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Discover Turkey's UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Have you ever wanted to visit a top tourist destination and explore the rich history and culture of Turkey's historic areas? Look no further than the country's 18 UNESCO World Heritage sites, which include ancient archaeological sites such as the legendary city of Ephesus, the fascinating site of çatalhöyük, and stunning temples. Additionally, natural wonders like Göreme National Park offer a glimpse into Turkey's fascinating past.

The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism is responsible for preserving and promoting these historic areas and ancient ruins, which have become popular tourist destinations attracting thousands of visitors each year. Many Turkey tours include visits to these UNESCO World Heritage sites, providing travelers with unforgettable destinations to explore.


Whether you're interested in travel destinations, exploring ancient civilizations, or marveling at stunning natural landscapes, there's something for everyone at these incredible UNESCO sites. Archaeologists will be particularly intrigued by the ancient city of Diyarbakır. So why not add a visit to one of these sites to your next trip to Turkey?

With so many travel destinations rich in history and culture waiting to be discovered, it's no wonder that UNESCO World Heritage sites are some of the most popular attractions for archaeologists in Turkey. Hattuşa, an ancient capital of the Hittite Empire, is just one example of the fascinating sites that await those who venture to this beautiful country.

What is the UNESCO World Heritage Convention?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Convention is an international treaty established in 1972. The primary objective of this convention is to identify, protect, and preserve cultural and natural heritage sites of outstanding universal value for future generations. Archaeologists play a crucial role in uncovering the historical significance of these sites. Each country has its own unique heritage sites that require protection. These sites often include both land and water areas. Photo courtesy can be used to capture the essence of these heritage sites and promote their preservation.


The UNESCO list currently includes over 1,100 sites in more than 160 countries worldwide. These sites are recognized as being of exceptional value to humanity and archaeologists. The list includes some of the most iconic landmarks on the planet, such as the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu in Peru, and the Taj Mahal in India. Photo courtesy is available at some sites for visitors to capture their memories. Turkey tours offer the opportunity to explore some of these sites with an entrance fee.

Turkey has a rich cultural heritage that spans thousands of years. As a result, it has numerous sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Turkey's inclusion on this prestigious list means that these sites are protected by international law and must be preserved for future generations. For those who want to capture the beauty of Turkey's land, photo courtesy is allowed at the entrance of these sites. Make sure to check the details of each site before visiting.

Criteria for Inclusion

To be included on the UNESCO list, a site must meet at least one of ten criteria outlined by UNESCO. These criteria include representing a masterpiece of human creative genius or exhibiting exceptional natural beauty. Cultural sites and rock sites are also eligible for consideration. Visitors can enter these sites through designated entrances, and photo courtesy is often required when taking pictures.

One of Turkey's most notable cultural sites is the ancient city of Troy. This archaeological site, which is now a popular destination for tourists, was added to the UNESCO list due to its outstanding universal value as an important center of Aegean civilization over many centuries. For those interested in learning more about this fascinating location, there are plenty of blogs available that provide details and insights into the history and significance of Troy. Additionally, visitors can capture stunning photos of the ruins, with photo courtesy given to the site's caretakers.

Importance of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

What are UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

UNESCO World Heritage Sites are places of outstanding cultural or natural importance to humanity. These sites are selected based on strict criteria, including their exceptional beauty, historical significance, and unique natural features. The designation not only recognizes the importance of these sites but also aims to promote their conservation and protection. For more details on these sites, check out our blog. You can also book Turkey tours to visit these sites in person and capture stunning photos courtesy of our experienced guides.

How many UNESCO World Heritage Sites are there?

Currently, the UNESCO World Heritage List includes over 1,100 sites in more than 160 countries. For those interested in visiting these sites, Turkey tours offer an excellent opportunity to explore some of the most breathtaking locations. From ancient archaeological ruins to stunning natural landscapes, there are plenty of opportunities to capture stunning photos. For more details and inspiration, check out our blog and photo courtesy section.

Economic Benefits of Being Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site can bring significant economic benefits to a region. According to a study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), heritage tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments of global tourism. In fact, heritage tourists tend to stay longer and spend more money than other types of tourists. For those planning turkey tours, it's worth noting that visiting UNESCO sites is a great way to experience the country's rich cultural heritage. Photo courtesy of our blog provides more details on the subject.

For example, Machu Picchu in Peru has seen a significant increase in visitors since it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. This increase in tourism has had a positive impact on the local economy and has helped fund preservation efforts at the site. For more details on Machu Picchu, check out our blog. Photo courtesy of our recent Turkey tours.

Preservation for Future Generations

Protecting and preserving UNESCO World Heritage Sites is crucial for future generations to appreciate and learn from these important cultural and natural landmarks. Many sites face threats such as climate change, pollution, urbanization, and over-tourism. Photo courtesy can help raise awareness of the importance of these sites through stunning visual representations shared on social media or in a blog. The Turkey Ministry is actively involved in the preservation of their country's UNESCO World Heritage Sites, implementing measures to ensure their protection for generations to come.

For instance, a photo of Venice's historic city center was shared on a blog discussing the importance of preserving UNESCO-listed sites. The post included a UNESCO Turkey tip for travelers interested in visiting Petra in Jordan, which is also on the organization's list of endangered world heritage sites due to concerns over rising sea levels caused by climate change and increased tourism potentially damaging its fragile rock structures.

Preserving these UNESCO-listed sites not only ensures their continued existence but also allows future generations to learn about our shared history and cultural heritage. For more information, check out our blog for UNESCO Turkey tips and updates from the Turkey Ministry.

Top 5 Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey

Topkapi Palace in Istanbul

The Topkapi Palace is an archaeological site and a must-see UNESCO Turkey tip for anyone interested in Ottoman history and architecture. This stunning palace was the former residence of Ottoman sultans and is now a museum that showcases the opulence and grandeur of the Ottoman Empire. The palace has four main courtyards, each with its own unique features. Visitors can explore the Harem, where the Sultan's family lived, as well as the Imperial Treasury, which houses an impressive collection of jewels, gold, and other treasures. The Turkey Ministry recognizes the Topkapi Palace as an important archaeological site.

One of the most popular attractions at Topkapi Palace, an archaeological site, is the Sacred Relics Collection. This collection includes items such as Prophet Muhammad's cloak and sword, as well as other important religious artifacts. Visitors can also enjoy spectacular views of Istanbul from the palace's terraces. Topkapi Palace is recognized by UNESCO Turkey Tip and is under the supervision of Turkey Ministry.

Goreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia

Goreme National Park is not only a natural wonder, but also an important archaeological site. The park features fairy chimneys - tall conical rock formations that have been eroded over time - as well as cave dwellings and early Christian churches carved into the rock.

Visitors to Goreme National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Turkey, can take hot air balloon rides over this stunning landscape or explore it on foot by hiking through one of its many trails. One popular tip is to follow the Rose Valley Trail, which takes visitors through a valley filled with pink-hued rock formations.


Hierapolis-Pamukkale is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its natural hot springs and travertine terraces. These terraces are formed by mineral-rich water flowing down from nearby hot springs, leaving behind deposits that have built up over thousands of years.

Visitors to Hierapolis-Pamukkale, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Turkey, can bathe in these natural hot springs or walk along boardwalks that wind through the travertine terraces. This is a must-see tip for those who want to explore impressive Roman ruins, including a well-preserved theater and a necropolis.


Hattusha is the ancient capital of the Hittite Empire and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This impressive site features fortifications, temples, and royal residences that give visitors a glimpse into what life was like in this ancient civilization.

One of the most notable features of Hattusha, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Turkey, is its massive walls, which are over six kilometers long and up to eight meters high in some places. Visitors can also explore the Great Temple, which was dedicated to the god Teshub, as well as the Yerkapi ramparts, which were used to defend against invading armies. As a tip for travelers, make sure to add Hattusha to your list of must-visit sites in Turkey.


Ephesus is one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the Mediterranean and is home to many important historical sites. One of these sites is the Temple of Artemis, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Visitors to Ephesus can explore its many ruins, including its well-preserved amphitheater and library. They can also walk along its marble-paved streets to get a sense of what life was like in this ancient city.

Göbeklitepe: The World's First Temple

A Neolithic Site with a Fascinating History

Göbeklitepe is a neolithic site located in Turkey that has been making headlines for its fascinating history and unique architecture. Dating back to around 10,000 BC, it is believed to be the world's first temple. The site features impressive T-shaped pillars and intricate carvings of animals and mythical creatures, making it a significant archaeological discovery.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Göbeklitepe is its age. It predates other famous religious sites such as the Hagia Sophia and the Great Mosque of Mecca by thousands of years. This fact alone makes it an essential piece of human history, providing insight into how early civilizations lived and worshipped.

An Architectural Marvel

The temple at Göbeklitepe is truly an architectural marvel. The T-shaped pillars found throughout the site are carved from limestone and stand up to six meters tall. They are decorated with intricate designs depicting animals such as foxes, snakes, birds, scorpions, and boars. These carvings were likely significant symbols for ancient people who worshipped at this site.

In addition to the pillars themselves, there are also many smaller statues scattered throughout the area. These statues depict humans in various poses and activities such as hunting or dancing. They provide further insight into what life was like for early civilizations in this region.

A Testament to Early Civilization

While Turkey is home to many historic religious sites, including the Selimiye Mosque and churches dating back to the 4th century AD., Göbeklitepe stands out as a testament to the ancient world and the ingenuity of early civilizations.

The Hittite Empire once ruled over this region but had no knowledge of Göbeklitepe's existence since it was buried under tons of soil until its rediscovery in 1963 by researchers from Istanbul University. The site's excavation began in the 1990s, and it has since become a significant tourist attraction.

Other Neolithic Sites in Turkey

Turkey is home to several other neolithic sites that are worth visiting if you're interested in ancient history. Çatalhöyük is an archaeological site located in central Turkey that dates back to around 7500 BC. It is known for its well-preserved houses and unique wall paintings.

Göreme National Park is another popular destination for tourists interested in ancient history. This UNESCO World Heritage Site features rock-cut churches and monasteries dating back to the Byzantine period.

Safranbolu Old Town and Istanbul Old District

Safranbolu: A Well-Preserved Ottoman-Era Town

Safranbolu is a small town located in the Black Sea region of Turkey. It was once an important center for commerce and trade, thanks to its location on the ancient Silk Road. Today, it is best known for its well-preserved Ottoman-era architecture, which has earned it a place on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

One of the most striking features of Safranbolu is its traditional houses, many of which date back to the 18th century. These houses are built from wood and stone and feature distinctive overhanging balconies that provide shade during hot summers. The town's narrow streets are also lined with shops selling local handicrafts, including copperware and textiles.

Visitors to Safranbolu can also explore several historic mosques and other religious buildings. One of the most impressive is the Cinci Hodja Mosque, which dates back to the 17th century. Its elaborate decoration includes intricate tile work and calligraphy.

Istanbul Old District: Home to Many Famous Landmarks

Istanbul's Old District, also known as the Historic Peninsula, is one of the city's most popular tourist destinations. It is home to many famous landmarks and monuments that showcase Turkey's rich history and culture.

One of the most iconic sights in Istanbul is the Hagia Sophia Museum, a former church turned mosque turned museum that dates back to 537 AD. Its massive dome dominates the skyline and its interior features stunning Byzantine mosaics.

Another must-see attraction in Istanbul's Old District is Topkapi Palace, which served as the residence of Ottoman sultans for nearly four centuries. Visitors can wander through opulent courtyards and admire priceless treasures like jeweled swords and diamond-encrusted thrones.

For those interested in Islamic art and architecture, the Blue Mosque is a must-visit. Its six minarets and striking blue tiles make it one of Istanbul's most recognizable landmarks.

UNESCO Recognition

Both Safranbolu Old Town and Istanbul Old District have been recognized by UNESCO for their cultural significance. In fact, Turkey has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country except Italy and China.

Safranbolu was added to the list in 1994 due to its well-preserved Ottoman-era architecture. The town's traditional houses, mosques, and bazaars provide a glimpse into life during the Ottoman Empire.

Istanbul's Old District was added in 1985 due to its rich history and unique blend of cultures. The district is home to several important religious sites, including the Hagia Sophia Museum, as well as many examples of Ottoman architecture.

Bursa and Cumalıkızık: Birth of the Ottoman Empire

Bursa: A Center for Trade Routes Between Anatolia and Europe

Bursa, located in northwestern Turkey, was an important center for trade routes between Anatolia and Europe during the 14th century. The city was strategically located on the Silk Road, which connected China to Europe through Central Asia. As a result, Bursa became a hub for international trade and commerce.

The city's economic importance led to significant cultural growth as well. Bursa was home to many poets, scholars, and artists who contributed to the development of Turkish literature, music, and art. One of the most famous landmarks in Bursa is the Green Mosque (Yesil Camii), built in the early 15th century by Sultan Mehmed I. The mosque is known for its intricate tile work and beautiful calligraphy.

Cumalıkızık: A Well-Preserved Example of Ottoman Architecture from the 16th Century

Cumalıkızık is a village near Bursa that dates back to the 14th century. It is one of the best-preserved examples of Ottoman architecture from the 16th century. The village's houses are made from mudbrick and wood, with red-tiled roofs and narrow streets that wind through them.

Cumalıkızık has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its historical significance as an example of traditional Ottoman architecture. Visitors can explore the village's winding streets and see firsthand how people lived during this time period.

Nemrut: A Monument Built by King Antiochus I in BC

While not directly related to the Ottoman Empire or its birthplace, Nemrut is another UNESCO World Heritage Site located in southeastern Turkey that visitors should not miss. This ancient monument was built by King Antiochus I around BC on top of a mountain in the Taurus range.

The monument consists of a series of statues and reliefs that were carved into the mountain. The most impressive feature is the heads of giant statues, which are believed to represent gods or kings. Visitors can hike up to the summit of Mount Nemrut to see these incredible sculptures up close.

Pergamon and Its Multilayered Cultural Landscape

Multicultural Civilization in Asia Minor

Pergamon is an ancient city located in the western part of Turkey, in the province of Izmir. This city was once a significant center of civilization, housing several civilizations such as the Greeks and Romans throughout its history. The city's ruins reflect its rich cultural heritage, making it one of the most important historical sites in Turkey.

The social complex of Pergamon includes rock art, ruins, and buildings that reflect its rich culture. The city's architecture reveals the influence of different cultures that have inhabited it over time. From Greek temples to Roman amphitheaters, Pergamon has a multilayered cultural landscape.

Historical Importance

Pergamon was once a Greek city that became an important center for learning and culture during the Hellenistic period. It was home to one of the most extensive libraries in the ancient world after Alexandria. The library contained more than 200,000 volumes at its peak but was tragically destroyed by fire.

One of Pergamon's most notable landmarks is the Acropolis, which sits atop a steep hill overlooking modern-day Bergama town. The Acropolis contains several impressive structures such as the Altar of Zeus and Athena Temple. The Altar of Zeus is considered one of Pergamon's most remarkable achievements and has been reconstructed at Berlin's Pergamon Museum.

Hierapolis, Troy, and Catalhoyuk are other places in the province with significant historical importance. Hierapolis is known for its hot springs and ancient Roman baths while Troy is famous for being Homer’s legendary setting for his epic poem "Iliad." Catalhoyuk is also renowned for being one of the oldest human settlements ever discovered dating back to 7500 BC.

Air Museum

The air museum in Pergamon showcases artifacts from not only Roman Empire but also modern city. The museum has an impressive collection of aircraft, including fighter jets, helicopters, and passenger planes. Among the most notable exhibits is a replica of the Wright Brothers' original plane.

The museum also houses several interactive displays that provide visitors with information about aviation history and technology. Visitors can learn about the principles of flight and how airplanes work through hands-on activities.

Top Things to Know About UNESCO Turkey: Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape

History of Diyarbakir Fortress

Diyarbakir Fortress, also known as Diyarbakır Kalesi, is a well-preserved fortress that dates back to the Roman period. The fortress is located in the heart of Diyarbakir city, which was once an important center of trade and culture in the Middle Ages. The fortress has been witness to many historical events, including the Arab invasion of the 7th century and the Mongol invasion of the 13th century.

The walls surrounding the fortress are made up of black basalt stone and have a length of about 5.8 km with 82 towers. The construction started in Roman times but was completed by Umayyad Caliphate during their rule over Anatolia. It has since undergone several renovations throughout history.

Visitors can explore this magnificent structure by walking along its walls or entering through one of its gates. One popular entrance is through Mardin Gate, which leads visitors into a maze-like bazaar filled with shops selling traditional goods.

Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape

Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape is a unique combination of agricultural and urban areas that has been cultivated for over 2,000 years. The landscape includes the fertile floodplain of the Tigris River and the ancient city of Diyarbakir.

The area is home to more than 3,000 gardens that are irrigated by water from nearby streams and wells. These gardens produce various fruits such as apricots, figs, pomegranates, grapes and vegetables like eggplants, tomatoes etc., all grown organically without any use chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

In addition to being an agricultural site, it's also an important cultural site because it reflects how humans have adapted to living alongside rivers for centuries. It's a testament to the ingenuity of ancient civilizations who have managed to make use of the natural resources available to them.

Other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey

The Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape are not the only UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey. Visitors can explore several other sites, including:

  • Mount Nemrut: A mountain located in southeastern Turkey that is home to a collection of colossal statues and rock reliefs.

  • Hattusa: The capital city of the Hittite Empire during the Late Bronze Age.

  • Aphrodisias: An ancient Greek city dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite, known for its well-preserved marble ruins.

  • Selimiye Mosque and Complex: A 16th-century mosque located in Edirne that is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of Ottoman architecture.

  • Divriği Great Mosque and Hospital: A 13th-century mosque and hospital complex located in Sivas Province that is known for its intricate stone carvings.

Natural Beauty of the Region

In addition to these historical sites, visitors can also explore the stunning natural beauty of the region. One popular destination is Pamukkale, a natural site famous for its hot springs and travertine terraces. Another must-visit place is Cappadocia, which features fairy chimneys, underground cities, national parks with unique geological formations like valleys filled with mushroom-shaped rocks.

The Taurus Mountains offer hiking trails with breathtaking views while Lake Van provides opportunities for water sports like kayaking or fishing. Overall, there's something for everyone.

Explore the Rich Cultural History of Turkey through its UNESCO World Heritage Sites

If you are a history buff or simply interested in exploring different cultures, Turkey should be on your travel bucket list. This country is home to 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that showcase its rich cultural history.

What is the UNESCO World Heritage Convention?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) created the World Heritage Convention in 1972 to identify and protect natural and cultural heritage sites around the world that are considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. These sites are selected based on their historical, cultural, scientific, or aesthetic significance.

Importance of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

UNESCO World Heritage Sites play an essential role in preserving our planet's natural and cultural diversity. They serve as a bridge between past and present civilizations, allowing us to understand and appreciate our shared human heritage. Moreover, they help promote sustainable tourism by attracting visitors from all over the world.

Top 5 Must-See UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey

  1. Göbeklitepe: The World's First Temple

  2. Safranbolu Old Town and Istanbul Old District

  3. Bursa and Cumalıkızık: Birth of the Ottoman Empire

  4. Pergamon and Its Multilayered Cultural Landscape

  5. Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape

These sites offer a glimpse into Turkey's rich history dating back thousands of years ago.


Q: How can I visit these UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

To visit these sites, you can either join a guided tour group or explore them on your own by renting a car or using public transportation.

Q: Which time of year is best for visiting these sites?

The best time to visit these sites is during the spring and fall seasons when the weather is mild, and there are fewer crowds.

Q: Are these sites accessible for people with disabilities?

Most of these sites have wheelchair accessibility, but it's best to check with each site's management beforehand.

Q: Can I take photographs at these sites?

Yes, you can take photographs at most of these sites. However, some areas may have restrictions on photography or require a permit.

Q: Are there any entrance fees for visiting these sites?

Yes, there are entrance fees for most of these sites. The fees vary depending on the site and its location. It's best to check with each site's management beforehand.

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