By Professor Andy Goldman, study leader

For those of you who have ever wondered about Turkey, it can be a challenging place to describe. Friends have often asked me to do just that, to try and encapsulate my various experiences there, having lived in Ankara for over two years and having visited almost every summer since 1992. The true difficulty lies in not what to say, but where to start. The country is home to such a broad variety of ancient civilizations, such magnificent sites and monuments, such a welcoming and hospitable people, that I am never exactly sure where to begin. But once I do, like all of us who know and love the country, I find it can be very, very difficult to stop…

That said, a short story about why you might want to go. In 2006, my wife and I were honeymooning in the Antalya region, on the Mediterranean coastal plain of south-central Turkey, what was the ancient territory of Pamphylia. Borrowing a car from a friend’s brother, we headed up to a site that we’d never seen, the ancient city of Termessos. In recent years it has become a national park, but in ancient times it was a formidable city/citadel, one which Alexander the Great himself was unwilling to spend the time and energy to conquer. After a short but invigorating climb, we found ourselves on top of a mountain and nearly alone in a vast Greco-Roman metropolis. It was one of the most romantic places I’ve ever been. Most of the buildings, including a gorgeous theater, are still in place and largely intact, tucked amid the creeping vines and trees. We felt like 19th-century explorers as we wandered across the city, discovering the fading inscriptions, broken columns, ancient tombs, each turn of the winding pathways providing us with new and delightful vistas. Best of all was the complete absence of noise, of hawkers, of the modern world intruding upon our experience.

And, this experience awaits at many of Turkey’s well-preserved sites, including Sagalassos and Arykanda, two of the many inspiring sites to which I will be shepherding a group in August of this year. Few countries in the Mediterranean today can provide the average traveler with such an idyllic and unfettered experience. That such opportunities are still available in Turkey is just one of many reasons to go, not to mention why I personally will continue to travel there and why I will never cease to try and persuade others to do so…