Destination of the Month: Turkey

October 2019

With its unique location wedged between Europe and Asia, Turkey has acted as a bridge between two distinct continents throughout history. Turkey is a land of contrast and fusion, bringing together Greek, Armenian, Georgian, Arabic and Christian traditions in a rich explosion of life and culture. From the Byzantine empire to the Ottoman empire and beyond, past settlers have thankfully left us many archaeological gems that continue to amaze visitors today. An adventure tour around Turkey will leave you in wonder of the natural beauty of the country, and the people who have walked there before you.

Five interesting facts about Turkey

  1. Eight countries share a border with Turkey: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Bulgaria, Greece and Georgia.

  2. Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar dates back to 1455, making it one of the world’s oldest shopping centres.

  3. One of the classic Ottoman treats is tavuk göğsü, or chicken breast pudding. Boiled chicken, milk, sugar and cinnamon. Don't knock it till you try it!

  4. Turkey is home to 13 UNESCO World Heritage Sites including its newest, Göbekli Tepe, the world's oldest place of worship.

  5. Olive oil has a versatile set of functions in Turkey… Either seen drizzled on delicious dishes, or smothered all over muscled-up men as they grapple in an oil wrestling match, which is a 654-year-old national sport.

Some practical info

- The best times to visit Turkey are in April, May, September and October.
- British nationals need a visa to enter Turkey. An e-Visa can be acquired online and costs $20.
- Malaria is not present in Turkey. Visit the NHS Fit For Travel website for more info on medical info before visiting Turkey.
- Turkish is the official language in Turkey.

Turkey has some incredible and inspiring natural wonders. First on the list of many travellers is the “Cotton Castle”, Pamukkale, which has become Turkey’s most popular attraction, and for good reason. The white, fluffy-looking slopes and sky blue waters resting on grotto-esque ledges astound all who visit them with their calm elegance. Right next door are the Hierapolis ruins which are less of a tourist mania, allowing you to enjoy the beauty and history of the area in blissful peace. It can be an emotive experience to imagine the frenzy of life which would have once inhabited this ancient city. The plentiful water sources would have made this area an ideal location for settlements, and it was once a healing haven thanks to the belief in the water’s healing properties.

Water continues to be an important part of Turkish life and culture: the Turkish tradition of going to the hammam (or Turkish bath) birthed many modern bathing rituals, and it is likely to be the oldest surviving bathing tradition in the world. A fusion of Roman and Ottoman traditions, the hammam is still popular in everyday Turkish life and has had a new lease of life as it became known and loved worldwide. When visiting Turkey, a trip to an authentic hammam is a must-do, and your body will thank you for it.

For archaeology buffs and history lovers, Turkey is, of course, unparalleled. Göbekli Tepe is the world's oldest place of worship, Çatalhöyük the world's oldest city - with a completely unique design. The sublime head statues of Mount Nemrut, looking down on the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers, will take your breath away. Western Anatolia boasts gems like Troy and Ephesus and reams of lesser known ancient sites. There is barely a patch of this land, a true cradle of civilisation, that doesn't betray its origin as the original Garden of Eden.

As with many cultures, food represents more than just fuel for the body. Drawing on Islamic influences, each meal is seen as a gift from Allah, and to be savoured. Turkish cuisine is a mélange of cuisines, drawing on both Ottoman and Mediterranean cuisine, and varies substantial across the country.

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