What Was Turkey in Ancient Times?

Turkey, also known as Anatolia, has a rich history dating back to ancient times. It is a land that has witnessed the rise and fall of many civilizations, each leaving its mark on the region. From the Hittites to the Ottomans, Turkey has been a crossroads between East and West, making it a fascinating destination for history buffs.

The Hittites

One of the first civilizations to emerge in Anatolia was the Hittite Empire. The Hittites were an Indo-European people who established their capital in Hattusa (modern-day Bogazkale) around 1600 BC. They were known for their military prowess and were able to conquer much of present-day Turkey as well as parts of Syria and Mesopotamia.

The Hittites left behind an impressive legacy, including magnificent rock carvings and intricate bronze sculptures. They were also skilled metallurgists who developed advanced techniques for working with iron.

The Greeks

The Greeks arrived in Anatolia around 1000 BC and established several colonies along the coast. These colonies became important centers of trade and culture, with cities like Ephesus and Miletus becoming major hubs for philosophy, science, and literature.

During this time, Turkey was also home to some of the most famous philosophers in history such as Heraclitus and Thales. In addition, many important events from Greek mythology took place in Anatolia, including the birthplace of Zeus’s son Dionysus.

The Romans

In 133 BC, Turkey came under Roman control after King Attalus III bequeathed his kingdom to Rome upon his death. The Romans built roads and aqueducts throughout Anatolia, bringing prosperity to the region. They also constructed impressive buildings such as theaters and amphitheaters that still stand today.

One of the most famous Roman sites in Turkey is the ancient city of Ephesus. This well-preserved city was once one of the largest in the Roman Empire and was home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The Byzantines

After the fall of Rome, Turkey became part of the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines were a Christian empire that built many churches and monasteries throughout Anatolia. One of their most impressive constructions was the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, which served as a church for almost 1,000 years before becoming a mosque.

The Ottomans

The Ottoman Empire emerged in Turkey in the late 13th century and lasted until World War I. The Ottomans were known for their military might and were able to conquer much of Europe, Africa, and Asia. They also left behind an impressive architectural legacy, including mosques and palaces that still stand today.

One of their most famous structures is the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, which served as the Ottoman’s primary residence for centuries. Today it is a museum that showcases Ottoman art and artifacts.


Turkey has been home to many civilizations throughout history, each leaving its mark on this fascinating region. From rock carvings to palaces, Turkey’s rich cultural heritage attracts visitors from all over the world who come to explore its ancient past. Whether it’s exploring ruins or admiring breathtaking architecture, there is no shortage of things to see and do in Turkey for those interested in history.