Turkey: Discover the Potential

Rahima Saikal

Gorgeous historical architecture, the Mediterranean summer breeze and mouth-watering cuisine, Turkey is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world and it is no secret as to why. Bordered by eight countries – Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, the Azerbaijani territory of Nakhchivan, Iran, Iraq and Syria, Turkey is very accessible and has something to offer everyone.


Kalekoy, Antalya, Turkey

Brief History
Istanbul used to be known as Constantinople and was the capital city of the Ottoman Empire. However, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – the first president of Turkey changed the capital city to Ankara in 1923, when present day Turkey was founded. He did this because Ankara was less exposed than Istanbul and would be easier to defend from a military point of view. He also chose this city as the capital because he believed Ankara was more Turkish than Istanbul and Ataturk was all about national pride. Ataturk wanted to make Turkey a more modern and Western-style country after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, so he disestablished Islam as the state religion, embraced Western legal codes and made sure that all schools taught students that they were ethnically Turkish and citizens of a Turkish nation-state, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds. 

Turkish Culture

Ancient Apollon Temple Located in Antalya

The culture of Turkey is special, as it has been an influencer and it has been influenced in return by civilisations from China, Vietnam, North Africa and many more. The roots of Turkish culture still remain deeply from the Middle East, Anatolia and the Balkans.


Old town (Kaleici) in Antalya, Turkey


Roman amphitheater of Aspendos, Belkiz, Antalya, Turkey

Arts
Turkey has a rich arts scene that has been present for hundreds of years. Interestingly, Ottoman art is all about colours, patterns and designs, as opposed to portraits or paintings of people. The main form of Ottoman art is Calligraphy and historic examples of this can be seen at the Topkapi Palace and the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. Another popular form of art is ‘Ebru’, which is marbled paper and was included in the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2014. If you are in the market for a hand-woven carpet, then you have come to the right place. The art of carpet weaving in Turkey goes back for hundreds of years and over these years, the carpets have evolved to beautiful patterns with rich, deep colours.

Music
Music plays a big part in Turkish culture and has its own style, combining Central Asian folk music from the Seljuk period with the Byzantine, Persian, Ottoman, Arab, Balkan and gypsy music, as well as modern American and European music. In the 1990s, underground music started becoming more popular in Turkey too, which was Turkish rock, hip-hop, rap and dance music.

Literature
Some of the most beautiful writing and poetry comes from Turkey. Until the middle of the 19th century, literature was centred around the Ottoman court and was a mix of Persian, Arabic and Turkish.  In the 1860s, western influences were introduced to literature and after 1923, Turkey produced a large number of writers, poets, singers, musicians and artists.

A Melting Pot of People
The beautiful thing about modern day Turkey, is that it is a melting pot of people, faiths, religions and cultures from all over the world. Turkey is visited every year by people of all religions on pilgrimages. While Islam is the main religion of Turkey, Christians, Jews and people of all other religions are accepted and people live together harmoniously.

The International Media Forum, Organized By Global Connection In Antalya

As part of the ‘Turkey – Discover the Potential (TDP) publicity campaign, the International Media Forum was held in Antalya at the Maxx Royal Belek Golf Resort earlier this year with 124 journalists from 50 countries participating. The Forum, which included Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, Culture and Tourism Minister Nabi Avci, TIM President Buyukeksi and Turkish Airlines CEO İlker Aycı, answered questions from international journalists. Topics that were discussed were Turkey’s economy, tourism and trade, culture and media.

Most Popular Places to Visit
Turkey is a great mix of inland and coastal towns and cities and each offer something unique.


Tourist boats in port of Alanya, Turkey

Our Top Pick of Places to Visit
Antalya, which sits on the Mediterranean and is known as the ‘Turkish Riviera’. Antalya offers sunshine throughout most of the year, stunning beaches, resort towns and a relaxing holiday vibe.

Must Visit Resort in Antalya: Maxx Royal Belek Golf Resort

With a Mediterranean beach setting, the luxurious Maxx Royal Belek offers 7 pools and 5 restaurants. It has an on-site fun fair and a world-class 18-hole golf course. Maxx Royal Spa Centre offers massage rooms, skin treatments and a traditional Turkish bath. They also organize daily activities, and water sports can be enjoyed on the hotel's private beach.
The 5-star complex is located 1 km from the shops, restaurants and nightclubs of Belek.

Popular Inland Cities and Towns:
Ankara
– is the capital and the second largest city. It is home to the Turkish government and has a large student population due to the university.
Edirne – is one of the oldest areas of Turkey and is home to the world-famous annual Kirkpinar oil wrestling competition.
Konya – is home to the whirling dervishes and hosts a Sufi festival every December which brings visitors from all over the world.
Bursa – is a combination of thermal springs and skiing!
Mardin – is full of rich history and culture.


Carbonate travertines the natural pools during sunset, Pamukkale, Turkey

Popular Coastal Cities and Towns:
Istanbul
– is the largest city in Turkey and offers everything from amazing architecture, history and culture to delicious food, shopping and a buzzing nightlife.

Galata Tower and the street in the Old Town of Istanbul, Turkey


Sunrise at Olympos beach, Antalya


Konyaalti beach, Antalya

Izmir – is the third largest city in Turkey and the most important port on the Aegean coast. This is also a town with a thriving holiday vibe.
Canakkale – is a great base if you want to check out Troy and Gallipoli.
Trabzon – is located on the Black Sea and has its very own Hagia Sophia from the 13th century. You can visit the Sumela Monastery from here. 

East Meets West
Istanbul is situated on two continents – Europe and Asia and is divided by the Bosphorus Strait. This makes Turkey a very accessible country to visit and tourists from all over the world flock here every year.

Turkish Cuisine

Turkish food has made a name for itself on an international scale with rich flavours, aromas and textures. A number of cultures have influenced the Turkish kitchen over the centuries, including Greek, Ottoman, Middle Eastern and Balkans. Each region has their own traditional dish. Turkish food is made up of delicious meat dishes, including the famous ‘kebab’, vegetable dishes, rice, soups and salads. ‘Borek’ are pastries stuffed with meat, cheese or potatoes and is a famous Turkish snack. You can find some of the best restaurants in the world in Turkey, especially in Istanbul and Antalya.

The Fashion World in Turkey
Turkey has made a name of itself on the international fashion stage. It is one of the world’s largest textile and garment producers. In the late 90s, Turkish brands such as Bahar Korcan, Umit Unal and Hakan Yildirim started to emerge. Many well-known luxury brands can be found in Turkey, especially Istanbul, which is considered to be the fashion capital of Turkey. The shopping scene is fantastic, with a range of shopping malls to suit all tastes and budgets, as well as the many markets, where you can pick up a gorgeous scarf or a rich fabric garment.
Despite recent events that have unfortunately happened in Turkey, the country is considered to be a safe country to visit. Locals and expats welcome tourists with open arms and the level of hospitality is very high. Many tourists recount stories of being invited into Turkish homes for a meal and a chat and this, captures the very essence of what Turkey is all about.

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