The story of Anzac Cove and the Gallipoli Peninsula invasion in World War 1 was more or less wiped from British history books; thanks to the major mistake by Winston Churchill, future prime minster of the United Kingdom. The young commander made a strategic error by landing his troops on the wrong beach.

Failings of other Allied leaders lead to thousands of deaths for both Allied and Ottoman soldiers. The fact is that had these mistakes not been made, the battle and ultimately the future of Turkey could have been far different from what we know now.

Australians and New Zealanders are well aware of the historical event and Anzac Cove is one of the top destinations in Turkey for their nationalities who wish to honour their forefathers. The battle also prompted the the founder of the modern day Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to make one of the most famous speeches of Turkish history.

He wrote…

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives

You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country, therefore rest in peace

There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours

You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace

After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.

Although it is a popular site to visit all year round, annually on the 25th of April, Turks, Australians and New Zealanders gather to honour previous generations and entrance tickets to the event are hard to come by.

To talk about famous historical sites in Turkey without referencing the ancient ruins of Ephesuswould be a travel bloggers’s downfall. The ancient city boasts of Greek and Roman architecture that is renowned throughout the world.

The theatre seats 25,000 people and the Celsus library was the third largest of the ancient world holding 12,000 scrolls. The latest attraction to be unveiled was the old frescoes from the Roman terraced houses. Ephesus is also notably one of the seven churches of Revelation mentioned in the Bible. This is a place that I could return to time and time again.

Note to Readers: Listing all historical places in Turkey, that we think are worth a visit, would involve publishing a hardback book of thousands of pages. There are many others that equally deserve admiration including…

  • The 4th century Sumela monastery in the Black sea region
  • The Pool of Abraham in the Southeast
  • The Lycian rock tombs of Dalyan

Question for Readers: Which historical places of Turkey have you seen?


Find out about our expert-led Istanbul tour. See our full schedule of escorted tours in Turkey.

Massive and magnificent, the Blue Mosque dominates Istanbul’s skyline. Six minarets, shining silver in the sun, pierce the air like expectant rockets. Built four hundred years ago, 1603-17, by Sultan Ahmet I, it was designed to rival the great church of Haghia Sophia, just a stone’s throw to the north.

Not content with challenging one of Christendom’s most sacred shrines, the Blue Mosque even vied for supremacy with Islam’s holiest mosque at Mecca, the only one at the time to have six minarets. To quash the scandal a seventh minaret was added in Mecca.

Stroll into the vast courtyard and you are engulfed by arches, domes, and semi-domes on every horizon. Walk into the hushed inner sanctum, and you’ll see that these architectural cascades weren’t just built to impress. They have the practical purpose of creating a vast interior with giant columns, stained glass windows, and thousands of tiles whose blue hue gives the mosque its moniker.

Come and you’ll marvel at this Ottoman masterpiece, but remember this is no ruinous relic of the past. Listen to the call to prayer, watch the pilgrims wash themselves, and you’ll see the Blue Mosque is a living, breathing building, still filled by the faithful.

Blue Mosque Highlights

Count the tiles. There are tens of thousands of them; the finest money could buy from the celebrated kilns of Iznik. Lilies, tulips, trees, and abstract patterns swirl in bright blues and greens.

Go at night. During the summer months there is a free ‘son et lumiere’, where the story of the mosque’s construction is told in different languages on different evenings. A multicoloured marvel under a starry sky.

Walk from the west. To best appreciate the building, approach from the Hippodrome side, slowly. Walk through the first portal and into the courtyard. The mosque’s epic roof comes into sight, and your perspective of the domes cascading down changes with every step.

Raise your eyes to heaven. Marvel at the six slender and elegant minarets soaring into the blue sky.

Istanbul Travel Info

When to go: Spring and Autumn are the best times to travel in Turkey. Mid April to early June, and September to October are the best times to avoid the intense summer heat and crowds.

How long: Take your time. The Blue Mosque’s courtyard is a glorious place to sit and soak up the atmosphere. Walk around the outside to get a measure of the building, then investigate the interior. It’s worth going back when it’s busy so you can see the mosque at work, with hundreds or thousands of people carrying out their ritual ablutions. A night time visit offers a wonderfully different perspective.

Planning & Inside Information: The Blue mosque is closed to non-worshippers for about half an hour for the five daily prayers. Lunchtime prayers on Friday, the Muslim holy day, are busiest of all, and the mosque can be closed for an hour or more. Dress modestly, although shawls can be provided by the mosque. The building is very cold in winter, so wrap up warm and wear extra socks since you need to remove shoes to go in.