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Visit the World’s Earliest Temple at Göbeklitepe
Although the ruins themselves are scant, the importance of this site for our understanding of human history cannot be overstated. When excavations began here in the mid-1990s, archaeologists discovered what is believed to be the world’s oldest religious temple site.
The Neolithic pillars, carved with depictions of animals, have been dated to about 10,000 BC, turning archaeology’s understanding of Neolithic culture (beforehand thought to have not included religion) on its head.
Only a tiny portion (roughly five percent) of the site has been excavated, but this hill slope containing the mammoth totem-style pillars, recently protected by a roof covering, is quite striking, and for anyone interested in our early beginnings, this is a must-see.
The remains of this ancient fortress overlooking the city center can be reached by a trail that winds up from Gölbaşı Park. The hill is known by locals as Nimrud Kürsesi (Nimrod’s Pulpit), and whole colonies of hermit ibises nest on the steep rock faces.
A 12-meter manmade ditch separates the castle from the hinterland. The castle’s age is not known, but local lore states that this is where the Prophet Abraham’s funerary pyre was built by King Nimrod.
The actual fortifications on the hilltop are either (according to which history you read) Greek, Byzantine, Crusader, or Ottoman. The external wall still has three gates, and inside, the ruins of 25 fortified towers can be seen.