As Seen in…
Places to visit in Turkey
Why visit Turkey?
A common misconception identifies Istanbul as the capital of Turkey and, whilst Ankara’s elegantly functional metropolis in the heart of Asiatic Turkey is the true seat of power, it is not hard to see why. Ancient Byzantium was a powerhouse of the Greek and Roman era and it was little surprise that Constantine the Great chose the city as the place to rebuild as his capital amidst turbulent events in Rome. The fracturing of the Roman Empire in 395 A.D. led to an artistic and political golden age in Nova Roma, or Constantinople as it became known.
The ancient walls that were built from the 330s held all at bay for 11 centuries in which Greek Orthodoxy thrived, building exquisite and huge churches, and the capital of the Byzantine Empire contained over half a million souls during its heyday. It also witnessed two incredible sieges, the first a shocking betrayal by the financially distracted 4th Crusade which sacked their fellow Christians’ city and established a brief Latin Empire, the second ending in a more decisive submission in 1453 to the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmet II.
From there, the Ottoman Empire burst forth across Eastern Europe to the lands of the Ukrainians and Hungarians, a power which dwindled but only foundered in the 1924 establishment of Turkey, a rump of the original territories ruled from here.
Istanbul as it has been termed increasingly in the 1900s and by government edict since the 1990s, is a conglomeration of amazing historical sites that reflect the turbulence and vicissitudes of its history. The skyline is dominated by mosques, many of which were Orthodox basilicas in a previous incarnation and the Grand Bazaar, fortresses but the fortifications on its shores, the fabulous Basilica Cistern built as a water source for Constantine’s planned city, the tremendous walls, the beauty of the Golden Horn and its bridges and the outlying enclaves like Gelata and Fetih are a joy in which to spend countless hours.
And yet, Istanbul is merely the corner, albeit a glorious one, of an enormous nation and one equally imbued with a sense of historical and natural wonder. On its western Asian shores lie the remains of Troy, an archaeological teetering on the cusp of legend, the sites of cataclysmically important sites like the Council of Nicea at modern day Isnik, and Ani, abandoned capital of the huge Armenian Empire which now stands in empty shells on the grassy plateau at the eastern extremity of the nation.
Westerners may be familiar with the Antalyan strip of Mediterranean coastal development or the bewildering landscape of Cappadocia’s ‘fairy chimneys’, whilst there are few Roman sites to rival those at Corinth in the west. Of lesser fame is the idyllic Black Sea coast, and few come to explore the amazing ruins of Roman Olba, nor the remarkable mediaeval citadel of Mamure which gazes from its sea-lapped walls across the eastern Mediterranean towards Cyprus. Travel internally Turkey is remarkably cheap, and its train services east from Istanbul are extensive, with high speed trains linking to Ankara and such as the Dogu Express offering sleepers that take you across the border to Georgia, whilst Tblisi to Kars in eastern Turkey is a fabulous journey.
Above all, this is an unreservedly friendly nation who show consideration, care and unabashed hospitality to those who arrive similarly-minded. Family, a genuine love of children and friendship are lasting impressions which the Turkish experience will leave, making for a delightful stay in a land of elegance and intriguing antiquity.