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Home > Turkey Hotels > Turkey Intro


Turkey Travel Guide - with Wired Destinations

     

Discount Hotels in Turkey : Istanbul

 

Turkey

Turkey is a bit of a strange bird, sitting as it is, with one foot in Europe and the other in the Middle East. Rare, as well, if one considers the relative ignorance regarding the country and its people. Though 99 percent of the population is Muslim, the government is a secular democracy, which has been known to advocate Western values. Turkish women are not covered head-to-toe and do not wear Chadors or Burkhas; they maintain all the rights accorded to men and hold high-ranking positions in government and business. Contrary to stereotypic images of hostile people, Turks count among the friendliest folks on the planet. They are by nature very polite, kind, and proud but above all, they are welcoming and hospitable. Turkey is not a barren wasteland of sand and rock either, some areas are draped in lush forests while others offer ski resorts as an alternative to remarkable coastlines and beaches. In addition, the seasons dress these landscapes with their own special charm. Then there are the natural geological anomalies that intrigue and fascinate, such as the "fairy castles" of Capadoccia and the mineral pools of Pamukkale to name but two.


To say Turkey is rich in history is like saying the water is wet. Biblical references alone, if stacked one on another, would reach the supposed resting place of Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat. It has even been said, good ol' Saint Nick a.k.a. Santa Claus, came from Patara, in Turkey. And, as long as we're dredging up names, how about the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires. In fact, digs from ancient cultures are scattered all over the country. So if you are inclined to delve into the past, a vacation in Turkey comes complete with a surfeit of museums, ruins, and monuments to explore.

Turkey is no longer the best-kept holiday secret of savvy Europeans. Now more than ever, foreigners the world over are taking advantage of the fantastic value of a Turkish vacation. The resorts, hotels, and restaurants are open for business. There's a lot to do in Turkey so don't worry about being bored after a few days lounging on the beach. Diving, yachting, and water sports top the list of activities along the coast. Ballooning, paragliding, hiking, river rafting, and bargain hunting are equally popular. Great deals can be negotiated on carpets, handicrafts, gold, and jewellery. There is no shortage of nightlife and parties in the tourist haunts or, for that matter, unspoilt stretches of beach to while away the quiet hours of the day. No matter your destination in Turkey, you are bound to come away with an appreciation of the place and the people.


Istanbul

Straddling the Bosporus Strait, with one foot on the European continent and one in Asia, is the largest city in Turkey with a monumental 12 million inhabitants. Despite its size, Istanbul remains one of the great romantic cities. The skyline is made even more exotic by the sight of domes and minarets poking up from the immense urban sprawl. History recalls that Constantinople once served as capital for the Byzantine and later the Ottoman Empires. (Constantinople became Istanbul following the War of Independence, which ended in 1922.) Though it may not be the capital of the country, Istanbul is the capital of art and culture. It is also, at the heart of the Turkish economy. Museums, universities, and theatres all play a vital role in the thriving metropolitan lifestyle of urban Turks. Istanbul has a unique character splendidly portrayed in its architecture. Palaces, mosques, churches, monasteries, monuments, and ruins offer a glimpse of the past, while chic department stores and glass and steel skyscrapers point to a city with an eye on the future.

Higia Sophia
Higia Sophia

The heart of historical Istanbul is Sultanahmet, the district centred on the Byzantine Hippodrome in the oldest part of the city. It is best explored on foot as most sights are within easy walking distance. Sightseeing highlights include Topkapi Palace, Haghia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, and Basilica Cistern. Museums of note: Archeological Museum, Museum of Painting and Sculpture, Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, and Kariye Museum.

Ankara

This is Turkey's capital, a city of around 4 million people set in the midst of the Central Anatolian steppe. It is very different from the Ottoman town of Angora, which preceded it on this site, a quiet place where longhaired goats were raised for their fleece. Since 1920 when Ataturk (the father of modern Turkey) set up his provisional government here, Ankara's main business has been government but several significant attractions make it worth a short visit.

Popular with most visitors are Hisar, the Byzantine citadel atop the hill east of the old city, and the nearby Museum of Anatolian Civilisations. Not far from here is Ataturk's mausoleum, an enormous building that at first appears sparse, but upon closer inspection, reveals a beauty that is echoed in the architecture of several great Anatolian empires. The Presidential Mansion is preserved and on display just as it existed during Ataturks's term, complete with decor and furnishings of the 1930s including billiard table and cigar-and-brandy nook. There is a lot of ancient history to be found as well. Roman ruins are sprinkled among the mosques and monuments of Muslim Anatolia.

Antalya

Antalya is a good base from which to explore the quiet beach towns and spectacular ancient cities of Turkey's central Mediterranean coast. East of Antalya is the beach town of Side, once chosen by Mark Anthony and Cleopatra for a romantic tryst. Alanya, is another seaside community east of Antalya but with a decidedly busier atmosphere. Patara is a party town a few hundred kilometres south-west of Antalya. The beach here is a 20 km (12 mile) long stretch of dunes dotted with Roman ruins. Sunsets will need to be observed elsewhere, however, since the beach closes at dusk to allow access to nesting sea turtles. These towns along the Mediterranean coast are all linked by bus and dolmus (group taxi) services.

Bodrum

Bodrum is the prettiest spot in the South Aegean. Palm-lined streets ring the bays and yacht harbour. There is a port for ferries to the Greek island of Kos. Whitewashed houses and clusters of villas, crowd the hillside. Boating, swimming, snorkelling, and scuba diving figure high on the list of Bodrum activities. At night, blaring discos keep much of the town awake until dawn. If this sounds like your kind of party-town, you can get to Bodrum from just about anywhere - it's 4 hours to Izmir by road. There are frequent ferries to Kos in summer, and a hydrofoil to Rhodes between May and September.

Ephesus


Of Turkey's hundreds of ancient cities and classical ruins, Ephesus is the grandest and best preserved. Ephesus was once Ionia, a flourishing cultural centre during the Greek Empire, and a busy provincial capital during Roman times. Ionia's Temple of Diana was counted among the Seven Wonders of the World, and the city was generally renowned for its wealth and beauty. A walking tour of the ruins will take at least half a day. (Start early in the summer to avoid the midday heat.) Other places you are likely to encounter include the Grotto of the Seven Sleepers; the colossal Harbour Gymnasium; the grand marble-paved Arcadian Way; the impressive Temple of Hadrian and a scattering of Roman fountains, pools, brothels, libraries and public toilets.

Troy

Canakkale, Turkey

Amateur archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann unearthed evidence of ancient Troy in 1871. Prior to this, Homer's Iliad was assumed to be based on legend, but now, Troy is accepted as the Homeric city of Ilium, site of an epic battle between the Achaeans (Greeks) and the Trojans in the 13th century BC. Excavations by Schliemann and others have revealed nine ancient cities, one on top of another, dating back to 3000 BC. Troy VI (1800-1275 BC) is the city of Priam and the one that engaged in the Trojan War. Be it the movie, or the epic literary work that inspires your visit to this site; be prepared for little else aside from the replica of the Trojan horse to inspire visions of one of the world's greatest battles.

Valley of the Fairy Chimneys - Cappadocia

Many Cappadocian valleys contain strange volcanic cones, but the ones near Aktepe in northern Cappadocia are the best formed and most thickly clustered. Most of the cones are topped by flat stones of harder rock, which tend to shelter the cones from the erosion by rain. Centuries ago, houses, churches, fortresses, and even complete underground cities were carved out of the soft rock formations. The city of GA~?reme lies at the foot of three extinct volcanoes and contains the area's largest concentration of rock-carved churches, many of which have brightly painted interior frescoes.


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