Turkey is the world’s melting pot, a spicy casserole of different influences from Europe, Asia and the Med. This is an enthralling destination which has plenty of surprises in store for the tens of millions of tourists that choose to visit every year! The country comprises of two unique regions split by the Bosphorus; Thrace, to the west, and Anatolia, to the east.
Whether you’re planning on a city break in Istanbul or exploring the countryside, you’ll be surprised by the many unique experiences, Turkey holidays provide. First Choice offer many fantastic route options and package deals for that dream Turkish getaway!
Turkey has an eclectic range of cuisine to sample, thanks to a fusion of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean styles. The country is said to have introduced coffee to Italy, and from there, its popularity is thought to have spread across Europe.
Today, visitors can sample the best of Turkey’s cuisine in Istanbul; Purchase some top notch produce in the Grand Bazaar (which houses over 3000 shops!) or dine on local delicacies in the street. Chewy simit bread, spicy kofta or fresh yoghurt with globs of amber honey can all be bought inexpensively, from one of the many food stands in the city – Simply Devine!
Much like anything in Turkey, its buildings are hybrid beasts, born from the meeting of continents and cultures. The Blue Mosque is perhaps the most famous of these, fusing both Ottoman and Byzantine styles in its character.
Over 200 stained glass windows glaze its interior in rainbow light, while the bright azure of its exterior domes can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Similarly, the Hagia Sophia has a myriad history, and has been used as a cathedral and a mosque, though is now a museum with both Christian and Islamic influences. Its giant dome is only slightly smaller than that of the Pantheon in Rome.
Turkey can lay claim to being the setting for many great moments in the legends of the world. It is the birthplace of Homer, who wrote The Iliad, and also the setting for the notorious Trojan War.
Today, visitors can travel to the archaeological site in north-western Turkey, where a giant replica wooden horse is clambered over by visitors. It’s also home to Mount Ararat, the Biblical setting for Noah’s landing after the flood.
While its native language is Turkish, Kurdish, Azeri and Dimli are also spoken throughout the region, as well as dozens of minority languages. The Turkish alphabet is Latinate, not Arabic, though does not contain the letters Q and X. It’s considered impolite to address people by their first name when you meet them in Turkey, instead, hanımefendi (madam) and beyefendi, (sir) should be used to avoid causing offence!
There are also some common misconceptions about this marvellous country. Camels are not, in fact, native to Turkey, no-one in Turkey wears a fez (these were banned in 1925) and most Turkish people did not have surnames until 1934. For more surprising revelations, consider making Turkey your next holiday destination.
Images by Josiah Mackenzie, Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho, Nina Stössinger and Adam Jones used under creative commons license.
I LOVE Istanbul so much. Went there last November. The thing that was striking to me was the people of the city. Friendly, open (sometimes too open…please don’t touch my butt!!!) and seemingly accepting of each other. On the boat tour our guide pointed out a mosque, church and synagogue all next to each other and working together. It’s a really magical place, I think.
It must be one of the world’s most fascinating cities. Did you have any particularly memorable meals too?
The sunset from Hamdi restaurant was pretty awesome but the food was a bit crap. I wrote about my stay there for suitcase magzine – http://suitcasemag.com/2014/05/02/five-places-to-visit-in-istanbul/
TBH I used the TripAdvisor app to find hidden restaurants. There were a few up near Galata that were pretty nice, and a few more around the Sophia on a back road – some really awesome finds there. I was with my ex who is vegetarian which made things tricky but we still managed to eat very well there.