Belief (Faith, Religious) Tourism in Turkey
The tourism activity emanating from
mass visits of sacred sites by the followers of a religion can be
defined as Faith (Belief) Tourism. Efforts were launched to
promote faith tourism and the first such tours began in 1995. A
large number of foreign tour operators, members of the press and
experts met in a variety of faith tours organized between 1995 and
1998. There is a myriad of important Islamic, Christian and Jewish
sites scattered all around Turkey, making Anatolia, Turkey an
attractive destination for faith tourism. Some of these sites that
you can explore by TransAnatolie Tour Belief Tour programs are in
İstanbul. This is one of the
most important cities for both Muslims and Christians. İstanbul is a
world center that can shed light on studies of religious concepts
and the sociology of religion. St. Sophia and Sultan Ahmet Mosque,
two examples of the most prominent architectural masterpieces of
the world, as well as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, one of the
most important and influential bodies of Orthodoxy, are also in
Mevlanas Tomb - KONYA
The tomb of the great Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, the world-famous
humanitarian, philosopher and mystic-poet, is located in Konya.
Eşrefoğlu Mosque in Beyşehir is the largest and the most original
mosque in Anatolia using timber as supports.
Edirne. Selimiye Mosque, built
by the Master Architect Sinan when he was 80 years old, is one of
the masterpieces of Turkish-Ottoman art and the history of
architecture. Edirne is a notable religious center with the Bayezid
II Mosque, the Old Mosque, the three Balconied (Üç Şerefeli) Mosque
and many other religious monuments.
Bitlis-Ahlat Tombs. The
monumental tombs known as kümbet are considered primary examples
of Seljuk architecture which are still intact. Some of the important
ones are the Ulu (Grand), Hüseyin Timur, Buğatay Ata,
Sultan Hasan, Maid Erzan, Emir Bayındır and the Monk tombs.
Kars-Hasan Harakâni Tomb. The
owner of the famous words Feed all who knock on this door and never
ask them their faith, Ebul Hasan Harakâni came to Anatolia with
Çağrı Bey and was martyred near the Kars Citadel. His tomb and the
Evliya Mosque Complex are in Kars. The first mosque the Seljuk Turks
built in Anatolia is in Ani, near Kars.
mosque in Anatolia was built by Seljuks in Ani - KARS
The Green Mosque and Tomb and the Grand Mosque, the most classical
and a monumental example of multi-domed mosques, as well as a number
of other religious works including the Muradiye and Yıldırım Beyazıt
Mosque complexes and the Sultan Emir Mosque are located in this
former Ottoman capital.
İznik. Eight ecumenical councils
of early Christianity were held in todays Turkey. İznik hosted the
First and Seventh Ecumenical Councils in St. Sophia and the Council
Şanlıurfa. Known as the City of
Prophets, Şanlıurfa houses the Fish (Balıklı) Pool, the cave where
the Prophet Abraham was born, the tomb of the Prophet Job and other
religious sites such as the town of Shuayib.
Harran. This small town in a
fertile land is mentioned in the Holy Books and it is one of the
focal points of faith tourism in Turkey. According to the Holy
Books, the Prophet Abraham rested here while he was on his way to
the south and Terah, the father of the Prophet Abraham, died here.
Içel-Tarsus. This is the place
where St. Paul was born. The St. Paul Church and the St. Paul Well
are located in Tarsus, too. In addition, the St. Thecla Church, the
Olba Temple Church, the Church of the Virgin Mary and the Alahan
Monastery are in the province of İçel.
Alahan Monastery - İÇEL
(Akhisar) Church. The remains and bricks in the city show
that there used to be a church in this pretty little town. This is
one of the Seven Churches of Revelation referred to in the Bible.
Its name means holding strongly or constant sacrifice.
The Church of St. Peter (The St. Peter
Monument Museum). This is one of the first churches in
the world. It was here at this church that the followers of Jesus
were called Christians for the first time. Pope Paul VI declared
this church a site of religious pilgrimage in 1963. Every year the
Catholic Church holds a special ceremony here on June 29. In
addition, the St. Simeon Stylites Monastery and the remnants of the
port city of Seleucia from where St. Paul sailed on his evangelising
mission are near this grotto church.
The Philadelphia (Alaşehir) Church.
This is also one of the Seven Churches of Revelation mentioned in
the Bible. Its name means, that remains and walk with me.
Hatay-Antakya. According to
tradition, the St. Matthew Gospel was written in Antakya (ancient
Antioch-on-the-Orontes). It was in Antakya that the followers of
Jesus Christ were called Christians for the first time. It is
believed that St. Paul made three journeys, all starting out from
Antakya, to introduce the Bible to the pagans. Antioch is the second
most important city for Christians for St. John Chysostom was a
native of this city, the Holy Book School was located here and the
Church of St. Peter, one of the first churches of early Christianity
was located on the outskirts of the city.
İzmir-Selçuk: The House of
Virgin Mary. The House of Virgin Mary is situated on Bülbül
(Nightingale) Mountain at an altitude of 420 meters and 9
kilometers away from Selçuk.
The House of Virgin Mary - İZMİR
The church here is believed to have
been built in the fourth century. This is a sacred site both for
Muslims and Christians. The Papacy declared this place a sacred site
for Christians in 1967 and a ceremony is held here on the first
Sunday following August 15 of each year. Furthermore, the St. John
Basilica and three of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Smyrna,
Pergamum and Ephesus) are also located in the vicinity of İzmir.
is probably one of the most important places where St. Paul
travelled during his 30 years of missionary journeys. It was here
that St. Paul established the first churches. Cappadocia is one of
Turkeys prime attractions with natural rock formations, numerous
churches carved into soft rock and splendid frescoes on the walls of
these churches. There are more than 2,200 troglodyte churches in
Göreme Valley, Zelve, Çavuşin, Ortahisar, İbrahimpaşa, Mustafapaşa,
Yeşilöz and Akçasaray.
Church, Göreme - NEVŞEHİR
Orthodox Church. According to the inscription on the
western portal, this church was dedicated to St.
Theodoros Trion. It was built in 1858 during the reign of Sultan
Abdulmejid (1839-1861) by the master architect Kyriaco Papadopoulos
of Haldias with the encouragement of Konya Metropolitan Neofitos and
the financial contri-butions of the people of Malakpoi.
Isparta-Yalvaç. The St. Paul
Church in ancient Pisidian Antioch is one of the first Christian
churches in the world. St. Paul arrived here in 46 A.D. with St.
Barnabas and delivered his first sermon in the syna-gogue of this
ancient city. Later on, the St. PaulChurch was built over the
founda-tions of this synagogue.
Antalya. Antalya is mentioned in
the Bible as another city visited by St. Paul.
Antalya-Demre. St. Nicholas,
Bishop of Myra, is generally known as Santa Claus or Father
Christmas in the Christian world. St. Nicholas lived and died in
Demre where a church was consecrated in his memory in the sixth
century. The International Santa Claus Festival in Demre and Kaş
takes place between December 6 and 8 every year and has become a
Denizli-Laodicea (Goncalı) Church.
The antique city of Laodicea, six kilometres north of Denizli, is
named after Laodike, the wife of the Seleucid King Antiochos II who
ruled the region during the Hellenistic Period. Laodicea was an
important diocese where a sub-Ecumenical Council convened
Divriği Ulu Mosque - SİVAS
in 380 A.D. One of the Seven
Churches of Revelation mentioned in the Bible was located here.
Balıkesir-Ayvalık-Taxiyarhis & St. Nicholas
Churches. The Taxiyarhis Church, decorated with Biblical
scenes from the Old and New Testaments, is visited as a sacred site
by Orthodox Christians.
In addition to the sites already mentioned, the Hacı Bayram Mosque
and Tomb in Ankara; the Veysel Karani and İbrahim Hakkı tombs in
Siirt, the Grand (Ulu) Mosque in Sivas; the Yunus Emre Tomb in
Eskişehir; the Dayr-ul Zaferan Monastery in Mardin; the Twin Minaret
Madrasah in Erzurum; the Sumela Monastery in Trabzon; the Akdamar
Island and Church as well as the Çarpanak Churches in Van; Deyle,
Derbe and the Thousand and One Churches in Karaman; Ani ruins in
Kars and the Great Ağrı Mountain are among the myriad of sites which
make Turkey an excellent destination for faith tourism.