Ayasofya, Istanbul   Blue Mosque, Istanbul
Most tourists probably visit the Aya Sofya (left) and the Sultanahmet or Blue Mosque (right) in their first two days in Turkey.  I didn't get around to Istanbul until my last week in Turkey, and while I was disappointed overall by Istanbul, these two exquisite structures do not disappoint.  They justly deserve their reputation, along with the Sultaniye mosque which is very similar to the Blue Mosque, among the pantheon of the most divine architectural creations in the world.


Celsus library, Ephesus 

Statue at Ephesus

Roman centurions at Ephesus
<>Arguably the most underwhelming of the "great" sites of Turkey is Ephesus, the Roman ruins near Izmir on the Aegean west coast of Turkey.  If all the photos you see of the site are of the famous Celsus library (top) that's probably because it's the only photogenic object on the site.  Here at least, I'm throwing in a picture of a statue from the facade of the Celsus library (middle) and costumed actors playing Roman centurions in the courtyard outside the Celsus library (bottom) for the groups of schoolkids visiting the site.






Despite hordes of tourists in the base town of Goreme, the weird rock formations and troglodyte cave houses of Cappadocia remain one of the grandest  highlights of the middle east.  There are other similar regions in the world, but none as vast and comprehensive and limitless in its whimsical possibilities as Cappadocia.  You don't have to walk more than 20 minutes out of Goreme to be alone in a constantly changing sea of rock formations.  The phallically named Love Valley shown here is hardly ever visited, but stands only a ten minute walk from town.  Goreme attracts its share of new age backpackers like you see in India, lured by mystical vibes and, probably more to the point, dirt cheap housing.



I just like this picture of an old man standing outside his home in Chavusin, a neighbouring village to Goreme,  

Nemrut Dagi

Nemrut Dagi heads

The heads at the summit of Mt Nemrut in east-central Turkey are probably more impressive in photos than in reality but they'reworth visiting despite the hassle to get there.  The only way to get to Nemrut without paying insane prices to rapacious tour organiser sharks in nearby cities is to walk or hitchhike the last 8 km on foot and that's what I did.  The summit trail is hell-a-windy and the summit cold even in the summer, but the payoff was seeing these heads on the western terrace under the warm sunset light.  In truth, they're not as big as I was hoping, but they are remarkably well preserved.  The eastern terrace also has heads but I didn't stay the night at the summit to see them illuminated by dawn light.



Ishak pasa

Ararat, Dogubeyazit

The frontier town of Dogubeyazit, just 10 km from the Iranian border, was a pleasant surprise.  Cheap, friendly, hassle-free, and easygoing, it is also the home to two of the most beautiful stunningn views in all of Turkey:  over Ishak Pasa palace (top) and of the monstrous Mt Ararat (bottom).  Just behind the mountain, which stands completely on Turkish soil, are the borders to Iran, Armenia, and the Azerbaijani enclave of Naxcivan. 


Akdamar island

Quite a few travellers cite Akdamar island as their favourite place in Turkey and I can see why.  The tiny island is surrounded by the electric turquoise waters of Lake Van, which itself is ringed by snowcapped mountains in all directions.  On the island, the Akdamar church  is considered one of the supreme masterpieces in Armenian church architecture.  And it's a pleasant place to have a picnic, climb around on the mountains with awesome views all around, and relax.