Turkey favorably remembered as the “cradle of civilizations,” is a fascinating destination full of surprises in every nook and cranny. With numerous treasures recounting the country’s 10,000-year history, Turkey is perfect for romance, inspiration, and even adventure. Savor their many colorful dishes, finishing each day with the area’s finest cup of coffee and a little piece of baklava or Turkish delight. With a rich variety of attractions, you’ll never run out of things to do on your Turkey vacation – you could walk the pleasant beaches, tour the local vineyards, enjoy luxuries of the modern city life, or delve into ancient Turkey’s Ionian, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman roots.
Visit the History of Rich Turkey
Once the capital of three universal empires and set squarely between two continents, Istanbul possesses traditions that blend East with West and Mediterranean with Anatolian. With one foot in Europe and the other in Asia, it is the gateway to several of the world’s top destinations. Whether by plane, train, or automobile, you can conveniently travel in either direction and find many exciting vacation options. Istanbul, Turkey is a city of contrasts that takes new visitors by surprise, because it has the same appearance and charms of European cities such as London, Paris, Rome, or Berlin.
You could spend days wandering on an Istanbul travel odyssey, soaking up what’s left from the ancient Roman Empire. The famous Blue Mosque, revered for its impressive blue tiles, is steps away from the Hagia Sophia, a mosque containing the epitome of Byzantine architecture. The Basilica Cistern, the largest of several hundred cisterns beneath the city, rests next door. The cathedral-sized cistern is arranged with Ionic and Corinthian marble columns that rise up 30 feet high.
Head for the Grand Bazaar, the centerpiece of ancient Turkey’s Sultanahmet district and an extraordinary site that’s bursting with colorful carpets and jewelry found throughout its maze of 4,000+ shops. Make a stop at the flavorful Spice Bazaar, where you’ll find just about everything from saffron to aphrodisiacs. In June, enjoy a piece of Turkish fine arts through the International Istanbul Music Festival, which features world-class opera, classical music and ballet center stage at the most historic venues.
Take an Istanbul cruise down the Bosphorus, the strait separating Asia from Europe. You’ll see an abundance of palaces, mosques, imposing fortresses, and wooden Ottoman mansions on both sides of the channel. On the European side of the Bosphorus, you’ll come across the Dolmabahce Palace, an important relic from the Ottoman Empire. With broad ceilings gilded in gold leaf and a grand staircase crafted from semi-precious stone, this glorious palace houses the largest collection of Bohemian and Baccarat crystal chandeliers in the world. Then catch a glimpse of the Ottoman sultans who once reigned in Topkapi Palace for 400 years. In addition to a showcase of the Crown Jewels, the Topkapi Palace contains the most sacred relics from Muslim history.
Reserve some time to see Troy, the well-known city that has been depicted throughout Greek mythology and literature. Although most of the ruins have diminished over time, excavations have revealed the remains of its city walls, house foundations, temple and theater. A symbolic wooden horse at the site commemorates the legendary Trojan wars depicted in Homer’s epic Iliad. Next on your Turkey travel excursion, move south to see the city of Sardis and remnants of its prosperous Jewish community dating back to 220 BC. Noted as one of the Seven Churches of Revelation (in the Book of Revelation of The Bible) during the wave of Christianity, Sardis produced the largest synagogue outside of Palestine.
East of Sardis, you’ll find the current thriving capital of Turkey. The chronicles of Ankara and its surroundings stretches back to the Bronze Age. The oldest parts of the city surround the castle including the Alaaddin Mosque, an exquisite example of Selçuk art and wood craftsmanship. Near the gate is the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, a striking restored portion of the old bazaar. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to experience Ankara’s vibrant cultural and artistic life through its acclaimed Philharmonic Orchestra and highly profiled ballet, theatre, and opera.
Cappadocia is a wondrous area full of unique geographic formations sprinkled with green vineyards and fruit orchards. The mineral-rich soil makes this place one of Turkey’s premier wine-making regions. Take in the rare sights of the Göreme Open Air Museum, a volcanic valley with wall-painted monastic churches hollowed from the soft volcanic stone. On a hot-air balloon ride over the territory, you’ll find a spectacular view of nearby attractions including the valley of Zelve and the natural citadel at Uçhisar.
Ephesus was famed as the predominant city of the Byzantine Empire in Asia during the 5th and 6th centuries. The city contains the largest collection of Roman ruins east of the Mediterranean, leaving visitors with some idea of its original splendor. Some of the excavated edifices include the Library of Celsus, which was built in 125 AD and held nearly 12,000 scrolls; the Temple of Artemis, one of the former Wonders of the Ancient World; St. John’s Basilica, built over the supposed site of the apostle’s tomb; and the Odeon, a small theater adorned with red granite pillars that hosted plays and concerts.
Featuring more than 4,400 square miles of coastline, Turkey also offers a paradise of sun and sea. Many popular Mediterranean cruises begin in Spain or Italy and journey all the way to Turkey’s magnificent port cities. You’ll find all the comforts of a sun-kissed beach holiday along the Mediterranean shores through the country’s splendid resort towns. Located on the southwestern shoreline, Side is lined with golden beaches and surrounded by sparkling sea waters. Alanya and Antalya rest side by side, boasting a handful of heritage sites as well as quaint bed-and-breakfasts, posh inns, boutiques, and restaurants.
Halil Rahman, known as the “City of Prophets,” is positioned in the Sanli Urfa province. Before the emergence of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the Prophets Job, Abraham, and Suayb — whose names appear in the holy books—resided here. In the center of the region, there is a lake filled with sacred fish and surrounded by the Halil Rahman Mosque. According to legend, Abraham was condemned to be burned for refusing to worship idols, and was launched from the citadel into a pile of burning wood. God had then turned the fire into water and the wood into fish (the very spot where the lake resides).
When you’re ready to travel to Turkey, an ASTA travel agent can take you places you’ve never dreamed of you’ll mingle with the local people off the beaten path, feel right at home with the area’s best accommodations and take back the authentic experiences of Turkey’s history and culture with you. No matter where you go and what you do along the way, an agent will help you discover the inspiring beauty behind Turkey that will resonate in your mind forever.