palace and it is located by the waters of the Bosporus. The palace complex has many structures in it and the gardens of the palace is a public place at present. There is a bridge connecting the Ciragan palace to the Yildiz Palace as well. State Apartments, Sale Pavilion, Malta Pavilion, Cadır Pavilion, the Yıldız Theater and Opera House, the Yıldız Palace Museum and the Imperial Porcelain Factory are the notable structures of the complex. The complex was converted to a luxury casino and then a guest house for the official visitors of the young Republic of Turkey. It is converted to a museum then and many exhibitions are held in the palace in the unique ambiance of the complex.