Turkey is a country with a diverse historical past, stretching back 4000 years and has played roles in major historical events including the founding of the Great Hun Empire, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, WW1 and many more until they became the Republic of Turkey in 1923. So with all these huge historical events under their belt, if you’ve just booked some last minute deals to Turkey for you and your favourite history buff then let us suggest some great historical landmarks you should definitely visit on your next trip.
Nestled in the Aegean Coast, Bodrum was originally called Halicarnassus of Caria in ancient times and was home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, The Mausoleum of Mausolus. Famed for its architectural beauty the Mausoleum was unfortunately destroyed by an earthquake in the 13th century and if you visit the Castle of St Peter you can see where parts of the tomb were reused to strengthen the castle walls when it was but by the knights of St.John in the 15th century.
The castle itself is situated by Bodrum’s harbour and if you climb to the top you are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views of the city and surrounding waters. The castle also offers excellent value as it also contains the Museum of Underwater Archeology which is easily one of the best museums in the Mediterranean, the castle itself was used to store items found on underwater expeditions and as such, now the museum is dotted around the castle. Displaying fascinating archaeological finds it should be added to the top of any sightseers list.
The Ancient Amphitheatre is another impressive sight in Bodrum, completed by the Romans and with the capacity to seat 13,000 the Amphitheatre is still used for events and festivals today, like the Turkbuku Culture and Art Festival held every September.
Looking for something a bit different to do while on holiday in Turkey? Then why not take a gulet (a traditional Turkish boat) from Marmaris to Rhodes to experience some Greek culture first hand. A mere 50 minute boat ride away and history fans will love wandering around the Old Town which is home to such wonderful sights as, the Palace of the Knights, Museum of Decorative Arts, the Archaeological Museum, and the Church of our Lady of the Castle. If you plan on visiting all of these sights you can buy a single ticket to cover admission for all of them.
For those of you that thought there was nothing more to Turkey than beaches and nightlife then you should definitely have a better idea of what to do on your last minute holidays now, this gem of the Aegean has a fascinating past, just waiting for you to explore it.
Image by Harvey Barrison used under the Creative Commons License.
Krakow is an amazingly beautiful, poignant city and as Poland's second largest city most foreign visitors will pass through here. This is how to make the most of a brief trip! Presenting the HoliDaze top five most entertaining attractions in Krakow: (And be sure to check out my other Krakow "Top 5" Lists, restaurants and excursions)
I start with a bit of a cheat, covering 4 items in one, but that's because they're all in one spot. They are the main market square (Rynek) and surrounds - the very heart of Krakow. Catch the Rynek as often as you can as events are always taking place there. Stroll down Grodska Street and check out the objets d'art. Surprisingly tasteful trinkets are for sale inside the cloth hall (Sukiennice), but also along its sides. Visit Mariacki at a time when they display the stunning carved wooden altar, and for sport, try to take pictures of it without paying an earnest usher a few zloty for the privilege (having already paid to get in).
Visit the royal castle from the days when Krakow was Poland's capital. Tour the royal apartments, keeping an eye on the spectacular ceilings. Don't miss the Cathedral crypt where the Polish Kings are buried. Take the steps (and kids) down from the castle mount, through caves, to a metal dragon that breathes fire every few seconds.
Tour the atmospheric old Jewish Quarter, visiting some of the half dozen or so synagogues. Remuh is the most famous, with a large cemetery, and a wall made up of gravestones ransacked by the Nazis. Tempel synagogue was recently renovated and is very beautiful. Lunch on chicken soup and chopped liver in one of the many Jewish-themed restaurants, and dine whilst listening to Jewish Klezmer music, which can be at once lively and poignant.
Wander this stunning Krakow University college, taking in where Copernicus studied, and some of the earliest astronomical instruments. If you're lucky you'll catch the cute figurines in the quad that chime the hour.
It's been a while since I visited this museum, but I'll never forget the sweeping panoramas by Matejko, which help define Poland. In the end it's personal choice, but I'd recommend this museum, on the first floor of the cloth hall, in preference to the new attraction under it which uncovers the city's archaeology, but I thought left a little to the imagination.
WILDCARD: Plaszow Concentration Camp Wander out of Kazimierz to what remains of the concentration camp into which the Jews of Krakow were crammed during World War II. You can still see a small section of the ghetto wall, the house from where camp commander Amon Goethe shot at Jews, and one remaining gravestone of an immortalised Chaim Abrahamer.
As I walked up to the entrance of Antimachia Castle, I heard a voice call out:
"Sprechen Sie Deutsch?"
The little man was a character straight from the pages of history. Part court jester, part musician, all personality. He was dressed in a native, medieval costume to match his surroundings, this guy was the official greeting party for the Fourteenth century Antimachia Castle.
"English? I speak all language! Tell me, where you are from?"
I laughed at his persistence as I walked up the stairs to enter the Castle.
"American! Ah, U-S-A. Not very many Am-reekans visit Kos. Welcome!" He extended one leg in front of him and bowed from the waist with a flourish of his outstretched hand, then up he went, spry as a mouse and did a little jig, picked up a weird little triangle-shaped guitar and strummed a little tune.
The man must have been pushing 65.
"Thank you." I smiled, snapped a photo of him and dropped a few Euro into the tip basket on the ground next to the main entrance of the Castle before continuing inside.
As far as medieval castles go, Antimachia was pretty darned cool. It was in fairly good shape, having been excavated and somewhat restored. The size of the castle is deceptive. It's huge, but it doesn't look quite so large from the outside:
I blame the optical illusion on the goats. You see, the only thing around the castle for miles and miles is goat pastureland. If there were something (another building) standing nearby, one might actually get a better idea at the scale of the place.
Inside of the castle you'll find quite a variety of things to see: a jailhouse, some very cool ruins, a chapel (that is actually still in use to this day!) And one of the most striking viewpoints of the entire island.
Great castle. But all in all, it may have been the little man who was the highlight of my day.
-You'll need a vehicle to get to the Castle from anywhere on the island.
-Cost: Free (but feel free to tip the awesome old man)
-Take: Sunscreen. Water. A Hat. (Seriously. Brutal sun.)
-Don't: Hit the freerange goats in the road on the way to the Castle.