The vibrantly beautiful country of Turkey is one of the world’s top ten travel destinations. Its great history dates back 25,000 years of empires and civilisation. A great rich amalgamation of architecture, food, traditions, monuments and more. Turkey is the place you ought to visit but you have to experience it too!
Reading further on, you’ll get to know more about the fascinating places that you can visit during your trip to Turkey and the things you should not miss out on witnessing.
About the impactful history of Turkey.
The massively elaborate history of the Turks has been making a big impact for around four thousand years.
- The people of Turkey first lived in Central Asia around 2000 BC. After a period, some of them fleeted from Central Asia and spread around, establishing many states and empires independent from each other in both Asia and Europe.
- The Turks migrated to settle in Anatolia in the early 11th century. The Malazgirt victory in 1071 against the Byzantines opened up the gates of Anatolia. The Turks fully conquered the whole of Anatolia and established the Anatolian Seljuk State there (1080-1308), the first Turkish State in Anatolia called the Konya Sultanate.
- OTTOMAN AGE 1299–1923
The Seljuk State rapidly declined with the Mongol invasion of Anatolia. During that period, many Turcoman principalities were established in Anatolia. One of these was the Ottoman Beylik named after its founder, a Turkish ruler named Osman.
The Ottoman Beylik rapidly expanded throughout the fourteenth century and thus arose the Ottoman Empire, which ruled over a vast territory on three continents and lasted for 623 years until the end of the First World War.
- On the 29 May of 1453 Turkish forces entered from every direction and crushed the Byzantine defence completely
- The Roman emperor Constantine the Great was the first Roman emperor to be converted to Christianity who made Christianity the empire’s state religion. In 330, he moved his capital from Rome to Byzantium, renaming it Constantinopolis (Constantinople), who we know as Istanbul today.
- The Republic was proclaimed on October 29, 1923. For the first time in centuries, the Turkish people enjoyed self-rule. Mustafa Kemal was elected as the first president of the Republic of Turkey.
PLACES TO VISIT IN TURKEY
Istanbul was founded around 660 BCE where it was called Byzantion. Years led to it expanding in size and importance. In 330 CE it was renamed as Constantinople where it served as the royal capital of the Roman, Latin, Palaiologos and the Ottoman empire for a period of sixteen years. The city stretches itself into two continents, Asia and Europe. Where the commercial hub of Istanbul inches towards the European corner and the rest third of the population towards the Asian corner. Istanbul is regarded as one of the largest cities in the world that is known for its vibrant art, culture, and history. Hence, it’s the perfect spot with great sights to explore.
- Blue Mosque
Created by the known architect Sedefkar Mehmed Aga, the mosque has been stunningly adorned with hand-painted blue tiles that give it its name. It was constructed between 1609 to 1616. During the Ottoman Empire, it was the Supreme mosque. The Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmed Mosque is today visited by a large flock of tourists around the world.
- Topkapi Palace
The elegant Topkapi Palace served as the main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman sultans in the fifteenth and sixteenth century. Earlier known as the New Palace, the Topkapi Palace today consists of four main courtyards and various smaller buildings. It is known that the female members of the Sultan’s family lived in the interiors of the palace. Leading state officials also held meetings in the Imperial Council building.
- Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul is famous for being one of the largest and oldest markets in the world. The market is spread across 61 streets and over 4,400 shops giving you an overwhelming amount of options to shop from like clothes, handmade products, jewellery, carpets, food and spices. The market entertains 250,000 to 400,000 visitors daily. You will also get to spot many kinds of Turkish cafes that are perfect to relax and grab some Turkish delicacies.
- Haga Sophia
Haga Sophia in Istanbul was once honoured as the largest building in the world. It was a former cathedral for 916 years that was later converted into an imperial mosque. But, in 1935 the Council of the Ministers decided to convert it into a museum. Inside you’ll be able to spot beautiful mosaics and tombs of Ottoman sultans.
The second-largest city and capital of Turkey, Ankara resides in the heart of Turkey and Central Anatolia. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Ankara dethroned Istanbul as the former capital of Turkey on 29th October 1923. Since then Akara has gained importance for being a hub to many government establishments, commercial businesses, universities and foreign embassies. Despite being located in one of the driest places of Turkey, Ankara is known for its green vegetations and forests.
- Ankara Castle
Built centuries ago, the Ankara Castle was host to many civilizations such as the Hittite, Phrygia, Persian, Byzantine, Arab and Ottoman civilization. Hence, you’ll be able to reminiscence every aspect of charm, tradition and culture that has been left behind by these empires. The castle is ejected in Altindag where one can get a view of the entire city. Many festivals are also organised inside the Ankara Castle.
The Anıtkabir in Ankara is the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He was the leader of the Turkish War of Independence and the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey. The mausoleum embarks historical and architectural greatness with its towering marble structure lit with mosaics. It was created in a large span of nine years. The Anıtkabir has been divided into four main parts that are the Road of Lions, the Ceremonial Plaza, the Hall of Honor and the Peace Park.
- Museum of Anatolian Civilizations
The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations displays an elaborate collection of prehistoric Anatolian studies starting from the Paleolithic period to now. It gives you a great encounter to the ancient history of Turkey and Ankara through various artefacts and Hittite figures. In 1997, the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations was named as the Museum of the Year in Switzerland.
Looking for the best place to have lunch in Ankara? Well, then the Atakule is the perfect place for you. Atakule is a 410 feet tall tower that is marked as a prime landmark of the capital city. Architect Ragıp Buluç is responsible for creating this masterwork. The top of the tower houses an open terrace and a revolving restaurant named Sevilla too that makes a full 360-degree rotation in one hour. Another restaurant is etched on top of it known as Dome. The Atakule has a shopping mall and other indoor and outdoor restaurants too.
Bodrum is the ancient city of Halicarnassus that is famous for housing one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The city is known for its great blend of ancientness that was earlier only a fishing town. It was changed after the Turkish intellectuals gathered and wrote about Bodrum. The most notable being the Cevat Sekir, the Fisherman of Halicarnassus, an Oxford Educated Turk. A cool climate runs throughout the year making it an apt holiday spot.
- Bodrum Castle
The Bodrum Castle also is known as the Castle of St. Peter was built 1402 and 1437 by the Knights of St. John on top of a small rocky peninsula between two sheltered bays in Bodrum. The castle has been well preserved through these years. The Castle consists of the French, Spanish, German, Italian, English Tower that has a sculpted lion on its west wall. During the reign of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire Suleiman the Magnificent, the castle passed into the hands of the Turkish men who built a mosque inside the castle. Inside the castle, one can witness the exhibits of Bodrum’s Museum of Underwater Archaeology.
- Museum of Underwater Archaeology
The Museum of Underwater Archaeology is regarded as one of the world’s most famous underwater archaeology museums. It is a place one ought to experience while visiting the city of Bodrum. The Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum contains 14 exhibition halls. It has the richest East Mediterranean Amphora collection in the world too. Many shipwrecks such as the Yassıada, Şeytan Deresi and Serçe Lİmanı have been exhibited for people to witness. The world’s oldest sunken ship wreckage is one of the most popular exhibits of the museum. Apart from famous shipwrecks, the world’s largest Islamic Glass Collection can also be viewed inside.
- Bodrum Peninsula Beaches
Bodrum is surrounded by blue waters and sandy beaches. People who love diving into the sea are going to surely enjoy their time here by taking a boat or a yacht trip at the Bodrum harbour. Many fun activities such as snorkelling, kayaking, fishing, jet-skiing or just plain and simple sunbathing can be enjoyed at the Kara Ada. Popular beaches like the Fink beach and Stone beach are great beach options when visiting Bodrum.
- Bodrum Baazar
Bodrum Baazar is one of the most famous markets of Bodrum. The market offers a variety of authentic Turkish products for you to take homes such as colourful local pottery, gold shops, beachwear and local textiles. The market has no street vendors, it has been entirely based out of concrete shop areas. The products offered here are on the higher side leaving less room for bargaining.
Cappadocia is one of the most strike-est places to witness in the entire country. A large number of volcanic eruptions left a thick blanket of ash on the city. This later got solidified into tuffs ( soft rocks). Wind and water left it to turn into harder elements that formed many fairy tales like landscape such as cones, pillars, pinnacles, mushrooms, and chimneys. The volcanic eruption also formed a great mineral-rich soil that has been regarded greatly for growing vegetables and fruits.
- Goreme Open Air Museum
The Goreme Open Air Museum is one of the most famous places to visit in Cappadocia. In 1984, the museum was regarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the first few in Turkey. It resembles a vast monastic complex that has been composed of refectory monasteries which are placed side-by-side and have their own churches too. The churches have been made with the finest rock-cut. Inside you’ll be able to witness beautiful wall paintings or frescoes that despite being ancient still have lost any lustre. The entrance fee to the museum is 25 TL per person.
- Zelve Open Air Museum
The Zelve Open Air Museum was once regarded for housing one of the largest communities in the region. The museum is an old cave town that has several dwellings, religious and secular chambers. Till 1924, many Christians and Muslims lived together in harmony. But, the Christians had to leave the Valley because of the exchange of minorities between Greece and Turkey. Leaving the Muslims to be forced to evacuate the Valley due to the risk of erosion. They left the area to set up a separate village which they named Yeni Zelve.
- Kaymakli Underground City
During the early Byzantine era, the Christians of the city decided to protect themselves from the Arab and Persian invaders by digging out an underground living situation for themselves. The Kaymakli Underground City has a complex web of rooms that have been connected by various narrow tunnels that further extend up to eight levels. Only four tunnels are open for tourists to visit and explore.
- Ihlara Valley
The beautiful Ihlara Valley attracts tourists for its tall poplar trees and fertile farming plots. The valley was earlier the favourite retreat spot for hermetic monk communities, who are known to carve churches and monastery complexes into the cliff. The most famous examples being the Kokar Kilise, Yılanlı Kilise, and Kirk Dam Altı Kilise. It is said that the valley has been responsible for housing around 4000 dwellings, 100 cave churches which are decorated with frescoes and approximately 80,000 people.
Trabzon or formerly known as Trebizond is the largest city in the Eastern Karadeniz region of Turkey. It was founded around 756 BC by Greek colonists from Sinope. Trabzon’s history stretches back into ancient times that has been today regarded as a hub of cultural and natural riches in the eastern Black Sea Region. Trabzon is located on the historic Silk Road. It reflects a rich amalgamation of various religions, languages and cultures that have existed for centuries. It boasts of being an important centre of commerce and culture, museums, monasteries, mosques, tombs, caravanserais, bath-houses, bazaars, city walls, and landscapes.
- Sumela Monastery
Constructed 3,900 feet on top of a cliff in Trabzon, the Sumela Monastery holds great historical and cultural significance. Constructed between 365 and 395 AD, after two monks saw Jesus and the Virgin Mary in the place where the Sümela Monastery was built in their dreams. They then decided to create the monastery in the same spot where they saw them. It garners a huge tourist attraction from people visiting the Altındere National Park to witness its great architectural brilliance.
- Trabzon Castle
The famous Walls of Trabzon are a number of defensive walls that have been constructed around the old town of the city of Trabzon. Also known as the Trabzon Castle, the walls were constructed during the Roman era that stretches from the hill on the backside of the old town to the Black Seashore. A division of three parts runs in the city due to the walls, the Upper Town, the Middle Town and the Lower Town. The Upper town acted as the citadel and as the acropolis of the city. The one side of the castle that is surrounded by the sea and the other by greenery acts as one of the most touristic places for people to visit in Trabzon.
- Hagia Sophia
The Hagia Sophia is a popular museum of Trabzon that was earlier regarded as a Greek Orthodox church which was built by King Manuel I from the Comnenus Family of the Trabzon Empire between 1250 and 1260. Later it was converted into a mosque in 1584 and also used as a hospital. It has been frequently acknowledged as one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture.
Not only for its history and architectural greatness, but Trabzon also has one of the most beautiful naturistic spots. The city is crowded with a bunch of highlands. The most famous being the Uzungöl or the long lake highland in the Çaykara district, which surrounds itself with spectacular views and valleys. Other highlands in the city include Lapazan Highland, Garester Highland, Haldizen Highland, Şerah Village and Şekersu Highland.
FUN FACTS ABOUT TURKEY
- Jelly beans are an American version of the famous Turkish Delight. Also known as lokum is one of the oldest sweets in world history.
- In the 3rd century A.D, St. Nicholas is also known as Santa Claus, was born in Patara, Turkey.
- According to UNWTO World Tourism barometer in 2011, Turkey was ranked as the sixth most popular tourist destination in the world and fourth in Europe.
- In 1994, the stones found in Göbekli Tepe marked it as the world’s first temple and an important archaeological site to be ever discovered.
- Istanbul is the world’s only city that is part of two continents.
- The national sport of Turkey is grease wrestling. The first grease wrestling game was hosted in 1362 making it the world’s oldest sporting event.
- The word “tulip” comes from the Turkish word for turban. Tulips were initially introduced to Europe through Dutch traders by the Turks in the 17th century.
- Turkey is the largest grower of hazelnuts in the world. It is responsible for producing 80% of the world’s hazelnut exports.
- In the 16th century, the Turks introduced coffee to Europe.
- The most valuable silk carpet in the world that has over 144 knots per square centimetre, is found in the Mevlâna Museum in Konya, Turkey.
FASCINATING TURKISH TRADITIONS
- Upon entering Turkey you’ll be able to notice how every newborn baby has an evil eye pinned onto them. Not just babies, even the entrance door of every house too. The black eye is a popular souvenir that is expected to ward off the negative vibes from someone else’s eyes.
- The famous Turkish Tea is not just a famous beverage of the Turks but is a tradition to offer the Turkish tea as a sign of welcome, in homes and shops both.
- During Turkish weddings or special events, car honking is considered as a good omen.
- A party is held for young Turkish boys when they make a transition from boyhood to manhood.
- While visiting a friend or relatives house, people are given slippers so they can leave their shoes at the door. Heavy amount of food is served to guests which if refused is considered extremely rude.
FAMOUS STREET FOOD TO TRY IN TURKEY
- Borek is a delicious Turkish pastry that is filled with minced meat (spinach for vegetarians) and cheese. Sesame seeds are added on top for a great crunchy flavour. Borek has been around centuries ago and is treated with great importance in the country. You can find it in the Balkans, Levant, and Mediterranean region of Turkey. The price of the pastry starts around 200 Indian rupees.
- Sibling of the famous Subway, the Balik Ekmek is a famous sandwich that is made with grilled fish. Since the country is surrounded by great sea waters, the best thing that you should try indulging in is seafood. And what better way to have it grilled inside a delicious slice of bread. The price of the sandwich is around 30 to 60 Indian rupees. Perfect for when you don’t want to spend too much on a meal or for a snack.
- The Turkish version of a wrap or burrito, durum is loved for its deliciousness. Made on a Turkish flatbread inside which slow-cooked chicken, lamb, or beef is stuffed. The price of durum starts from around 175 India rupees.
- Found near the shacks of beaches and resorts is this famous street food called Kumpir. It is made from jacket potatoes that have a crisp outer skin and softer interior. The toppings added to it include deliciousness like cheese, sausage, pickles, and Russian salad. The price of a Kumpir starts from 100 Indian rupees.
- Simit is the famous Turkish pretzel that is loved by Turks to eat at breakfast. The pretzel dates back to the times of the Ottoman Empire. The price of a pretzel is around 18 Indian rupees only.
Turkey has a host of sweet delicacies to devour. The most loved by tourists and locals is the mouth-watering Baklava. It is made of layers of filo pastries that have been stuffed with nuts. Other great desserts include the Kunefe, Lokum and Halva. Don’t forget to try yourself and bring back home to your family and friends.
EXPERIENCES YOU SHOULD TAKE HOME WITH YOU FROM TURKEY
- The Pamukkale Thermal Pools are one of the rarest phenomenons in the world. If fortunate enough to spend ample days in Turkey don’t forget to witness the expansive white landscape with turquoise springs formed in different layers. The pools are filled with therapeutic water that has the power to heal diseases such as skin ailments, eye problems, rheumatism and asthma.
- The great Cemberlitas Hamami of Turkey is the age-old bathhouses that were designed by the Mimar Sinan in 1584. The historic Turkish bath is one of the greatest experiences one can devour. It was built in 1584 by Mimar Sinan. When enjoying the city of Istanbul don’t forget to take a hot calming dip into the waters of Cemberlitas Hamami.
- Visit the great serene spot where the Black Sea meets the Mediterranean Sea. The spot is guarded by the Rumeli fortress that towers a view of the Galata Bridge and the cityscape at the Bosphorus. You can take a ferry ride to enjoy the ambience that surrounds the place.
- Cappadocia is one of the most stunning cities in the world to experience a hot air balloon ride. The rides take place 250 days a year, so you get the option of enjoying the summer or winter surrealness in the city. Around 200 people experience this ride every day.
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