|Country Information & Lifestyle|
Turkey is where the Orient meets the Occident, a crossroads for beliefs and cultures that is expressed in the country's art, literature, music and architecture from the ancient Hittite civilisation through to the mighty Ottoman Empire.
Turkey borders the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, Greece and Bulgaria in Europe and Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq and Syria in Asia. The capital Ankara, on the Bospherous, is the only city in the world to be built on two continents, Europe and Asia. The Aegean and Mediterranean coasts have mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers, whereas in Istanbul the summers can be severe and the winters are chilly, usually above freezing, with a dusting of snow on the mountains.
Inland is a different story with the Anatolian plateau suffering extremes of heat and cold related to its altitude and the surrounding topography. The east is very cold and snowy and the summers pleasantly warm. With a country as large as Turkey it is impossible to describe the whole country but a little will get your taste buds working and you will want to see more of this beautiful land.
Modern Turkey is less than 100 years old with a rich and diverse culture. 1998 saw the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic when the country was preserved and brought into the 20th century. The coasts of Mamara and Aegean warm up as you head south and by Izmir the sun begins to blaze.
Bodrum, Marmaris and Fethyie are green and sunny and there is a fair amount of water coming down from the mountains for most of the year, this is a favourite region with the Turkish people as well as the growing numbers of foreigners. From Antalya east to Adana and the Hatay it just keeps getting warmer and you can comfortably swim in the east Mediterranean in October.
Istanbul, located on both sides of the Bospherous, the narrow strait between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea, is the most populous city and is the cultural and financial centre of the county.
Istanbul, founded by Constantine the Great in 324 BC on the site of the ancient Byzantium, truly bridges Asia and Europe and is one of the largest cities in Europe. The Topkapi Palace, the imperial enclave of the Ottoman emperors for three centuries, is lavishly decorated with court courts of increasing grandeur and the second court has the entrance to the Harem and the State Treasury. The Sultanahmet mosque, known as the Blue Mosque, with its six minarets and sweeping architecture, still a working mosque and famous around the world.
In rural areas especially traditional family values prevail and the father is the undisputed leader of the family. Extended families often live together although the traditional wedding celebrations that last three days are increasingly rare. Beginning with the henna evening, usually on a Friday called KINA GECESI for women only, where they decorate the hands and fingers of the bride with henna-leaf dye and dance and sing together. The second day both sets of parents serve lunch and dinner to their guests and on the third day the bride is taken to the grooms' home on a horse after which folk dances are performed.
You will have a delightful surprise when tasting Turkish cuisine, it is simply delicious, with different areas of Turkey having their own local specialities. The region of Kanlica in Istanbul is famous for its yogurt, Bursa for its Iskender Kebab, Gaziantep for its pistachio nuts and the Black Sea for hamsi,(fried anchovies) and corn bread, whilst the Syrian borderlands of Urfa and Adana have the most brilliant spicy shish kebabs. Mezes, the name for starters, can consist of borek, thin layers of flaky pastry stuffed with cheese, meats or spinach, yaprak dolma,(stuffed vine leaves), and the main courses are generally fish or meat kebabs cooked with herbs and spices.
Hospitality is an integral part of Turkish culture with friends, relatives and neighbours visiting each other traditionally drinking teas, coffee and sometimes offering something to eat. There is a lively tradition of folk music with many regional styles and contributions from ethnic minorities including Roma,(gypsies).
Cappodica, in the ancient, central Province of Anatola is known as "The Valley of the Fairy Chimneys", an irresistible region in the Taurus mountains created through violent eruptions of the volcanoes Mr Erciyas and Mt Hassan three million years ago. Anatolia has towering, rugged mountains, vast,rolling plains, extinct volcanoes and the south is very much home to small farmers who can still be seen every day tending their orchards, vineyards and field crops, and riding their donkeys home to their cave houses.
Cappodica is a land of discovery, with ancient cave towns, churches, gorges to explore and some of the most vivid pastoral scenery in all of Turkey. West of Aksary is the partially restored Caravanserai, the last overnight stop before reaching Konya, built about 1229 and the Agzikarahan Caravanserai 9 miles to the east of Aksaray retains its original features and is one of the best preserved in the area.
In the area of Guzelyurt, meaning beautiful land, there are 50 rock cut churches inside Monastery Valley which lays beyond the old village, numerous semi-troglodyte houses where people still live in the cave dwellings, the women bake bread in 400 year old communal ovens and the children make mud pies on the house roofs. There are underground cities which probably served as temporary shelters rather than permanent hidden cities. Two of the largest communities that have been unearthed are located at Kaymakli and Derinkuy.
Cappodican summers can be scary in their intensity and the altitude is directly proportional to the amount of snow in the winter. This region was founded 10,000 years ago at Catalhoyuk along the river banks of the Casambasuyu near Konya.
There is so much more to Turkey it is impossible to do this gorgeous country justice. A bridge between Asia and Europe the country is a living mosaic with so many different cultures, beliefs, ethnicity and above all FRIENDSHIP.