Central Anatolia, Turkey

Last Updated on August 16, 2023

The vast plateau of Central Anatolia (Asia Minor), broken by mountain ranges, is the heartland of modern Turkey (map). Bounded by Ankara, Konya, Karaman, Sivas, Kahramanmaraş, and Amasya, the Central Anatolian plateau (altitude 1000 to 2000 meters, 3300 to 6500 feet) holds the incredible "moonscape" terrain of Cappadocia, as well as cities founded by the Hittites 3000 years ago, and even older settlements dating back an incredible 7500 years.

The Central Anatolia region boasts striking scenery, fine museums, hundreds of Roman archeological sites, and medieval Seljuk Turkish (i.e., pre-Ottoman) mosques and caravanserais. There are many spots to visit in Central Anatolia, rich in history and Turkish tradition.

The Central Anatolia region also has many hotels, resorts, and restaurants to offer a variety of choices for visitors around the world. Let's look at the region's major cities and smaller villages.

Top Destinations

Below you’ll find the best places to visit, grouped by regions.

Including: Kayseri, Niğde, Nevşehir, Sivas, Aksaray

Cappadocia is on everyone's list of must-sees: an incredible volcanic moonscape filled with lavishly decorated cave churches, homes, workshops, and cave hotels. You can even fly above the moonscape in a hot-air balloon and take amazing pictures to remember your trip to Turkey.

The main towns of Cappadocia are Aksaray, Avanos, Göreme, Kayseri, Niğde, Nevşehir, Mustafapaşa, Uçhisar, and Ürgüp (map).

Kayseri is set on the eastern edge of Cappadocia (map), in the shadow of Mount Erciyes (Erciyes Dağı, 3916 meters/ 12,848 feet). This ancient city has outstanding Seljuk Turkish architecture (1100s to 1200s) and interesting bazaars. Niğde is another ancient city with several notable historic buildings near the Cappadocia and the striking Byzantine troglodyte monastery of Eski Gümüşler and on the way to beautiful Aladağ National Park.

Nevşehir, along with Kayseri, is one of the chief cities of Cappadocia, with its major bus station and Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport. In 2014 a gigantic one-of-a-kind underground city was discovered beneath the hilltop fortress, which can be visited publicly. Sivas is a good Seljuk Turkish architecture and nearby the medieval mosque and hospital at Divriği, and a thermal spa where your skin is nibbled by fish! You can also see Çifte Minare Medrese (Seminary of the Twin Minarets, 1271), the Ulu Cami (Great Mosque, 1197), the Bürüciye and Şifaiye Medreses, and the splendid Gök Medrese (Celestial or Sky-Blue Seminary, 1271).

Aksaray and Sultanhanı are the last spots near Cappadocia. Aksaray, a major city and crossroads, lies across the ancient Silk Road with Ankara to the north, Konya to the west, and Cappadocia to the east. In the west of Aksaray, you can find Sultanhanı. Its namesake is the grandest Seljuk Turkish caravansary in Anatolia, a must-see stop as you travel on the ancient Silk Road between Cappadocia and Konya.

Including: Gordion, Safranbolu and Boğazkale

Ankara, the national capital, is a big, busy city. There are many hotels and resorts in Ankara. It has lots of good, inexpensive restaurants as well. When staying in Ankara, visit its ancient hilltop fortress, the famous Museum of Anatolian Civilisations, and the grand Mausoleum of Kemal Atatürk.

Gordion sits near Ankara. It is highly advised to visit this traditional city, and the tomb of the fabled King Midas, ruler of Phrygia, 2700 years ago. Also, according to myth, The impetuous Alexander the Great cut the Gordian Knot and went on to conquer Asia here!

Safranbolu is one of the best-preserved Ottoman towns in Anatolia. It has delightful old-fashioned inns, hotels, historic buildings, and vistas. Half-timbered houses of Safranbolu have especially become a tourist attraction for those who want to experience the traditional beauty of Turkey.

Boğazkale is the 3000-year-old capital of the Hittite Empire; the ruins are mostly mere foundation outlines, but the site is striking, and the religious beliefs of Yazılıkaya connect you directly with the Hittite's ancient ceremonies.

Amasya is one of Turkey's most charming towns, built in a narrow river gorge, with ancient rock-cut cliff tombs, fine mosques, old Ottoman houses, and even mummies! There are lots of traditional structures and remains. It is no wonder why Amasya is one of the most popular destinations for tourists.

Eskişehir is primarily a university town, known as the student capital of Turkey. There are many universities and students living in this lovely city. You can find many museums such as Archeology, Ethnography, Ottoman House, and Lületaşı (Meerschaum) Museum. Eskişehir is also famous for its canal, similar to the Grand Canal of Venice.

On the south of the city is a tomb complex of Seyit Battal Gazi, an Umayyad military commander who led his Arab army against the Byzantines in 717-740 AD.

Including Beyşehir and the remains of the Silk Road.

Capital of the Seljuk Turkish Empire of Rum, Konya has marvelous Seljuk buildings and the tomb of Jelaleddin Rumi, founder of the whirling dervishes. Not far away is the Neolithic settlement of Çatalhöyük.

You can find Beyşehir on the West of Konya. This town on the eastern shore of the large Beyşehir Lake boasts one of the finest and most unusual Seljuk Turkish mosques in Anatolia, the Eşrefoğlu Camii. If you're driving from Cappadocia or Konya to Antalya or Denizli/Pamukkale, Beyşehir is a great place to stop for tea or a lunch of lake fish.

Silk Road is the age-old caravan route between Europe and Asia dotted with Seljuk Turkish caravanserais and timeless cities. You can visit the remains of this magnificent structure between Konya and Cappadocia.

Visit Central Anatolia

The Central Anatolia region in Turkey has many amazing spots to visit. It is a perfect way to learn about Turkey's and Anatolia region's rich history. There are many old remains and structures left from ancient civilizations.

Moreover, Central Anatolia offers many hotels, resorts, and restaurants with amazing food. There is something for everyone who visits Central Anatolia.

Book your trip to Turkey today and experience this beautiful region!

by Tom Brosnahan, updated by Can Turan

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