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Turkey Information

Turkey is a fascinating country with a rich culture and a history spanning millenia. It has 73 million people. Turkey is located on the Mediterranean, in the Anatolian region of West Asia, with a small section in Mediterranean Europe separated by the Turkish Straits (Bosphorus, Sea of Marmara, and Dardanelles). With the Black Sea to the north and the Aegean Sea in the west and Mediterranean Sea to the southwest, Turkey is surrounded by Bulgaria and Greece to the west, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to the northeast, Syria, Iraq and Iran to the southeast.


Instanbul (formerly Constantinople) is Turkey's largest city, with over 12 million people. Part of Instanbul lies in Asia, the rest in Europe across the Bosphorus Strait. Most people in Instanbul work on the European side and live on the Asian side.

The Hagia Sophia was constructed in the 6th century by the Emperor Justinian. The 30m wide dome was an engineering masterpiece in its day, and is a must-see for the visitor.

The Topkapi Palace was the official home of Ottoman emperors for three centuries, and is now open to visitors.

The Grand Bazaar is said to be the world's oldest shopping mall. It contains 4400 shops and covers several blocks.

Other attractions in Instanbul include the Sultanahmet Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Hippodrome, Galata Whirling Dervish Hall, the Ortakoy neighbourhood, the Museum Of Archaeology, Museum Of Modern Art, Dolmabahce Palace, Galata Tower, Chora Church, Beylerbeyi Palace, Camlica Hill and The Princes Islands.

Also recommended is a visit to a Turkish bath (or hamam), and smoking a hooka, or Turkish water pipe.

Other areas of Turkey

Ankara is the capital and second largest city. It has 3.5 million people. The city has a number of archaeological sites, including the Citadel, the Roman Theatre, the Temple of Augustus and the Roman Bath. Ankara offers a good selection of cinemas both in Kavaklidere and Cankaya (including Atakule) and several concert halls for classical music and opera. Many Universities promote concerts and spring festivals but these are sometimes open to their students only. Folk and traditional music is very alive, from small bars and restaurants to big concert halls where you can find local stars like Musa Eroglu. Depending on your interests, you can find trekking in local parks and in the surroundings, visiting the museums or hunting for the Ottoman or Selçuk remains walking in the ancient castle. Upscale shopping centers like Armada on the Eskisehir road offer also cinemas and quality restaurants. Ankara's Castle (Kale) has been a trade center for centuries, and its sellers of carpets, leather and antiquities are slowly moving upwards hoping to attract the tourist trade. It's still a delicious place for walking and browsing, and there are family firms where you can buy, for a price, excellent carpets and kilims. Walking down from the Castle you can walk through the covered market, an iron structure reminiscent of places like Les Halles in Paris, where you can buy very cheap and excellent produce.

Antayla is very popular with tourists due to its Mediterranean beach resorts. It also boasts a large number of historic buildings, particularly in Kaleici, the old quarter, with its ancient city walls and narrow, winding streets. Although there are other entrances, it is best to enter and exit the old quarter from charming Hadrianus Gate, built by the Roman emperor Hadrianus as the entrance arch to the city. There's a great archaeology museum and plenty of historic buildings and ancient ruins nearby. Highlights include the Yivli Minaret, Hidirlik Tower, Karatay Medresesi, Ahi Yusuf Mescidi and the Hadrian Arch.

Bursa is Turkey's fourth largest city. As it is first capital of the Ottoman Empire, it has a lot of historical places to see. Foremost among these is the Ulu Camii or Great Mosque, a grand structure that dates back to the 14th century, and features twenty domes, two minarets and 192 wall inscriptions by famous calligraphers.Furthermore, Uludag - one of the highest mountains in the Turkey, lies in the middle of Bursa which is the winter sports center of Turkey. While there, try the Iskender kebap, a dish originating from Bursa. Iskender consists of roasted, sliced lamb spread atop diced bread pieces, topped with tomato sauce, served with yoghurt.

Edirne’s former name is Adrianople, i.e. “City of Hadrianus”, named after the Roman emperor who founded the city on the site of Thracian village of Uskudama. Edirne was once Europe’s fourth biggest city (in 1600s). It also served Ottoman Empire as its capital city before Constantinople was captured. All these make up for city’s historical outlook, from huge Ottoman imperial complexes to neo-classical architecture of downtown shops, although at first sight, all you’ll see will be concrete apartment blocks when entering the city (and Selimiye Mosque right in front of you). Selimiye Mosque dominates the skyline of the city. A grandiose piece of art by Sinan, the Ottoman architect of 16th century. Sinan himself considered this building as his best work. The dome of the building had the largest diameter of all domes in the world for several centuries. If you have admired Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque) of Istanbul, you’ll sure adore this one, since Blue Mosque is quite a copy of Selimiye. While at Edime, watch an oil-wrestling (yagli güres) competition, the national sport of Turks. Edime hosts the most prestigous wrestling tournament in Turkey and the winner is titled baspehlivan (“chief of all wrestlers”) of the year.

Bergama is close to the ancient city of Pergamon, which today lies in ruins. Bergama merits at least three days. The Akropol, the Temple of Serapis, the Asklepion, The Allianoi, the Red Basilica (Kizil Avlu), the mosques, the archaeology museum, and inns should not