Travel to Turkey
Turkey is located in the Middle East portion of Asia. It is surrounded by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to the northeast; Syria, Iraq and Iran to the southeast and Bulgaria and Greece to the west. It is also flanked by the Black Sea to the north and the Aegean Sea in the west. Legend has it that the Black Sea was once an inhabited plain that was overwhelmed by a massive rise in sea levels during prehistoric times. Many relate this event to the great flood stated in the bible. In addition, the story goes that Mount Agri, the country’s highest point, was actually the landing place of Noah’s legendary ark.
Turkey has a reputation for its Old World splendor as well as for mystery and intrigue where crusaders and janissaries once roamed the streets. But the country has long since left behind these unflattering stereotypes. Today, Turkey is modernizing at a rapid pace, with modern-day cities standing side-by-side with spectacular castles and mosques from its glorious past. The people are very hospitable and the food is great while the county’s coastline is nothing short of magnificent. It is also the best place in the Mediterranean for bargain-basement shopping.
Great Tourist Destinations
Ankara, Turkey’s capital city and the country’s second largest behind Istanbul, is host to many impressive tourist attractions, including the Anitkabir museum which also serves as a mausoleum of Turkey’s founder, Kemal Ataturk, and displays many of his memorabilia and paraphernalia. The museum is a huge building that reflects the architecture of great Anatolian empires of the past.
Other impressive sights in Ankara are the Hisar, a Byzantine Citadel sitting on top of a hill, and the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which is the home of the best artifacts discovered throughout the country. Ankara also boasts of several archaeological remains (the Citadel, Atakule Tower, Temple of Augustus, Roman Theater and the Roman Bath), museums and galleries (Painting and Sculpture Museum or Resim-Heykel Müzesi, War of Independence Museum or Kurtulus Savasi Müzesi and Ethnography Museum or Etnografya Müzesi).
The name stands for “Church of the Divine Wisdom” in Greek and was regarded as the foremost church of Christianity during its time. This prime example of Roman engineering dates back to the sixth century features a huge dome (30 meters in diameter) and is believed to have been the largest enclosed space in the world for over 1,000 years. It was originally a basilica but became a mosque in the 15th century and was transformed into a museum in the 1930s. Hagia Sofia boasts of breath-taking mosaics.
Beautifully decorated with lavish ornaments, the palace was home to the great Ottoman emperors for over three centuries. It had four courts, each one more magnificent than the other. The second court led to the emperor’s harem, the state treasury and a display of various weapons. The third housed the imperial treasury.
This legendary archaeological site may seem dull, composed mainly of ruins, but excavations have unearthed at least nine ancient cities on the site, among them the venues for Homer’s Iliad, which was once believed to be based on legend until the discoveries at Troy proved otherwise.
How to Get There
Turkey’s Ataturk International Airport handles a comparatively limited selection of international flights although it is possible to enter Turkey by train from Europe or by bus and car.
Domestic air travel serves all major cities while a dependable long-distance bus network covers the rest of the country which includes the dolmus (small bus or car). If you’re in a rush, the local Hizli ferries cut travel time by half.