Holidaying in Turkey- Recharge your Mind, Body and Soul
Are you looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of your work and routine and set off on a holiday that would inspire you with a land rich in its history, diverse in its culture and modern in its outlook. Imagine yourself walking through the bustling streets of a country that is probably one of the oldest inhabited regions on the globe.
As per historians, the Anatolian Peninsula that holds most of modern Turkey today, is the place where the earliest human settlements existed. The Republic of Turkey is a Eurasian country surrounded by eight countries that include Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq and Syria. In a country where Asia converges with Europe, the landscape is studded with scenic mountains in the East, golden beaches, mysterious rock formations and the famous Turkish Riviera in the southwest.
CITIES TO VISIT
The most important cities to visit while in Turkey would obviously include those in the Turquoise Coast like Antalya, Alanya, Bodrum and Marmaris. Others include Istanbul, Ankara (the capital), Ephesus, Ayvalik, Cappadocia, Goreme, Konya, Pamukkale, Selcuk, Izmir and Bursa.
In this two (2) part article series, I will take you to the best Turkey Holidays spots from Istanbul to Bursa. We will provide a travel compass to guide to the best in Holidaying in Turkey
TURKISH RIVIERA AND THE BLUE VOYAGE
The Turquoise Coast as it is popularly known is the other name for the Turkish Riviera. It has the heady combination of beautiful weather, warm sea, and a coastline that stretches beyond the horizon along the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. The architectural and natural beauty of this place attracts many tourists every year to soak in the sun and sights. It is believed that during the Roman era, Marc Anthony had presented the Turkish Riviera as the most beautiful wedding gift to Cleopatra. The internationally acclaimed Blue Voyage is a week long trip for tourists to take on Gulets ( a traditional Turkish sailing boat) along the Turquoise coast. They sail away to ancient harbors, cities, mausolea and cozy beaches hidden away in the small coves, among the lush forests and sunlit streams that lace the coast.
Istanbul has the modern chaos of a city booming in its economy. Shops and skyscrapers, streets busy with taxis, people and public transport are all the regular sights you would see in any city. But with a map to guide you, drink in the sights of ancient architecture found in the mosques and palaces that have stood the test of time. Istanbul is the cultural and economic hub of Turkey.
Art, entertainment, tourism, shopping, education, commerce and trade all begin here. It offers a mixed bag of entertaining delights in the form of jazz, rock concerts, theatre, opera, ballet, musicals, classical music and finally good Turkish and International cuisine. The blend of Byzantine and Ottoman empires and culture is evident in the architectural wizardry. The Blue Mosque built in the 17th century, gets its name from the colored tiles that are placed in the interior upper level.
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It was built during the rule of the Ottoman Empire and is one of the most popular sights that silhouette against the horizon. The Byzantine Hippodrome was the scene of all games during the Ottoman history that scaled 500 years. The monuments that surround the Hippodrome are worth visiting. They include the 3500 year old Obelisk of Theodosius made of Egyptian granite bought in 390 AD by Constantinople from the Emperor Theodosius.
Also worth visiting are two important places- the Hagia Sophia which is a basilica turned mosque and one of the most impressive buildings here. The Topikapi Palace housed the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years of their rule where they lived in hundreds of rooms and harems with their concubines, servants and children.
Other attractions include the Kapalicarsi, which is the Grand Bazaar that forms a covered labyrinth at many levels. You would find bargains on Turkish carpets that assure you of everything except a flight out of Istanbul, glazed pottery and tiles, meerschaum pipes, expensive alabaster lamps and ashtrays, copper and brass ware and…well, possible everything you have on your shopping list!
While you shop and bargain, a good walk to the market is better than taking a taxi that runs through arduous routes. Besides, when you walk, you see more…who knows, you may even find Aladdin's lost lamp! Beware of pickpockets and bag snatchers.
The market closes at midday for ritualistic prayers and is closed on Sundays. Take your pick from the 4000 odd shops and walk through a maze of colors and treasures that you may never know the real worth of until you buy one!
It is the capital city and falls in the Anatolian Valley. It offers a host of inexpensive but good restaurants and cafes for the traveler to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. Ankara houses the Museum of Anatolian civilizations and Mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk. Near Ulus square lie the ruins of the Temple of Augustus and Rome.
Joint me in part two (2) of this two part article series on the Best Turkey Holiday spots,next stop EPHESUS and SELCUK