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Turkey

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Table of contents

Things to do and See in Turkey

Istanbul


Istanbul, with one part in Europe and the other in Oriental Asia, linking the two continents, is one of the things that make this city unique. Its fascinating history has bequeathed the city a vivid inheritance of Byzantine ruins, splendid palaces, ancient mosques and churches, hamams (bath-houses) and exotic bazaars. Modern Istanbul exudes trendy bars and nightclubs. The call to prayer heralds the start of each day and the city comes to life with over 12,000 residents forming a chaotic social and cultural mix of unscrupulous carpet merchants, wealthy shoppers, religiously veiled women and destitute beggars. Joining the noisy throng are over-awed tourists and those capitalizing on the tourist trade. Istanbul is an amazing city and I would definitely say it’s worth a visit.


Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque was built during the reign of the young Sultan Ahmet (1603-1617) and its located in the Sultanahmet District of Istanbul, the Blue Mosque is called this because of the color of its interior tiles; this masterful building with its many domes and six minarets was built to compete with the Hagia Sophia across the street. It’s a religious site, and also a flea market is held here. The admission is free so defiantly go have a look as it’s amazing.


Grand Bazaar


This flea/street market is where the bargaining for goods is standard practice at the largest covered market in Turkey. It’s thought that it contains over 4,000 shops selling jewelry, gold, carpets, antiques, leatherwear and souvenirs.


Hippodrome


These ancient ruins, was the site of Hippodrome, which was the center of Byzantine civic life, from political and theological controversies to chariot races and riots. It was built in 203 by Emperor Septimus Severus, it is estimated that the arena could accommodate up to 100,000 people.

 


Turkish Baths


You can’t come to Turkey without a visit to a Turkish bath. There are several in the city, but the two I recommend are the Cagaloglu Hamami and the Cemberlitas Hamam, which was built by the same architect who was responsible for the design of the Blue Mosque.

 


Hagia Sophia Museum / Church

Haghia Sophia, known to the Turks as Aya Sofya and literally translated as ‘Church of Divine Wisdom’, is generally considered the finest extant example of Byzantine architecture in the world. This architectural marvel displays 30 million gold tiles throughout its interior, and a wide, flat dome which was a bold engineering feat at the time it was constructed in the 6th century. Today, it’s a History museum and religious site. It doesn’t cost much to get in and it’s defiantly worth it.

 


Ephesus

Ephesus is located 600km (373 miles) southwest of Istanbul and is one of the grandest and best-preserved ruins of the ancient world. According to evidence dating from around 1400 BC, the Hittites were the first to settle the site, which they named Apasas. Ephesus first attained importance in the first century BC, due to its position as a sheltered harbor and the starting point of the royal road leading to Susa, the capital of the Persian Empire. To the ancient Greeks, it was the most important city in Ionian Asia Minor, and cult followers of the Anatolian mother goddess, Artemis (Diana), would come to worship at the temple dedicated to her. The temple was originally founded in the seventh century BC as a shrine to the Anatolian goddess, Cybele. It was destroyed and subsequently rebuilt seven times; the classical marble structure with Ionic columns built around 550 BC was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Other highlights include the stunning façade of the Celsus Library, built by Gaius Julius Aquila in the second century AD in memory of his father Celsus Polemaeanus, a row of Roman public toilets, the Harbour Gymnasium and the Temple of Hadrian. There is a small admission to get in, but it’s worth the visit.

 


Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace was created on the orders of Mehmed II, the 23-year-old sultan who captured the Roman city of Constantinople in 1453 and made it the capital of his mighty Ottoman empire, under the new name of Istanbul. The palace was the former imperial residence of Ottoman rulers for almost 400 years. Most of the palace is not accessible, but you can do daily tours of the Harem, which is highly recommended. For more information go to  www.kultur.gov.tr

 


The Bosphorus

This is the body of water that passes along the shores of Istanbul is 20 miles in length and is the physical divider between the continents of Europe and Asia. There are daily boat tours available for anyone who is interested.

 


Istiklal Street

This cobblestone street is a major attraction with its many restaurants, cafes and shops, it’s definitely recommended if you want to go for a walk around the city.

 


Galata Tower

Built in 500 A.D., Galata Tower is one of the dominating landmarks of Istanbul. It was used as a watchtower to help defend the city, in the time of the Ottoman Empire.

 


Aqua Fantasy Resort

Aqua Fantasy Resort is Turkey’s biggest themed water park, comprising of 100,000 sq m (119,600 sq yards) of slides, wave pools, waterfalls and rides, near Selçuk on Turkey’s Mediterranean (Aegean) coast. It’s very popular with locals and visitors to the city. For information on prices and other facts go to www.aquafantasy.com

 

 

 

 

Ankara


Ankara was designed to be a modern capital city and it’s about as European as Turkey gets. The basic model was that of a spacious European city with parks and wide boulevards. Much of the original vision has subsequently been lost but there are still areas of the city where you'll forget that you're in Asia. The "melting pot of East and West" motif has been just about worn out but it applies here perhaps more than anywhere else in Turkey.

Ankara is a huge university town. You can find that student population in the streets of Kizilay and the bars of Sakarya thronged with those students for most of the year. Capital city status and the presence of language schools and the above mentioned universities has brought a sizeable ex pat community to Ankara and all this adds to the western feel of the place. Also, you will find all the wings of the military are based in Ankara. Ankara isn’t that touristy, but it is a beautiful city and an excellent place to base yourself if you want to see other parts of the country.


Ataturk Mausoleum


Ataturk's Mausoleum really should be on the itinerary of any visitor to the country's capital. The mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, who was the founder of the Turkish Republic, was constructed in 1944 and sits atop a hill overlooking the city.Visible from most highpoints within the city, the mausoleum grounds house a memorabilia museum and the sarcophagus of Ismet Inonu, a major figure in the Republic's history. The tomb itself is an impressive piece of work. Check it out yourself and don't forget to buy a certificate proving that you were there. Admission is free and it’s open from 9:00 - 12:30 and 1:30 to 4:00.

 


Column of Julian

This column, which stands 15 meters high, was erected in 362 AD to commemorate a visit by the Roman Emperor Julian.

 


Anatolian Civilizations Museum

This amazing museum contains over 200,000 historic pieces of which only a fraction are displayed at one time. If you find yourself in Ankara and you're in any way interested in the history of Asia Minor you should make your way here. The museum is housed in a building that dates back to the 15th Century. 

Exhibits include Early Bronze Age statues and Neolithic wall paintings. Also, an interesting exhibit is from the Catal Huyuk site, often described as the earliest known human community in the world. If you like museums you will definitely like this one and it’s open every day except Monday (8:45 - 5:15)

 


Temple of Augustus


The temple was built in A.D. 10 as a tribute to Emperor Augustus, and later reconstructed by the Romans in the 2nd century. Its importance remains today for the testament of Augustus that is inscribed on its walls in both Greek and Latin.

 


Roman Baths

The baths were constructed with three main divisions: a frigidarium (cold section), tepidarium (cool section) and caldarium (hot section). They were built during the time of Emperor Caracalla (3rd century AD) in honor of Asclepios, the god of medicine. Today only the basement and first floors remain, but it is still worth having a look.

 


Yeni Mosque

Built between 1597 and 1663 the Yeni Mosque is the largest Ottoman mosque in Ankara and stands majestically above the harbor at Eminonu. It is one of the most religious sights in Ankara.

 

 

 

 

The Rest of Turkey


Gallipoli

Gallipoli is located on a peninsula in the European part of Turkey, with the Aegean Sea to the west and the Dardanelles straits to the east. This location is most famous for the Battle of Gallipoli, which took place from April 1915 to January 1916 during the First World War.

The Gallipoli landings came due to the stalemate that developed along the Western Front in Belgium and Northern France. With neither side able to gain ground, First Admiralty of the British Navy Winston Churchill advocated a bold move to try and invade Constantinople (now Istanbul), which was the capital of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman’s had sided with the German’s and with an attack the mission was to knock them out of the war, so it would free up the supply lines to Russia, which was one of the allies.

The initial plan was for a naval assault, but the only wat through the Dardenelles, which was a narrow body of water joining the Aegean and Marmara seas. The Turk’s fought of the first attack with good defending and laying naval mines.

When plan A failed, Churchill’s plan B was for a land assault on the Gallipoli Peninsula. These forces were made up of British, Canadians, French, Australians, New Zealand, and many other nationalities who were in the commonwealth. On April 25, 1915 the allies mainly Australians and Kiwi’s in the first wave landed at Ari Burnu (now Anzac Cove). Their mission was to seize the beach and then secure the high ground. Where they landed was to steep and the Turkish had the advantage, as thhe Australians suffered heavy losses, as did all the other nations eleswhere olong other parts of the beach.
   
The Allied soldiers spent the next eight months camped in awful conditions and in some places there were soldiers camping in as narrow as 100m in parts. When the Allies finally withdrew, which was probably their greatest success of the campaign, they had suffered over 180,000 casualties. In which France and Britain and lost the most soldiers, but in the end every country suffered even the Turks who had over 200,000 casualties.

Today, this place is where thousands of Australians and New Zealanders come to pay there respect each year. If you come you should go see the Anzac Museum as this will show you some insight into this battle.

 


Troy


Until 1871, classical scholars the world over had thought the city of Troy the stuff of legend. That changed when Austrian millionaire-cum-archaeologist, Heinrich Schliemann, discovered the city that was the site of the famous war between the Greeks and the Trojans in the 12th century BC.

Troy is located on a mound called "Hisarlik" on the south - east side of the plain of the River Scamander, where the Straits join with the Aegean Coast. Ancient Troy is famous for the legendary Trojan Horse from the times of an equally legendary couple: Helen and Paris. Excavations revealed nine separate periods (layers) of settlement. The ruins include a temple, a theater and foundations.

Today, the ruins of nine levels of the city are still being excavated (dating back as far as 3000 BC), and the finds are now on general display. There is also a small archaeological museum in Çanakkale, where visitors can view artifacts from excavated sites around the town, including Troy. Also, a recent wooden copy of the famous Trojan Horse symbolically stands on the site to recall its legendary original since long vanished. There is a small admission price to get in, but it’s defiantly worth and it’s becoming more popular since the movie Troy was released with Brad Pitt playing a leading role.

 


Aegean Coast

The Aegean Coast possesses some of the most spectacular and significant of Turkey's archaeological sites with a rich cultural legacy from early Greek, Roman and Ottoman civilizations. The ancient cities of Ephesus and Troy are permeated with the past, where amphitheaters, chariot-rutted streets and columns reek of historical importance. It was here that St Paul laid the foundations for the beginnings of Christianity, and where the face of legendary beauty, Helen of Troy, 'launched a thousand ships'.

Besides historical attractions, the Aegean is known popularly as the Turquoise Coast, due to the intense color of the sea. Tourism in the region is dominated by several major beach resorts, each offering something different. It has rocky cliffs and fantastic white sand beaches. In the region you will also find some great diving, which is fantastic and cheap.

 


Cappadocia


Cappadocia occupies the center of Turkey, the region between the Black Sea in the north and the Taurus Mountains, between the capital Ankara and the city of Malatya to the east. It’s famous for its spectacular lunar like landscape formed millions of years ago. Goreme National Park, as it is known today, is strewn with underground cities, stone chapels, monasteries and dwellings that were hewn out of the weirdly eroded volcanic rock from as long ago as 400 BC.

 


Mediterranean Coast


The coastline along the Mediterranean Sea is an alluring destination, renowned for its magnificent scenery, turquoise waters, and golden beaches that go on forever. The beautiful landscape, where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean is the beginning of the Turquoise Coast, which is dominated by the mountains of the Taurus. Further along the Mediterranean one reaches the Turkish Riviera as it’s known as the region of Antalya. This makes up the tourism capital of Turkey. With endless days of sunshine that make it a paradise for anyone who enjoys the outdoors.

The coast also has a rich historical significance from some early civilizations with ancient cities and at sites such as the fires of Chimaera at Olympos, and numerous ruins dotted about the countryside.

 

 

 

 

 
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