Turkey is famous as a crossroad between Eastern and Western cultures. It contains a marvelous mix of structures and elements from both. It is also close enough to where human civilization started to possess a long and storied history of habitation, war, and achievement. Here are my choices for this country’s seven man-made wonders.
1. Hagia Sophia, Istanbul. This church, turned mosque, turned museum, was originally constructed in the 6th century AD. It is considered one of the greatest examples of Byzantine architecture in the world. Its glorious mosaics, covered up for centuries when the Ottoman Turks took over Constantinople, are now again on display for the world to see.
2. Topkapi Palace, Istanbul. This grand palace and complex was the principal residence of Ottoman sultans for about 400 years. Now it is a showcase of the former glory of Constantinople and a major tourist attraction in Istanbul. It is a vast complex with many buildings and numerous courtyards. Some of the more popular parts of the palace are the Kitchens, which now display a fine collection of Oriental ceramics, the Imperial Treasury, which contains numerous gem-encrusted and golden artifacts from the Ottoman Empire and the Chamber of Sacred Relics which has several remains of the prophet, Mohammed, and is, thus, a pilgrimage site for Muslims.
3. Ephesus. The ruins of this great Greek and Roman city are a favorite stop for cruise ships in the Aegean Sea and are the site of a long and distinguished history. The Temple of Artemis, one of the original Seven Wonders of the World, was located here. Alexander the Great entered the city triumphantly after his defeat of the Persians in 334 BC. As a part of the Roman Empire, Emperor Augustus made Ephesus capital of Western Asia Minor in 27 BC. The city’s Celsius Library was one of the three great libraries of antiquity. The final house of the Virgin Mary is nearby and has become a major pilgrimage site for Christians. The apostle, St Paul, spoke in the Roman Amphitheater here.
4. Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia. A Fairy Chimney is a conical rock formation with a cap of harder stone. In this region of Turkey, these geological oddities have been hollowed out to make homes, churches and monasteries. Some of the most spectacular examples are found in the Goreme region of central Turkey.
5. Blue Mosque, Istanbul. This mosque, more appropriately known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is the National Mosque of Turkey. It is named for the blue mosaic tiles which adorn its walls. It is one of only two mosques in Turkey with six (6) minarets.
6. Grand Bazaar, Istanbul. The Grand or Covered Bazaar is one of the largest indoor markets in the world, with 58 "streets" and over 4,000 shops. It is visited by a quarter to a half-million people daily and is one of the premier tourist attractions in Istanbul. It dates to the 15th century and was expanded considerably in the 17th century by Suleiman the Magnificent.
7. Dolmabahce Palace, Istanbul. This European-style palace sits on the Bosporus and contains 285 rooms and 46 halls. Fourteen tons of gold were used to line the ceilings, and the mansion contains the largest Bohemian crystal chandelier in the world. The building became the Sultan’s residence when Topkapi Palace failed to satisfy the rulers because of its lack of modern conveniences.
Other sites considered:
Beylerbeyi Palace, Istanbul
Ruins of Pergamum