In terms of scenic beauty rich in flora and fauna, or areas of great historical importance, Turkey’s 33 official national parks are of great interest to visitors. In addition there are 16 areas which have been recognised as natural parks or nature reserves, which are valued for their aesthetic, botanical and scientific value and their cultural and natural qualities preserved. These natural areas can provide a welcome break from the busy atmosphere of Turkey’s cities and resorts.
Adıyaman – Nemrut Mountain National Park
Most famous site of all, and one of the best-known images of Turkey, are the huge sculptures of gods on the mountain. In addition, it is also the site of tumulus of Antioch, Arsameia (Eskikale), Yenikale (New Castle), Karakus Tepe (Peak), and Cendere Bridge. In the ancient city of Commagene, King Mithridates I established an independent kingdom, which gained importance during the reign of King Antioch (62 – 32 BC), the son of Mithridates. In 72 AD, the Commageneians lost the war against the Roman Empire, after which they also lost their independence.
Afyon – Akdağ National Park
Akdag Park covers an area of 14,916 hectares, and lies between the borders of the Sandikli district of Afyon Province, and Civril district of Denizli Province, in Central Anatolia. Akdag is best known for its abundance of wildlife, canyons, valleys and landscape, as well as having great opportunities for recreation, and was declared a Natural Park in June 2000. There are plans to develop its facilities, and this will be balanced with the need to protect and preserve the rich diversity of plant life.
Afyon – Başkomutan Historical National Park
The Baskomutan (Chief Commander) Historical National Park is near the Afyon, Kutahya and Usak provinces of Western Anatolia. It can be reached via the Ankara – Izmir highway, Antalya – Afyon highway and Istanbul – Bursa – Eskisehir highway .This park was established as a monument on behalf of war veterans who lost their lives in the War of Independence. The Turkish Liberation Attack, which began on 26 August 1922 and lasted three days, chased enemy troops and fought bloody battles in Kocatepe, before reaching Afyon. It was considered a great victory, under the command of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, which surprised the entire world.
Ankara – Soguksu National Park
The Soguksu National Park is in Kizilcahamam, in the province of Ankara. The park can be accessed via the Ankara – Istanbul highway. It is 78km from Ankara, and 2km from Kizilcahamam, a district famous for its thermal springs.
The area, which lies between the dense forest areas of northern Anatolia and the Central Anatolian steppes, has a geomorphologic structure consisting of planes in between small valleys and streams, which opens to two main valleys. The main elements of the geological structure are basalt and tuff. The forest ecosystem contains black pines, Scotch pines, oaks and poplars, which retain their natural appearance, and is full of sub-flora species. Wild boars, bears, wolves, foxes, deer, martins and vultures are the main species of animals and birds inhabiting the area.
Outside the national park, there are partridge and pheasant production farms managed by the park directorate. In the production stations there are different partridge species, falcon, pheasant, and quail.
Antalya – Altinbesik Cave National Park
Altinbesik Cave is on the western side of the steep Manavgat Hill, 7km from Ibradi (Aydinkent) district of Antalya, and 5 km southeast of Urunlu village. The National Park is accessible via the Antalya – Ibradi – Urunlu road, then a one-hour walk from Urunlu to the cave.
Altinbesik Cave is a horizontal and partly active cave system, and its name comes from the Altinbesik Hill, on the upper side of the cave. This region of the Taurus Mountains has a very complex geological and geomorphologic structure with geological overlaps, large twists and deep valleys.
The cave was carved into old limestone in the upper Creosote.
Antalya – Bey Mountains Shore National Park
The park is in the west of Antalya, and 30km northeast of Finike. The park crosses the Antalya – Kemer – Kumluca state highway. The road is part of the Mersin – Antalya – Mugla sea road.
The area is in western Taurus Mountains, with a geological structure predominantly made up of limestone and serpentine rocks, and ecological characteristics of the Mediterranean.
The plant cover begins with peanut pines at the shore, moving on to cluster pines and black pines at higher altitudes, then cedars at 1000m. The park has a vast array of plants, with around 1000 species. Also living there are bears, wild goats, wild boars, foxes, jackals and wolves, as well as fish and birds.
In the mountains 13 km west of Olimpos, the natural gas emitting from the cracks of limestone and serpentine has been burning for thousands of years. This flame is the subject of the Bellerophon Myths, and known as the Chimaera Burning Stone.
Antalya – Güllük Mountain (Termessos) National Park
The park is in 34km northwest of Antalya, in the Taurus mountains in the Korkuteli district.It can be reached via the Antalya – Korkuteli highway.
Termessos is one of the most spectacular ruined cities in Turkey, mainly because of its stunning location. It is situated on the slopes of Gulluk mountain to the north of Antalya. Its history is not clearly known, but is known to have started with Alexander the Great’s arrival in 333 BC, who was then fought off.
The city is split into three areas; downtown, city centre and the cemetery. Its best years were during the Roman Empire, and its best remains are the city walls, King’s road, Harian’s Gate, gymnasium, theatre, Odeon, decorated walls and cisterns.
Antalya – Köprülü Canyon National Park
The park is in the mountains 49km northeast of Antalya. Koprulu Kanyon National Park is in the Manavgat district of the Antalya province. The road along the coast from Antalya to Manavgat then passes through Tasagil and Beskonak.
The Kopru River is ideal for rafting and camping, with trees along one side of the bank. It forms a valley between the villages of Bolasan and Beskonak, the walls of which are as high as 100m, and at 14km is the longest canyon in Turkey. Pine, cypress and cedar trees form the ecosystem of the area, and the Mediterranean cypress forest, at 400 hectares wide, is the most significant flora characteristic in the park. Hunting in the area has meant that the number of species of animals has decreased, and now the most significant wildlife includes deer, mountain goats, bears, foxes, wolves, rabbits and badgers. There are plenty of trout in various branches of the River Kopru.
Antalya – Kurşunlu Waterfall
Kursunlu Waterfall is in the Central District of Antalya, in the Mediterranean region. The park is 20km northeast of Antalya, and can be reached via the Antalya – Aksu Highway, then going north at Sogucaksu Bridge along the 8km long road.
The dense of forest area was made into a Natural Park in 1991, and the rich plant life combined with interesting water and rock formations at Kursunlu Waterfall has created an unique natural landscape.
The cluster pine is the dominant tree species in the area, with small groups of eastern plane, laurel, carob, wild olive, mastic, willow, fig, myrtle, oleander, blackberry, wild rose, tamarisk, spruce, kermes oak, thyme, wild mint, beech tree, bracken and ivy. On the water, there are clusters of water mint, bamboo, water chandelier, and green water lily.
Animals like wild boar, fox, rabbit, squirrel, bat, hoopoe, woodpecker, stock dove, carp, water tortoise, snake and lizard are live in the Natural Park..
Artvin – Karagöl National Park
The park is situated within the borders of Savsat and Artvin provinces, and is spread over the plateaus of Karagol and Sahara.By road, the old Georgian town of Savsat is 45km south of Karagol, and 17km from Sahara.
The area around Karagol is Paleocene or neocene and is separated by valleys, with cracks causing landslides, and dense forests with spruce trees and pines. The area at the northeast of the lake, around Bagat, is good for grass-skiing.
The Sahara Plateau has a geological structure formed by the basalt cover of the region. The ground in this area breaks easily, which causes the slope to increase. The forests here have spruce and fir trees, and Scotch pines in the lower regions.
The area around the Kocabey Plateau has plant species from the Alpine zone. Around the River Resat, at an altitude of 1800m, there is a Pancar (beetroot) festival every year during which many visitors come to participate, which in turn gives a significant economic boost to the area.
Artvin – Hatila Valley National Park
Hatila Valley is a branch of the River Coruh, in the province of Artvin.
Transportation: Transport to the park is via a 10km road from the centre of Artvin.
The valley is v-shaped, narrow based, with inclination cracks which cause the waterfalls. There are parts of the valley where the slopes are almost vertical. The vegetation is rich and dense in the middle and upper regions, with over 500 species of plants, reflecting the Mediterranean characteristics. The wide variety of fauna in the Halita valley includes bears, pigs, foxes, badgers, wild goats, sparrow hawks, eagles, jackals, vipers and trout. It has geographical characteristics quite unique to Turkey, caused by its unusual geological and geomorphologic structure that has helped to create the beautiful landscape.
Aydin – Büyük Menderes National Park
This park in the region of Kusadasi and Soke, in the province of Aydin. The park can be reached via the Kusadasi – Soke highway, and lies roughly in the middle of the two towns.
The northern side of the park has plants rarely seen in the Mediterranean region. There are many bay and chestnut trees, and it is the only area where the Finike juniper and pirnal oaks are found together. Mediterranean seals and sea turtles are breeding on the shores of the lake,.
Guzelcamli village, at the northeast edge of the national park and at the foot of Dilek mountain, was used as the assembly place for the political and scientific centre of Ionia in the 9th and 8th centuries BC
Aydın – Bafa Lake
Bafa Lake is in the Soke District of Aydin province, in the Aegean Region. Bafa Lake is at the southeast of the Buyuk Menderes Delta, and 25 km from Soke from where it is easily accessible.
The lake, once part of the Aegean Sea, became a lake as result of geomorphologic development of Buyuk Menderes Delta and is in an area of relatively unspoilt beauty. Its main sources are from Buyuk Menderes, and the underground rivers flowing from the surrounding mountains.Plant life consists of tamarisks, pine trees, and olive groves. The lake protects the ecosystem of the delta, and therefore provides a winter habitat for many species of birds which would otherwise be in danger of extinction: Around 300,000 birds nest here, including pelican, dwarf cormorant and sea eagle and there are 700 kinds of plankton in the lake and a variety of water plants, which encourages many species of fish.
Aydin – Kusadasi National Park, Guzelcamli
Dilek Peninsula National Park, known locally as Milli Park, is located Located 23km south of Kusadasi, in a town called Guzelcamli.
The National Park covers an area of 28.000 Hectares is 8km from Davutlar and starts at Guzelcamli and lays on Dilek Peninsula. It has a width of 6km and is 20km in length.
Whether you like hiking in the mountain trails or lying on a beach relaxing, the national park is a little piece of paradise.
Due to its clean environment, breathtaking views and clean beaches, the national park is the perfect place to have a picnic. There are facilities on offer such as benches, picnic tables, toilet and shower facilities. If you don’t fancy a picnic there are also cafes available.
There are many beaches to choose from, the Kalamaki beaches count of several bays the most important ones being – Icmeler, Kavakli and Karapinar.
If you’re not one to lie on the beach with a good book, there is always the canyon walk. A long trek around the beautiful mountains of the national park, perfect if you want to get out of the busy area and be at one with nature.
There are lots of beautiful types of flowers, species of birds and wild animals around. The most common being the wild pig, so do not be bewildered when you see a wild pig family wandering around the National Park.
Balikesir – Kaz Mountain National Park
The park is in the district of Edremit, in Balikesir province. The park can be reached via the 230 highway from Balikesir (92km), and the 24 highway from Bursa.
Kaz Mountain, originally called Ida in ancient times, separates the Aegean and Marmara regions and is the highest in the Biga peninsula at 1774m. Places to visit include the valleys with their rich variety of flora and fauna; the mythological Ida Mountain which was said to be the venue of the first beauty contest; and the area of Sarikiz, in which the Sarikiz myth took place.
Balikesir – Bird Paradise National Park
Kuscenneti (Bird Paradise) is 20km southwest of Bandirma, and around 50km north of Balikesir, adjacent to Kus lake. The park can be reached via the Balikesir – Bandirma highway.
At the end of the winter the level water in Kus Lake rises, which cover the small willow grove and reed beds at the northwest of the lake. By spring, migrating birds fly from the southern regions to the national park and nest, so their young are hatching and growing in the area. At the end of summer, they return to the warmer south. This tiny area (64 hectares) is a popular migrating spot for birds from Europe and Asia, who fly here for the nourishment of the lake water, willow tree groves and reeds, making it a world-famous bird-watching location. There are 239 different species inhabiting the area during these months, with a total of three million birds.
Balıkesir – Ayvalık Islands
The Ayvalik Islands are just off the coast of Ayvalik, 100km west of Balikesir and 50km northwest of Bergama. The islands are accessible by road and boat. The largest, Alibey Adasi, is accessible by two causeways which link it to the mainland and to the tiny Lale Adasi, and there are public buses which take both these routes. In the summer, there are boats leaving from the centre of Ayvalik.
Alibey Adasi is the best known for its ruins of Greek churches and old stone houses, inhabited by Greeks before 1922, and has a pleasant village atmosphere when walking around the quiet backstreets. Halfway up the hill from the harbour is the Church of the Taksiarhis, now abandoned. The structure of the islands means there is little plant life.
Bolu – Yedigöller National Park
The Yedigoller (Seven Lakes) National Park is in the north of the Bolu province, and south of Zonguldak in the western Black Sea region.
The park can be reached via the Yenicaga road, 152km off the Ankara – Istanbul highway. The Bolu – Yedigoller route is closed during winter, which means transport is only available via the Yenicaga – Mengen – Yazicik road.
The park is the best known for the lakes formed by landslides, the rich plant life which gives dense coverage to the area, and the abundance of trout living in the lake. The structure of the land, which has tendencies to subside, is the main factor in the lake’s formation.
The dominant plant cover is beech trees, and there are also oaks, hornbeams, alders, black pine, Scotch pine, firs elm and lime trees. As a result of effective protection of plant and animal life, the animals inside the park like deer, pigs, wolves, foxes and squirrels are increasing in number. There is also a deer protection area.
Bolu – Abant Lake
Abant Lake is 33km away from Bolu, in the west of the Black Sea region, and exactly halfway between Ankara and Istanbul.
The lake can be reached via the E-5, the Istanbul – Ankara highway, and then turning off at Omerler Madensuyu for 22km. Bolu is well connected by bus to other parts of the country.
The lake shelters a variety of plants, and 1150 hectares were designated the status of Natural Park in 1988. The main species are Scotch pine, beech, larch, oak, poplar, ash, horn- beam, willow, juniper, forest rose, tamarisk, hazelnut, holly, dog-rose, bracken, blackberry, strawberry, mint, raspberry, ivy, nettle, mare’s tail, and a variety of pasture grasses and trees. Species of animals include pig, deer, roe deer, bear, fox, jackal, rabbit, plus birds of prey and singing birds.
Bursa – Uludag National Park
Uludag is 30km southeast of Bursa. A cable car makes the journey up to Uludag from Bursa to the Sarilan Plain, which takes around 20 minutes, and then a dolmus to the hotel area of the park. The mountain road, 34km from Bursa, is open throughout the year. There is also a private helicopter service from Istanbul which takes 25 minutes.
Uludag (Great Mountain) is 2543m high, making it the highest point in the Marmara region, and the Aras Waterfalls and glaciers at the peak are its most interesting geographical features. The steep slopes mean that plant life varies widely between the Bursa plane and the peak, something which has been analised by botanical scientists and has made Uludag prominent around the world in this type of research. The suitable conditions have also formed a habitat for many species of animal and bird life, like bears, wolves, jackals, foxes, roe deer, rabbits, pigs, partridges, wild pigeons, vultures, eagles, black kites, nightingales and goldcrests. The Bakacak watchtower at Cobankaya gives a great view over the surrounding area.
Çanakkale – Gelibolu Peninsula Historical Park
The Gelibolu Peninsula Historical National Park, with a total area of 33,000 hectares, was founded in 1973 and is on the United Nations list of Parks and Protection Areas. It is in the province of Canakkale, at the southern edge of the Gelibolu Strait, on the European shore of Dardanelles (Canakkale Bogazi).
From Edirne and Istanbul, it can be reached from the Tekirdag and Gelibolu highways. From Canakkale, there are ferries to Kilitbahir and Eceabat. There is a small domestic airport in Canakkale.
This area is known for the war cemeteries and memorials for the Turkish and foreign soldiers killed during the Canakkale Sea and shore battles in 1915. There are sunken ships, trenches, castles, towers and hundreds of remains of the war. In total, there are graves and memorials of around 250,000 Turkish soldiers, and 250,000 from Australia, New Zealand, England and France. Thousands of people visit the war cemeteries every year, and it is one of the most famous sites in Turkey.
The entire area has been officially registered as a historical site area, and has enormous cultural importance. Within the park, there are also many archaeological sites and monuments, some of which date back to 4000 BC. Between the ancient sites and monuments, there are beaches, bays, an interesting variety of plant life, a salt lake and geological and geomorphologic structures. The thickly wooded hills and valleys of the area are though to have played an important role on the outcome of the war.
Çorum – Alacahöyük National Park
Alacahoyuk is 52km southwest of Corum, in Central Anatolia, 29km north of Yozgat and west of Ankara.
By road, Alacahoyuk is off the Sungurlu – Corum highway, and easily accessible by bus from Yozgat or Corum. It is roughly equidistant between the airports at Ankara, Nevsehir and Kayseri.
The area is best known for its historical and archaeological interest, which includes remains of Bogazkoy (Hattusas) which was the centre of the Hittite civilisation, and one of the most important in Anatolia. The main structures still remaining are the city walls and gates, the tunnel, Palace archive building in Buyukkale, and the temples.
Yazilikaya Open Air Temple, which is 2 km north of Bogazkoy, can be reached via the road from Sungurlu. Yazilikaya was the first Pantheon known in Anatolia, and there are reliefs of Hittite kings, queens, gods and goddesses.
Denizli – Honaz Mountain National Park
The Honaz Mountain National Park is in the Honaz region of the province of Denizli.
It can be reached via the Afyon-Denizli, or Afyon-Izmir highway.
The main feature of the park is the Honaz mountain, which is the highest in the Aegean region, at 2528m. There are species of Alpine flora at the higher altitudes, the most common of which are cluster pine, black pine, and juniper. A wide variety of animals includes an abundance of wild goats, as well as wild boar, rabbit, foxes and badgers. The snow coverage makes this a good spot for skiing.
Isparta – Kizildag National Park
The park is 120km in the northeast of Isparta, and 5km south of Sarkikaraagac, and on the northern edge of Lake Beysehir. It can be accessed by road from Sarkikaraagac.
The landscape between Kizildag and Beysehir lake is noted for its erosion, with formations of limestone rocks. Buyuksivri hill, at an altitude of 1840m, can be climbed by amateur mountaineers. The area is also famous for its rich plant cover, especially cedar forests. Many visitors come to celebrate the traditional Halvah Bairam (festival) in Sarkikaraagac on the second Sunday in July.
Kastamonu – Ilgaz Mountain National Park
The park is 45km in the south of Kastamonu, and 200km north of Ankara, and lies in the Central Anatolian region. The park can be accessed from the Cankiri – Kastamonu highway.
The Northern Anatolian fault line, which is the longest and most active in Turkey, passes through the southern foot of Ilgaz Mountain. The dominant species of flora are the black pine, Scotch pine and fir tree, and cover almost all of the mountain. The high annual rainfall, plus the large amount of plant cover, has made this an area with much wildlife, including roe deer, wild boar, wolves, bears and foxes. There is also the possibility of skiing here in the winter, and has the nearest facilities to Ankara
Kastamonu – Küre Mountain National Park
The park lies between Kastamonu and Bartin, in the western Black Sea region. The nearest large town is Zonguldak, on the west, and the park is off the coastal road running west towards Bartin.
This park has the variety of flora and fauna but is also one of the places least affected by industrialisation. Around the area are Azdavay, Pinarbasi, Ulus, Bartin, Kurucasile, Amasra and Cide districts. The main animal species found here deer, roe deer, bears, wolves, foxes, jackals, rabbits, wild boar, singing birds, birds of prey and reptiles. Recommended places to visit are Ilica Waterfalls, Valla Canyon, Aydos Canyon, and Ilgarini Cave.
Konya – Beysehir Lake National Park
Beysehir Lake lies in the middle of Isparta (105km) and Konya (94km), in the province of Beysehir.
The 238th State Highway connects Konya and Beysehir, and the lake is just to the west of that. There is also transport by road from Isparta.
Beysehir lake is the third largest lake in Turkey, and as a result of chemical reaction it has formed many islands, which are the remains of cavernous geological structures. The water is alkaline, and within it are carp, trout, bass, turtles and snakes. The islands provide a home for thousands of water birds who nest there, including swans, cormorants, ducks and divers. Species of trees here include juniper, black pine, firs, cedar and oak.
Manisa – Spil Mountain National Park
The mountain is 24km from Manisa. Manisa can easily be reached by private and public transport.
The park is known for its historical and mythological points, as well as a wide variety of flora and fauna. Cavernous formations in the area have resulted in many canyons, caves and steep valleys. The main species of trees here include pine, juniper, poplar, walnut, elm and oak, 20 of which have been determined in scientific research as endangered. Also found in this area are the Manisa tulips, which gave their name to a period of the Ottoman Empire and were taken to Europe. Species of wildlife living in the park include bears, jackals, roe deer, foxes, badgers, wild goats, vultures and eagles, and there is also a pheasant production farm.
The park is rich in history with many myths attached to the location. According to one, the mountain was named after Cybele, the wife of god Cronos, and there is a relief of her carved into the rocks in Akpinar. But another account states that the mountain was named after Spilos, the daughter of Friesian king Menos, who had been kidnapped and was left at the mountain and brought up by wild animals. Tantalos, the king of Lydia, built a castle here and to celebrate he sacrificed his son to the gods, for which he was later punished.
Mugla – Marmaris National Park
The park is 6km from Marmaris, in the province of Mugla. The state highways 550 and 400 reach the park.
The area on the northwestern side has a red appearance, due to the oxidation of the old magnetic rocks. The forests include species of trees which are endangered and only grow in certain areas which have high humidity and heavy sand. Cluster pine, oak and plane tree ensure a varied and colourful landscape, and there are Mediterranean species like wild olive, arbutus, rosary, sumac, locust tree, oleander, and bay trees.
Between Marmaris and Koycegiz there are many wild goats, but are decreasing rapidly and under threat of vanishing completely. There are also bears, lynx, foxes, squirrels and weasels. There are also quiet, unspoilt beaches around the edges of the park, and Cennet Island is well worth visiting.
The park is also the site of the ancient cities of Physkos (Marmaris) and Amos (Hisaronu), which used to be called the Caria region and still has evidence of the colony of Rhodes. In Amos, there are the remains of a theatre, a temple and sculpture pedestals, which are surrounded by city walls. The Physkos walls date back to the Hellenistic age.
Mugla – Saklikent National Park
Saklikent is around 40km due east of Fethiye and north of Kas. From the south, the park can be accessed via the Kalkan – Yesilova road leading to the village of Palamut, and from the north via the Kemer road.
The Saklikent Gorge is 18km long and is steep and narrow. The water at the bottom is cold even in summer, because sunlight hardly penetrates, and it is possible to walk through the water, and sometimes on suspended wooden platforms. The forests in this area consist of cluster pine, black pine and cedar trees, which are growing in specific areas according to altitude. Dumanlidag is known for its attractive landscape of cedars
Nevsehir – Göreme National Park
Goreme National Park is just outside the village of Goreme, 12km east of Nevsehir and in the heart of Cappadocia, in Central Anatolia. Goreme village is easily accessible by road from all directions, especially through Nevsehir. The Ankara – Adana highway approaches from the northwest, the Aksaray – Nevsehir from the southwest, and the Kayseri – Urgup highway from the northeast. The national park can be reached on foot from the village.
The national park consists of valleys with the world-famous rock formations of Cappadocia, the conical shaped rocks shaped over centuries out of eroded volcanic stone, and known as Fairy Chimneys.
In addition to the fascinating landscape formed by the volcanic tuff and cave dwellings, there are also important Byzantine churches, which reflect the history of religious art in that period. Because of the geological characteristics of the area, and the fact that it was secluded, people living here could hide themselves away from the various battles taking place, as well as from the authority of the central administration
Nigde – Ala Mountains National Park
The Aladaglar national park is in the province of Nigde, south of Kayseri, and lies 30km from Yahyali.
The park is adjacent to the main highway from Nigde to Kayseri, and can also be accessed from Yahyali.
Inside this huge park of around 55,000 hectares, the summit of Demirkazik at 3756m is the highest point in the middle Taurus mountain range. There is a huge range of flora and fauna, and visitors may fish in the streams full of trout. Wildlife includes wild goats, bears, lynx and sable.
The park has extremes of climate, with hot summers and very cold and snowy winters, with snow-capped peaks throughout the year. There is also a huge difference between night and day temperatures, with the lake usually freezing at night yet can reach up to 30°C during the day
Osmaniye – Aslan Mountain National Park
The park is on the river Ceyhan, around 40km northeast of Osmaniye, and west of Gaziantep in the southeastern Mediterranean region.
It can be accessed via the Adana – Kadirli, and Adana Osmaniye highways.
The park has a fascinating history and the Karatepe-Aslantas museum was the site of an area inhabited for almost 4000 years. The Hittites, who settled in Kisilirmak in Anatolia in 2000 BC, established a kingdom here in 1750 BC, and shortly afterwards it became the most important kingdom in the east. The Hittite Empire was demolished in Hattusas, and in 800 BC they governed this area led by King Assatiwada.
Some of the most interesting ruins are the lion sculptures at the north and south border gates between Karatepe and Aslantas, which can be seen from Domuztepe at the opposite shore of the Ceyhan.
Rize – Kaçkar Mountain National Park
The mountains are in the northeast of Turkey, near the Black Sea coast, around 70km east of Rize.
The town of Camlihemsin, 16km northwest, is easily reached via Rize, Trabzon and Artvin.
The areas around the River Firtina (Thunder) at the west of the mountains, and the River Hemsin on the east are covered with a rich range of flora. Rhododendrons grow at an altitude of 3000 metres, which is very unusual. There is also a wide variety of wildlife, with wolves, bears, pigs, wild goats, deer, jackals and wild hens. The highest peak is Kackar Dagi at 3937m.
Because the altitude increases over a relative short distance, there are plateaus with alpine summer villages, many of which have accommodation available for trekkers, and which offer an interesting insight into the cultural and social nature of the region. The village at Ayder Plateau has good facilities and a thermal spring, and is a popular stop on the trekking route.
Trabzon – Altindere National Park
This is the best known park in the Black Sea region, and lies to the west of Trabzon. The park can be reached via the 48km road connecting Trabzon to Macka.
In addition to the wide range of flora and fauna, the Sumela Monastery is one of the main sites of the park. Also known as Meryemana, because it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it lies at an altitude of 300m and was the centre of Christianity in the region. It also has a very significant place in the history of art. It is thought that the monastery was constructed in the 4th century, although Alexios III, (1349 – 1390) can be named as the real founder. It was extended in the 19th century, at a time when it enjoyed its most popular period.
The entrance is via a narrow and long staircase, and consists of water canals, library, kitchen, guest rooms, cisterns, and the pool in which holy water was collected. The building clings dramatically to the sheer rock wall, overlooking mountain forests and mountain springs
Tunceli – Munzur Mountain National Park
8km in north of Tunceli, in Eastern Anatolia, which is northwest of Elazig and around 100km west of Bingol.
Tunceli is a large town with good highways, and buses are available from most parts of the province. The national park is just off the Tunceli-Ovacik road.
The geological structure of the Munzur Mountains that rise between the subsidence areas of Karasu and Murat, consists of metamorphic and volcanic sedimentary and rocks. The hilly area, reaching an altitude of 3300m at the north, was broken into pieces by the effects of Mercan and Munzursuyu valleys. The landscape is interesting for its glacier lakes and small waterfalls
Yozgat – Yozgat National Park
The park is 5km south of Yozgat, in Central Anatolia.
Getting to the park by road is via the Ankara-Kayseri highway.
The park covers an area of 262 hectares and has an average altitude of 1350m, and is a rarity in Turkey in that it was mad-made. It has a good coverage of black pine, oak and juniper trees. Bogazkoy, the capital city of the Hittites, lies 40km north of the park, and within the area are Alacahoyuk and Sarikaya thermal springs.
For more information, contact:
Forest Ministry Wildlife and National Parks Gazi Tesisleri 11
Gazi / Ankara
Tel: (+90 312) 212 63 00
Fax: (+90 312) 222 51 40
In terms of scientific and aesthetic considerations,these nature places possesing resorts, tourism facilities and preserved areas with national and international natural and cultural resources are rare of beauty.
There are 16 Natural Parks in Turkey:
Afyon – Akdag Natural Park The Akdağ Natural Park covers a 14.916 hectare area in between the borders of Sandıklı District of Afyon Province and Çivril District of Denizli Province.
The environment, the affluence of the wild life, the interesting canyons, valleys and landscape values, and the recreation potentiality of Akdağ are the main characteristics of this Natural Park. As a result of the rich plant variety, it is intend to protect this place effectively. To provide the use of it, on the condition that beginning from the neighbourhood; in the region; and in the whole country, and to develop it in order to provide the use of it for different re – creative utilities in the balance of protection and usage; and to leave it to the next generations as a national heritage the area had been taken under the status of Natural Park.
Antalya – Kursunlu Waterfall Natural Park
The Kurşunlu Waterfall Natural Park takes plac within the borders of Center District of Antalya Province of Mediterranean Region.
The Natural Park is 22 km away from Antalya. It can be reached to the Natural Park by following the 8 km long road that departures from the Antalya – Aksu Highway at the Soğucaksu Bridge to the direction of north.
394 hectares of that area had been proclaimed as Natural Park in 1991, because of its healthy forest structure in which the rich plant community of the area unites with interesting water and rock forms in the Kurşunlu Waterfall by creating an unique natural landscape characteristic.
The cluster pine is the dominant tree species in the area, but also trees such as; eastern plane tree, laurel, carob tree, wild olive, mastic tree, willow tree and fig tree are present in small groups. Plants like myrtle tree, Mediterranean medlar, oleander, blackberry, wild rose, spurge tree, tamarisk, spruce tree, kermes oak, thyme, wild mint, beech tree, bracken and ivy creates the bottom flora. It is possible to observe water plants like; buckhorn, water mint, bamboo (in water), water chandelier, and green water lily.
Aydın – Bafa Lake Natural Park
The Bafa Lake Natural Park takes place within the borders of Söke District of Aydın Province in Aegean Region.
The Bafa Lake is at the south-east of Great Menderes (Büyük Menderes) Delta, and 25 km far away from the Söke District. It is possible to reach to the park overland route.
The Bafa Lake, which used to be a part of Aegean Sea, had turned to be a lake as result of geomorphologic development of Great Menderes Delta. Bafa Lake is one of the least spoiled watery areas at the shore, in Turkey. The maximum depth of the Bafa Lake reaches to 25 meters. The main water sources of the Bafa Lake are the water floods of Great Menderes (Büyük Menderes) River, and the underground waters coming from the mountains at the environment.
The plant cover around lake consists of tamarisks, pine trees, and olive groves. The Bafa Lake shelters the ecosystem characteristics of Great Menderes delta. Because of that reason it provides a winter quarter and a place for reproduction for many bird species which are under the danger of vanishing.
The main bird species in the Bafa Lake Natural Park are pelican, dwarf cormorant and sea eagle. The Park provides a winter quarter for more than 300.000 different bird species
Balıkesir – Ayvalik Islands Natural Park
The Ayvalık Islands Natural Park is within the borders of Balıkesir Province in Marmara Region.
It is possible to reach to Ayvalık Islands, by both Ayvalık highway and maritime lines. It is possible to reach to the greatest of these islands named Alibey Island by overland route, after coming to the Ayvalık District of Balıkesir Province.
Ayvalık Islands are geomorphologic structured which had been formed by the fall in of the peaks in the Aegean earthenware pot, as a result of the tectonic movements in the Pleistocene. After that event, the peaks were left over the sea and the islands formed. The extension of the old mountains played an important role in the distribution of the islands. This distribution and forming style had also effected the under – sea topography, and as a result of that rare landscape characteristics had been formed under the s
Bolu – Abant Lake
The Abant Lake Natural Park takes place within the borders of Bolu Province Central District in Karadeniz (Blacksea) Region.
It can be reached to the Abant Lake Natural Park by following the Ankara – Istanbul E – 5 State Highway, and than taking the 22 km road at the turn of Ömerler Madensuyu which is at the 203rd km of the E- 5 Highway. The park is 33 km far away from Bolu, 225 km far away from Ankara, and 225 km far away from Istanbul.
The Abant Lake, which is a tectonic structure, shelters a variety of plants in itself and have a great open air recreation potentiality. As a result of these characteristics of the lake, 1150 hectares of it had been taken under the status of Natural Park in the year 1988.
Çorum – Çatak Natural Park
Catak Park is 20km from Corum, in the centre of the Black Sea region.
The park can be reached via the Corum – Lacin highway.
The larch tree is the dominant species in the area, and there are also some Scotch pines. Living in the park are foxes, rabbits, wolves, singing birds and partridges and the best time for visiting is between May and October. 387 hectares was granted the status of Natural Park in 1984.
Gümüshane – Artabel Lakes
The Arbatel Lakes are 50km from Gumushane, 120km south of Trabzon, in the Black Sea region, and 5km from the village of Gulacar.
The best public transport to the area is from Gulacar. Gumushane can easily be reached by road from Trabzon, Bayburt or Toral.
The entire region of the park is filled with lakes and mountains, which forms a wonderful area for trekking. Karanlik Gol (Dark Lake) is the north-east foot of Artabelinbasi Peak, four lakes known as Besgoller, on the west of Sofraninbasi Peak, and three lakes known as Karagoller are at the foot of the eastern peak of Gavurdagi Mountain. The summers are hot and dry, and the winters cold and rainy
Isparta – Yazili Canyon
Yazili Canyon is in the Sutculer District of Isparta, in the Mediterranean Region.
The park can be reached via the Isparta – Sutculer highway, and turning off at Sutculer for 8km. Isparta is well connected to the rest of Turkey by public transport.
The area is well known for its lakes and the picturesque views of the area, and also the rich variety of flora and fauna. The main species of plant are larch, alder, hairy oak, plane, juniper, walnut, locust, olive, oak, bay, oleander, myrtle, blackthorn, broom, wild rose, ivy and bracken. Pig, wild goat, fox, badger, sable, rabbit, squirrel, eagle, red vulture, falcon, pigeon, stock dove, and partridge also inhabit the park. The best time to visit is between April and October.
Isparta – Gölcük Natural Park
Golcuk Park is 12km from Isparta, in the Mediterranean Region.
There is transport available from Isparta, which is well connected to the rest of the country by bus.
The landscape is known for its volcanic cones, as well as its flora and fauna. In 1994, the borders were reduced to 4720 hectares, but following objections by the public, the full area of 6684 hectares was reinstated as a natural park. The main species of tree is black pine, cluster pine, acacia, oak, cedar, spruce and white oak. Badger, fox, rabbit, falcon, partridge, pigeon, quail, carp, snake, and frog are the main animals found inhabiting the area. The best time to visit is between April and October
Istanbul – Polonezköy
Polenezkoy is in the Beykoz district of Istanbul, in the Marmara Region.
There is no public transport to the village of Polonezkoy, but private vehicles can access the area from the centre of Istanbul towards the coast, on the Asian side.
Polonezköy, although still within Istanbul, is 25 km away from the centre and not easy to reach by public transport. Translated as ‘village of the Poles’, it was established in 1848 by the exiled Prince Czartorisky, a Polish leader, who formed a community of Balkans on land sold to him by a local monastery. The Poles have since left the village, but there are sill a few remaining Central European style wooden houses with pretty balconies.
Polonezköy is within a vast green expanse, which was designated Istanbul’s first national park, and many people come to walk though forests with streams and wooden bridges. Its main species of trees include hornbeam, elm, alder, chestnut and lime. Species of wildlife in the park are mainly birds, especially storks and birds of prey that migrate here in the autumn.
Istanbul – Türkmenbaşı Natural Park
Türkmenbaşı Park is in the Sisli area of Istanbul, north of Taksim. Until 1999 it was known as Haciosman Park.
Sisli can easily be accessed by public transport from Taksim, Eminönü and Mecidyekoy.
There are many similarities between Türkmenbaşı Park and the nearby Belgrade Forest, both of which are good spots for relaxation and recreation away from city life. It is especially popular for walking and picnicking and its cool shady areas busy during weekends. The road leading to the park is filled with food sellers.
Kocaeli – Beskayalar Natural Park
The Beskayalar Natural Park is in the district of Golcuk, 26km south of Kocaeli (Izmit), and covers an area of 1154 hectares.
The park can be reached by the road from Kocaeli. There are regular bus service from Istanbul to Kocaeli.
The area of Beskaralar has a great scientific and educational importance because of the species of plants in the valleys. The 2500 hectares of forest surrounding the Sicakdere and Kirazdere rivers provide great trekking routes, and also has good sightseeing. The name Beskaralar, meaning Five Rocks, comes from the high rocks at the point where the rivers join.
In the area, the vast selection of plant species includes black pine, badger tree, fir, beech, oak, hornbeam, silver birch, elm, lime, chestnut, ash, poplar, hellebore, plane, hazelnut, alder, cherry, black fruit, elder, forest rose, wild apple, wild plum, wild cherry, forest ivy, smilax, blackberry, belladonna, spurge olive, arnica, great mullein, mint, yarrow, violet, fibre herb, nettle, gallium and wild strawberry. Wolves, bears, jackals, foxes, pigs, rabbits and squirrels inhabit the area
Kocaeli – Balikayalar Natural Park
The Ballikayalar Natural Park is near the village of Tavsanli, in the Gebze district of Kocaeli.
The Ballikayalar Valley is a narrow and deep pass, between 40m and 1.5 km, and there are many small waterfalls, lakes and deep cracks in the hill slopes. The bird population consists of sparrow hawk, white crow, Egyptian vulture, dove, hoopoe, skylark, and nightingale, and animals inhabiting the area include jackal, fox, pig, and mole.
Konya – Kocakoru Forest Natural Park
The Kocakoru Natural Park is near the village of Tarasci in the Seydisehir district of Konya.
The park can be accessed from Konya, which is well connected to the rest of the country by bus.
Tarasci and its environment have the characteristics of a steppe forest, which lies towards the foot of the Taurus mountains. The low humidity and rainfall in the region means that the ecosystem of the forest is fragile. Many forests around here are under threat from industrial use, which highlights the importance of the conservation attempts of this park to protect the region’s ecosystem. The variety of trees, which includes Anatolian black pine and Taurus fir, is important to the entire area.
Mugla – Kidrak Natural Park
Kidrak Park is along the coast around 15km south of Fethiye, and 128km southeast of Mugla.
The park can be accessed via the state highway 400. Fethiye is well connected to the rest of the country by bus, and its nearest airport is Dalaman.
An area of 950 hectares was designated as a Natural Park in 1983 due to the beauty of the coastline, which is also renown for its water-sports, the rare geological qualities and untouched flora and fauna. Cluster pine is the most common tree in the area, and small areas of myrtle, locust and maquis. The best time to visit the park is between April and December..
Trabzon – Uzungöl Natural Park
The park is in the Cankara district, 25km from Trabzon and 19km from Cankara.
The park can be reached via the 10 state highway from Trabzon, then from Caykara for another 19km.
The 1625 hectares of the park were designated as a Nature Park in 1989 because of the rich plant life, wildlife and sightseeing potential. The dominant tree species is Eastern spruce, and there are also badger, bearded, alder, horn-beam, hazelnut, oak, mountain elm and silver birch trees. Species of animals include mountain goat, roe deer, bear, wolf, wild boar, marten, badger, lynx, jackal, fox, rabbit, squirrel, wild ducks, birds of prey, trout and various kinds of reptiles.