Zelve Open Air Museum History

Zelve Open Air Museum in the Cappadocia region is one of the most visually stunning historical sites in Turkey. Originally a Byzantine-era (9th century) monastery, it is reputed to be both one of the earliest settled and last-abandoned monasteries in the entire region. The ‘museum’ houses the oldest known examples of Cappadocian architecture and religious paintings.

The honeycomb-esque spaces include religious and secular chambers and pointed fairy chimneys and in the 400 years between the 9th and 13th centuries, four churches were built whose remains stand to this day despite nature’s best efforts at erosion.

Yedikule Zindanları History

Yedikule Zindanlari, also known as the Yedikule Fortress or the Castle of the Seven Towers, is an impressive Byzantine and medieval fort in Istanbul.

Originally part of the Theodosian Wall, built by Theodosius II in the fifth century, Yedikule Fortress was added to over the centuries, including by Mehmet the Conqueror during the Ottoman period. The Ottomans used Yedikule Zindanlari as a stronghold, a prison (zindanlari means dungeons) and a treasury. In 1622, Yedikule Zindanlari became the site of the execution of the seventeen year old Sultan Osman II.

Today, this imposing fort is open to the public, although it’s probably not ideal for children due to a lack of safety features. As implied in the name, visitors to Yedikule Zindanlari can see its dungeons as well as walking along its well-preserved walls and battlements.

Van Castle History

Van Castle (Van Kalesi) was an Iron Age castle which now stands as a stunning ruin on the rocks to the west of the modern city of Van. It was constructed as part of the Urartu Kingdom in the ninth century BC. Upon the fall of this kingdom in the seventh century BC, Van Castle was taken by the Assyrians.

The site of Van Castle bears the marks of these two civillisations as well as others, such as the Ottoman Empire. In particular, it is home to the remains of a mosque built by the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent (1494-1566).

Troy History

Troy or “Truva” is one of the most famous and historically significant sites in the world. Located in modern day Turkey, the site marks the meeting place of Anatolia, the Aegean and the Balkans, making it a vitally important source of information about the historic relationships between these regions.

Imbued with several millennia of history and the subject of legend, Troy’s fame mainly derives from being the fabled location of the Trojan War. There are several ancient accounts of this conflict, mainly fiction, the most famous of which was written by Homer in The Iliad. The story goes that the Greeks besieged Troy after Helen, wife of the Menelaus, the king of Sparta, was taken by Paris of Troy. Many historians now believe that the reason for the Trojan War was a bitter commercial rivalry between the people of Troy and the Mycenaeans.

The Hill 60 New Zealand Memorial History

The Hill 60 New Zealand Memorial in the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey is a monument to the New Zealand soldiers who died in the Battle of Hill 60 and who have no known grave.

The Battle of Hill 60 was a successful attack by Commonwealth forces to capture this hill from Turkish forces in August 1915. It was one of the battles of the Commonwealth and French Gallipoli Campaign aimed at removing Turkey from World War I.

The Hill 60 New Zealand Memorial is one of four New Zealand memorials at the Commonwealth Hill 60 Cemetery.

The Helles Memorial History

The Helles Memorial in Cape Helles in Turkey is a vast obelisk monument commemorating the tens of thousands of those who died in the Gallipoli Campaign, particularly those with no known grave.

The Gallipoli Campaign, brainchild of Winston Churchill, was an effort by the Commonwealth and the French during the First World War aimed at removing the Ottoman Empire from the conflict.

Taking place in the Turkish peninsula of Gallipoli, this campaign raged from 25 April 1915 to 6 January 1916 and was also intended to open a route by which to provide supplies to Russia and help end the stalemate which existed in the Western Front.

The Gallipoli Campaign failed to remove Turkey from the war and Allied soldiers were eventually evacuated from the region.

The Florence Nightingale Museum History

The Florence Nightingale Museum in Üsküdar in Istanbul is located in the Selimiye Barracks, the Turkish army barracks which served as a British military base and hospital from 1854 to 1856, during the Crimean War.

It was at the Selimiye Barracks, then known as the Scutari Barracks, that the English nurse Florence Nightingale achieved fame as a pioneer of the medical profession and earned her nickname as the “Lady of the Lamp”.

At its peak, the Selimiye Barracks had 5,000 patients. Nightingale discerned that the dire conditions at the hospital were responsible for a great number of them dying needlessly and successfully petitioned for vast improvements.

The Çanakkale Martyrs Memorial History

The Canakkale Martyrs Memorial, also known as Şehitler Abidesi, is a Turkish monument to the 253,000 Turkish soldiers who died in the Gallipoli Campaign.

This campaign, known in Turkey as the Canakkale Wars, took place in Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula. It was launched on 25 April 1915 by the Commonwealth and the French in order to remove the Ottoman Empire from the First World War and clear a supply route to Russia. It was also hoped that it would end the stalemate on the Western Front.

The campaign failed and Allied troops were evacuated from Gallipoli. The Canakkale Martyrs Memorial is a large four columned structured, each rising up 41.7 metres and with a Turkish flag on the underside of its square roof.

The Basilica Cistern History

The Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Saray) is a subterranean wonder and one of the greatest - and certainly the biggest - of Istanbul’s surviving Byzantine sites. With its imposing columns, grand scale and mysterious ambience, this subterranean site seems like a flooded palace, but it is in fact a former water storage chamber.

Built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian in around 532AD, the Basilica Cistern measures approximately 453 feet by 212 feet and would have stored around 80,000 cubic metres of water at a time to supply the palace as well as the city of Byzantium. At the time, it was located underneath the square known as the Stoa Basilica, hence its name.

Termessos History

Located high in the mountains at Güllük National Park, the picturesque city of Termessos is perhaps one of the best preserved Roman/Hellenistic ruins in Turkey.

Founded by the Solyms, an ancient Anataolian community, the early history of the inhabitants of this city is relatively obscure, however it is known that the city successfully defended itself against Alexander the Great in c333 BC. The city later became an ally of Rome and was effectively part of the Roman Empire.

In addition to its natural defences the city of Termessos boasted an impressive gate, built in 130AD in honour of the Roman emperor Hadrian. As the city’s influence declined after the third century AD the three-arched opening to the gate was used less and less frequently, resulting in a perfectly preserved architectural monument, complete with reliefs and engravings that are visible today.

St. Savior In Chora History

St Savior in Chora (Kariye Camii) is an eleventh century church turned mosque and, more recently, a museum known as Kariye Muzesi (Chora Museum).

Originally built within a Christian complex outside the boundary of Constantinople’s walls, St Savior in Chora derived its name from its countryside setting, "in chora" meaning "rural". However, the building of St Savior in Chora we see today is a newer incarnation, having been built in the eleventh century and turned into a mosque in the sixteenth century.

Today, a highlight of visiting St Savior in Chora is its incredible set of Byzantine mosaics dating to the fourteenth century, when the church underwent redecoration. Hidden by plaster during its time as a mosque, these works now remain beautifully preserved.

Simena History

The remains of ancient Simena, now modern Kaleköy in the Kekova region, form one of the most impressive historical places in Turkey. The city’s striking crusader castle combines with a wealth of partly submerged ancient ruins and the beautiful Mediterranean waters to produce a truly inspiring place to explore.

Indeed, it comes as no surprise that Simena is an environmentally protected site; this unspoilt harbour town is surrounded by blue skies, white sand and a wealth of archaeological wonder. The surviving ancient ruins date to as far back as the 4th Century BC but most of the sites to have survived are from the Roman and Byzantine periods.

Sagalassos History

Sagalassos is an active archaeological site in southwest Turkey which contains mostly Hellenistic and Ancient Roman historic ruins, some of them very well preserved.

In particular, the Fountain of Antoninler at Sagalassos still has its pretty facade. There are also the remains of a 9,000 seat theatre, a council hall (bouleuterion), a library, rock carved tombs, temples and baths.

Part of the Phrygian kingdom from the ninth century BC and then part of the Lydian kingdom, Sagalassos became more urbanized under the Persian Empire from 546BC, becoming a focal point in the region of Pisidia over the course of two centuries.

In 334BC, Alexander the Great arrived in the region and attacked Sagalassos, eventually succeeding in destroying it, although its citizens did put up a good fight. Over the coming centuries, the Pisidia region - including Sagalassos - changed hands several times, finally coming under Roman rule in 129BC.

Rumeli Fortress History

The Rumeli Fortress (Rumelihisari) was built by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II in 1452. At the time, Mehmet was preparing to lay siege to Constantinople, trying to conquer it from the Byzantines. He built the Rumeli Fortress as a way of blocking the city’s supplies.

Over 3,000 people toiled to create the Rumeli Fortress and it was completed in the staggeringly short period of four months. It was located along the Bosporus, across from the Anadolu Hisari, a fort built by Mehmet’s great grandfather and on the site of a former Roman fortification.

Mehmet was finally successful in capturing Constantinople in May 1453 and is known as Mehmet the Conqueror.

Today, the historic Rumeli Fortress and museum is open to the public, who can enjoy great views from its towers.

Quinn's Post Cemetery History

Quinn’s Post Cemetery is a Commonwealth World War I graveyard for those killed during the Gallipoli Campaign. Quinn’s Post was a vital strategic point for the New Zealand and Australian forces which saw fierce fighting throughout the eight month Gallipoli Campaign.

Quinn’s Post was named after Major Hugh Quinn of the 15th Battalion, who died there on 29 May 1915 in the course of one such attack. Quinn himself is actually buried at Shrapnel Valley Cemetery.

Today, the Quinn’s Post Cemetery is managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and houses 473 graves, most of which are Australian and 294 of which are unidentified. Several memorials at Quinn’s Post Cemetery commemorate those missing soldiers or those with unknown graves.

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