Turkish landscape offers the visitors great opportunities for religion tourism of the world. Due to the multi-cultural structure of this landscape, many beliefs have a life here including Zoroastrianism (the Persian religion) and Paganism. Starting from the beginning of the human being era, we can find traces of various cultures and settlement in our cultural layers. Briefly Turkish landscape has been hosting human being culture for millions of years.
I would like to summarise you some important religious structures of yhis landscape;
- Zoroastrianist temples in Turkey;
Zoroastrianism is one of the world beliefs that have traces in Turkey. Due to the close location to the main land of Zoroastrianism (Iran), we can come across traces of Zoroastrianist temples in Turkish landscape. As we know that Persian Empire attacked Anatolian peninsula and captured some sites in ancient era. Also they brought their religion here. By the archeaological excavations, the archeaologists discovered some Zoroastrianist temples in some locations. So Zoroastrianism took its place in our landscape’s history.
2. Paganism on Anatolia;
Paganism was one of the common religion in ancient era. By effect of Great Roman Empire, paganism spread whole territory. We can see the temples of Greek Gods and Goddess’ here even today. Apollo, Zeus and Artemis were some gods and goddesses.
We can come across big necropole sites nearby the ancient sites. Only the royal people and emperors could be buried to the center of the site. The public funerals were brought to the necropole.
By the launching of Christianity, Paganism was under the danger. So Roman Empire authorities tortured and tried to kill the earlier Christians. Thus some settlements were built such as Cappadocia and central Anatolian underground sites in order to hide and live.
3. Christianity in Small Asia;
As I mentioned above, Christianity was under the pressure of Pagan authorities. Earlier Christians had to hide and live under the ground. But this bad altitiude or this pressure couldn’t succeed to destroy Christianity and Christianity became the official religion of Roman Empire.
Earlier Chiristians used to pray in small areas called chapels. First biggest church was carved into a cave in South of Anatolian peninsula. It was called St.Pierre Church. Apostles visited Small Asia and tried to promulgate Christianity here. St.Paul was one of the apostles that were known here.
It is believed that Santa Claus used to live in Demre region of Antalya. Actually this priest was the one who inspired Santa Claus story. His good manners were adapted to Santa Claus.
Also we should mention some places such as Ephesus, Nicosea and Constantinople. Christianity was shaped in those councils and today’s universal Christianity was born. The biggest Orthodox church of the world is located in Istanbul; Saint Sophia.
4. Jewish Communites in Turkey;
Jewish community has been one of the biggest communities of Anatolia for hunderds of years. Like other beliefs, Jewish has an important place in our cultural structure. Millions of Jewish people lived on this peninsula and they are still living. But the population decreased. We can find many sinagogues in Turkey.
5. Islam in Turkey;
Islam is the last main religion of the world. It was launced in Arabian peninsula but it became universal with Turks. Turkish tribes and states promulgated Islam everywhere. Turkish- Islamic synthesis spread whole world.
Anatolia’s first mosque was built in ancient Ari site (located in Kars province). It was commissioned in 1046.