Travel to the land that boasts 4000 years of civilization – Turkey’s sparkling Aegean Coast.
This is the region with the highest concentration of ancient city sites - and it's got the ruins to prove it. The ruined cities were once some of the most powerful city states of the ancient world. Ephesus, Miletus and Pergamum: names famed since antiquity for their philosophers, statesmen, temples, libraries and other monumental structures.
Today, this coast of Turkey is lined by a succession of modern cities with palm-lined avenues and liberal attitudes, towns with old quarters that are filled with elegant, turn of the 20th century neo-classical architecture, and ruins of what were once major powers of the Mediterranean in ancient times; all backed by fertile valleys and hills, sides of which are dotted with picturesque villages and large olive yards—which help to make Turkey one of the biggest producers of olive oil in the world. It's little wonder that much of ancient art and philosophy—from Aristotle to Homer, many were citizens of cities along this coast—was developed in this land of wine and honey, which has a favourable climate year round.
The first Minoans and Mycenaean’s to arrive in the second millennium BC must have seen it as a paradise when they eagerly settled here. It is no wonder that Greeks from Athens, Thebes and other city-states set out later to form colonies in the most favourable sites with safe harbours. They came with political ideals and a desire to create beautiful cities. Over the years they built some of the most elegant and sustainable urban environments that have ever existed, with progressive political systems and institutions. They honoured their gods, making sacrifices to them and erecting great altars and temples, but they also searched for truth as they delved into natural philosophy. Maritime trade and agriculture sustained them; philosophy, art, architecture, music and literature flourished.
As it often happens, their success created envy and now and again, powerful and greedy neighbours, the Hittites, Galatians, Cimmerians, Lydians, Persians, Macedonians and Romans invaded. Sometimes the cities were almost completely destroyed, the men slaughtered and the women enslaved. In other cases new comers, who took power after a city-state had surrendered, grasped the economic rewards as well as prestige. Some conquering rulers allowed their new subjects a measure of independence; others displayed their power, subjugating them brutally. All of them levied taxes on the citizens and demanded soldiers for their armies.
The Greek experiment of the polis found expression in fine architecture and civic institutions. There were periods when the citizens could live in peace for a few decades or even centuries, but inevitably their dreams and everyday lives were cut short by the actions of powerful, arrogant, pitiless rulers desiring only their own aggrandisement. All the ancient cities of Aegean Turkey now lie in ruins; many fortifications and buildings have been used as stone quarries exploited for new construction elsewhere. Nature has also added to injuries. Rivers changed their courses, inundating settlements; they have also silted up their estuaries, leaving cities that depended on maritime trade miles from the sea. With devastating suddenness earthquakes took their toll, toppling tall columns and reducing ancient homes and civic buildings to ruins.
Ephesus, Miletus and Pergamum - every traveller to Turkey will want to make the pilgrimage to here ...
BOOK TOURS FROM IZMIR
Explore Ephesus - Ephesus contains the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean. Only an estimated 15% has been excavated. The ruins that are visible give some idea of the city's original splendour, ... more
Pergamum & Acropolis - Built on the hill raising more than 300 m / 1000 ft. above the surrounding valley, Pergamum (Greek for citadel) is a predecessor of the modern Turkish town of Bergama... more
BOOK TOURS FROM KUSADASI
Explore Ephesus - Every traveller to Turkey will want to make the pilgrimage to Ephesus for its magnificent paved streets, well-preserved theatre, and Biblical associations… more
Pamukkale & Hierapolis - Pamukkale is one of the Turkey's most unusual natural wonders created by calcite-laden waters. This striking landscape made by petrified waterfalls, mineral forests and terraced basins has given the place it name, Pamukkale (Cotton Castle)... more
Ancient Pergamum - Today's Bergama (ancient Pergamum) is one of the world's most important historical sites and the Turkey's oldest civilized settlements, which has been inhabited from prehistoric times through the Ionic, Roman and Byzantine civilizations… more
Priene-Miletus-Didyma - These three towns Priene, Miletus, and Didyma make up part of Ancient Ionia, homeland of many of the ancient world’s greatest artistic and scientific minds, and each endowed with haunting ruins ... more
REGIONS OF AEGEAN COAST
Afyon - The centre of Turkey's legal opium trade, a dramatic hilltop fortress stands at the centre of Afyon. At its feet are some historic buildings and lots of pastry shops serving the region's renowned clotted cream… more
Alaçati - This charming small town west of Izmir near Çeşme is yet unspoiled… more
Aphrodisias - The city of Aphrodite, Roman goddess of Love, is among Turkey's most interesting ancient ruins and most interesting archaeological sites… more
Assos (Behramkale) - Charming seaside hamlet facing Lesbos in the shadow of a hilltop Temple to Athena. Aristotle lived in Assos and St Paul visited here… more
Bergama (Pergamum) - Famous for its ancient library, stunning Acropolis and ancient medical centre Asclepion, it's an attractive farming town with lots to see... more
Bozcaada - a formerly-Greek, now Turkish island south of Çanakkale, is a favourite summer retreat for Istanbul residents. A visit to this island near the southern mouth of the Dardanelles Strait is like a step back in time: relaxed days of hiking and swimming, unhurried al fresco dinners with friends, sipping the island's own wines… more
Çanakkale is your best base for visiting the Gallipoli battlefields and the ruins of Troy.
Located on the southern shore at the narrowest point in the Dardanelles strait (Hellespont), Çanakkale has been a major strong-point in the defence of the Dardanelles from the time of the Trojans through World War I… more
Çeşme is a sea-side resort town on the Aegean coast, 85 km west of Izmir. It lies on the extreme western tip of Turkey, opposite the Greek island of Chios. The name Çeşme means fountain in Persian and possibly draws reference from the many Ottoman fountains scattered across the city... more
Izmir-Once the ancient city of Smyrna, İzmir is now a modern, developed, and busy commercial centre, set around a huge bay and surrounded by mountains. The broad boulevards, glass-fronted buildings and modern shopping centres... more
Kuşadası is a beach resort town on Turkey’s western Aegean coast south of Izmir. A jumping-off point for visiting the classical ruins at nearby Ephesus, it’s a major cruise ship stop. Its seafront promenade, marina and harbour are lined with hotels and restaurants… more