Turkish food is among the best in the world. Many of the country’s dishes are now popular, especially kebabs and kofte meatballs. Enjoying genuine Turkish cuisine for the first time is an incredible experience. The kebabs are the country’s most famous export and come in two main forms: doner and shish. Doner kebabs consist of spit-roasted meat served in bread with salad and sauce, whereas shish kebabs are meat and vegetables on a skewer. Other must-try dishes include lahmacun, a variety of pizza and hamsi, a tiny fish that is packed full of flavour and used as the base of many meals.
With huge coastlines on both the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, there is no shortage of great beaches in Turkey. The most popular area is Bodrum. It caters to the first-time visitor with its international vibe, luxurious resorts and stunning beaches. Marmaris is another popular location. Here holidaymakers can enjoy lazy days in the sun before heading out to revel in the buzzing night-life. Quieter beaches are around Dalyan, Amsara, Fethiye and Antalya.
Culture and History
Besides its beaches, Turkey is full of cultural and historical delights. The largest city, Istanbul, has been the capital of four empires during its existence. It is a highlight of any visit. Located where the continents of Europe and Asia meet, the city is a remarkable blend of the two. Some must-see attractions include the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and the Theodosian Walls. Beyond Istanbul are the ancient cities of Troy and Perga, the battle site at Gallipoli and Mount Ararat, the rumoured resting place of Noah’s Ark.
Whether shopping for curiosities, antiques or souvenirs, Turkey is a great place for the bargain hunter. First-time visitors should be aware that at bazaars and markets, as well as in many shops, haggling is commonplace and indeed, expected. This can be intimidating at first, but is also a lot of fun. Some of the best goods to buy are leather, silk and carpets or rugs. These things are cheaper here than in many other parts of the world. Also recommended is sampling and buying some genuine Turkish delight. It’s divine.
With so much to offer, it’s no wonder Turkey is so popular. This intoxicating country blends East and West with a flavour and culture all its own for an unique experience. Visiting Turkey for the first time is unforgettable. So much so that for most people, the first time is definitely not the last.
Famous Landmarks in Istanbul
When Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror took Istanbul in 1453, he first ordered the construction of a new palace for this new Ottoman capital, on a site in the district of Beyazit where Istanbul University stands today. But before long, he changed his mind and had a number of buildings constructed on the headland to the southeast. This was to become the palace known as Topkapi.
THE RUMELI FORTRESS
The Rumeli Fortress is situated on the Tracean side of the Istanbul Bosphorus. It was built by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452 to prevent aid from north reaching Byzantine. It took 4 months to build with 1,000 masons and 2,000 workers. Today, the fortress hosts many concerts and dramatic performances in its amphitheater usually in the summer months.
Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent commissioned the Suleymaniye Mosque, which was designed by Architect Sinan and built between the dates 1550-1557. It is the largest mosque in Istanbul. Suleyman was the richest and most powerful Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. He is remembered by the Turks as the one who introduced laws and not by his magnificent title.
Haghia Sophia, the "Church of Holy Wisdom", was built by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. It was, for nearly a thousand years, the largest enclosed space in the world, and still seen as one of the world’s most important architectural monuments. It was used as church for 916 years, as mosque for 481 years and was
converted into museum in 1935.
Facing Hagia Sophia stands the elegant, six-minaret, imperial Sultanahmet Mosque. Built between 1609 and 1616 by the architect Mehmet, the building is known as the Blue Mosque because its interior gleams with a magnificent paneling, of blue and white Iznik tiles. It is considered to be the last example of Ottoman classical architecture.During the summer months an evening light and sound show both entertain and inform.
GRAND (COVERED) BAZAAR
The oldest and biggest closed bazaar in the world, also known as the Grand Bazaar, has around 4000 shops and over 60 alleyway, covering a huge labyrinth in the city centre. The original two structures, covered with a series of domes and remains of the 15th century walls, became a shopping area by covering the surrounding streets and adding to it over the following centuries. It take the first
place to visit Istanbul for foreigners. Millions of different objects that are sold in thousands of shops seem charming for especially Western Visitors.
If you saw the James Bond movie “The World is not Enough”, you may recall the location where Judi Dench was imprisoned and Pierce Brosnan killed the lovely Sophie Marceau. This 12th century stone tower erected on a rock at the entrance of the Bosphorus by Byzantine Emperor Manuel Komnenos. This tower, which has served as a prison and a lighthouse, became the source of many legends in ancient days. It soon will be opened to the public as a cafeteria.
Dolmabahce Palace was constructed between 1842-1853 by Sultan Abdulmecid. The architect was a famous Armenian architect, Nikogos Balyan. The palace reflects the European and more "modern" side of the Ottoman Empire. The Sultans moved to Dolmabahce Palace after its construction was finished and never went back to Topkapi Palace which hosted them nearly 4 centuries. It is also the place where Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (founder of the Turkish Republic) died in 1938.
Istanbul is the only city in the world spanning two continents (Asia and Europe). The city is divided into two parts by the Straits of Bosphorus (20 miles long), connecting the Sea of Marmara (at the south) to the Black Sea (at the north). The Bosphorus Bridge was opened in 1973 as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the Turkish Republic. The bridge is 1560 m long, with a middle span of 1.074 m, a width of 33.40 m and an altitude of 64 m.