Turkey is a strikingly unique country. This is where east meets west and touches on South-western Asia. Consequently, Turkey is a nation of mixed culture and history, providing a captivating host of flavours, sights and events perfect for tourists. If you’re thinking of taking a trip to see the real Turkish delights, here’s a little help on what not to miss.
Ephesus was one of the largest and most important centres of the ancient Mediterranean world, and is considered one of the best preserved sites of antiquity. The temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, once stood here. The ruins of Ephesus, situated near Selçuk town is a main centre of archaeological interest owing to the ancient remains that still exist and makes for a interesting day out.
Things to be seen on a visit to Ephesus today include
- the ‘Bath of Varius’, a 2C AD Roman bath complex
- ‘the Prytaneion’, an official administrative building or the city hall which housed the senior city officials
- ‘the Celsus Library’, a library built in the beginning of the 2C AD by Gaius Julius Aquila as a memorial to his father Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus.
Traditional Turkish Night
A traditional Turkish Night includes highlights of the dance traditions from the various regions of Turkey, complete with traditional costumes and invigorating belly dancers. The lively performances are a great way to enjoy traditional Turkish music and dancing in a fun and lively atmosphere.
The Grand Bazaar
Spread across over 58 streets, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul has more than 4,000 shops selling carpets, rugs, furniture, spices, jewellery, antiques and much more. This is one of the oldest covered markets in the world since opening in 1461. Entrance to the bazaar is gained by four main gates which are located at the ends of its two main streets.
Back in the day, taking a Turkish Bath was much more than just a cleaning procedure; it was a place where people of every status could go freely. The Baths were originally built by the Seljuks and Ottomans and were used by locals basically just to wash.
Today, Turkish baths can be found in almost every town in Turkey and are promoted as an enjoyable luxury experience ideal for relaxation. The experience begins as you are taken (in your bathing clothes) in to a hot room, similar to a sauna, to relax and loosen your muscles. Following this, you are taken into a cooler room to bathe. You can usually choose whether you’d like to take a bath by yourself or have a “Hamam” attendant scrub your skin with a coarse mitt. The experience ends as you are wrapped in warm towels and relax whilst drinking traditional Turkish tea.
Aspendos is home to one the best preserved Roman Theatres in Turkey. The theatre was built by Marcus Aurelius and dates back to 155 AD and surprisingly, is still used for performances today. Every summer, the Aspendos Opera & Ballet Festival takes place where you can enjoy unique entertainment before exploring the impressive city ruins.
The Whirling Dervishes
The real Whirling Dervishes are members of the Mevlevi Order who perform what is essentially an act of worship aimed at a mystical union with God and religious purification. The Mevlevi Dervishes wear long white costumes and perform their whirling dance as part of the ceremony which is known as Sema. This also includes singing, dancing, playing musical instruments and poetry recitals. The annual Mevlana Commemoration Festival takes place in Konya during December and ceremonies take place during the course of the month. Visitors to Istanbul can also see displays of the Whirling Dervishes at the Galata Mevlevihanesi, and various other venues throughout the city.
The best way to explore Turkey’s beautiful coastline is by boat. On offer in most towns and cities, boat cruises vary in duration and price and all offer something special. A trip to Kekova offers the chance to see a fallen Roman town under the sea whereas a trip from Marmaris gives you the chance to do some dolphin spotting – there is a trip for everyone.
Pamukkale (translated into English as ‘Cotton Castles’) is a gathering of beautiful cascades of travertine and mineral pools that have formed over thousands of years. The geothermal hot springs that stand on this site are full of naturally occurring minerals, predominantly chalk and limestone, so when the water hardens whilst coming down the mountain this unique landscape occurs. People have bathed in its pools for thousands of years and still do today.
A Nargile bar is where you can try a water-pipe or just relax and enjoy the exotic aroma of a flavoured Nargile while sipping Turkish tea or coffee. Dating back to the 17th century Ottoman Empire, the interest in Nargile’s calming vapours currently sees its revival the world over. The down-at-heel Nargile bars have gained the status of trendy cafes, now serving fantastic coffee to go with the traditional water pipe service.
Çoruh River Valley
Exhilarating for water rafters and challenging for hikers, if outdoor adventure is your thing, visit the Çoruh River Valley. Recognized as one of word’s few biodiversity hotspots, and flowing with beautiful wilderness, the valley is a great alternative to the sandy beaches of Turkey.