If one were to claim that the most scenic vistas in Anatolia can be found on the coasts of the Aegean, he could not be accused of exaggerating. In the words of Heredotus, the Aegean coasts “have the most beautiful sky and the best climate in the world.” The bays and peninsulas, coves and golden beaches stretch the length of these beautiful shores. In this region where the countless events of mythology took place, you will encounter the theaters, temples and agoras of ancient cities at almost every turn. The city of Troy immortalized by Homer and Pergamum, the art and cultural center and capital city of one of the most powerful kingdoms of the day, are both located on Aegean soil.
The provinces located in the Aegean region are Afyon, Aydin, Denizli, Izmir, Kütahya, Manisa, Mugla and Usak.
Situated in Edremit Bay, at the meeting point of beautiful sea, the health-giving springs of Akçay and a pine forest, the scenic Ayvalik has been called the “Olive-grove Riviera.” As you leave the shores of the bay and head south past a countless number of splendid holiday resort areas, you come to Foça, famous for the heroic Turkish sailors based here. If you want to see Sardis, the capital of the wealthy Lydian king, Croesus, you will have to detour inland a bit.
Located on the bay of the same name, Izmir is a modern city brimming with life. It is also a bustling commercial center and shopping in its busy markets is sure to be a pleasurable experience. The peninsula of Çesme with its brilliant waters, superb beaches and thermal springs lies to the west of Izmir.
Among the most famous cities of the ancient world, Ephesus was one of the biggest cities of the Roman era. A treasury of all the riches of Ionian culture, Ephesus had a reputation for philosophy and critical thinking. The Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, as well as countless statues, theaters, libraries, markets and smaller temples were all architectural symbols of the city’s fame. Further to the south you will see the ancient city of Priene, built according to a geometric plan designed by the great architect of Milet, Hippodamos. Milet was a great center of commerce and thought in the ancient world and important developments, scientific and otherwise, took place here. The nearby Didim, though not one of the ancient cities, is still famous for its magnificent temple dedicated to Apollo.
On the Izmir-Antalya road, Aphrodisias (Geyre) was an important cultural and art center famous for its training in sculpture. On the same road is found the world-famous Pamukkale. Passing this way without stopping and taking a look is unthinkable. The plentiful calcium-rich thermal waters flowing out of the mountain have, over time, created an extraordinary masterpiece. Here one may take a bath in the health-giving waters while gazing at this natural phenomenon, which is unparalleled in world geography. The ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis lie behind this calcium terraced mountain.
When it comes to holiday resorts the first places that come to mind in the southern part of the Aegean region are Bodrum, Marmaris, Datça, Köycegiz and Fethiye.
Bodrum (ancient Halikarnas) is the birthplace of the great historian Heredotus. The mausoleum of King Mausolos was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Marmaris, with its modern marina surrounded by its lush mountains and hills, is an alluring vacation getaway with clean crystal clear waters. Nearby is Datça adorned with flowers and a little further on Köycegiz with its pristine highlands, then it is the Lycian Graves, the Dead Sea (Ölü Deniz) and Fethiye. Mamaris is an absolute paradise of endless sand and eternal blue sea.