A richly historical land with some of the best cuisine you will ever taste, one of the world's greatest cities and scenery from white-sand beaches to soaring mountains.
An Epic History
When you set foot in Turkey, you are following in the wake of some remarkable historical figures. Ottoman sultans used to luxuriate in Istanbul's Topkapı Palace, surrounded by fawning courtiers, harem members, eunuchs and riches from an empire stretching from Budapest to Baghdad. Centuries earlier, Byzantine Christians cut cave churches into Cappadocia's fairy chimneys and hid from Islamic armies in underground cities. At other points over the millennia, Romans coursed down the Curetes Way at Ephesus (Efes), medieval Armenians built Ani's churches on the Anatolian steppe, whirling dervishes gyrated with Sufi mysticism, and the mysterious Lycians left ruins on Mediterranean beaches. Turkey has hosted A-list history-book figures including Julius Caesar, who famously 'came, saw and conquered' near Amasya, and St Paul, who criss-crossed the country.
Of course, Turkey's current inhabitants are just as memorable. The extroverted Turks have the most in common – out of all of their varied neighbouring countries, from Azerbaijan to Bulgaria – with their hot-blooded southern-European neighbours. They're also understandably proud of their heritage, and full of information (though we can't vouch for its accuracy) about subjects from kilims (flat-weave rugs) to the Aya Sofya's floating dome. Turkey's long history, coupled with its unique position at the meeting of Europe and Asia, has given it a profound depth of culture. Immersing yourself in that culture is as simple as soaking in a Seljuk or Ottoman hamam, eating a kebap and tasting influences brought along the Silk Road, or visiting the ancient ruins scattering the fields, bays and hills.
Landscapes & Activities
The greatest surprise for first-time visitors to Turkey, with its stereotypes of kebaps, carpets and moustachioed hustlers in the bazaar, is the sheer diversity found between its Aegean beaches and eastern mountains. In Istanbul, you can cruise – on the Bosphorus as well as through markets and nightclubs – in a Westernised metropolis offering equal parts romance and overcrowded insanity. In holiday spots such as Cappadocia and the southwestern coasts, mix trekking, horse-riding and water sports with meze-savouring on a panoramic terrace. Then there are the less-frequented eastern quarters, where honey-coloured outposts overlook the plains of ancient Mesopotamia, and weather-beaten relics add lashings of lyricism to mountain ranges. It's hardly surprising Turkey has attracted so many folk over the centuries. Come and discover their legacy for yourself.