This waterfront city features world-renowned architecture influenced by Roman, Greek and Genoese styles, all reflecting the long line of history that has paved the way to its present-day status as Turkey’s economic mega-city.
Turkey, a Eurasian country, has a landscape peppered with history, from its many castles to its historic battlegrounds. Turkey is where the Ottoman Empire sprung and where the battle for Troy took place in Homer’s Iliad. The main city, Istanbul, was once the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople, and was also one of the first multicultural cities in the world. The country is a great mix of old and new, and offers rich and colourful history, food and culture.
Currency: Turkish Lira (TRY)
Government: Parliamentary Republic
DID YOU KNOW?
- The number of archaeological excavations going on in Turkey every year is at least 150.
- The oldest known human settlement is in Catalhoyuk, Turkey (7500 BCE).
- The main city, Istanbul, is the only city in the world built on two continents.
- Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat, which is located in Eastern Turkey.
Turkey’s geographical features make for a lot of variation in temperature. A mountain range runs parallel to the coasts, separating the country into several different climates: the coasts experience mild weather, while the inland plateau is hit with hot summers and cold winters. Due to the massive climate differences across the country, Turkey has been dubbed “the land of four seasons.” The Aegean and Mediterranean coasts of Turkey experience dry, hot summers and mild and wet winters.
In the summer, the coasts can see highs of 45°C, while the coldest temperature in the winter tends to be -5°C. Eastern Turkey experiences an extreme climate, with lows of -43°C and potential highs of 38°C, while central Anatolia has summer temperatures of 40°C and winter temperatures of -25°C.
- Winter: October – April
- Summer: June – September
- Spring: April – May
- Autumn: October – Early November
While today’s Turkey is a stable and exciting place to visit, its past has been mired in uncertainty and turmoil. In the 6th century BCE, the Persian Empire occupied the Anatolia area. Soon after, the Roman and, subsequently, the Byzantine Empires settled in the area, expanding and setting up some of the cultural roots we see today. In the 13th century, the Ottoman Turks swept through Turkey and eventually parts of Europe and Northern Africa, dominating the area for nearly 600 years. This time period was quite prosperous for the Turks, as the Ottoman Empire was one of the most powerful empires in history. This period was known for creating a great cultural outpour of Islamic art, architecture and literature.
After the 14th century and the reign of Sultan Suleyman I, the world started to see the decline of the Ottoman Empire. By the 18th century, other political powers were emerging and threatened the areas that belonged to the Ottomans, including Russia and Britain and France, resulting in several wars (the Crimean War and the Russo-Turkish War). These wars resulted in several larger parts of the Ottoman Empire braking off, fracturing the empire. By 1909, the empire was entirely weakened and a new wave of political understanding arrived, named the Young Turk movement. This movement began the process of creating the modern-day, secular Turkey you see today. Despite progressive attempts to install a liberal government and implement a constitution, the Ottomans felt further defeats in a war with Italy and in the Balkan Wars and through World War II. By the later half of the 1920s, the Ottoman Empire no longer existed.
ISTANBUL’S OLD CITY
Once the capital of Christian Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire, this part of Istanbul boasts the ancient Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque and the Topakapi Palace.
Who are the Whirling Dervishes? These men are members of the Mevlevi Order in the city of Konya or Istanbul. Catch a special ceremony of whirling dancing called the Sema.
CAPPADOCIA BALLOON FLIGHT
Take an early morning hot-air balloon journey over the beautiful Turkish landscapes of Cappadocia in central Anatolia.
Now home to one of the Aegean’s premier resorts, Bodrum was originally one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Bodrum is where you will find the Mausoleum of Mausolus and the Castle of St. John.
No trip to Turkey is without a viewing of grease wrestling at the Kirkpinar Festival in Edirne every summer.
You simply can’t leave Turkey without buying one of these classic souvenirs to take home. Here are the best finds, from antique rugs to evil eyes.
A tragic love story haunts the banks of the river Yesil in Amasya, Turkey. Here’s why this ancient city is a place of romance, history and love lost.
A carpet is perhaps the most iconic souvenir to take home from Turkey. But how do you spot the real ones from the fakes? How do you know you’re paying the right price? Here are five tips for buying a Turkish rug without getting scammed.
It may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you’re planning a family getaway, but Istanbul has tons to offer kids, from hands-on museum exhibits to decadent sugary treats.
Turkey’s stunning cliffside monastery just might literally take your breath away, as you tackle the climb to a site that feels like the top of the world.
For a true taste of Turkey, sample one of these five delicious treats and forget what you think you know about Turkish cuisine. Those bland delights you’ve tried in the past have nothing on the real deal.
From the world’s longest pizza to anise-flavoured shots of raki, here are five true Turkish delights to tempt your tastebuds.
Where are the most culturally rich cities in the world? The World Cities Culture Report has named its Top 12 choices. Do you agree with the picks?
Pamela MacNaughtan takes a break from her mad 10,000-mile dash on the Mongol Rally to take in some sights along the way—such as the beautiful, peaceful scenery of Turkey’s Black Sea Coast.
There were people everywhere, and crowded aisles. Wafting scents and dazzling merchandise. Waheeda Harris was suffering sensory overload and couldn’t find an exit. Here’s what happened the day she got lost in Istanbul’s famous Grand Bazaar.
Pamela MacNaughtan finally gets to meet her crush, Istanbul, while on the Mongol Rally. But their in-person relationship is just a fleeting fling.
Mongol Rallier Pamela MacNaughtan arrives in Turkey, where she gets lost, gets in an accident and gets no time to rest.
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is a must-visit spectacle of glittering merchandise and thick crowds — which makes it a paradise for pickpockets. Here’s how to keep your money and valuables safe.
Real tour guides can bring historical sites like the Blue Mosque in Istanbul alive. But fake guides can be a real pest and can end up costing you money. Here’s what you need to know to spot the difference.
Scam City’s Conor Woodman found that Turkey’s scams are much more sophisticated than traditional stealing. Find out what he learned about dodgy places and shady characters while filming in Istanbul.
Turkey’s bazaars are famous for gold. You can buy gold rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces and even gold coins for a reasonable price. But beware of anyone trying to sell you Ottoman coins—you might be the target of the Turkey coin con!
Travelling to Istanbul, Turkey? Avoid getting scammed. Here’s some advice about how to deal with the most common con game taxi drivers try to pull on unsuspecting tourists.
From Turkey’s Boza to Belgium’s Gueze beer, discover Europe from a whole new perspective.