Spread across some of the most beautiful land in Europe and the Middle East, Turkey lays claim to a jaw-dropping number of incredible sights. Visiting everything the country offers would take a lot longer than 91 days, so it’s lucky that there’s an alternative. Welcome to Miniaturk.
Opened in 2003, Miniaturk is a strange little theme park that reproduces the wonders of Turkey in miniature. It’s exactly as kitschy and fun as you might expect. Found at the end of the Golden Horn, across from Eyüp, the park is worth visiting when you’re in the mood for something different.
Miniaturk is split evenly between the sights of Istanbul and those spread across rest of Turkey. It was fun looking at detailed recreations of the mosques and monuments we’d spent the last couple months exploring. Even in miniature, the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are impressive. You can walk across a shrunken version of the Bosphorus Bridge, listen to football chants at Atatürk Stadium, and even pay a lira to steer a model ferry across a mini-Golden Horn. Inside a darkened room, there’s a “Crystal Collection”, with holographic carvings of Istanbul’s monuments in big glass bricks. Weird, cheesy and awesome in equal measure.
As an advertisement for touring the rest of the country, Miniaturk could hardly do a better job. I knew about some of Turkey’s more popular sights, such as the chimneys at Cappadocia and the stone heads of Mount Nemrut, but the great majority of things displayed in Miniaturk were new to me. The ruins of Ephesus! The castle at Bodrum! The white terraced waterfalls of Pamukkale! And much more. Turkey is amazing, and Miniaturk has helped convince us to make a return visit as soon as possible.