The meeting place of the Orient and the Occident, Turkey’s unique and very strategic location has had an impact on almost every aspect of its vibrant, often mesmeric, culture. Turkish culture is a blend of various elements including Anatolian and Ottoman which was itself a continuation of both Greco-Roman and Islamic cultures, and Western culture and traditions.
This rich history makes Turkey an ideal place for all kinds of documentary films in the areas of culture, nature and social subjects.
What we do here at PPT is make the best of all the natural resources, finding the best possible locations and combining them with our talented crew and up to date equipment, resulting in the very best productions and projects.
The Basilica of Hagia Sophia was constructed by Roman Emperor Justinian in 537 AD. This was the largest church in the Christian world for a thousand years. Its immense dome rises nearly 200 feet above the ground and its diameter spans more than 100 feet. The mosaics covering the walls are among the most important works of art that have survived to this day of the Byzantine era.
Large round buildings had been successfully covered by domes before, but Hagia Sophia had a rectangular floor plan, and covering a large rectangular structure by a huge central dome was being tried for the first time in history. The dome collapsed and repaired many times. The Ottomans converted the basilica to a mosque in the 15th century after the conquest of Istanbul. Recognizing its historic and universal importance, the Turkish Government turned it into a museum in 1935.
Sultanahmet Mosque is the most famous monument in both the Turkish and the Islamic worlds. It was built in the classic Turkish architectural style between 1609-1616 by the architect Mehmet. The building is more familiarly known as the Blue Mosque because of its magnificent interior paneling of more than 20,000 blue and white Iznik tiles. The inside is a single immense space into which the light pours from 260 windows. The dome 141 feet high, is supported by four enormous circular pillars 16 feet in diameter and are known as elephant feet. As it is located across Hagia Sophia, the mosque was designed to be as large and as magnificent as this Byzantine structure.
Topkapi Palace is certainly the most important historical site to be visited in Istanbul. It is one of the most frequently visited museums of Europe and is the most visited one in Turkey. The Palace served as the administrative centre of the Ottoman Empire for nearly 400 years between the 15th and 19th centuries. Its principal parts were finished in 1478, then altered and enlarged by new additions in the reign of each succeeding sultan.
The Palace was abandoned in 1855 when Sultan Abdulmecit I, 31st Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, moved to the new Palace of Dolmabahce. In 1924, it was turned into a museum upon the orders of Ataturk. Palace is a complex of buildings spread out over one of the seven hills of Istanbul. It consists of courtyards serving different purposes which are separated from each other by monumental gates. Pavilions, each used for different purpose, surround these courtyards. The total area of the Palace is twice the area of Vatican and half of Monaco in size. The site is also a very popular attraction amongst film and documentary productions.
Besides being the official residence of the Sultan, the Topkapi Palace served as the headquarters of the government. It also housed the state treasury and the archives. The mint, as well as the highest educational institution were located on the Palace grounds.
On exhibitions are the imperial collections of crystal, silver and Chinese porcelain; imperial handmade costumes worn by the sultans and their families, the famous jewels of the treasury; the richest collection of clocks in the world; the sacred relics of Islam including the swords of Mohammed, his bow and his mantle; priceless collection of miniatures and many other priceless objects. One of the largest diamonds in the world, the Spoon seller Diamond, is displayed in a special showcase in the hall. The rooms are exquisitely decorated and tiled and offer great opportunities to shoot documentaries on the related subject.
Dolmabahce Palace, built in the mid-19th century by Sultan Abdulmecit 1, stretches for 600 meters along the European shore of the Bosphorus. The palace has survived intact with its original decorations, furniture, silk carpets, curtains and everything else. It is said that 14 tons of gold and 40 tons of silver were used for the decoration of the palace.
The palace contains 285 rooms, 43 salons and six baths. Its walls and ceilings are covered with paintings by the famous artists of that age. Rare handmade art objects from Europe and the Far East decorate every room in the palace. The ballroom is the largest of its kind in the world. A 4.5 ton giant-sized crystal chandelier with 750 bulbs hangs from the 120 feet high dome. The floors are parquet, of exceptional quality and are laid with high-quality silk carpets, hand-woven in the Imperial Factory of Hereke.
Ataturk used to stay in this palace when he visited Istanbul. He died here in 1938. All the clocks in the palace were stopped at 9:05 am, the time of his death, in memory of this great Turk. The Palace which is a museum today is open on certain days of the week, and it is one of those historic places in Istanbul that must be visited. With its rich historical past and stunning location on the Bosphorus, the palace offers spectacular scenes for the ones wishing to shoot documentaries in Istanbul / Turkey.
Ancient city of Troy is located 30 km south west of Canakkale province in the Marmara Region of Turkey. This is one of the most important historical cities of Anatolia. Archeological excavations have revealed nine separate periods of settlement at this site, including ruins of city walls, house foundations, a temple and a theater.
The earliest settlement dates from five thousand years ago and the last coincided with the late Roman period. Famous Trojan wars, depicted in Homeros epic Iliad took place here at about 1200 BC. A symbolic wooden horse at this site commemorates this legendary war. This rich history and tales have inspired many film and documentary producers from around the world.
The ruins of Ephesus is one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites. It is located 75 km south of Izmir. In Hellenistic times, Ephesus became the most densely populated city in Anatolia with a population of more than 200 000. The city reached the peak of its glory under the Roman rule and became a very important centre of trade and commerce.
A majority of the monuments that exist now date to that period. It was also the leading political and intellectual centre, with the second school of philosophy in the Aegean. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Ephesus also emerged as one of the main centres of early Christianity. St. Paul remained in the city for three years during his third missionary journey (53-57).The Apostle John also came to Ephesus to live and was finally buried here. Ephesus was one of the Seven Churches mentioned in his book of Revelation.
Tradition has it that St. John brought Virgin Mary to Ephesus after Christ’s crucifixion and that she lived and died in a small wooden house located about three miles away in the forested mountain above Ephesus at the age of 101. In the year 431 the Third Ecumenical Council was held in the Basilica of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus. In the following century, Emperor Justinian(527-565) built a massive church at the spot where St John was believed to have been buried.
It became an important site of pilgrimage throughout the Middle Ages. The city ruins include the agora, theatre, gymnasium, stadium, Church of the Virgin Mary, Temple of Serapis, Temple of Hadrian, Fountain of Trajan, Scholasticia Baths, Temple of Domitian and terrace houses that once belonged to rich Ephesians, as well as the Celsus Library. The Cathedral of St. John is on the Ayasuluk hill above the city. The Celsus Library (shown in the picture) is the most impressive building of them all. Today this amazing location is often used for fashion photography and documentary video productions. The ruins and ancient atmosphere of the area make it an inspiring and fascinating place to shoot.
The impressive remains of this once-splendid city are situated on a high plateau, within Aydin Province. As its name suggests, Aphrodisias was named after Aphrodite, a goddess of nature, love and fertility and was the site of one of her most famous sanctuaries. Although the history of Aphrodisias stretches farther back in time, it rose to prominence in the first century BC and enjoyed a long period of prosperity. Besides being a significant religious site, it was also a cultural and intellectual centre to which students and scholars flocked from all over the ancient Hellenistic world. With an excellent marble supply, perhaps the finest available anywhere, the city became the centre of a school of sculpture that flourished for a period of six hundred years. Many of its marvelous works of art are now housed in the local museum.
The Temple of Aphrodite was the focal point of the city in antiquity, as it still is today with its fourteen standing columns. The stadium, located in the northern end of the city, is probably the best preserved structure of this type in the Mediterranean. It could accommodate as many as 30,000 people. The theater, odeon (concert-hall), Bishop’s Palace, Baths of Hadrian are among other ruins. East of the temple, one of the most attractive landmarks of Aphrodisias is a decorative gateway (in the picture) datable to the middle of the second century. It consisted of four rows of four columns and its main access was from the east, with a front row of spirally-fluted Corinthian columns facing a main north-south street. Its sixteen columns have been repaired and re-erected and upper portions partly replaced.
Pergamon (or Pergamum), once a great center of culture, survives as one of Turkey’s finest archaeological sites. It is located 100 km north of Izmir. The city experienced its golden age until the end of the 3rd century AD during Hellenistic and Roman times. In the Acropolis, above the modern town, are the remains of the library, a steep and impressive theatre, the temples of Trajan and Dionysos, the monumental Altar of Zeus, the sanctuary of Demeter, a gymnasium and the Agora. The Asclepion, located to the southwest of the lower city, was a medical center dedicated to the god of health, Asclepion. Patients were treated with water and mud baths, with massages and with medicinal herbs.
The centre also had a small theatre, a library, a sacred fountain, temples as well as two meeting rooms and lavatories for women and for men. The site of Pergamon was first excavated by the German archaeologists between 1878 and 1886. It was during this time that the magnificent reliefs of the Altar of Zeus were discovered and carried to Berlin and now displayed in Berlin Museum.
Ancient authors tell us that the Pergamon library at one time contained 200 000 volumes. Mark Anthony carted them off to Egypt as a gift for Cleopatra, to replace the ones that had been lost when the Alexandrian library was burned during Caesar’s campaign. In the middle of the libraries main reading room is the podium on which there stood at one time the 3.5 meter high statue of Athena that is now in the Berlin Museum.
The ancient region of Cappadocia lies in Central Anatolia between the cities of Nevsehir, Kayseri and Nigde. Three million years ago, violent eruptions of the nearby volcanoes covered the surrounding plateau with a deep layer of solidified mud, ash and lava. The winds, rivers and rains have eroded this soft volcanic rock into hundreds of strangely shaped pillars, cones and fairy chimneys, creating a vast outdoor museum of stone sculptures in an incredible variety of shapes, layering, textures and colours. Since the most ancient of times, men have been carving dwellings in this soft rock; the early Christians made countless cave churches, chapels and monasteries.
There are more than 200 churches in Cappadocia scattered through the valleys, with their impressive frescoes and art works. This destination is also a very popular place for shooting documentaries and commercial photography in Turkey.
The most amazing specialty of Cappadocia is the underground cities which are still being discovered.
The ones in Kaymakli and in Derinkuyu are the most famous ones. These cities with 8-9 floors underground have been completely carved in volcanic tuff and were used by Christians as places to retreat to and live in until danger from their enemies had passed. Thenarrow tunnels which could be blocked by millstones at times of escape, the ventilation systems, and the hidden rooms of these cities show a perfect planning and construction. But the absence of inscriptions and decorations of any kind makes it difficult for the art historians to determine the dates of construction. The horses and the stud farms of Cappadocia have been famous throughout history. The word Cappadocia comes from the word Catpaducia meaning ‘the land of beautiful horses’.
MEVLEVI CONVENT AND MUSEUM
Founder of the Mevlevi Order known in the West as the Whirling Dervishes, Muhammed Celaleddin lived in Konya from 1228 until his death in 1273. He was given the name Mevlana (Our High Master) by his followers. The nearly 6500 m2 land, on which the convent lies, used to be a rose garden belonging to Seljuk Sultan Alaaddin Keykubat.
He gave the area to Mevlana’s father, Bahaddin Veled. as a gift. Bahaddin Veled was buried here in accordance with his will. From that day on, this place became a popular visiting spot. The building of the tomb began in 1274, only after the burial of Mevlana beside his father. In 1396, the tomb was covered by a cone shaped dome decorated by exquisite turquoise tiles.
The building has gone through many modifications during different periods in history and it has turned into a collection of buildings, an institution. In 1926, the Mevlana Convent opened as a museum. The artifacts presented to the convent throughout the centuries are on display. The most interesting section of the museum is under the green dome where the sarcophagi of Mevlana and his son, Sultan Veled, stand. The museum contains 65 sarcophagi of the members of Mevlana’s family and his followers. On display are hand-written copies of the sayings and books about Mevlana and Mevlevi order, musical instruments, metal glass and wooden objects, carpets and kilims. In the former dervish cells, the garments of the order are exhibited.
This sight of spectacular beauty is located in the inner Aegean region. The terraces over 300 feet in height composed of layers of the accumulated limestone sediment have been gradually formed in the course of the ages. For thousands of years a deep underground spring on the hills above has been pouring out streams of hot, mineral-saturated water.
As the water has flowed down the mountainside, the waters rich mineral content has coated them in a smooth layer of white calcareous rock. Since these white slopes resemble castles when observed from the plain, the area is called Pamukkale which means cotton castle in Turkish. Several Roman emperors came to bathe in these thermal pools. The area is still one of the leading hot springs in Turkey. All this makes Pamukkale a natural set for documentary and commercial productions.
Safranbolu is a small town in the Western Black Sea Region. Some of the most beautiful traditional old homes, unique in Turkey for their outstanding design and construction are found here. Some of them have been restored and are now used as hotels. The streets of Safranbolu are an ideal location to portray a stereotypical Turkish way of life as it used to be. Again this is a popular destination for documentary productions. *
Antiochos I, ruler of the Commagene Kingdom in the first century BC, built himself this funeral monument on top of Mount Nemrut in eastern Turkey. It consists of a tumulus and a dozen gigantic statues representing Antiochus I, eagles, lions and ancient gods. Lion and eagle statues were used as the guardians. The tumulus is 50 m high and 150 m. in diameter. Although the inscriptions at the back of the thrones on east and west terraces record that Antiochos I had chosen the hierothesion as his sacred last resting place or a place where his body will sleep for endless eternity, seismic research did not show any grave chamber or large cavity in the tumulus.
The average height of the statues is 26-33 feet. These are made of stone, too heavy and large to be carried to the museum and remain where they were originally erected. Time has inflicted heavy damage on the sculptures- their bodies sit with their beautifully carved heads at their feet. The area also offers amazing sunsets and one must witness the beautiful dance of light in harmony with the rock sculptures. This is an amazing location for documentary and film productions in Turkey.
SANLI URFA- HALIL RAHMAN MOSQUE
This province in southeast Turkey is known as the ‘city of Prophets’, because the Prophets Job, Abraham and Suayb, whose names are mentioned in the holy books and who lived before the emergence of the three monotheistic religions- Judaism, Christianity and Islam resided here. According to Muslim tradition, Prophet Abraham was born in a cave on the northern side of Sanli Urfa castle.
Today the cave is a pilgrimage site. There is a fish lake in the centre of Sanli Urfa filled with sacred fish and surrounded by Halil Rahman Mosque.
According to legends, Abraham believed in a single god and tried to spread this belief. For his refusal to follow the worship of idols, Abraham was condemned to be burned. The cruel King Nimrod had Abraham launched from a catapult from the city’s citadel to fall into a pile of burning wood. God intervened and turned the fire into water and the wood into fish, which make up water and fish in the pool.
Myra was a leading city of the Lycian Union and surpassed Xanthos in early Byzantine times to become the capital city of Lycia. Its remains are situated about 1.5 km north of today’s Demre, on the Kaş-Finike road. Most of the ancient city is now covered by Demre and alluvial silts, for it is located on the river Demre Cay in a fertile alluvial plain. Today this large plain is almost covered with greenhouses stuffed full of tomatoes. In ancient times this area was probably farmed extensively, for export and trade with the interior of Lycia.
The date of Myra’s foundation is unknown. There is no literary mention of it before the 1st century BC, when it is said to be one of the six leading cities of the Lycian Union (the other five were Xanthos, Tlos, Pinara, Patara and Olympos). It is believed to date back much further however, as an outer defensive wall has been dated to the 5th century BC.
The city is well known for its amphitheatre (the largest in Lycia) and the plethora of rock-cut tombs carved in the cliff above the theatre.
Today the area is still undergoing excavations and new findings are being unearthed. Another ideal and ancient location for documentary productions in Turkey.
Myra’s Greco-Roman theatre is the largest theatre in Lycia and one of the main attractions of Myra, still in good shape. Its double-vaulted corridors are still preserved and an inscription in a stall space reads “place of the vendor Gelasius” – the location of an ancient concessions stand. It has 38 rows of seats and its facade was richly decorated with theatrical masks and mythological scenes.
Rock-Cut Tombs – The famous rock-tombs of Myra are in two main groups, one above the theatre and the other in a place called the river necropolis on the east side. Although most of the tombs are plain today, Charles Fellows tells that upon his discovery of the city in 1840 he found the tombs colourfully painted red, yellow and blue. The entire cliff face must have once been a bright riot of colour.