20 Sacred Places in Turkey You Must Visit In 2023
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Sacred Sites in Turkey

House of the Virgin Mary, The Temple of Artemis,  The Oracle at Miletus, Topkapi Palace, Mevlana Museum, Blue Mosque, Basilica of St. John, Beyazit Camii, Aphrodisias, The Asklepion, St. Paul in Ephesus, Church of St. Savior in Chora, Hagia Sophia, Akdamar Church and many more.

Turkey, being one of the oldest countries in the world houses a number of Mosques, Churches, archaeological excavations, and Sacred Sites that date back to the early settlements. With all these, the sacred places in Turkey are an enchanting, awe-inspiring, mesmerizing place for pilgrims and tourists coming from all over the world full of divinity.

Being adorned with a matchless cultural and spiritual legacy, it is one such place that will cast its magical spell upon you and make you fall in love with the sacred institutions and various holy places in Turkey of Christianity Sects, Religious Orders, and National Cultures. If you are planning a visit to this sacred land with your loved ones to explore the cultural heritage and sacred antiquity.

Here are some of the best sacred places in Turkey:

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01

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

The ‘Seraglio’ (quarters of the wives of Ottoman Household) turned museum sheds light upon the many secrets of the Ottoman Empire. Historically rich, the palace houses majestic courtyards with thousands of rooms, crafted with exquisite blue-tinted walls. The beautiful palace though is now a World Heritage Site recognized by UNESCO. It seems like a small kingdom of the Sultans, hidden away from the gaze of the world.

The museum has antiques, clothing, bear inscriptions, weapons, courtyard kitchens, and a library to name a few. It has treasured one of the oldest world maps, which dates back to the 11th century. The star attraction of one of the most loved sacred places in Turkey is the Queen Mother’s apartments.

Location: Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey

Timings: 9:00 AM to 06:00 PM

Entry Fee: 15 USD

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02

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Hagia Sophia is one of the iconic places of tourist interest in Turkey. Being a testimony to the Byzantine style of architecture, it has been one of the important witnesses of a number of historical events. It was initially built as a church, then it was modified to a mosque, later modified into a museum.

It was constructed in the late 6th century and was considered to be the largest monument in those times because of its large domes. It has been a center of religious, political and artistic life for the great Byzantine empire and has also offered many scholarly insights to the world.

Location: Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydani No:1, 34122 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey

Timings: 9:00 AM to 05:00 PM

Entry Fee: 72 Turkish Liras

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03

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

The mosque was built by Sultan Ahmed after he lost the great war with Persia, as a gesture for peace. It is known as a blue mosque for its blue-tinted interior decors. The mosque is one of the finest representations of Ottoman architecture and calligraphy.

The domes are decorated with thousands of hand-painted glazed ceramics in exquisite tulip patterns. The ground floors are lit up by hundreds of stained-glass windows. The mosque is beautified by a large fountain and iron chains that hang right in front of the court entrance.

Location: Sultan Ahmet, Atmeydani Cd. No:7, 34122 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey

Timings: Open 24 hours

Entry Fee: Free

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04

House of the Virgin Mary, Ephesus

The excavated shrine is believed to be the resting place of Mother Mary; after the crucifixion, she took shelter in a small hamlet in the vicinity of Ephesus. The entire story remains shady till date, cause the place was seen in visions by a bedridden German nun, Anne Emmerich. Its scenic beauty is made buoyant by the exhilarating Mt. Koressos.

Thousands flock to this ancient city every year to pray, hike and tie their wishes to the wishing wall. A romantic water fountain located nearby the shrine is believed to be an elixir by pilgrims. The pilgrim considers it to be one of the must-visit sacred places in Turkey because of its connection with Mother Mary. 

Location: Sultaniye, 35920 Selçuk/Izmir, Turkey

Timings: 8.00 – 18.00

Entry Fee: 7 Euro per person

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05

The Temple of Artemis, Ephesus

The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus is one of the ancient places of worship that was constructed around 650 BC being completely financed by the wealthy king of Lydia.  In order to keep the structure intact from the groundbreaking earthquakes, marshy land was chosen, which was also believed to be the sacred place to Cybele, the Anatolian Mother Goddess.

The temple attracts a number of tourists and pilgrims from all over the world to strengthen the cult of Artemis. The temple has been reconstructed in the 4th century and the excavation of the sculptures and artifacts from the original site has been kept in the museum of the reconstructed temple. The exhibition hall is a must-see sacred place in Turkey because of its historical significance.

Location: Atatürk, Park Içi Yolu No:12, 35920 Selçuk/Izmir, Turkey

Timings: Open 24 hours

Entry Fee: Free

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06

The Oracle at Miletus

The Oracle, also known as the "the temple of Greek God Apollo" is considered one of the oldest living sanctuaries in the world and one of the sacred sites in Turkey. It was built by Persians who had profound faith in Greek ideology. The oracle at Miletus has been subjected to a  number of ups and downs in the times gone by. But the ruins are greatly preserved by the Tourism Directorate of Aydin.

The modern-day Miletus remains crowded throughout the year, due to this historically rich architecture. Its conservation of an amphitheater, a spring and a stadium speaks volumes about the Ionian colonization. Apart from being one of the holy places in Turkey it has some really good sea-facing resorts, alongside cheap artistic restaurants that attract fun-loving tourists.

Location: Didim, Aydin Province, Turkey

Timings: 9:00 AM to 07:00 PM

Entry Fee: 2 USD

07

Mevlana Museum, Konya

The greatest Sufi mystic, philosopher, poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi aka Rumi is buried in the Mevlana Museum on 17 December 1273. The Sultan of Seljuk had invited Rumi to his palace, where he offered his rose garden to him, as a token of appreciation for his many lessons, later it became Rumi's burial site.

It is said that the museum has his tomb built on the four legs of an elephant, and is guarded by a silver door, ornamented by walnuts. The museum is the epitome of craftsmanship, the wooden crafts are adorned with jewels, the renditions of Rumi are intricately crafted in metal oil lamps. A great destination for lovers of Sufism and also one of the most treasured sacred sites in Turkey.

Location: Aziziye Mah, Mevlana Cd. No:1, 42030 Karatay/Konya, Turkey

Timings: 9:00 Am to 04:30 PM

Entry Fee: 0.16 USD

08

Basilica of St. John, Ephesus

Built-in the sixth century by Emperor Justinian, the Basilica of St. John is believed to be standing over St. John's burial site. Once offering a majestic look, the basilica is now in its ruins. That said, however, the ruins have been preserved in such a beautiful manner that they offer the visitors a glimpse of the shrine's previous splendor.

The Basilica of St. John is roofed with a total of 6 huge domes and resembles the structure of a cross. The marble walls and brick foundations of the basilica have been reconstructed partially. The columns positioned in the monument’s courtyard showcase Emperor Justinian and his beloved wife’s monograms. This is one of the must-visit sacred places in Turkey.

Location: Atatürk, St. Jean Cd., 35920 Selçuk/Izmir, Turkey

Timing: 8.30 AM to 5 PM

Entry Fee: 4 Euros per head

09

Beyazit Camii, Istanbul

After the Fall of Constantinople, Beyazit Camii stood as one of the hallmarks of the Ottoman Empire and gave an onset for the majestic ruling of the Ottomans. It was constructed by Sultan Beyazid II in 1506, with insights from his nephew who was of Greek origin, which is why the monument is a fusion of Greek and Islamic architecture.

The mosque kitchens have been converted to a library that has thousands of manuscripts dating back from the 16th century. Tourists considered it to be one of the must-visit sacred places in Turkey for its intricate design elements and antique collections.

Location: Beyazit, Yeniçeriler Cd., 34126 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey

Timings: Open 24 hours

Entry Fee: Free

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10

Aphrodisias

Well, Aphrodisias is derived from Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love and fertility. The city got rich back in the 4th and 5th centuries due to the abundance of marble in its low-lying areas.

Like any other Greek settlement, the city houses auditoriums and stadiums. The temple of Aphrodite is the loci of the city, that huge marble pillars inscribed, the city is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and a sensation among Greek scholars.

Location: Geyre, Aydin Province, Turkey

Timings: Open 24 hours

Entry Fee: Free

11

The Asklepion, Pergamum

The Asklepion, named after the Greek demi-god of healing, is considered as one of the ancient hospitals of the Roman Civilization, treatments were given by healing and meditation. The center was founded by Archias, who experimented with water, treated his patients from the perennial spring, that flows till today.

Built-in the 4th century, it had baths, temples, a theatre, and a library. Thousands flock to Asklepion every year, to be healed and restored to normalcy.

Location: Bergama, Izmir Province, Turkey

Timings: 8:30 AM to 7 PM

Entry Fee: 15 Turkish Lira

12

St. Paul, Ephesus

St. Paul came to Ephesus in 52 AD to preach the gospel, but he was threatened by the prominent paganism of the Greeks. He was charged with heresy and later imprisoned in a faraway grotto (now preserved) from the city of Ephesus. He was forcefully made to leave the city.

The church of Ephesus is considered as one of the seven churches of Asia, mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Ephesus being the middle ground of the Greek and Roman civilizations, hosts an equal amount of churches and temples.

Location: Selcuk, Izmir in western Turkey

Entry Fee:
Free

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13

Church of St. Savior in Chora, Istanbul

The church was built on the walls of Constantinople, to guard the city against the enemies. Though, after the fall, the church underwent many renovations. After the accession of the Ottomans, Sultan Bayezid II ordered to turn the church into a mosque, and in 1948 it was converted to a museum in a harmonized manner.

The architecture is regional and authentic to the 4th century, and the interiors are crafted with Byzantine mosaics and frescoes. The building has six domes, and doors are called exonarthex, exonarthex, and naos, which are animated with biblical stories.

Location:
Dervisali, Kariye Camii Sk. No:18, 34087 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey

Timings: 9.00 AM to 05.00 PM

Entry Fee: 8.7 USD

14

Akdamar Church, Van

Located in Akdamar Island, the church is considered to be one of the holy places of worship for pilgrims coming over to Turkey. The Akdamar Church was constructed between 915 and 921 AD by one of the famous architects of that time named Bishop Manuel.

The construction took place under the supervision of Gagik I Ardzruni, who happened to be an Armenian King who had been ruling the Vaspurakan Kingdom. The Akdamar Church has a very well decorated interior and offers every single visitor a vibe of sacredness.

Location: 65700 Gevas/Van, Turkey

Timings: 8 AM to 8 PM

Entry Fee: Free

15

St.Paul's Well, Mersin

St. Paul’s Well is a former Greek Orthodox Church in Tarsun, Mersin. The construction of the church was initially completed in the year 1102 but the present structure is the result of the renovation carried out in the year 1862.  This grand structure stands tall over an area of 460 square meters and is fashioned by sculptures of various angels and landscapes.

This place of worship is considered to be one of the sacred places in Turkey because of its long-established history and connections with the various other happenings of the religion.

Location: Sehitkerim, 3407. Sk. No:9, 33440 Tarsus/Mersin, Turkey

Timings: 8 AM to 7 PM

Entry Fee: Free

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16

St. Nicholas Church, Antalya

One of the finest fusions of Greek and Byzantine architectures of the 4th century, it was built in 520 AD, when St. Nicholas was bishop of the cathedral. The St. Nicholas church is the resting place of his immortal soul and is considered to be a prominent figure for Roman Catholics, the Greeks, and the jolly Santa Claus.

The church was built on the ruins of Myra, with prosaic from the marble abundant in the area. The excavated site is a treat for eyes, with powdered blue portraits of St. Nicholas and arch-shaped domes to compliment the building. The church is on the run to be one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

Location: Kilinçarslan, 07100 Muratpasa/Antalya, Turkey

Entry Fee:
Free

17

Seven Churches of the Revelation

The Seven Churches of the Revelation, also known as the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse are one of the earliest cathedrals in Anatolia, present day-Turkey. The churches are located at Izmir, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Laodicea and Hierapolis.

The seven churches of the Revelation are considered to be one of the holy places in Turkey for tourists and pilgrims as they are mentioned as being some of the major churches in early Christianity times.

Location: Turkey

Entry Fee:
Free

18

Rüstem Pasha Mosque, Istanbul

The mosque was built in 1563, by Miman Sinan of the Ottoman empire. It is famous for its Iznik tiles, and the architecture is designed entirely on terraces. The dome-shaped arches are beautified with red and blue animated versions of flowers and handcrafted with ornaments in geometric shapes.

The mosque's prominence is that it was meant as a gift to one of the Sultan’s son-in-law. It now has a religious school where students are trained to read religious manuscripts.

Location: Rüstem Pasa, Hasircilar Cd. No:62, 34116 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey

Timings: Open 24 hours

Entry Fee: Free

19

Grand Mosque, Bursa

It is one of the oldest sanctuaries of Islamic architecture, built by Bayezid I in 1399. The mosque is technically six hundred years old, and the interiors are greatly inspired by the Seljuk traditions. Even after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the mosque was preserved for generations to come.

The building has two minarets, sky-open windows and a pious fountain, near which prayers are offered. The walls have hundreds of inscriptions designed in the calligraphy of the famous men of that time. Unfortunately, due to seismic waves, the building has worn out, but still a watch out for pilgrims.

Location: Nalbantoglu, Atatürk Cd., 16010 Osmangazi/Bursa, Turkey

Timings: Open 24 hours

Entry Fee: Free

20

Selimiye Mosque, Edirne

The Selimiye Mosque happens to be one of the ottoman imperial mosques that are situated in the city of Edirne. This place of worship was commissioned by Sultan Selim II and was constructed between 1568 and 1575 by an imperial architect named Mimar Sinan.

The mosque displays intricate designs and craftsmanship that are influenced by both Islamic and ottoman styles. The mosque has been subjected to a number of renovations to preserve its legacy for the upcoming generations. Selimiye Mosque has been one of the treasured holy places in Turkey for decades.

Location: Meydan, Mimar Sinan Cd., 22020 Edirne Merkez/Edirne, Turkey

Timing: 5.30 AM to 11.30 PM

Entry Fee: Free

People Also Ask About Turkey

  1. What is Turkey famous for?

    Turkey is famous for not one, but a huge number of unique and amazing things. From its pristine beaches to its authentic Turkish cuisine and from its age-old churches and mosques to its beautiful textiles, the country has managed to gain the attention of the entire world for a spectrum of praise-worthy features.

  2. What are the dos and don'ts in Turkey?

    1. Do remove your shoes and cover your head if you are visiting a mosque. 

    2. Do learn a few polite words and phrases and use them while talking to the Turkish people. 

    3. Don’t pay a visit to any mosque in the country on Fridays, as it is considered as the Muslims’ worship day. 

    4. Don’t wear revealing or indecent clothes when visiting a traditional place. 

    5. You should be very careful while booking taxis for travel. It is at all times advisable to avoid booking taxis which don't have a taxi logo. 

    6. You should try to respect the local traditions and customs of Turkey. You should not leave food on your plate and should on no occasion forget table etiquette. 

    7. Don’t disrespect the customs of Ramadan as Turkey is a Muslim dominated country.

  3. What should I wear in Turkey?

    You can wear anything that suits your personality in Turkey as there are no such restrictions. However, you should keep in mind that you should not disrespect the traditions and customs. If you are visiting any religious or traditional place in the country, you should be dressed in decent and conservative clothing.

    You can wear modern clothing when visiting cafes, restaurants, or non-religious tourist destinations. That said, wearing revealing dresses in the country is not advisable.

  4. What is the best time to go to Turkey?

    The best time to go to Turkey is in the pleasant and calm months of April, May, September, and October. Summers from the month of June until the month of August can be too hot. This period makes for the best time to lounge by the pristine sea. However, sightseeing and outdoor activities can be a bit uncomfortable during this time.

    Winters from the month of November until the month of March can be quite chilly with the temperature dropping below the freezing point in the country's interior regions like Cappadocia.
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