Travelers can find Turkish mosques, bazaars and attractive beaches – and affordable From Mount Ararat in the east – the Old Testament quotes as the final resting place of Noah’s ark – to the warm beaches of the south and west, travel experts say that Turkey is one of the world’s best values vacation.
With decent hotel rooms available within the U.S. $ 30 per night, and a 10-course meal of appetizers (meze) more or less the price of a fast food lunch across the Atlantic, a big business usually only a street corner away.
Turkey’s largest city – the capital of the region for a period of nearly 1,600 years – is the only major city in the world rests on two continents. European and Asian sections of Istanbul are separated by the Bosphorus Strait, which links the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea.
Turkish nationalist Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) moved the capital to Ankara in 1923, but Istanbul remains the commercial and cultural center of Turkey. In the Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian Bazaar, tourists and locals haggle over prices in a maze of colors of carpets, spices and gold.
first called Byzantium, then Constantinople – Istanbul – was chosen as capital of the Byzantine Empire by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in 324, nearly a thousand years after its founding. The city was the centerpiece in the political tug of war for centuries, as the Persians, Arabs, nomads, and the Christian Crusaders fight for their location.
One of the most beloved treasures of the city, the Aya Sofia ( Hagia Sophia ), born of a destructive sequence. After riots left much of Constantinople in ruins, the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I built the magnificent church in 537, decorating with extraordinary Byzantine mosaics. Santa Sophia in Constantinople was the cathedral 900 years, and then the city’s main mosque after the Ottoman conquest 1453. It was converted into a museum in 1935.
See the sights!
Facing St. Sophia is the Sultanahmet Cami (Blue Mosque), built by Sultan Ahmet I, in an attempt to overcome Justiniano. The mosque, with its six minarets elegant, open to the public. Nearby is an old racetrack – the largest such camp built by the Greeks for horse racing and the car – and the 16 th century Palace of Ibrahim Pasa, which houses the Turkish and Islamic art.
oldest mosque in Istanbul, Beyazit, adjoins the previous section of the Grand Bazaar, and its largest mosque, the Suleymaniye, has an elaborate mausoleum – built for the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife.
Far from the city
Inside Turkey in Asia, the mysterious nature has wrought creations. Calcium-rich springs of Pamukkale – Hierapolis ancient Greek – have built a cascade of white pools and stalactites called “Cotton Castle.” Westward through the mountains, the coastal town of Bodrum boasts the ruins of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Resorts in Bodrum and Kusadasi draw tourists to the beautiful beaches – with fewer visitors than the most popular Greek islands a few miles away in the Aegean Sea. The region is home to one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – the Temple of Artemis at Seljuk – but little remains of the site.
About 125 miles (200 kilometers) of Ankara, capital of Turkey, are the ruins of another capital. Hattusas was the center of the region of the Hittites – first recorded inhabitants of Turkey – around 2200 BC The tunnel that served as a door through the wall protecting the city and an outdoor temple are some of the open sites visitors for an entrance fee of a few dollars.
In the centuries since the Hittites, a series of legendary empires have claimed this land – Persians, Romans, Mongols and Ottomans …. As the history of Turkey, their religious traditions – the ancient Christian Muslim majority – are carved deep into its cultural landscape. It is the contrast between the sacred and secular, past and present that makes Turkey a fascinating crossroads of Europe and the Middle East.