- Flying to Türkiye takes approximately 3 hours only from Europe
- Türkiye is the only secular Moslem country of the world, founded by M.Kemal ATATURK with public parliament in 1923
- Women received equal rights and the right to vote in 1934
- The Turkish cuisine is one of the richest in the world along with the French and Chinese cuisine; that you can find more than 200 recipes only for an eggplant dish
- Wine was produced as early as 4000 BC to worship the God Dionysus.
- According to the legend, Noah’s Ark landed on Agri Dagi “Mount Ararat” in Eastern Türkiye
- The last meal on Noah’s Ark, a pudding contains 40 ingredients, is still served during the “Noah’s pudding month” throughout Türkiye
- Turks introduced coffee to Europe
- According to a Turkish tradition, a stranger at one’s door step is considered “a guest of God” and is most welcomed
- Türkiye has the oldest and the largest covered shopping mall “Grand Bazaar” of the world, with 64 streets, over 4000 shops and 22 entrances
- Türkiye is internationally renowned for its excellent quality and affordability of the medical and health services.
- Turkish hospitals and clinics offer top notch medical care at a fraction of the cost in many countries.
- Plenty of medical centers handle all types of medical specialties and feature comprehensive facilities, as well as an impeccable infrastructure
- Many Turkish hospitals started to search for Traditional Chinese, Indian and Ancient Turkish MD professionals who could offer ancient Chinese Indian and Turkish medical healing system mixed in to the modern health care to employ. These researches and successful combination facts have increased interest in medical science in Turkey.
- The Turquoise color originates from the crystal clear seas surrounding Türkiye
- Troy flourished in splendor long with two of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Temple of Artemis, Artemission, and the Mausoleum of Mausolos
- The famous Trojan wars took place in western Türkiye, around the Gallipoli
- The oldest known human settlement, dates back to 7500 B.C., as well as the earliest landscape painting, dating from 6200 B.C. is in Catalhoyuk
- Türkiye hosts children from all over the world on every 23rd of April to celebrate the only “Children Day” of the world which was gifted by Turkish national hero ATATURK
- Anatolia is the birth place of historic legends such as; Homer “the poet”, King Midas “who turned everything into gold”, Herodotus “father of history” and the Apostles St. Paul and St. Peter
- Türkiye has been the homeland of historical relics pertaining to three of the world’s major religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
- Prophet Abraham was born in Urfa in the South East of Türkiye
- The site of the oldest temple is located in Urfa, dated between 8500-9000 BC.
- The first known Human Rights Declaration was witnessed in 1463, 485 years before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- The Blessed Virgin is said to lived and have died in Ephesus to where she traveled with St. John
- St Peter’s Grotto is the first ever built church located in Antioch, where the word “Christian” was uttered for the first time in history
- Alexander the Great cut the Gordion Knot
- First ever beauty contest held in Anatolia judged by Paris, among Aphrodite, Hera and Athena
- St. Nicholas, the original Santa Claus, lived and created a world-wide legend of generosity in Demre, Antalya
- Mardin, one of the few places remaining where you can still hear the native language of Jesus Christ – Aramaic
- The first recorded international treaty “Kadesh” was signed between Hittite and Egypt in 1284 BC
Highlights of Türkiye
This city was the hometown of St. Peter and headquarters of the St. Paul’s missionary journeys. It was the third largest city of the Roman Empire rivaled only by Rome and Alexandria. The New Testament, Book of Acts of the Apostles, specifically declares Jesus’ followers were first called Christian was here. St. Peter’s grotto was discovered by Crusaders and was reputed to have been a cave church where early Christians met in secret.
The appealing property and the reason of the migrations throughout the history to the Antakya region are the suitable and appropriate climate conditions and the productive and fertile lands. With its current faith tourism centers, ancient cities and beautiful plateaus, the province of Antakya has a high potential for tourism.
Archeological & Mosaic Museum
Scientific excavations that began in 1932 in Antioch, revealed extensive cultural and historical documents from each period beginning in 4000 BC until today. The large number of works documenting the region’s great history motivated the establishment of the Antioch Museum whose construction was completed in 1939.
In 1939, when the independent state of Antioch officially joined the Turkish Republic, the museum building was completed and the works obtained in the excavations were stored. Since this date, the arrangement of the works has been completed in nine years and the museum was opened to the public on July 23rd 1948, the day of independence of Antioch.
In addition to the various works the museum draws interest with its rich mosaic collection. The additional building which was started in 1969 was completed at the end of 1973 and the number of exhibition halls was increased to eight from five. In the near future there will be separate exhibitions for Hittite and Assyrian works.
History of Ankara surroundings stretches back to the Hatti civilization of the Bronze Age. Two thousand years before the time of Jesus, the Hittites became the dominant power of the region, and were then followed by the Phrygians, Lydian’s and Persians. In the 3rd Century BC, a Celtic race known as the Galatians made Ankara their capital city. The name Ankara comes from the word ‘Ancyra’, which means ‘anchor.’ The city once named Angyra
The capital of the Turkish Republic, Ankara, was founded almost in the middle of Central Anatolia. Due to its central location, the export of cloth made from the hair of the famous Angora goats turned Ankara into a major stop on the caravan route, and an important business centre especially during the Seljuk and Ottoman eras.
Although it is known to have been a small settlement during the Hittite period, no artifacts belonging to this period have been found yet. Excavations conducted in many of the local burial mounds have turned up to be the Phrygian artifacts.
After the Phyrgians, the city was occupied respectively by the Persians, Alexander the Great, and the Galatians. The Galatians were the first to use it as a capital city.
In 25 BC the Emperor Augustus annexed the city and its Galatians kingdom. In the 4th century AD, there was a surge in Christianity in this region, where St. Paul is said to have started the church.
The 7th and 8th centuries saw the rise of Islam, and the city received many raids by the Persians and Arabs. The outer walls of the castle were built during this time. Between 871 and 893, Turks and Crusaders took turns occupying the city but in 1127 AD the city was brought under the domination of the Turks and given the name Enguriye. In 1402 as a result of the battle between Yildirim Bayazit and Tamerlane, the city was briefly in the hands of the Mongols. In 1414, it came under the rule of the Ottomans.
The oldest parts of the city surround the Castle. The Aladdin Mosque is still one of the best examples of Seljuk art and wood craftsmanship, despite the fact that it was restored by the Ottomans. The area has experienced rejuvenation with the restoration of many interesting old Turkish houses, and the opening of several art galleries and fine restaurants which feature examples of traditional Turkish cuisine.
Ankara gained prominence under the leadership of Ataturk during the national resistance which followed the World War I. During the war of independence “1919-1922”, Ankara was chosen as a military base and in 1923 was declared to be the capital by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, due to geographic, strategic and political considerations as well as its role in the War of Independence. The foundations of the modern city were then laid by bringing in city planners from Europe.
Ankara has a vibrant cultural and artistic life with many select ballet, theatre, opera and folk dance performances. The city’s Philharmonic Orchestra, which always plays to a packed house, is especially famous.
Anatolian Civilizations Museum
Near the gate of the castle is the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which is a beautifully restored portion of the old bazaar. It contains priceless artifacts belonging to the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras as well as the Hatti, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartu and Roman civilizations
The Anatolian Civilizations Museum, being among exceptional museums with its unique collection, has Anatolian archaeological artifacts, starting from the Paleolithic Age to the present. Anatolian Civilizations Museum reaching the present time with its historical buildings and its deeply rooted history was elected as the first “Museum of the Year” in Switzerland on April 19, 1997.
Mausoleum & Museum of ATATURK
One of the most prominent parts of the city is Anitkabir, the magnificent mausoleum constructed to commemorate Atatürk. This structure, which was completed in 1953, is a synthesis of antique and modern architectural themes, and proves the elegance and strength of Turkish architecture. The Mausoleum is adorned with statues relief’s and embellishments created by many of Turkiye’s artists and have the magnificent mixture of the ancient and modern architectural styles.
On November 10, 1938, following an illness of a few months, the national liberator and the Father of modern Turkiye died. But his legacy to his people and to the world endures. The founder of modern Turkiye was buried in November 1953.
Because of the archaeological and natural richnes of the area, Antalya is also known as the Turkish Riviera. The sun, sea, nature and history combine to form a very popular resort, highlighted by some of the cleanest beaches in the Mediterranean. The 630 km shoreline of the province is liberally scattered with ancient cities, harbors, memorial tombs and beaches, secluded coves and lush forests, many of which are easily accessible from the city.
With its palm-lined boulevard, internationally-acclaimed marina, and old castle with traditional architecture, all set amidst a modern city, Antalya is a major tourist centre in Türkiye. In addition to the wide selection of hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and shops, the city also plays host to a number of sporting events throughout the year, like International Beach Volleyball, triathlon, golf tournaments, archery, tennis and canoeing competitions. The main area of interest in the city is central old quarter within the Roman walls, known as Kaleici, and there are many good museums.
This antique city established in the early age is 48km east of Antalya. Its most important feature is its theatre. The theatre and its stage are the best preserved of the Roman theatres in Anatolia which have reached our times. 15000 spectators can sit in the theatre. It was built during the reign of Emperor Antonius Pius (134-164) by the architect, Zenon.
While driving on the new road parallel to the coast that offers you all the beauties of the Mediterranean, a small road in the woods 35 kilometers before Antalya will take you to Phaselis in the village of Tekirova.
Phaselis was founded in 690 BC as a colony of Rhodes. It had three ports and was close to rich forests. In the sixth and seventh centuries BC, the sea was the only source of income for Phaselis. At that time the Persians took control of Anatolia, and later Alexander defeated the Persians and conquered Phaselis. The people of Phaselis opened their doors to Alexander and made him their guest. Alexander received several ambassadors from Pamphlia cities here in this city. He also conquered all the cities on the coast one-by-one and went on the way to Gordion.
Olympos (Cirali, Yanartas, Deliktas)
On the Antalya-Finike road, in order to go to Olympos, you should make a turn from Ulupinar when you see the sign pointing to the ruins. A narrow but beautiful road will take you to the beach of Olympos. To go to the ruins, you’ll pass a creek and walk a little on a wide beach which will take you to the creek that passes across the old town. Olympos was set up in the Hellenistic period. We have coins of the city printed in the second century BC. In 100 BC, Olympos became one of the six leading cities that had the right to vote. In the first century BC, pirates became so fond of the city that Olympos almost became a settlement area for the pirates. In 78 BC the Roman commander Servilius Isaurieus drove out the pirates and added the city to Roman territory. During the Roman era, the city became very famous with the cult of the blacksmith god, Vulcan (Hephaestus), in nearby Cirali, where natural gases keep a number of flames perpetually burning.
Homer’s description of Bodrum as “The land of eternal blue,” and the words of another resident of Bodrum Cevat Sakir, who said “the heavenly bliss of life in Bodrum is better than any eternal bliss that may await us,” was not without foundation in reality. Throughout history Bodrum, known as Halicarnassos in ancient times, has always been fought over and people have been unwilling to share its beauty with others. Built on a peninsula formed by the meeting of the eastern and western harbors, Bodrum, with its narrow streets winding down to the sea, is famous for its castle, its world-renowned yachts, its shipyards and the dazzling white houses and tombs lining the shores of its two harbors. Bodrum has all the facilities to meet the expectations of tourists.
Bursa / Prusa
Bursa is located in the northwest of the Anatolian peninsula and southeast of the Marmara Sea. The shores of the Marmara Sea are 135 km away. The most important peak in the province is Uludag (Olympos), which is a ski resort and national park. The most significant lakes are Lake Iznik and Lake Uluabat. Lively and historic city that boasts countless points of interest. Bursa’s roots can be traced back to 5200 B.C., the year the area was first settled. What is now Turkey’s fourth-largest city swapped hands between the Bithynia and Roman Empire before it became the first major capital of the Ottoman Empire in 1335
Bursa is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, has a long history that can be explored at practically every turn. But this city, which is also known for its food, beaches, bazaars, hot springs, and more, has a lot more to offer to visitors than just history.
Bursa’s Grand Bazaar is one of the city’s best spots for shopping. The city was known for producing high-quality silk goods during the Ottoman period, and fine ipek, or silk, can be found at Koza Han section which is located at the top level of the bazaar’s.
Throughout the rest of the bazaar, you’ll also find vendors selling shoes, clothing, bags, and souvenirs, as well as dried fruits, nuts, locally-produced cheeses and honeys, and a wide selection of fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Green Mosque
Green Mosque is a central part of a large complex located on the east side of the former capital of the Ottoman State. The complex consists of a mosque, tomb, madrasah, kitchen and bath. Breathtaking blueish green interior tile decorations named the Mosque complex and all neighborhood as Green Mosque & Green Neighborhood
The Green Mosque is often seen as the culmination of the early Ottoman architectural style, mainly due to the level of aesthetic and technical mastery displayed within the mosque The Green Mosque was built by Sultan Çelebi Mehmed, who ruled from 1413 to 1421, after a fight against his brothers to reunite the Ottoman State. Mehmed I was buried in a mausoleum, called the Green Tomb, commissioned by his son and successor, Murad the II.
The Green Mosque is now a popular tourist destination in Bursa, which was recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Grand mosque was built between 1396 and 1400 by Sultan Yıldırım Bayazit right in city center with its twenty domes and two minarets represents the most beautiful example of the early Ottoman Architacture. The white, black, and gold interior of the mosque is spacious and dimly, which gives the mosque a serene and somewhat intimate atmosphere.
Old City Wall
A fifteen minutes, uphill walk west from the Grand Mosque will take you to the the only surviving remains of the old city wall of the former citadel and the city gate called Hisar Gate for the best overlooking view of Bursa
Uludağ the ancient Mysian / Bithynian Olympus with an elevation of 2,543 m (8,343 ft).is a mountain in Bursa Province. Throughout the Middle Ages, it contained hermitages and monasteries: “The rise of this monastic centre in the 8th c. and its prestige up to the 11th are linked to the resistance of numerous monks to the policy of the iconoclast emperors and then to a latent opposition to the urban, Constantinopolitan monasticism of the Studites.” One of the greatest monks of the Christian East, the wonder-working Byzantine monk Saint Joannicius the Great, lived as a hermit on this mountain.
Mt. Uludağ is the highest mountain of the Marmara region. Its highest peak is Kartaltepe at 2,543 m (8,343 ft). To the north are high plateaus: Sarıalan, Kirazlıyayla, Kadıyayla, and Sobra. The area is a popular center for winter sports such as skiing, and a national park of rich flora and fauna. Summer activities, such as trekking and camping, also are popular.
Cappadocia is the place where nature and history come together most beautifully within the world. Cappadocia sits in the perfect center of the Anatolia with the Toros Mountains to the south, Aksaray to the west, Malatya to the east and the Eastern Black Sea shores to the north. While geographic events were forming Peribacalari (fairy chimneys), humans created the lasting signs of thousand year old civilizations by carving houses and churches within these earth pillars and decorating them with frescoes. Rock is the only construction material of the region. Houses are constructed at the foot of the mountains using rocks or cut stones. Traditional Cappadocian houses and dovecotes are carved into stones are the uniqueness of the region.
Fethiye with its cultural wealth, natural beauties and geography, is among the important tourism centers of Türkiye. The ancient name of Fethiye, which was a coastal city at the borders of Lycia-Caria, is Telmessos. It is famous for its works of art belonging to Persians, Lycians, Carians and Romans. This charming county is in a bay within Fethiye Gulf where both large and small islands are scattered. The rear of the bay is surrounded by pine forests.
12,000 year old stunning Gobekli Tepe site discovery took place in 1963. However the first scientific excavation started in 1995 by Professor Klaus Schmidt, who had led the excavation work in the site for 20 years, firmly stated that the six-meter-tall T-shaped stone pillars represented human figures since some of them have carvings of hands and fingers and with reliefs of animals, erected into the circle form. Those carvings that maybe the earliest three dimensional depictions of animals carved into stone are testament to the artistic ability of our ancestors.
Eventual findings added new pages to the history, changed long standing assumptions. The most important archaeological sites of the world Gobekli Tepe, rather than being used as a settlement, actually served religious purposes and contained number of temples. In that respect, it is not only the oldest center of worship, but also the largest one.
Although six of those temples were unearthed to date, on the basis of geomagnetic surveys, the total number of those monumental structures is believed to be twenty, with all temples sharing a resemblance to each other, making this entire region suggestive of being a center of faith and pilgrimage during the Neolithic Age. After shock waves through the archaeological world and beyond, some researchers even claiming Gobekli Tepe was the site of the biblical Garden of Eden. The many examples of sculptures and megalithic architecture which make up what is perhaps the world’s earliest temple at Gobekli Tepe predates pottery, metallurgy, the invention of writing, the wheel and the beginning of agriculture.
The fact that hunter–gatherer people could organize the construction of such a complex site as far back as the 10th or 11th millennium BC not only revolutionize our understanding of hunter-gatherer culture but poses a serious challenge to the conventional view of the rise of civilization.
Here are substantial grounds to claim that the most significant archaeological discovery of the 21st century is the Gobekli Tepe.
First of all, it dates back to 12 thousand years ago. In other words, it’s approximately 8 thousand years older than the pyramids and 7 thousand years older than the Stonehenge. Furthermore, it is even older than the human transition to settled life. Therefore, contrary to the widely held view, it proves the existence of religious beliefs prior to the establishment of the first cities.
Findings of researchers at Gobekli Tepe shows that a religious class existed even at such early ages, division of society into social classes took place well before the widely assumed dates, and perhaps the first agricultural activity may have been conducted in the region. The site is also remarkable with the first patriarchal thought, the first terrazzo flooring and the first statues and reliefs of the Neolithic Age. As a result, all this new information has been added to the collective knowledge of humanity and into the history books. On the merits of its contribution to human history, Gobekli Tepe was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2018.
“There, God and human, nature and art are together, they have created such a perfect place that it is valuable to see.” Lamartine’s famous poetic line reveals his love for Istanbul, describing the embracing of two continents, with one arm reaching out to Asia and the other to Europe.
Istanbul, once known as the capital of capital cities, has many unique features. It is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, and the only one to have been a capital during two consecutive empires – Christian and Islamic. Once capital of the Ottoman Empire,
Istanbul still remains the commercial, historical and cultural pulse of Türkiye, and its beauty lies in its ability to embrace its contradictions. Ancient and modern, religious and secular, Asia and Europe, mystical and earthly all co-exist here. Its variety is one of Istanbul’s greatest attractions: The ancient mosques, palaces, museums and bazaars reflect its diverse history. The thriving shopping area of Taksim buzzes with life and entertainment. And the serene beauty of the Bosphorus, Princes Islands and parks bring a touch of peace to the otherwise chaotic metropolis.
Istanbul Archeology Museums consist of three museums. Those are Archeology Museum, Old Eastern Artifacts Museum and Enameled Kiosk Museum. In the museum collections, there are rich and very important works of art belonging to various civilizations from the regions from Balkans to Africa, from Anatolia and Mesopotamia to Arab Peninsula and Afghanistan that were in the borders of the Ottoman Empire.
The area of Beylerbeyi on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus has been settled since Byzantine times. According to the famous 18th century traveler Inciciyan, Constantine the Great erected a cross here, after which the area was known as the Istavroz Gardens. Under the Ottomans this area was an imperial park or has bahce. Inciciyan relates that the name Beylerbeyi was given to this area in the 16th century because Mehmet Pasa who held the title of beylerbeyi (governor general) built a country house on the site. The sultans built several country houses and pavilions on the imperial estate here, and in 1829 Sultan Mahmud II built a wooden waterfront palace.
Sultan Abdülaziz demolished this wooden palace to build the present Beylerbeyi Palace in 1861-1865. Designed by the well known Ottoman architect Sarkis Balyan, the palace was generally reserved for summer use by the sultans or to accommodate foreign heads of state visiting the Ottoman capital. The Prince of Serbia, the King of Montenegro, the Sah of Iran and Empress Eugenie of France are among the royal guests who stayed here. The deposed Sultan Abdülhamid II spent the last six months of his life and died here in 1918.
Beyoglu is an interesting example of a district with European-influenced architecture, from the 19th C. Europe’s second oldest subway, Tunel was built by the French in 1875, must be also one of the shortest-offering a one-stop ride to start of Taksim to Tunel. Near Tunel is the Galata district, where Galata Tower became a famous symbol of Istanbul, and the top of which offers a tremendous 360 degrees view of the city.
From the Tunel area to Taksim square is one of the city’s focal points for shopping, entertainment and urban promenading Istiklal Caddesi is a fine example of the contrasts and compositions of Istanbul; fashion shops, bookshops, cinemas, markets, restaurants, selling trinkets and simit (sesame bread snack) ensure that the street is packed throughout the day until late into the night. The old tramcars re-entered into service, which shuttle up and down this fascinating street, and otherwise the street is entirely pedestrianised. There are old embassy buildings, Galatasaray High School, the colorful ambience of Balik Pazari (Fish Market) and restaurants in Cicek Pasaji (Flower Passage). Also on this street is the oldest church in the area, St. Mary’s Draperies dating back to 1789, and the Franciscan Church of St. Antoine, demolished and then rebuilt in 1913.
The street ends at Taksim Square, the hub of modern Istanbul and always crowded, crowned with an imposing monument celebrating Ataturk and the War of Independence. The main terminal of the new subway is under the square, adjacent is a noisy bus terminal, and at the north end is the Ataturk Cultural Centre, one of the venues of the Istanbul Theatre Festival. Several five-star hotels are dotted around this area, like the Hyatt, Intercontinental and Hilton.
Taksim and Beyoglu has for centuries been the centre of nightlife, and now there are many lively bars and clubs off Istiklal Street, including some of the only gay venues in the city. Beyoglu is also the centre of the more bohemian arts scene.
A stay in Istanbul is not complete without a traditional and unforgettable boat excursion up the Bosphorus, that winding strait that separates Europe and Asia. Its shores offer a delightful mixture of past and present, grand splendor and simple beauty. Modern hotels stand next to yali (shore-front wooden villas), marble palaces abut rustic stone fortresses, and elegant compounds neighbor small fishing villages. The best way to see the Bosphorus is to board one of the passenger boats that regularly zigzag along the shores.
During the journey you pass the magnificent Dolmabahçe Palace; further along raise the green parks and imperial pavilions of the Yildiz Palace. On the coastal edge of the parks stands the Çiragan Palace, refurbished in 1874 by Sultan Abdülaziz, and now restored as a grand hotel. For 300 meters along the Bosphorus shore its ornate marble facades reflect the swiftly moving water. At Ortaköy, the next stop, artists gather every Sunday to exhibit their works in a street side gallery. The variety of people creates a lively scene. Sample a tasty morsel from one of the street vendors. In Ortaköy, there is a church, a mosque and a synagogue that have existed side by side for hundreds of years – a tribute to Turkish tolerance at the grass roots level. Overshadowing Istanbul’s traditional architecture is one of the world’s largest suspension bridges, the Bosphorus Bridge, linking Europe and Asia.
Chora/Kariye is located at Edirnekapi section of Istanbul. The dictionary meaning of Kariye (Chora) is “outside of the city”, or “rural” in old Greek. The first Chora Church was built on the site of this chapel by Justinianus.
The building was used as a church after the conquest of Istanbul but was converted into a mosque in 1511 by the Vizier Grand Hadim Ali Pasha, who later added a school. After the conversion, the mosaics and frescoes were covered, sometimes by wooden blinds and sometimes by whitewashing over them. All the mosaics and frescoes were uncovered with the work carried out by the American Institute of Byzantine Research at 1948-1958.
Chora mosaics and frescoes are the most beautiful examples of the last period of Byzantine art [14th C]. They show a striking similarity. The monotonous background of the former period cannot be seen here. Theodoros Metochites, who has restored the church and adorned it with the mosaics him presenting a model of the Chora Church to Jesus.
Until the 17th century the area where Dolmabahçe Palace stands today was a small bay on the Bosphorus, claimed by some to be where the Argonauts anchored during their quest for the Golden Fleece, and where in 1453 Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror had his fleet hauled ashore and across the hills to be re-floated in the Golden Horn. This natural harbour provided anchorage for the Ottoman fleet and for traditional naval ceremonies. From the 17th century the bay was gradually filled in and became one of the imperial parks on the Bosphourus known as Dolmabahce, literally meaning “filled garden”.
A series of imperial kösks (mansions) and kasirs (pavilions) were built here, eventually growing into a palace complex known as Besiktas Waterfront Palace. Besiktas Waterfront Palace was demolished in 1843 by Sultan Abdülmecid (1839-1861) on the grounds that it was made of wood and inconvenient, and construction of Dolmabahce Palace commenced in its place.
Construction of the new palace and its periphery walls was completed in 1856. Dolmabahce Palace had a total area of over 110.000 square meters and consisted of sixteen separate sections apart from the palace proper. These included stables, a flour mill, pharmacy, kitchens, aviary, glass manufactory and foundry. Sultan Abdülhamid II (1876-1909) added a clock tower and the Apartments for the heir apparent, and the Hareket Kiosks in the gardens behind.
This horn-shaped estuary divides European Istanbul. One of the best natural harbors in the world, it was once the centre for the Byzantine and Ottoman navies and commercial shipping interests. Today, attractive parks and promenades line the shores, a picturesque scene especially as the sun sets gracefully over the water. At Fener and Balat, neighborhoods midway up the Golden Horn, there are entire streets filled with old wooden houses, churches, and synagogues dating from Byzantine and Ottoman times. The Orthodox Patriarchy resides at Fener and a little further up the Golden Horn at Eyup, is some wonderful examples of Ottoman architecture. Muslim pilgrims from all over the world visit Eyup mosque and Tomb of Eyup, the Prophet Mohammed’s standard bearer, and it is one of the holiest places in Islam. The area is a still a popular burial place, and the hills above the mosque are dotted with modern gravestones interspersed with ornate Ottoman stones. The Pierre Loti Cafe, atop the hill overlooking the shrine and the Golden Horn, is a wonderful place to enjoy the tranquility of the view.
Hagia Sophia is considered a unique monument in world architecture, and its magnificence and functionality has been a good example in construction of countless Ottoman mosques. Hagia Sophia with its exceptional history constitutes a synthesis between east and west. This monument is one of the wonders of the world that has remained intact until the present day. One can find many attractions in Hagia Sophia, interesting forms of Byzantine architecture, and mosaics of the Christian period as well as structures added during the Ottoman era.
Hagia Sophia had been a Christian place of worship for 916 years, then converted into a mosque and served Muslims for 481 years. Hagia Sophia Museum was opened in 1935 and ever since it has been attracting thousands of visitors every year. According to Byzantine historians (Theophanes, Nikephoros, Grammarian Leon) the first building of Hagia Sophia church was established during the reign of Constantius I (324 – 337 AD). It was a basilica with a wooden roof, and it was burned down during a revolt. Nowadays there is no evidence of this structure.
Tombs of Sultan Selim II, Sultan Mehmet III, Sultan Murat III as well as some of their relatives, fountain of Sultan Mahmut I, primary school, soup kitchen, library, Sultan Abdülmecit’s meeting place and the mosque timekeeper’s (astronomer’s) house may be found in the territory of Hagia Sophia Museum. All of the above mentioned objects, especially the tombs with their interior design; pottery and architecture are excellent examples of Ottoman tradition.
The Vehbi Koç Foundation Sadberk Hanim Museum occupies two separate buildings. The original building is a three-story (plus an attic) wooden mansion that is generally believed to have been built in the late 19th century and whose architecture was inspired by European vernacular traditions. The building, constructed of wood and lathe-and-plaster on a masonry foundation, was known as the “Azeryan Yalisi” or “Azeryan Yali”. The building was purchased by the Koç family in 1950 and was used by them as a summer-house until the decision to convert it into a museum was taken in 1978. The conversion to a museum was carried out between 1978 and 1980 according to a restoration project that had been prepared by Sedat Hakki Eldem. It opened its doors to the public on October 14th 1980 with the Sadberk Koc collection on display.
It is located on the promontory of the historical peninsula in Istanbul which overlooks both the Marmara Sea and the Bosphorus. The walls enclosing the palace grounds, the main gate on the land side and the first buildings were constructed during the time of Fatih Sultan Mehmet (the Conqueror) (1451-81). The palace has taken its present layout with the addition of new structures in the later centuries.
Topkapi Palace was the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans, starting with Fatih Sultan Mehmet until 1856. During 18th Century when the Topkapi Palace took its final shape, it was sheltering a population of more than 10,000 in its outer (Birun) and inner (Enderun) and Harem sections. When Abdülmecid moved to the Dolmabahce palace, functioned as the administrative center of the state.
Topkapi Palace was converted to a museum in 1924. Parts of the palace such as the Harem, Baghdad Pavilion, Revan Pavilion, Sofa Pavilion and the Audience Chamber distinguish themselves with their architectural assets, while in other sections artifacts are displayed which reflect the palace life. The museum also has collections from various donations and extremely rich library.
The Turkish and Islamic Art Museum is among the important museums of the world in its class housing works from almost all periods and all types of Islamic art with its collection exceeding forty thousand of art works. The Turkish and Islamic Art Museum received the Special Jury Award of Museum of the Year Competition of the European Council in 1984.
Izmir & Surroundings
Izmir is the third largest city in Türkiye with a population of around 3.5 million, the second largest port after Istanbul, and a good transport hub. Once the ancient city of Smyrna, it is now a modern, developed and busy commercial centre, set around a huge bay and surrounded by mountains. The broad boulevards, glass-fronted buildings and modern shopping centers are dotted with traditional red-tiled roofs, the 18th century market, and old mosques and churches, although the city has an atmosphere more of Mediterranean Europe than traditional Türkiye.
The climate is comfortable, with a relatively mild summer due to the refreshing breeze from the Aegean. The long attractive palm-fringed promenade, Kordon, which stretches the entire length of the city up to the Alsancak Ferry Terminal, is a popular spot for evening walks, and there are many cafes along the waterfront. Izmir has a good selection of culture and entertainment, from the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museums, to the State Opera and Ballet and State Symphony Orchestra, to the many bars and clubs. The cosmopolitan and lively city gets even busier during the International Izmir Festival (mid-June to mid-July) with music and dance, with performances also in nearby Cesme and Ephesus.
An antique city situated near the Karacasu-Aydin province, was established in the name of Goddess Aphrodite. It continued to be a great center of inhabitance from the Bronze Age to the Byzantine Period (2800 BC-220 AD). During excavations, the Aphrodite Temple, Odeon, stadium and agora, and the city baths have been revealed. Aphrodisias was well known during the Early Age as a center of sculpture. The Aphrodisias Stadium is one of the best preserved stadiums among the antique city stadiums in Anatolia.
Ephesus, one of the twelve Ion cities, developed as a result of the union of the Ion immigrants with the natives living near the temple of Kybele. Later, the spectacular temple built for this goddess who then took the name of the Greek Goddess Artemis, would be famous as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Like the other Ionian cities, Ephesus was ruled by Lydia, Persia, Macedonia and lastly by the Romans. This city was one of the most popular cities of the ancient world and was given special attention by many Hellenistic kings. For instance, it is known that Lysimakhos built this city and gave it to his wife, Arsino. Because the Romans made Ephesus the capital of the Asian State, the city became one of the biggest settlements in Anatolia. The city was an important centre for Christianity at this time. Thanks to its wonderful position and associated ports, Ephesus also became Anatolia’s largest trade centre. The Celsus library, the theatre, stadium, gymnasium, the temples and the famous baths are responsible for this city becoming sports, religious, cultural and entertainment centre especially in Roman times
The stunning white calcium pools, which cling to the side of a ridge, have long been one of the most famous picture postcard views of Türkiye. Pamukkale, literally meaning “cotton castle,” is also the site of the ancient city of Hierapolis and its interesting ruins, and is a very popular destination for a short visit. Pamukkale was formed when a spring with a high content of dissolved calcium bicarbonate cascaded over the edge of the cliff, which cooled and hardened leaving calcium deposits. This formed into natural pools, shelves and ridges into which tourists could plunge and splash in the warm water.
The museum contains over 10,000 archaeological and ethnographic works. The archaeological artifacts belong to the Bronze, Archaic, Classic, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine ages, and ethnographic exhibits consist of Ottoman relics and articles from the Pergamon region. Exhibited in the outer garden of the museum are tombstones and sarcophagi, while the inner garden contains pieces of architecture, reliefs, colossal statues and stone inscriptions.
The Acropolis was built on an extremely steep hill, approached by a winding road ascending some 300m. In this uniquely designed city, religious, official, social and commercial buildings are all found side-by-side. On top of this hill, which has been inhabited since ancient times, are the palaces of the king of Pergamon. There are also five cisterns and an arsenal on the hill. Below these buildings are the Temple of Athena, as well as the Library and the Temple of Trojan. The Altar of Zeus was carefully placed below these buildings on a terrace. One of the steepest amphitheatres in the world is found here. The lowest section of the acropolis is the gymnasium and the Temple of Demeter. Because of the topographical location of the city and the course of the main street, all the buildings of the acropolis are line up in a north-south fashion, but the buildings all face west so that they can be seen from far away. The Altar of Zeus was not encircled with colonnades for the same reason. The Agora and Athena Temple also have an unobstructed view.
Asclepion translates as ‘place of Asklepios’, the son of Apollo and the God of healing and health, and was an important health centre in Greco-Roman times. Among the types of therapy practiced here were mud baths, sports, theatre, psychotherapy and use of medicinal waters. A colonnaded street leads to the Asclepion, and to the left of the entrance is the temple of Asclepios. This domed temple with its exceptionally thick 3m walls was built in 150 AD, with donations made to the god of health. The interior was decorated with colorful marble mosaics, and surrounded by galleries on three sides; the Asclepion has a passageway running through the centre alongside the sacred spring towards the therapy building. It is thought that patients were cured here by the sound of running water and by the persuasive hypnotic techniques used by the priests.
The biggest structure and best-known attraction in the town is the Kizil courtyard (Red Basilica), a temple made of red brick dedicated to the Gods of Egypt. The temple lies in what is now the modern day town of Pergamon. The two pools in the temple with towers indicate ritual cleansing rites and a religious background that was neither Greek nor Roman. The fact that faces west, and is decorated with statues in an Egyptian style, indicates that it was possibly presented to Serapes, the Egyptian God of the underworld. In the Byzantine period, it was turned into a church by extensive remodeling, especially to the apse sections, and was dedicated to the Apostle John. In early Christianity, it was one of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor addressed by St. John in the Book of Revelation, who referred to it as the throne of the Devil. Although a crumbling ruin, it still contains the remains of a mosque in one of the towers.
These hot springs, rich in sulphur, are used to treat people suffering from chronic infection syndrome, chronic upper respiratory infections and nephritis. Situated between Bergama and Kozak Bucak, there are no facilities around this area.
Located 4 km from Pergamon, Beauty Thermal Spring has is a domed facility with two marble pools. Built in the reign of the Pergamon King Eumenes, the spring known as The Eskulap Baths has been famous for years. Today there are bungalows and a hotel belonging to Pergamon adjacent to the forest where the spring is located. The temperature of the water is around 35ºC, and the sodium bicarbonate and sulphuric waters of this spring are good for those suffering from rheumatism, kidney disorders or cardiovascular conditions. In addition, people with oily skin are believed to benefit from its beautifying powers. Cleopatra is even rumored to have visited the spring when she was in Pergamon, and owes a portion of her much celebrated beauty to the fact that she bathed here. The relatively high radioactivity of the water is equal to 1.5 eman.
At the junction of the East and West civilizations, Nemrut Dagi (Mt. Nemrut) is one of the most astounding sites in Türkiye. A collection of colossal statues on a remote mountain 2150m high, adorning the temple and tomb of King Antiochus. Unknown until 1881 when an Ottoman geologist discovered these 10 meters-high stone heads, archaeological work began in 1953 to uncover their history.
Mt. Nemrut has since been a significant attraction, with thousands coming at sunrise and sunset to see the stones in the best possible light. It has been designated a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO, and is one of the most important National Parks in the country. In addition to the statues, the entire site includes art from the Commagene civilization, the Eskikale (Old Castle), Yenikale (New Castle), Karakus Hill and Cendere Bridge. Most people use the nearby towns of Malatya, Kahta or Adiyaman as a base, and the road to the summit is only open from mid-April to mid-October due to heavy snow the rest of the year.
Nicea/Iznik, with thousands of year’s cultural heritage, occupied an important place in history. Having been the capital of four empires, it is one of the more remarkable settlements. There are traces of a civilizations dating back to 2500 BC near Iznik.
After its renovation by Antigonos, General of Macedonia, Emperor Alexander the Great named the city Antigoneia in 316 BC. After the death of Alexander the Great, the city was given to General Lysimakhos who won the battle against Antigonos and named the city Nicaea, in the name of his wife. In 293 BC, it became a part of Bithynia Kingdom. During this period, the city was decorated with important architectural structures. Nicaea, served as the capital city of Bithynia Kingdom and later became an important settlement for the Romans. Iznik was the capital city of the Seljuks and Byzantines through history.
Following its capture by the Ottoman Army in 1331, Iznik became a more active city and centre of art, culture and trade. The first Mosque, Madrasa and Imaret (Soup Kitchen) of the Ottoman Period were built. Iznik became an art centre during the 14th and 15th centuries, and world wide famous tiles and ceramics were produced here.
The building was constructed in 1388 in the name of Nilüfer Hatun, mother of Sultan Murad the 1st. as a kitchen for the poor as a philanthropic institution where meals were provided for the poor daily. Under the new Republic, it was converted to service in 1960 as a museum.
Iznik Hagia Sophia Museum
Hagia Sophia was a church constructed in basilica type in the 4th century. After 1331, it was converted into a mosque by Orhan Gazi. This old Hagia Sophia Church is open for visit today as a monument – museum.
Ancient city of Troy is located 30 km south west of Çanakkale province in the Marmara Region of Türkiye. 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 Homer’s epic Iliad took place here at about 1200 BC. A symbolic wooden horse at this site commemorates this legendary war.
The Geography of Turkiye
The lands of Türkiye are located at a point where the three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe make up the old world. Because of its geographical location, the mainland of Anatolia has always found favor throughout history, and is the birthplace of many great civilizations. It has also been prominent as a centre of commerce because of its land connections to three continents and the seas surrounding it on three sides.
Türkiye has two European and six Asian countries for neighbors along its land borders. The land border to the northeast is with the Commonwealth of Independent States, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Türkiye’s borders on the European continent consist of Greece and Bulgaria.
Most of the rivers of Türkiye flow into the seas surrounding the country. The Firat (Euphrates) and Dicle (Tigris) join together in Iraq and flow into the Persian Gulf. Türkiye’s longest rivers, the Kizilirmak, Yesilirmak and Sakarya, flow into the Black Sea. The Susurluk, Biga and Gonen pour into the Sea of Marmara, while the Gediz, Kucuk Menderes, Buyuk Menderes and Meric flow into the Aegean, and the Seyhan, Ceyhan and Goksu into the Mediterranean
Although Türkiye’s climatic conditions are quite temperate, the diverse nature of the landscape and the existence, in particular, of the mountains that run parallel to the coasts, result in significant differences in climatic conditions from oneregion to the other. While the coastal areas enjoy milder climates, the inland Anatolian plateau experiences extremes of hot summers and cold winters with limited rainfall.
Türkiye is divided into seven regions;
The Black Sea region uneven north Anatolian terrain running along the Black Sea resembles a narrow but long belt. The land of this region is approximately 1/6 of Türkiye’s total land area.
The Marmara region covers the area encircling the sea of Marmara and includes the entire European part of Türkiye, as well as the northwest of the Anatolian plain.
The Aegean region extends from the Aegean coast to the inner parts of western Anatolia.
The Mediterranean region, located in the south of Türkiye, the western and central Taurus Mountains suddenly rise up behind the coastline. The Amanos mountain range is also here.
The Central Anatolian region is exactly in the middle of Türkiye and gives the appearance of being less mountainous than the other regions.
The Eastern Anatolia region is Türkiye’s largest and highest region. About three fourths of it is at an altitude of 1,500-2,000 meters.
The Southeast Anatolia region is notable for the uniformity of its landscape.
Türkiye is surrounded by sea on three sides, the Black Sea in the north, the Mediterranean Sea in the south and the Aegean Sea in the west. In the northwest there is also an important internal sea, the Sea of Marmara, between the straits of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus, important waterways that connect the Black Sea with the rest of the world.
It is little known that Türkiye is a land of many lakes. In terms of numbers of lakes, the Eastern Anatolian region is the richest. It contains Türkiye’s largest, Lake Van (3.713 square kilometres), and the lakes of Ercek, Cildir and Hazar. There are also many lakes in the Taurus Mountains area: the Beysehir and Egirdir lakes, and the lakes that contain bitter waters like the Burdur and Acigoller. Around the Sea of Marmara are the lakes of Sapanca, Iznik, Ulubat, Manyas, Terkos, Kucukcekmece and Buyukcekmece. In Central Anatolia are the Aksehir and Eber lakes and the second largest lake in Türkiye is Tuzgolu. The waters of this lake are shallow and very salty.
History in Brief
- 10500 BC — 7000 BC : First dwellings at KARAIN cave. Primitive stone implements and weapons.
- 10.000 BC The earliest three-dimensional depictions carved into stone in the Gobekli Tepe the first Temple of the world which is velieved to be a centre of faith and pilgrimage during the Neolithic Age..
- 700 BC : First settlement at HACILAR. Earliest evidence of agriculture in Anatolia/Asia Minor.
- 6500 BC — 5500 BC : CATALHOYUK becomes first cultural center. Earliest known religious shrines.
- Pottery, frescoes and sculpture in Anatolia (Asia Minor).
- 5500 BC : Sophisticated painted pottery and figurines at CATALHOYUK and HACILAR.
- 3000 BC : First settlement at TROY.
- 1950 BC : Assyrian Merchant Colony flourished at KANESH (KULTEPE).
- 1600 BC : Founding of HATTUSA by the HITTITES.
- 1600 BC — 1200 BC : Old Hittite Kingdom.
- 1275 BC : Fall of TROY.
- 1100 BC — 1000 BC : Greek colonists arrive on the Aegean cost of Anatolia.
- 900 BC — 800 BC : The Phrygian, Lydian, Carian and Lycians cultures arrive in Anatolia.
- 700 BC : Homer born at Smyrna.
- 650 BC : Establishment of BYZANTIUM by Byzas of MEGARA.
- 640 BC : First use of COINAGE.
- 546 BC : Cyrus of Persia defeats Croesus and Ionia (Greece) comes under Persian rule.
- Birth of ALEXANDER the GREAT.
- Alexander crosses into Anatolia and defeats Persians at the GRANICUS River.
- Alexander dies at Babylon in June at the age of 32.
- Foundation of Antioch.
- Celts invade Anatolia and are defeated by ANTIOCHUS.
- Rise of the Attalia kings of Pergamum.
- Roman province of Asia established.
- Kommagene Kingdom founded.
- Anthony and Cleopatra meet in TARSUS.
- Anthony and Cleopatra married at ANTIOCH.
- Suicide of Anthony and Cleopatra. Octavius makes a triumphant visit to ANTIOCH.
- GALEN born at Pergamum.
- First Ecumenical Council of NICEA (Iznik) condemns Aryanism.
- Constantine chooses Byzantium to be his capital.
- Paganism outlawed by Theodosius the Great.
- Roman Empire divided.
- The Ecumenical Council of Ephesus condemns Nestorianism.
- First Iconoclastic period.
- Schism between Greek and Roman Churches.
- The SELCUKS, a nomadic Turkish people, defeat the Byzantines at Malazgirt and overrun most of Anatolia.
- OTTOMAN State founded.
- Ottoman defeats the Serbs at Kosovo.
- Beyazit I vanquishes a crusader army at Nicepolis on the Danube.
- Turks crush a Crusader army at Varna.
- The Ottoman Turks capture Constantinople under Mehmet II.
- Selim I capture Cairo and assume the title of Caliph.
- Reign of Suleyman the Magnificent. The Zenith of Ottoman power.
- Turks conquer Cyprus.
- The Rule of the Women: ineffective Sultans give up control of their power to their Women & Grand Viziers.
- Greek War of Independence begins.
- Balkan Wars. Turks loose Macedonia and Part of Thrace.
- Türkiye enters World War I as the ally of Germany.
- Turkish Army under the command of MUSTAFA KEMAL repels the allied forces landings in GALLIPOLI.
- Turks surrender to the Allies.
- MUSTAFA KEMAL ATATURK leads Turkish nationalists in the struggle for National sovereignty.
- Turks defeat the Greeks and drive them out of Anatolia. The Sultanate is abolished.
- Establishment of the Turkish Republic with ATATURK as first President and Ankara as its Capital.
- The Caliphate abolished.
- Women receive the right to vote and to hold official office.
The Turkish language is spread over a large geographical area in Europe and Asia; recent studies show that this language dates back 5500 years, and perhaps even as much as 8500. At the same time, it is, in fact, the sixth most widely spoken tongue in the world today. It is spoken in the Azeri, the Turkmen, and the Tartar, the Uzbek, the Baskurti, the Nogay, the Kyrgyz, the Kazakh, the Yakuti, the Cuvas and other dialects. Turkish belongs to the Altaic branch of the Ural-Altaic family of languages, and is closely related to Mongolian, Manchu-Tungus, Korean and perhaps Japanese.
Turkish is a very ancient language, with a flawless phonetic, morphological and syntactic structure, and at the same time possesses a wealth of vocabulary. The fundamental features which distinguish the Ural-Altaic languages from the Indo-European are as follows:
- Vowel harmony, a feature of all Ural-Altaic tongues
- The absence of gender
- Adjectives precede nouns
- Verbs come at the end of the sentence
The oldest written records are found upon stone monuments in Central Asia, in the Orhon, Yenisey and Talas regions within the boundaries of present-day Mongolia. These were erected to Bilge Kagan (735), Kültigin (732), and the vizier Tonyukuk (724-726). Apart from these, there are one hundred inscriptions of various sizes mentioned by the Swedish army officer Johan von Strahlenberg. The perfection of the language used in these records, which document the social and political life of the Gokturk Dynasty, proves that Turkish, as a language of letters, has been in use from very ancient times. With the emergence of the Cagatay Dynasty, which came about when the Empire of Genghis Khan was divided among his sons, a new wave of Turkish literature was born and grew under the influence of Persian literature. It reached its pinnacle with the works of Ali Sir Navai in the 15th century. The Turkish of Türkiye that developed in Anatolia and across the Bosphorus in the times of the Selcuks and Ottomans was used in several valuable literary works prior to the 13th century. The men of letters of the time were, notably, Sultan Veled, the son of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi, Ahmed Fakih, Seyyad Hamza, Yunus Emre, a prominent thinker of the time, and the famed poet, Gulsehri.
The Republican Era and Language Reform
With the proclamation of the Republic in 1923 and after the process of national integration in the 1923-1928 periods, the subject of adopting a new alphabet became an issue of utmost importance. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk had the Latin alphabet adapted to the Turkish vowel system, believing that to reach the level of contemporary civilization, it was essential to benefit from western culture. The creation of the Turkish Language Society in 1932 was another milestone in the effort to reform the language. The studies of the society later renamed the Turkish Linguistic Association, concentrated on making use again of authentic Turkish words discovered in linguistic surveys and research and bore fruitful results. At present, in conformity with the relevant provision of the 1982 Constitution, the Turkish Language Association continues to function within the organizational framework of the Atatürk High Institution of Culture, Language and History. The essential outcome of the developments of the last 50-60 years is that whereas before 1932 the use of authentic Turkish words in written texts was 35-40 percent, this figure has risen to 75-80 percent in recent years. This is concrete proof that Atatürk’s language revolution gained the full support of the public.
The richness of variety Turkish cuisine possesses is due to several factors: the variety of products offered by the lands of Asia and Anatolia, interaction with numerous different cultures over a long historical process and the new tastes developed in the palace kitchens of the Seljuk and Ottoman empires. These have all played a part in shaping the new character of our culinary culture.
Turkish Cuisine, which in general consists of sauced dishes prepared with grains, various vegetables and some meat, soups, cold dishes cooked with olive oil, pastry dishes and dishes made from wild vegetation has also produced a series of health foods such as pekmez, yogurt, bulgur etc. The eating habits which reflect the tastes changing from one location to the next, gains a new meaning and near-sacredness on special occasions, When people think of Turkish cuisine, one often visualizes the roast lamb over blazing fires or the sis kebab, small pieces of lamb on iron skewers. Tourists can be found returning to their country with a dozen such skewers from the bazaars of Istanbul.
But Turks are also great vegetarians. The cuisine’s delicate flavoring of many dishes with herbs is well-known. One can say with some assurance that Turkish cooking is at its best when a bouquet of herbs is used with great care. Meat is used sparingly with a variety of vegetables to make the most flavorful and tasty dish called ‘dolma’, meaning stuffed. Not only vegetables that can be hollowed such as tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants, potatoes, artichokes and celery are stuffed; but the mixture of ground meat, uncooked rice, chopped onions and two or three kinds of herbs can be rolled in grape leaves, cabbage leaves and other leaves large enough that have been slightly boiled tender.
Turkish cuisine ought also to be well-known for its cold vegetable dishes known also as ‘dolma’ when the same vegetables are stuffed without meat. The filling is made up of rice, again with a good amount of chopped onions (fresh or dried), two or three kinds of chopped herbs and additionally flavored with black pepper and cinnamon. Pine nuts and currants are a must. Olive oil is added to this filling and it is stuffed or rolled with the vegetable and simmered over a low fire until the rice is well-cooked and the added water is all gone. These types of stuffed vegetables or vegetable rolls are always served at room temperature, never hot and never too cold.
Then, there are the pastry, ‘borek,’ type main dishes which are the pride and joy of any good cook. Some of them call for ground meat but the majority of such pastry dishes are vegetarian, requiring as filling a variety of chopped leaves mixed with raw eggs and soft white cheese. Sometimes fillings are made up of pureed grains such as lentils, chic peas and/or potatoes.
Another group of Turkish dishes that are the mainstay of many homes are ‘meze’ or starters, vegetable dishes that are cooked in olive oil and served at room temperature. Both dried and fresh vegetables are cooked with lots of chopped onions, chopped tomatoes and are garnished with fresh chopped parsley and/or dill.
And, what would the meal be without a sweet finale? Baklava, the queen of Turkish desserts, deserves praise for its nutritious nut varieties. One can always choose to delight the palate with baklava that is richly filled with ground walnuts, pistachio nuts or hazel nuts. Turkish custards are another common choice and are topped as well with a variety of finely ground nuts such as almonds or pistachios.
Until late Ottoman times there were generally two meals in the day, one in late morning and dinner. Today the main meals are breakfast, lunch and dinner. In some regions, one more meal, known as “yatsilik, uykuluk or yat-geber yemegi,” is added to these, especially in the long winter nights. Another meal is sometimes eaten in the late afternoon, especially on neighborhood visits. At breakfast, generally cheese, olives, bread, eggs and jam are served. Where the main beverage is tea, different types of cheese, sausage, tomato, cucumber, pepper and other regional foods may be eaten. The tradition of eating soup, honey, molasses and clotted cream still continues in some villages. Lunches consist of stews, soup, salads etc. Desserts, meat and food which take a long time to prepare are not eaten. At dinner, soup, a main course, salad and dessert are commonly eaten. Since dinner is the meal at which family members can sit around a table together, it is the richest and most carefully prepared meal of the day. In the last meal of the day, called “yatsilik,” appetizers, fruits and nuts are eaten. Although it has largely been replaced by the tea, the drinking of boza (a beverage made of slightly fermented millet) and eating of dried fruit pulps still continue in some regions.
Religions of Turkiye Throughout The History
History has been incredibly generous to Türkiye and, has been vital in the history of the three major religions Islam, Christianity and Judaism . Türkiye is one of only few countries where all three religions have co-existed peacefully for centuries. There are many important sites in Türkiye of interest to people of all faiths.
On the midnight of August 2 nd 1492, when Columbus embarked on what would become his most famous expedition to the New World, his fleet departed from the relatively unknown seaport of Palos because the shipping lanes of Cadiz and Seville were clogged with Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain by the Edict of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain. The Jews were forced either to convert to Christianity or to “leave” the country under menace “they dare not return… not so much as to take a step on them not trespass upon them in any manner whatsoever” left their land, their property, their belongings all that was theirs and familiar to them rather than abandon their beliefs, their traditions, their heritage. In the faraway Ottoman Empire , one ruler extended an immediate welcome to the persecuted Jews of Spain, the Sephardim. He was the Sultan Bayazid II. This humanitarianism demonstrated at that time, was consistent with the beneficence and goodwill traditionally displayed by the Turkish government and people towards those of different creeds, cultures and backgrounds. Indeed, Türkiye could serve as a model to be emulated by any nation which finds refugees from any of the four corners of the world standing at its doors. In 1992, Turkish Jewry celebrated not only the anniversary of this gracious welcome, but also the remarkable spirit of tolerance and acceptance which has characterized the whole Jewish experience in Türkiye . The events being planned – symposiums, conferences, concerts, exhibitions, films and books, restoration of ancient Synagogues etc – commemorated the longevity and prosperity of the Jewish community. As a whole, the celebration aimed to demonstrate the richness and security of life Jews have found in the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic over seven centuries, and showed that indeed it is not impossible for people of different creeds to live together peacefully under one flag. A History Predating 1492 The history of the Jews in Anatolia started many centuries before the migration of Sephardic Jews. Remnants of Jewish settlements from the 4 th century B.C. have been uncovered in the Aegean region. The historian Josephus Flavius relates that Aristotle “met Jewish people with whom he had an exchange of views during his trip across Asia Minor .” Ancient synagogue ruins have been discovered in Sardis , Miletus , Priene , Phocee , etc. dating from 220 B.C. and traces of other Jewish settlements have been discovered near Bursa , in the southeast and along the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts. A bronze column found in Ankara confirms the rights the Emperor Augustus accorded the Jews of Asia Minor. In Sardis , near Izmir , the remains of the largest ancient synagogue in existence date back to the 3 rd century C.E. There is some evidence that Jews had settled in Sardis as early as 547 B.C.E. Some authorities believe that Sardis , Sfard in Lydian, may be the city of the Sepharad who are mentioned in Obadiah 20. Jewish communities in Anatolia flourished and continued to prosper through the Turkish conquest. When the Ottomans captured Bursa in 1326 and made it their capital, they found a Jewish community oppressed under Byzantine rule. The Jews welcomed the Ottomans as saviors. Sultan Orhan gave them permission to build the Etz ha-Hayyim (Tree of Life) synagogue which remained in service until nineteen forties. Early in the 14th century, when the Ottomans had established their capital at Edirne , Jews from Europe , including Karaites, migrated there. Similarly, Jews expelled from Hungary in 1376, from France by Charles VI in September 1394, and from Sicily early in the 15th century found refuge in the Ottoman Empire . In the 1420s, Jews from Thessalonica, then under Venetian control, fled to Edirne . Ottoman rule was much kinder than Byzantine rule had been. In fact, from the early 15th century on, the Ottomans actively encouraged Jewish immigration. A letter sent by Rabbi Yitzhak Sarfati (from Edirne ) to Jewish communities in Europe in the first part of the century “invited his co-religionists to leave the torments they were enduring in Christendom and to seek safety and prosperity in Türkiye “. When Mehmet II “the Conqueror” took Constantinople in 1453, he encountered an oppressed Romaniot (Byzantine) Jewish community which welcomed him with enthusiasm. Sultan Mehmet II issued a proclamation to all Jews “… to ascend the site of the Imperial Throne, to dwell in the best of the land, each beneath his Dine and his fig tree, with silver and with gold, with wealth and with cattle…”. In 1470, Jews expelled from Bavaria by Ludvig X found refuge in the Ottoman Empire . A Heaven for Sephardic Jews Sultan Bayazid II’s offer of refuge gave new hope to the persecuted Sephardim. In 1492, the Sultan ordered the governors of the provinces of the Ottoman Empire “not to refuse the Jews entry or cause them difficulties, but to receive them cordially “; According to Bernard Lewis, ” the Jews were not just permitted to settle in the Ottoman lands, but were encouraged, assisted and sometimes even compelled “. Over the centuries an increasing number of European Jews, escaping persecution in their native countries, settled in the Ottoman Empire . In 1537 the Jews expelled from Apulia ( Italy ) after the city fell under Papal control, in 1542 those expelled from Bohemia by King Ferdinand found a safe haven in the Ottoman Empire . In March of 1556, Sultan Suleyman “the Magnificent” wrote a letter to Pope Paul IV asking for the immediate release of the Ancona Marranos, which he declared to be Ottoman citizens. The Pope had no other alternative than to release them, the Ottoman Empire being the “Super Power” of those days. By 1477, Jewish households in Istanbul numbered 1647 or 11% of the total. Half a century later, 8070 Jewish houses were listed in the city. During the tragic days of World War II, Türkiye managed to maintain its neutrality. As early as 1933 Atatürk invited numbers of prominent German Jewish professors to flee Nazi Germany and settle in Türkiye. Before and during the war years, these scholars contributed a great deal to the development of the Turkish university system. During World War II Türkiye served as a safe passage for many Jews fleeing the horrors of the Nazism. While the Jewish communities of Greece were wiped out almost completely by Hitler, the Turkish Jews remained secure. Several Turkish diplomats, Ambassadors Behiç Erkin and Numan Menemencioğlu ; Consul-Generals Fikret Şefik Özdoğancı, Bedii Arbel, Selahattin Ülkümen ; Consuls Namık Kemal Yolga and Necdet Kent , just to name only few, made every effort to save the Turkish Jews in the Nazi occupied countries, from the Holocaust. They succeeded. Mr. Selahattin Ülkümen , Consul General at Rhodes in 1943-1944, was recognized by the Yad Vashem as a Righteous Gentile ” Hassid Umot ha’Olam ” in June 1990. Türkiye continues to be a shelter, a haven for all those who have to flee the dogmatism, intolerance and persecution. The present size of Jewish Community is estimated at around 25.000. The vast majority live in Istanbul, with a community of about 2.500 in Izmir and other smaller groups located in Adana, Ankara, Antakya, Bursa, Çanakkale, Kırklareli etc. Sephardim make up 96% of the Community, with Ashkenazim accounting for the rest. There are about 100 Karaites, an independent group who does not accept the authority of the Chief Rabbi.
More and more people are discovering the important role of Türkiye played in the history of Christianity. Travelers can discover many magnificent churches, some nearly as old as Christianity itself, and can retrace the footsteps of Saints Peter and Paul from the Biblical city of Antioch to the underground churches of Cappadocia. Many of the most important events in Christian history occurred in Türkiye. Born in Tarsus, the Apostle Paul spread the word of Jesus Christ across Anatolia, expanding Christianity’s reach from a predominantly Jewish base to Gentile communities. Not far from Tarsus on Türkiye’s Eastern Mediterranean coast is Antakya, known in biblical times as Antioch. This ancient city was founded around 300 B.C. and was home to the first important Christian community, founded in 42 AD by St. Paul. Jesus’ followers were first called “Christians” in Antioch and from here Christianity spread to the world. St. Paul departed from Antioch on his three missionary journeys. The city holds the Church of St. Peter, a cave-church where the apostles Peter and Paul are believed to have preached. In 1963, the Vatican designated the site a place of pilgrimage and recognized it as the world’s first cathedral. The “Seven Churches of Asia Minor,” a series of communities located near the Aegean coast, is where St. Paul visited, preached and built the early church. Their ancient names – Ephesus (Efes), Smyrna (Izmir), Thyatira (Akhisar), Sardis (Sart), Philadelphia (Alasehir), Laodicea (Eskihisar) and Pergamon (Bergama) are familiar from the New Testament’s Book of Revelation. Ephesus, perhaps the most prominent of the Seven Churches, is where St. Paul wrote his letters to the Ephesians, and where St. John the Evangelist brought the Virgin Mary to spend her last years. The Vatican recognizes the Virgin Mary’s house, located in the hills near Ephesus, as a shrine. Just outside Ephesus, in Selcuk, is the Basilica of St. John where he preached and is believed to be buried. Many other regions in Türkiye offer a wealth of attractions to the Christian traveler. St. Nicholas was born and lived in Demre on the Mediterranean coast. A church dedicated to the original Santa Claus still stands. Visitors to the biblical area of Cappadocia, located in central Anatolia, can explore more than 200 carved rock churches beautifully decorated with frescoes depicting early Christian motifs, and a seven-story underground city where Christians took refuge from their persecutors. The stunning Monastery of the Virgin Mary located near the Black Sea in Trabzon is a well-known monastic center dating to the 4th century. Built on the edge of a 1200 foot cliff and accessible only by foot, it housed some of the Orthodox Church’s greatest thinkers. Istanbul became the center of Christianity in 330 AD and it was here that the largest church in Christendom at the time, Hagia Sophia or the Church of the Divine Wisdom, was dedicated by Emperor Justinian in 536 AD. The Chora Museum, a Greek Orthodox Church from the 11th and 14th centuries, is famous for its incomparable Byzantine frescoes and mosaics.
Visitors to Türkiye are often touched by the call to prayer from lofty minarets. The call is heard five times each day, inviting the faithful to face toward Mecca and pray from the Koran. Although Türkiye is a secular democracy which guarantees freedom of religion for all people, Islam is the country’s predominant religion. People of all faiths may visit Türkiye’s mosques. Islam’s roots in Türkiye date to the 10th Century. In the ensuing centuries, Seljuk and Ottoman Turks constructed impressive mosques with elegant interior decorations and imposing domes and minarets. Virtually every Turkish city has a mosque of historical or architectural significance. Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul stands as perhaps the most impressive. Built between 1609 and 1616 in the classic Ottoman style, the building is more familiarly known as the Blue Mosque because of its magnificent interior paneling of blue and white Iznik tiles. The Suleymaniye Mosque is the largest in Istanbul. It was built between 1550 and 1557 by Suleyman the Magnificent, the greatest sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Other cities also have impressive Islamic architecture. The Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque) with its 20 domes and Yesil Cami (Green Mosque) in Bursa were constructed between 1419 and 1420. The mosque derives its name from the exquisite green and turquoise tiles in its interior. Haci Bayram Mosque in Ankara was built in the early 15th century in the Seljuk style and was subsequently restored by the master Ottoman architect, Sinan, in the 16th century. Selimiye Mosque in Edirne reflects the classical Ottoman style and Sinan’s lasting genius. Konya ranks as one of the great cultural centers of Türkiye. As the capital of the Seljuk Turks from the 12th to the 13th centuries, Konya was a center of cultural, political and religious growth. During this period, the mystic Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi founded a Sufi Order known in the West as the Whirling Dervishes. Mevlana’s striking green-tiled mausoleum is Konya’s most famous attraction. Attached to the mausoleum, the former dervish seminary now serves as a museum housing manuscripts of Mevlana’s works and various artifacts related to the mystic sect.
How Would You Like Your Coffee?
Drinking Turkish coffee is a unique experience, especially for Turks.
It brings heart and history with it even today.
A cup of coffee expresses friendship, affection, sharing…
best described in an old saying “a cup coffee begins a friendships a lasting 40 years”.