Silk Road Compass


Turkey *What to see*
Where to stay
How to get there

Map of Turkey
As the gateway to both the East and the West, depending in which direction one is travelling, Turkey has been a centre for cultural and commercial exchanges through the ages and has seen many great civilisations rise and fall.

In ancient times, a regularly maintained network of roads and highways in Anatolia assured swift and safe travel - whether it was a caravan loaded with precious goods or a military expedition bent on conquest or punishment.

By the 13th century, the ruling Seljuks realised the value of The Silk Road trade to the economy. They encouraged it by cutting customs duties and establishing an insurance scheme to safeguard commerce.

It was also during Seljuk rule that a chain of caravanserais were built across Turkey at a distance of a day's trek, providing accommodation and safety for travelling merchants. These days, some 200 caravanserais from those times survive in Anatolia, some of which have been restored for use by modern-day Silk Road travellers.

  • Nevsehir is an old Silk Road junction and the gateway to Cappadocia, where volcanic activity coupled with erosion have created a spectacular and multicoloured landscape of rock cones, capped pinnacles and fretted ravines. Caravanserais, mosques and Byzantine monasteries add historic interest.

  • Konya, one of Turkey's continuously inhabited cities, was another key Silk Road junction and became the Seljuk capital, as well as an important cultural and trading centre. It has a number of caravanserais built by both the Seljuks and the Ottomans, with two of the latter designed by the famous architect Sinan.

  • The Port City of Antalya on the Mediterranean was once a terminus for Silk Road goods being shipped by sea to destinations further west. Today, it is a popular holiday resort on what is called 'The Turkish Riviera' with activities like windsurfing, waterskiing and sailing.

  • Denizli was a strategic city in western Turkey. The Silk Road passed through here to the port of Izmir from Konya and Anatalya. Nearby is Ephesus, with extensive classical ruins including a theatre, baths, agora and temple. There are also a handful of fascinating restored caravanerais nearby.

  • Istanbul, one of the most exciting and colourful cities in the world, was the capital of the Byzantines and the Ottoman empire. Full of rich museums and monuments, Istanbul's role as a bridge between East and West is perhaps best appreciated in its marvellous covered bazaar.

  • Trabzon, a Black Sea port and ancient trading centre.

  • Erzurum, in eastern Turkey, is known for its 13th-century Cifte Minare Madrescit.

  • Kayseri, the capital of Cappadocia, is filled with Seljuk, Byzantine and Ottoman monuments.

  • Hatay, ancient Antioch and a former centre of Christianity.

  • Bursa is a traditional silk industry site.

Luxury Travel

The Silk Road: Luxury travel through an ancient land

Information courtesy of the World Tourism Organisation