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Eastern Mediterranean voyages often focus on cruises to Turkey, home to ancient ruins and thoroughly modern resorts. Visitors here can expect some spectacular trips ashore, since this beautiful region around the Aegean provides a wide variety of destinations and experiences to suit a broad range of tastes.
Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey, where Europe meets Asia and eastern and western influences combine. Famously known as Constantinople during the Roman Empire, this bustling city is home to magnificent landmarks and fascinating culture, with plenty of excursions available to give you chance to explore.
The Grand Bazaar is a must-see; the world's largest covered market housing 4,000 stalls, cafes and restaurants. Alternatively head to Topkapi Palace, for a tour of striking architecture and cool, peaceful rooms which were once the seat of power of the Ottoman Empire.
The Straits of Bosphorus are one of the most stunning natural landscapes in Turkey, and a motorboat cruise is the perfect way to see their natural beauty. This is also a great opportunity to see the castles and historic buildings that line the rocky shores, overlooking this narrow passage into the Black Sea.
Kusadasi is another major port, and features on many itineraries heading for Turkey. Its main attraction isn't so much the port itself but the ancient ruins of Ephesus nearby – including the Odeum, the Great Theatre (where St Paul preached) and the remarkable Celsus Library. There's also the House of the Virgin Mary nearby, and the ruined Basilica of St John – originally built over the tomb of St John the Apostle.
One sight worth seeing during your time in Ephesus is Anzac Cove. While there's no port to give access here for excursions, some cruise ships will sail past the cove – allowing you to see the site of the famous Battle of Gallipoli, where more than twenty thousand soldiers lost their lives in the First World War.
Dikili is a peacfeul, inviting fishing village and the gateway to the ruins of Pergamum, an ancient Greek city in nearby Bergama. The city has a 10,000-seat theatre within its own Acropolis, among many other restored sites that create some fantastic ancient sightseeing. Izmir is another popular port of interest for history lovers, since the city is home to the spectacular ruins of the Temple of Artemis, marked by ancient stone pillars that still stand today.
You could also visit Trabzon on the north-east coast, a far cry from Istanbul. Trabzon has a wonderful traditional bazaar to wander, along with the 13th-Century Hagia Sophia Church and its ancient frescoes. Just outside the city is the Sumela Monastery, a spectacular complex built right into the vertical rock face of the mountains – just one of many stand-out sights waiting to be discovered on cruises to Turkey.
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