As you may already know, Turkey is passing through huge political turmoil these days, hence my “new beginnings” title.
Other than that, the country which was once the great Ottoman Empire is one of the most appreciated and universally acclaimed travelling destinations, being situated between Europe and Asia and playing in the “best of both worlds” category (just kidding).
If we’re talking about diversity, it’s almost impossible to beat Turkey, as it’s a land of multitudes, both in terms of people/cultures and land/scenery. Diversity is the name of the game here, and while Turkey is a country boasting its large,open spaces, its fertile valleys, massive mountain ranges and a rugged yet interesting coastline, the same thing can be said about its fast growing and lively cities, together with the dormant villages, the remote beaches and top notch seaside tourist resorts.
Everything is about history and culture while visiting Turkey, as the country faced lots of hardships during its long and tumultuous history, ranging from immigration and rebellion to numerous waves of invasion. All these made Turkey hard as a rock, with a cultural depth that will shock you if you’ll be travelling across the country talking to the locals.
Turkey is a country which literally overflows with archaeological wonders and historic sites, all being located in an absolutely breathtaking landscape, especially when talking about those situated on the Mediterranean coastline . Visiting here you’ll be delighted to see the impeccable preserved Greek-Roman cities like Ephesus (Turkey has a territorial issue with Cyprus by the way) or Pergamom, while the epic scenery in the Cappadocia region with its underground cities and cave churches is absolutely epic.
Istanbul is the heart of Turkey, its main city and almost the capital (yet it’s not, the actual capital is Ankara), and let’s not forget that Turkey is a country with eighty million people and a land surface of 783,562 square kilometers…
This city is the former capital of the Ottoman Empire too and it’s a magical place and bizarre place to be in, considering the fact that it was once Christian and the heart of Christianity/Byzantine empire, when it was called Constantinople. Istanbul is an actual living archive, as it passed through the centuries, keeping a myriad of cultural and architectonic influences almost intact, harboring Roman aqueducts together with Byzantine cathedrals and churches sitting near Ottoman palaces and mosques.
However, Istanbul is not a dusty relic but a lively and modern city, boasting its lively night life, bustling bazaars, public baths, cafes and lots of businesses buzzing with activity.
If you’re not so fond of culture and architectural wonders, don’t worry as you can lay your bones on the beach in the sun on one of Turkey’s many all inclusive resorts in Marmaris, Bodrum and Izmir, along Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts.
Ankara is amazingly the actual capital of Turkey, yet unlikely if you compare it to Istanbul, less frequented by tourists and businesses alike, but given its location in the heart of Anatolia, it’s worth a stretch to pay it a short visit, to see the huge contrast between the surviving citadel that still holds heroically the winds of time and the modern city that’s today’s Ankara. Being more remote and less visited than Istanbul, Ankara is the perfect place to take a sip of Turkish culture and Islam, if you have the minerals/the stomach, as you’ll see facets of Turkish culture you won’t observe in “westernized areas”…
If there’s one thing you must experience in Turkey is the Whirling Dervishes, one of the most flabbergasting tourist attractions, together with the iconic Hagia Sophia (the most important cathedral in the Christian empire until the Muslims conquered it in the 15th century), Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Also, don’t forget to search for Noah’s ark on Mount Ararat and to glide over the dream-lands of Cappadocia.
And if you get hungry after seeing all these marvels, rest assured because Turkey’s foods and drinks are absolute delights for your culinary senses. Let me just mention the spicy sausage shaped meat balls made of minced lamb meat called kofte, the shish-kebab, pide which is Turkey’s pizza, dolma and lokum. Unfortunately, you’ll require both a passport and a Visa to visit Turkey, but they’re easy to obtain.