Anatolia, the first place where civilization was born, became a landscape where the events that shaped world history and magnificent cities with magnificent sacred monuments came to life. Anatolia, where two of the 7 Wonders of the World are located, hosted important cities from the Hittites to the Lycians, to the Carians, and later to the Ancient Greek and Roman periods and of course to Turkey of today.
Anatolia where some of the most important turning points in the history of Christianity took place, is also of great importance for those who believe in this religion. The first church, historical consuls, the house where Virgin Mary lived, the place where St. Paul was born and many other sacred attractions are in Anatolia. Today, these routes are of great importance in terms of faith tourism and they are all waiting for you! Contact me to learn more about the sacred routes of Anatolia and to hire a professional, licensed tour guide in Turkey.
The Most Important Sacred Attractions and Routes in Turkey
Antioch, Today’s Antakya
Antakya is known as the place where Christianity as a religion was documented in history for the first time. Today, this historical city, where Muslims, Christians, and Jews live together, was also the intersection point of beliefs in Asia Minor of the past and today.
The Ancient City of Ephesus, which is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List, is also of great importance for Christians. It is believed that Mary, the mother of Jesus, spent the last years of her life here. It is believed that the Gospel of John, one of the four Gospels accepted in the Council of Nicaea, was first revealed here in Ephesus by Saint John the Evangelist.
Iznik (Nicaea), Bursa
The council that steered the history of Christianity was assembled in Iznik, which is located within the borders of Bursa province today. Nicaea council, first convened by Constantine, who moved the capital of the Roman Empire to Istanbul (Constantinople of its time), is extremely important for the history of Christianity. After this council, several sects were declared non-religious.
The 5th Consul meeting was held in Istanbul. Actually what we call the fifth counsel is series of six meetings that took place between the years 1341 and 1351. Istanbul always has been one of the four largest Orthodox centers in the world. In addition, Hagia Sophia, which I believe is the most magnificent work of all ages, is also located in this city.
Harran in Urfa
Urfa was the first place in the world where Christianity was accepted as an official religion. Prophet Abraham lived in Harran before he went to Palestine. That’s why the town is also called “the city of Abraham”. In addition, there is a house belonging to the Prophet Abraham in Harran.
Saint Peter Church, Antakya (Antioch)
The first known church of Christianity is located in today’s Turkish city of Antakya. Christianity, which emerged as a religion in the region in the year 40, became widespread thanks to sermons by Saint Peter. Today Saint Peter Church is considered the oldest temple of Christians and was declared a place of pilgrimage by the Pope.
Tarsus the city of Saint Paul the Apostle
Located in the Tarsus district of Mersin and included in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, “Saint Paul’s Church and Well” is one of the important sacred attractions in the area. Born in Tarsus, Saint Paul is considered the first missionary to introduce Christianity to Roman Empire.
Cappadocia, which means the Land of Beautiful Horses, is one of the most popular regions of Turkey today. Cappadocia is home to awe-inspiring beauties for both history and nature enthusiasts with its underground cities, churches, and valleys. Cappadocia used to be one of the early meeting places where Christians worshiped in secret.
In these churches, which were mostly built underground by carving the soft volcanic rocks of Cappadocia, sermons were given in the first centuries of Christianity. Cappadocia was an ideal place to escape from the religious pressures of Rome and to hide.
Thyateira, the historical name of Akhisar, is one of the important centers for the Christian faith in Anatolia. Thyateira, whose name is mentioned twice in the Bible, is also of great importance as it is home to one of the Seven Churches in Anatolia. For this reason, the region is considered a pilgrimage center for Christians.
Mardin and Assyrians
Assyrians have been living in Mesopotamia for 4000 years. In other words, they are the first inhabitants of the region which is shared by Turkey, Iraq, and Syria today. There are monasteries and churches serving various beliefs in and around Mardin. Among them, Syriac monasteries and churches are in the majority. Mardin was the patriarchate center of the Assyrians until 1932, and for this reason, many monasteries and churches were built in the region, especially in Mardin. Despite the fact that the Patriarchate was taken to Syria, the region has not lost its importance for the Assyrians.
Apollon Smintheion, Canakkale
Apollon Smintheion was a temple where priests of Apollo lived in ancient Anatolia. Excavations continue in and around the temple. It is known that this temple was built as a token of gratitude to commemorate the victory of the Greeks in the Trojan War. This historical settlement is also close to historical settlements such as Troy and Alexandria Troas.
Located within the provincial borders of Denizli, Laodikeia is one of the most magnificent ancient cities which has been excavated in Turkey. Laodicea Ancient City, located very close to Pamukkale or better known as Hierapolis Ancient City, was built in the middle of the 3rd century BC by the Seleucid King Antiochus the Second, and Laodicea was named after wife Laodike. One of the Seven Churches of Christianity is located in Laodicea.
Balikligol in Urfa
Placed in the first position among the places considered sacred in Turkey, Balıklıgöl is one of the most visited places in both Southeastern Anatolia and Turkey. According to the belief, the Prophet Abraham was thrown into the fire by the ruler of the time called Nemrut, and at this time, the fire turned into water and the wood into fish. For this miracle, this place and the fish that live in it are considered sacred.
Smyrna Ancient City
The ancient city of Smyrna, known as the place where Homer, who wrote the Iliad was born, is located in today Izmir city of Turkey which is the third biggest city of Asia Minor today. This place is home to one of the Seven Churches in Revelation. Ancient Smyrna in Izmir town center, martyrdom spot of Saint Polycarp, and the Church of Saint Polycarp remain to be the most important Biblical attractions in Izmır today.
Being the center of the Kingdom of Pergamon, Bergama city today still arouses admiration with its magnificent structures built during the Hellenistic Period which began with Alexander the Great. Pergamon, which is within the borders of Bergama district in the north of İzmir today, is an important historical region for the history of Christianity.
One of the Seven Churches of Apocalypse is located here in Pergamon ancient city. The holy texts in the Bible contain information about the church in Bergama, the Temple of Zeus in the region and the beliefs of the local people. Apart from Bergama, Smyrna, Ephesus, Thyatira (Akhisar), Sardes, Philadelphia (Alaşehir), and Laodikeia from the Seven Churches of Asia Minor are located nearby Pergamon too.
Demre district of Antalya has the distinction of being the birthplace of Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, who has a worldwide reputation. Saint Nicholas, who was admired in the region for his love and care for society in the 4th century, is considered the patron saint of children and sailors in the Christian church of today.
The ancient city of Sardis, located within the borders of the Salihli district of Manisa, is known as the city where the Lydians, who invented money for the first time in history, lived. Sardes is a candidate to be included in the permanent list of UNESCO. Sardis is also home to one of the seven holy churches of Apocalypse.
Hire Professional Tour Guide for a Sacred Route Tour in Turkey
Turkey with its amazing and rich religious background offers a lot to explore. What surprises everyone most is the harmony of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in Turkey. Contact me to learn more about the sacred travel routes and attractions around Turkey. Write to me to hire a professional licensed tour guide in Turkey who is experienced on Biblical and religious routes in Asia Minor. See you soon, Hasan Gülday.