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Hoşgeldiniz and welcome to the Mediterranean country that is not only home to the city that straddles Europe and Asia but also has a history more diverse than any Asian or European country. Turkey, or officially the Republic of Turkey, has a comprehensive history of culture, religion, trade and commerce, making it a fascinating country to visit. On your tour, you will explore a 1,000 year old cathedral turned into a museum, a 4,000 year old city and central location for a very bloody battle, a bazaar where bargaining is an art form and many more unforgettable experiences. Join us on our journey through the country in the centre of the world as we take you exploring through Turkey!
Istanbul, the City that Straddles Two Continents
Istanbul, formerly Constantinople and Byzantium, is the largest city by population as well as the centre of the country’s economy. Due to its location along the Silk Road, the city is on the strategic path from Europe to the Middle East and contains the only route between the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Since its founding in 660 B.C., Istanbul has been one of the most coveted cities in the world. Ancient sailors would journey at sea for days through the Bosphorus Strait but today tourists can easily cross from Asia to Europe on the Marmaray metro line. Can you imagine having breakfast in Europe and then sitting at a café later in the day in Asia? While in Istanbul, view the Blue Mosque with its six minarets and over 21,000 blue Iznik tiles and Hagia Sophia, a 1,000 year old building. Visit what was once considered the greatest church in Christendom and is now a museum. This Byzantine cathedral has a huge dome and was created in the 6th century.
Konya, Ankara; Cultural Hubs in the East
The intriguing thing about Turkey is the amount of culture and history you can find in each one of its cities no matter on what side of the country. Konya is a city that is renowned for its architecture but is also the home of the famous Whirling Dervishes. You will also find the incredible Mausoleum of Mevlana, a historic mausoleum and home to the dervish museum. Ankara is the capital of the country and the second largest in population after Istanbul. In Ankara, you will view the Mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, founder and first president of the Turkish Republic and the Anatolian Civilizations Museum, which features Anatolian artefacts dating back to the Paleolithic Age.
Çanakkale, Kuşadası, Izmir and Antalya; Historic Wonders of the West
Enjoy the western part of the country where we find some of the most important biblical, historical and archaeological sites in the entire world. Çanakkale is your gateway to the 4,000 year old city of Troy. Here you will find the city made famous by the Trojan War which was documented in the Illiad by Homer. Visit the port city of Izmir, historically known as “Smyrna”, home to countless archaeological sites and a history dating back over 3,500 years. Kuşadası is just down the coast and believed to be the birthplace of Homer. It has become a hub for cruise ships, marketplaces and restaurants. Relax with a nice cup of Turkish tea or try some traditional Turkish food while spending time in this coastal city. Antalya was founded by King Attalos of Pergamum as “Heaven on Earth” and has become a resort destination in Turkey. It is now popular for shopping, beaches, nightlife and history, a true heaven on earth for visitors.
From Izmir or Kuşadası, you will have a perfect gateway to Ephesus, Turkey. This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most important in the Bible and is filled with important sites and places of pilgrimage. Visit the House of the Virgin Mary, where it is believed the mother of Jesus was taken by Saint John and lived the remainder of her life. The Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is a temple built by the ancient Greeks to worship the goddess. The Basilica of St. John sits here and was built over the believed burial site of one of Jesus’ apostles, John. This holy landmark was built in the 6th century and is a popular pilgrimage spot for Christians. The largest historic building here is the Library of Celsus, an ancient Roman building that was completed in 114-117 A.D. This building was built to store thousands of scrolls and also served as the burial site for Celsus, a citizen who became a senator and benefactor of Ephesus.
Cappadocia and Its Whimsical Rock Formations
The otherworldly area of Cappadocia is a true highlight in this Middle Eastern country. This UNESCO World Heritage sight is a rocky wonderland filled with fairy chimneys, homes carved into mountains and rock-face churches. This magical place is located in a semi-arid climate near several volcanic peaks. Cappadocia is actually the name for the region and it is compromised of smaller towns including Güvercinlik, Uçhisar, Paşabağı, Devrent Valley, and more. Be sure to tour the Open Air Museum in Göreme Valley, a display of ruins of houses and dwellings carved into the surrounding volcanic rock. Also visit the underground cities, take a stroll through Monks Valley and perhaps enjoy a Whirling Dervish performance.
The hot-air balloon ride in Cappadocia is one of the most popular of its kind in the world, if not the number one experience. The ride takes you high above the sights of this area to see the mesmerising carvings, dwellings and geological formations from high above the earth. One of the most exciting things about the balloon ride is the pictures you will get and the view of all the other hot-air balloons you will see floating through the sky with you. Charge up your phone and camera batteries and bring your binoculars for this unforgettable experience above Cappadocia. Some call Cappadocia the most magical place in the world.
The Whirling Dervishes are a true highlight of the country of Turkey. The term describes a dance called the “Sema” which is performed to express emotion and achieve the love of Allah. This religious dance is Islamic in origin and is thought to have originated in Turkey. Konya is the home of the practice but it is also performed in other parts of the country like Istanbul and Cappodocia. All of the dress and dance has meaning with the white skirt symbolizing the shroud of the ego and the open arms raised towards the sky that are ready to receive God’s acceptance. Sit back and observe the passion and discipline found in this beautiful dance.
Bazaars of Turkey
Whether it is spice, clothing, crafts, souvenirs or household items, Turkey’s many incredible bazaars have you covered. One of the most visited bazaars includes the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul that sees 400,000 people daily. This bazaar is the city’s oldest covered market and has a history dating back to the 15th century. Here you will find textiles, gems, home decor, apparel and even restaurants and cafés. Bargaining is an art here so be sure to have your game face on. The Spice Bazaar is also located in Istanbul and has a storied history including two fires in 1691 and 1940, both of which the market survived. Spices, herbs, jewelry and gift shops can all be found at this famous stop. Kemeralti Bazaar is located in Izmir and is the largest open-air bazaar in the country. Purchase crafts, jewelry and choose from a huge array of fresh spices and herbs. The Kuşadası Bazaar is located in the coastal town of Kuşadası and is the second largest bazaar in Turkey. The Kuşadası Bazaar is actually compromised of two smaller markets called the Grand Bazaar and Orient Bazaar. Find anything in this area from designer knock-offs, Turkish textiles, jewellery and more. If you love to shop or need a gift for a friend or family member back home, you must venture to the bazaars of Turkey and see the colours and excitement of these thriving shops. Some suggested items to buy include the Turkish glass lamps with their colourful mosaics, Turkish black tea which is offered as a sign of welcome or a delicious box of Turkish delights, a desert sure to thrill any sweet tooth.
See “More of the World for Less” with Gate 1 Travel on a tour to beautiful Turkey and learn about the culture, history and people of this ancient country.
Explore the land where the east and the west converge by joining Gate 1 Travel in Turkey