A continent-spanning country, divided between Europe and Asia, Turkey is known for its diverse and vibrant culture, ancient civilisations and dizzying whirling dervishes. The former capital and largest city of Istanbul sits on the winding Bosphorus Strait and is home to dozen of cultural and architectural treasures, from the Hagia Sophia to the Blue Mosque and bustling Grand Bazaar.
On the other hand, the modern capital of Ankara is home to the iconic collonaded mausoleum of Ataturk, who founded the Turkish Republic. Delicious cuisine, epic history and vast mountainous landscapes make a Turkey holiday package the ultimate adventure experience, whilst the gorgeous Mediterranean coastlines along the south of the country offer serene beach resorts and plenty of fun in the sun. Bordered by Greece, Georgia, Bulgaria, Armenia, Iran, Iraq and Syria, a package holiday to Turkey opens up a world of culture, thanks to its unique position, once an important stop on the historic Silk Road. A Turkey tour package is the best way to get to grips with the complexity of the country, it’s wide array of natural wonders and its diverse cities and communities.
History of Turkey
Great civilisations, such as the Assyrians, Greeks, Armenians and Urartians, among others, have left their mark on the region across the centuries, with ancient sites, such as Gobekli Tepe, which predates Stonehenge, offering insight into years gone by to visitors on a trip to Turkey.
The country’s foundations can be traced back to the victory of the Seljuk Turks over the mighty Byzantines in the 11th-century, who continued their dominance until the 13th-century Mongol Invasion when the Sultanate was disintegrated into small principalities. The Ottoman dynasty began to unite these principalities in the later 13th-century and captured and conquered the iconic Byzantine capital of Constantinople in 1453. Under Suleiman the Magnificent the vast Ottoman Empire encompassed a huge part of the world, stretching from Europe to Africa and Asia.
20th-century Turkish history has been characterised by the Turkish war of independence, led by the national hero, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, which resulted in the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of a republic in 1923. Visitors on Turkey tours can visit his monumental tomb in the capital of Ankara. Ataturk became the first president of the republic and brought about major changes to Turkish society, encouraging the westernisation of the national culture.
Nature in Turkey
Turkey is home to a vast and diverse landscape, split into seven geographical areas, each with its own unique characteristics. Home to biodiverse wildlife, with as many as 80,000 species, Turkey’s 40 national parks and countless nature reserves provide refuge for an array of spectacular natural treasures and rare wildlife, such as the elusive Anatolian leopard.
Out of the dozens of bucket-list-worthy natural attractions to discover on Turkey holiday packages, the amazing landscape of Cappadocia stands out. A true natural wonder, Cappadocia is a historic region of Anatolia, home to otherworldly rock formations that have been transformed into a living city.
Here, ‘fairy chimneys’ or ‘hoodoos’ dot the landscape, and some are even used as homes, churches and hotels. Watching the sunrise or taking a dawn balloon ride over the fairytale landscape of Cappadocia is an unforgettable experience. The glorious hot springs of Pamukkale offer travellers another inspiring natural refuge of glistening white and blue terraced pools. Nicknamed the ‘Cotton Castle’, it’s the perfect place for a relaxing soak. Turkey’s largest lake, Lake Van is located in the southeast of the country, in the shadow of volcanic Mount Numrut and home to four idyllic islands. A final unmissable natural wonder is legendary Mount Ararat, thought to be the mountain where Noah’s Ark landed after the great flood and the tallest point in the country. It’s eternally snow-capped peak is sure to stir your soul and ignite your imagination.
Culture in Turkey
An eclectic blend of cultures, including Turkic, Anatolian and Ottoman traditions, as well as western influences, make up the rich tapestry of Turkey’s culture. Extremes of both eastern and western traditions are represented within the country. Turkey is a secular state and enjoys complete freedom of religion, although the majority of the population follow Islam, seen in the amazing mosques and elaborate religious traditions you’ll encounter on a tour of Turkey.
One of the country’s most famous cultural ceremonies is the dance of the whirling dervishes, a distinct and captivating Islamic tradition. Turkish cuisine is reason enough to choose a holiday to Turkey, and traditional Turkish music is a soul-stirring soundtrack to everyday life in the cities, with impromptu performances heard throughout the streets and markets. Like many nations, culture differs between rural and urban spheres. Traditional life continues in the farms and villages of the countryside, whilst the countries urban centres are a melting-pot of cosmopolitan cultures and influences, perfectly balancing the new and the old.
Choose a tour of Turkey to encounter a fusion of east and west and a history that stretches back centuries and is etched on the mythical landscapes. Admire the warmth of the locals and the idyllic coastal resorts, but don’t forget to take the time to absorb the aromas of the bustling food markets and the incomparable atmosphere of a nation that straddles two continents and fuses the best of both world.