Turkey is seen by many as a bridge between the East and the West. And visiting this country, you’ll definitely get to experience the best of both worlds. Geographically, Turkey straddles two continents, Asia and Europe, and is bordered by several Middle Eastern and European countries. Its history stretches back thousands of years – from the ancient Hittites, to the Romans, to the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Only recently did Turkey arise out of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire under the leadership of Kemal Ataturk. Having spent six centuries under the Islamic rule of the Ottomans, the majority of people in Turkey are naturally Muslim. But Turkey has since established an explicitly secular republic. In addition, the country has implemented successful market-based reforms to modernize its economy. And, as a result, Turkey has become a major vacation destination – so much so that travel businesses from hotels to restaurants have jacked up the prices in recent years, making this country an expensive one to visit.
But as damaging to one’s wallet as it is, Turkey is worth this financial pain. The country offers visitors not only a cultural experience – with its myriad archaeological, architectural, and artistic remnants from the Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires – but a genuine exotic vacation experience as well. The country’s Mediterranean coastline with its resorts, sandy beaches, and wild nightlife is simply too tempting to resist. Let’s not forget the spa experience you’d get in Turkey. The country is known for its massages and therapeutic mineral baths. Turkish baths are not quite like saunas. It is a steam bath experience that serves a social, ritual, and cleaning function in Turkish culture.
It is a must also to explore and feast on the country’s beautiful mosques, palaces, churches, harbors, aqueducts and temples. Not all of the monuments are from the Byzantines or the Ottomans. In fact, many of the remains are Greek and Roman in origin. Turkey, in fact, has the most Greek and Roman buildings of any country. Greek towns like Ephesus and Pergamon and Roman towns like Phasalis have buildings and structures from the Greek and Romans that remain surprisingly well preserved.
The popular destinations in Turkey include Istanbul, where you’ll find 1500 year-old cathedrals, Ephesus, where you’ll experience a blast from the past when you eye-ball some of the ancient archaeological sites there, Fethiye, which is a beach and resort town, and Cappadocia, a popular tourist area for its unique caves and rock dwellings. Other cities or regions worth visiting include Bursa, Edirne, Iznik, the Gelibolu peninsula, Assos, Izmir, Bodrum, Marmaris, Kas, Olympos, Xanthos, Antalya, Ankara, Pamukale, Canakkale, Goreme, Kusadasi, and Urgup.