Central Turkey stretches across a vast, arid plateau, littered with the ruins of ancient civilizations, slashed by ravines in places and rising to the peaks of extinct volcanoes in others. Think of the region as a triangle, with Ankara, Turkey's sprawling capital, to the northwest; Cappadocia, the land of surrealistic geological formations, to the east; and Konya, the city where the dervishes whirl, to the southwest, en route to Antalya and the Mediterranean coast.
- Cappadocia. The extraordinary landscape here is like a giant outdoor sculpture garden filled with elaborate pillars, needles, and cones. As if these natural phenomena weren't enticing enough, hundreds of caves conceal frescoed churches from the early days of Christianity.
- Konya. A popular pilgrimage site, Konya contains the tomb of the 13th-century philosopher Rumi and is the spiritual home of the whirling dervishes. Medieval mosques enhance the city’s holy feel. Nearby, Çatalhöyük ranks among the oldest known human settlements.
- Ankara. Turkey's capital is the best place to witness the enduring legacy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founding father of the secular Turkish Republic. Museums and historical sites are a stone’s throw from the ancient citadel, which has panoramic views of the city.