Cultural and Natural Heritage of Turkey: UNESCO Lists

Turkey is a place where you can see lots of historically significant places and natural beauties. Such that, some of them had significance enough to be put on UNESCO’s famous World Heritage List.

18 places are on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Those heritages are divided into two subcategories, one of them being the cultural heritages in which there are 16 heritages, and the other one being composite heritages, which includes 2 heritages in Turkey.

Historic Areas of Istanbul

This category refers to the 4 areas and the structures within Istanbul’s historical peninsula. The Historical Areas of Istanbul were officially accepted as a heritage in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in the year 1985. The structures in the heritage “Historic Areas of Istanbul” could be listed as follows:

  • Zeyrek Mosque and its surroundings
  • Süleymaniye Mosque and its surroundings
  • Sultanahmet and its surroundings including Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), Sultanahmet Square, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Little Hagia Sophia, and the Hagia Sophia Hurrem Sultan Bathhouse.
  • Istanbul land walls

Goreme National Park and Cappadocia

Perhaps Goreme National Park and Cappadocia most attract people with their naturally formed fairy chimneys. This natural beauty takes place in Nevsehir, which is a city located in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey. The Goreme area is characterized by various churches that are made from humans carving rocks and different underground cities built for safety purposes.

Of course, those are not all about the Goreme National Park and Cappadocia. There are different architectural masterpieces including caravansaries, madrasas, and shrines. Goreme National Park and Cappadocia were officially pronounced as one of the UNESCO’s world heritage in the year 1985.

Divriği Great Mosque and Hospital

Gate of the Great Mosque of Divriği

Divriği Great Mosque and Hospital takes place in the Divriği district of Sivas, which is a city located in the Central Anatolia region. Divriği Great Mosque and Hospital have significance in terms of history and architecture. It was officially pronounced as one of the UNESCO’s world heritage list in the year 1985.

Hattusa Ancient City

Relief from Hattusa Anceint City

Hattusa Ancient City is known for being the capital of Hittites at some point in history, and it is located in a city which is in the Black Sea region of Turkey, Çorum. Various remaining that has a great significance in archeology and history was found in the Hattusa Ancient City, and this makes Hattusa Ancient City one of the most significant ancient cities of Turkey. Hattusa Ancient City became a member of UNESCO’s world heritage list in the year 1986.

Mount Nemrut

Mount Nemrut is another place in Turkey that combines history with nature. Mount Nemrut is in a city named Adıyaman, which takes place in the East Anatolia region. Mount Nemrut is characterized by including different statues that were built many years ago, and the tombs.

It is known that this area, which was built in the 1st century BC, for the sake of gods and goddesses that were being worshipped at that time. The structures in Mount Nemrut are accepted as one of the most gorgeous structures that were built in the Hellenistic period. It has a quite interesting story and becomes a subject of various legends. Mount Nemrut was pronounced as a heritage in UNESCO’s world heritage list in the year 1987.

Xanthos and Letoon

Xanthos and Letoon are referring to the ancient cities in Antalya and Mugla respectively and named the Xanthos Ancient City and Letoon Ancient City. Even though those ancient cities are located in different cities of Turkey, they were accepted as one heritage in the UNESCO’s world heritage list in the year 1988.

Xanthos Ancient City is known for being the capital city of the Lycian Union, and the Letoon Ancient City had significance in terms of politics and religion. Both cities include various legends about them, and Greek mythology plays a big role in those legends.

Hierapolis and Pamukkale

Pamukkale Travertines

Hierapolis is an ancient city that is located in Denizli with Pamukkale, and both Hierapolis and Pamukkale are a part of the UNESCO world heritage list. Pamukkale is famous for its natural beauty of travertines. Hierapolis Ancient City is located in the Pamukkale district of Denizli, and it is known that it was being referred to as the “holy city”. Some researchers suggest that Hierapolis Ancient City was a city of Frigians.

Hierapolis Ancient City includes lots of remaining that has a historical and archeological significance. Hierapolis Ancient City and Pamukkale are on the UNESCO world heritage list since 1988.

City of Safranbolu

The city of Safranbolu is especially famous for its houses and is located in a city named Karabük. Safranbolu houses tell us quite a lot about the times they were built in terms of societal values, architecture, and important events. City of Safranbolu’s place on the UNESCO world heritage list was being discussed in the year 1992, but they decided to postpone it. The city of Safranbolu became a part of the UNESCO world heritage list in the year 1994.

Archelogical Site of Troy

Troy Ancient City is an ancient city located in a city named Canakkale. It has an immaculate history, and it became a subject of various legends. Besides those legends, the story of the Troy Horse is specially referred to as the most beautiful story that one can hear, and it became a subject of some movies and TV shows. Besides its history and legends, Troy Ancient City has an interesting story in terms of how it was discovered as well. Troy Ancient City is a part of the UNESCO world heritage list since 1998.

Selimiye Mosque and Complex

Selimiye Mosque and Mimar Sinan

Selimiye Mosque and Complex are some of the most gorgeous structures that were built in the Ottoman Empire. It is located in a city named Edirne and is a part of the Thrace region of the Marmara region. Selimiye Mosque and Complex were built by the order of Selim II., and the architect of the Selimiye Mosque and Complex was the famous architect of the Ottoman Empire, Mimar Sinan (Mimar means architect in Turkish). Selimiye Mosque and Complex have a great significance in terms of history and architecture. It was accepted as a part of the UNESCO world heritage list in the year 2011.

Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük

The Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük is a Neolithic site that is around 9000 years old and located in a city named Konya. It has a significance in terms of being one of the initial settlement areas in history, and it is known that at one point in history, Çatalhöyük was under the rule of Byzantine. The Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük is especially known for its cultural and artistic values. The excavations made in the Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük enlightens so many things about history. It is accepted as a world heritage by UNESCO in the year 2012.

Bursa and Cumalıkızık

Bursa and Bursa’s Cumalıkızık district has historical significance since they both witnessed the establishment of the Ottoman Empire. Additionally, Cumalıkızık is one of the 5 kızık villages that are still present today. Bursa is one of the most economically developed cities in Turkey, and besides the historical significance, it has lots of natural beauties. Bursa is the second biggest city in the Marmara region after Istanbul in terms of exportation. Bursa and Cumalıkızık are accepted as a heritage in UNESCO’s world heritage list since 2014.

Pergamon

Pergamon is an ancient city that is located in İzmir. İzmir takes place in the Aegean region of Turkey. It is known that Pergamon was the capital city of the Pergamon Kingdom at some point in history. This ancient city is also referred to as Pergamon Multi-layered Cultural Landscape Area since it has different layers in it. Pergamon was pronounced as a world heritage in UNESCO’s world heritage list in the year 2014.

Diyarbakır Castle and Hevsel Gardens

Diyarbakır Castle, also as known as Diyarbakır Walls is the second-longest walls built for safety purposes after the Great Wall of China, and the Hevsel Gardens refer to the large fertile lands located in Diyarbakır. Since those two are located very closely, they were accepted as one heritage by UNESCO. Hevsel Gardens are home to various kinds of animals.

Ephesus

Ephesus is an important ancient city that is located in a city named İzmir. It is known that Ephesus Ancient City was a Greek city when it was first formed, and later, it became a Roman city. Its history goes back to the year 6000 BC. Ephesus Ancient City is especially known for the Artemis Temple, which is considered as a part of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ephesus Ancient City was accepted in UNESCO’s world heritage list in the year 2015. Today, it is one of the most significant tourist attractions in Turkey.

Ani Ancient City

Ani Ancient City, which was the capital city of the Pakraduni Dynasty, is located in a city named Kars. Kars is a city located in the East Anatolia region. Ani Ancient City includes structures that have the features of Islam architecture. It has a great historical background with numerous structures found in the area. It is a part of the UNESCO world heritage list since 2016.

Aphrodisias Ancient City

The monumental gateway or tetrapylon at Aphrodisias in Turkey

Even though there are numerous ancient cities named “Aphrodisias” since they were all dedicated to Greek mythology goddess Aphrodite, this one in the city of Aydın is the most popular one among them. The Aphrodisias Ancient City has a temple that was dedicated to Aphrodite with other structures. The excavations made in the Aphrodisias Ancient City tells us a lot about the history and the life at that time. Aphrodisias Ancient City is a part of UNESCO’s world heritage list since 2017.

Göbeklitepe

Göbeklitepe is not only a significant place for Turkey but the whole world. Göbeklitepe is accepted as the place where the first cult structures were built in the world. It is located in a city named Urfa, which takes place in the South East region of Turkey. The excavations conducted in Göbeklitepe tells us a lot about world history, and it is a part of many popular culture products today. Göbeklitepe is a part of the UNESCO world heritage list since 2018.

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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