Turkey: An Historical Pilgrimage

Turkey: An Historical Pilgrimage



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Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all have some important historical roots in Turkey, then known as Anatolia. It is no doubt that well-spread architectural structures all over the territories of this country give homage to these religions. Every pilgrim must go to Turkey to see the greatest marriages of architecture and religion. The Byzantine empire has left its great imprint on the architecture of this country no matter what religion is concerned. It is in Istanbul, formerly known as Constantinople, that the Bishop of Constantinople was first inaugurated as the Ecumenical Patriarch: the leader of the Eastern Orthodox Catholic. 

Early Events and Structures
A lot of significant events that defined Christianity took place in Turkey. Saint Paul, an early leader of this religion and author of Letter to Ephesians, was born Turkey. The locations of the Revelation’s Seven Churches are places in this country: Ephesus or Efes, Syma or Izmir, Pergamum or Bergama, Thyatria or Akhisar, Sardis or Sart, Philadelphia or Alasehir, and Laodica or Denizli. Its first church was established in a cave in Antioch and is now called St. Peter’s Grotto. Saint John, who wrote the book in the New Testament named after him, lived and died in a Turkish town called Ephesus, where Virgin Mary lived the last days of her life. It was in Hierapolis where Saint Philip, one of Jesus’ apostle, resided and was martyred. Several prominent early Christian structures could be found intact and flourishing in Turkey such as the:

  • Alahan Monastery
  • The Church of Virgin Mary, which was the first structure built in honor of her
  • Virgin Mary’s house
  • Virgin Mary’s Basilica
  • St. John’s Basilica
  • Ayasofya Museum, which was previously a mosque and initially a church
  • Chora Church
  • Havariler Museum
  • Alexandria Troas, where Saint Paul met Saint Luke
  • Mor Hananyo Monastery
  • Basilica of the First Female Saint, Aya Tekla
  • Saint Paul’s Well
  • Akdamar Church

Judaism in Anatolia
The Aegean region provides archaeological proofs that Judaism had been existing in Turkey since the 400 BC, and in Sardis, one could find one of the oldest synagogues in the world that was built in 220 BC. In the coasts of the Black Sea, excavations found remains of ancient Jewish settlements. Some of the ancient Jewish structures and places that could still be located in the modern Turkey are:
  • The Gerus Synagogue
  • Harran, where Abraham lived
  • Sardis Synagogue
  • Neve Shalom and Ahrida Synagogues

Islamic Structures
When the Muslims trickled to Turkey in the eleventh century, they started building structures that up to now have symbolized Islamic renaissance. They include mosques, theological schools, shrines, and tombs. Some of the well-known samples of these magnificent Islamic architectural masterpieces are:
  • Seljuk Kumbet and Tombstones
  • Bayzid I Mosque
  • Yivli Minare Mosque
  • Haci Bayram Mosque
  • Muradiye Complex
  • Ulu Camii
  • Ye?il Mosque (Green Mosque)
  • Çifte Minareli Medrese

Getting Around Turkey
Different ways of traveling to and around Turkey could be availed by tourists who would like to see the magnificent religious architectural structures that are scattered all over its land area. You may opt to have escorted coach trips, charter a Gulet that will bring you from one one shore of destination to another, or simply travel without escorts or guides.
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