Turkey is strewn with more ruins, especially classical ones, than its heritage service can cope with; atmospheric and evocative sites which would be feted in other countries barely merit a mention in the guidebooks. Here’s my selection, mostly in the regions I feature, with more to follow in due course.
Crowds are rare, even unthinkable, at many of these ‘unimproved’ sites – think wild olives, spring flowers and tortoises – which visitors may have to share with a few like-minded ‘ruinthusiasts’ if they do not have them all to themselves; there’s a good chance, moreover, that the local guardian, whose father was the guardian before him, will offer tea in the shade of his picturesque on-site cottage home. Such encounters count for more, I reckon, than advantages created by the installation of electronic turnstiles, modern toilets and café facilities.
From this list of personal favourites I’ve omitted obvious candidates such as Ephesus and Pamukkale/Hierapolis, and also concentrated to a large degree on sites close to featured regions.
Keener visitors should ideally equip themselves with George Bean’s archaeological guides, out of print but so regarded that photocopied pages are actively trafficked by guides and tour leaders; be sure to grab any of these, especially his Aegean Turkey or Lycian Turkey, if you’re lucky enough to happen across them in second-hand bookshops. Francis Russell’s recent A Pocket Grand Tour contains evocative descriptions of many of Turkey’s most atmospheric ruin sites.
Most sites now charge entrance fees varying from a modest £1.50 up to £7.50. Children are normally uncharged.