When exploring famous things in Turkey, we could talk forever. From the east to west, the country has amassed a wealth of notable places, people, events, and objects that stand out for specific reasons. All give a great insight into Turkey, whether this is looking at its past, present or future. This fun way for first-time visitors to learn about culture, traditions, food, art, history reveals so many facts. Whether you want to visit or get to know Turkey, the following are great insights into famous things making this unique country stand out on the global stage.
What Things are Famous in Turkey?
1: Istanbul: The Beating Heart of Turkey
Some travellers assume Ankara is the capital of Turkey, yet it is Istanbul that is the beating heart of tourism, education, business, economy, health, food, art, and culture. Sitting on two continents, if Istanbul were to collapse, the whole of Turkey would follow suit. Formerly known as Constantinople, it shaped history by being the ruling capital for both the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Sitting next to the sea of Marmara, tourists often descend on the old city part of Sultanahmet to see historical landmark buildings like the Basilica Cistern, Hippodrome, Chora church, Blue mosque, Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia.
Nearby the Spice Bazaar and Grand bazaar are two historical shopping centres. Heading across the Golden-horn via the Galata bridge, we eventually arrive at the city's new part, where nightlife and shopping reign supreme. Taksim Square in Beyoglu from where the trams run down Istiklal Avenue is a thriving hub of activity, as are the neighbourhoods of Kadikoy, Besiktas, Nisantasi and the Prince's islands. Although the favoured method of getting about is ferries up and down the Bosphorus strait, Istanbul also holds Turkey's two busiest airports for overseas flights; Sabiha Gokcen and the new international airport that prove Istanbul's record as the country's number one touristic district.
2: Unbelievable Cappadocia
Any foreigner would not believe Cappadocia exists unless they have seen it with their own eyes. Rock formations that formed Fairy Chimneys resemble a lunar-like landscape of deep valleys. However, more wonders exist through the masses of underground cities like Derinkuyu that housed thousands of locals during an invasion. A popular day-trip excursion is to see Goreme Open-Air museum hosting ancient cave churches with Biblical frescoes. However, the top-recommended activity is a hot-air balloon ride as the sun rises to see Cappadocia's treasures from up and above. For many a traveller, Cappadocia is the top spot in Turkey for a honeymoon because the romantic vibes in among a fairy tale landscape add to the moment. A three-day trip is enough to see the highlights, although if you stay longer, explore towns and villages like Uchisar, Urgup and Ortahisar.
3: Sailing the Turquoise Coast
This specifically refers to the southern coastline, although if we add the term Turkish Riviera, it stretches around to the Aegean. Famously called Turquoise because of stunning blue sea waters, a favoured pastime for exploring is traditional gulet cruises. Sailing is big business down south, with many tourists opting for Blue cruises that follow set routes and drop in at various seaside resorts on the way. Spend days cruising the coastline, with the odd stop for swimming, snorkelling, or dropping anchor to explore, while guests can look forward to breakfast, lunch, and dinner on board. If money is tight, opt for a shared cruise which is also an excellent opportunity to make friends, otherwise, book your cabin charter for a 3-to-four-night sailing experience you will never forget.
4: Lycian Way Ancient Cities
Some cities in Turkey have embraced the 21st-century concept of urban living, but going back through history, notable cities existed all along the Mediterranean coastline from Antalya to Fethiye. Interested history buffs and avid fans of trekking will delight in knowing they form the Lycian way, one of the world's most famous walking trails. Running for 500 kilometres, it usually would take months to complete, but most people do it in sections and stop at campsites on the way. Notable ancient cities to visit include Aspendos, Phaselis, Xanthos and Letoon. Places like the rock churches of Gemiler island also make a delightful excursion, especially when the sunset sets in a vibrant orange hue. While walking around the ancient ruins, look for the sarcophagus. These are where the Lycians buried their dead, often in high places for more comfortable passage to the afterlife. Places to spot them include Patara, Kas, Dalyan and Myra, near the church of Saint Nicholas, also known as the original Santa Claus.
5: Calcium Pools of Pamukkale - Turkey
As if Turkey could not throw out more places to visit that make tourist jaws drop, it delivers with the natural wonders of Pamukkale and ancient ruins of Hierapolis city. The natural wonders of the first prove Mother Nature's power through calcium water trickling down the hillside that forms terraces of solidified pools. After taking a dip in the calm waters overlooking the village of the same name, head to the nearby Archaeological Museum to see statues uncovered during excavations of nearby ancient cities. Within walking-distance, Cleopatra's pool is next and a chance to take a refreshing swim in healing spring waters. Last on the list, Hierapolis has many ancient landmarks to explore, but the grand theatre is the greatest of them all. These two sightseeing landmarks often sit on the list of top five visited places in Turkey and should be on every traveller's list.
- Ten things to do in Pamukkale - Turkey
6: Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
The history of Turkey is vast, complex and would take years to study thoroughly. One way to start, though, is by knowing Turkey was home to two of the wonders of the ancient world. On any visit to Turkey, it is impossible to see the mausoleum of Halicarnassus in Bodrum because it no longer exits, but in Selcuk, see the last remains of the Temple of Artemis. Combine a trip with a visit to nearby Ephesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once a prominent city, nearly on par with Rome itself. Within an hour's drive, also see the Virgin-Mary house, high in the hills of Selcuk, run by the Catholic church and believed to be the place of her assumption. Last, for more fun, end your day in Sirince winemaking village.
7: The Famous Turkish-Bath
When you come to Turkey, a recommended activity is traditional Turkish baths. Don't think it is just a tourist gimmick though, because Turkish culture thoroughly encourages it. Even though this ritual stems from the Roman-empire, Turkish people often met up socially at the baths for the chance to unwind and indulge in hearty conversations with friends. Choose one used by locals, or shy people can opt for a deluxe version sold in five-star hotels, especially those in Bursa's spring spa centre. When travelling to Turkey, make sure you do it at the beginning of your holiday and not the end, because rubbing off dead skin also removes your tan.
- Guide to the rituals of the Turkish Hamam
8: Turkish Food and Drink
Ah, the culinary delights of Turkish cuisine stem so much further than the typical kebab, although you can eat forty different versions. Turkish food is now matching the likes of French, Italian, and Chinese as a worldly cuisine to sit up and take notice of. From the humble appetisers (mezes) to soups, meat, vegetarian, vegan, puddings, desserts, and sweets, in history it drew inspiration from other cultures like Kurdish, Greek, Armenian, Persian and middle east. This is because of the Ottoman empire, and the considerable amount of land they controlled. Some items like Turkish-delight sell as souvenirs, while some foreigners bulk at the strong earthy taste of Turkish coffee. Regardless, attempt to try a variety of dishes, and your palette will have entirely different taste preferences when going home.
The Blue Evil Eye: Also known as the Nazar Boncugu, the blue evil eye is one of many famous things in Turkey to buy as a souvenir. It is not just a tacky tourist item though, but something firmly ingrained in Turkish culture and traditions. In this article, we look at the history, meaning, and why it is the most widely purchased souvenirs.
About Us: We are Property Turkey, an investment specialist operating in many towns and cities across the country. We have put our local knowledge to good use in our blog about Turkey about everything from travelling to living and working here. Don't forget to follow us on Facebook for more news, articles and developments from the country.
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