Thursday, September 9, 2010


Turkey is a remarkable country with a long and proud history and a wide variety of gorgeous landscapes. The unique position of the republic as a bridge between Asia and Europe enables it to distill the cultural traditions of both the East and the West, giving rise to a relaxed and accepting Mediterranean atmosphere.
In the ancient world the land of today’s Turkey was owned by great empires and saw many infamous battles. Here Achilles fought the Trojans in Homer’s Iliad and Alexander the Great defeated the Persians and slashed the Gordion Knot. The Turks started to arrive from Central Asia much later, during the 10th century, and before that the lands belonged, in turns, to the Byzantine Empire, the Romans, Persians, Lycians and Hittite tribes around the time of the Trojan War.
With such a rich history Turkey is abundant with archeological wonders. Along the Mediterranean coastline visitors can admire the well-preserved Greco-Roman cities of Pergamom and Ephesus, while inside the mainland hide the cave churches of the Anatolean plateau, the underground cities of Cappadocia and the extraordinary rock formations in the Goreme Valley. On top of that, there is the city of Istanbul, a vast modern metropolis with population of over 12 million people, which is full of historic buildings and artifacts from Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman times.
But even with its heavy past, the country today is a vibrant modern nation and the only secular democracy in the Muslim world. Because of the efforts of Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, nowadays the republic is hospitable and more affluent than ever.
One of the most famous destinations in Turkey is Antalya, the unofficial tourism capital. The visitors can enjoy there one of the cleanest beaches of the Mediterranean, together with beautiful architecture with various influences from past periods and rich archeological sites nearby.
Another very popular tourist destination is Ephesus, which was the site of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis. The city offers also other must-see palaces like the Cave of the Seven Sleepers and the House of the Virgin Mary.
And in the end, no description of modern Turkey is complete without the capital city of Ankara, which is also the center of trade and commerce. Many cultural, historic and artistic attractions for tourists exist there, and it is also the best place to find native handmade Turkish crafts at bargain prices.
Hotels in Turkey offer a wide range of prices and accommodation standards, including one of the only two “seven star” hotels in the world – the Rixos Premium Hotel Belek in the outskirts of Antalya. There are also plenty of other luxurious hotels, most commonly situated in specially built modern districts out of town.
There are of course a lot of other kinds of accommodation available for the more price-sensitive tourists. Generally, cheaper hotels are most likely to be available in the winter, when the tourist activity is at its lowest. Whenever you decide to travel, it is always a smarter choice to book a room in advance and thus to take advantage of the commonly offered price reductions. Consider that the season’s peak is in late July and the beginning of August, and hotel prices always are the highest in the year at that time. It is also possible to use the services of the online hotel price comparison sites and find the most suitable option for your taste and pocket.
During your stay you may witness some of the traditional celebrations. There are two public Muslim holidays in Turkey, Seker Bayrami, which is a three day festival ending the Ramazan – usually in December or January; and the second holiday is Kurban Bayrami in March or April, held in honour of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Ismael on Mount Moriah.
The secular festivals on the other hand include the traditional camel-wrestling in the town of Selcuk in January and the National Sovereignty Day on April 23, the day of the first meeting of the Republican parliament in 1920.
When it comes to traveling inside Turkey, there are a lot of options. The Turkish Airlines are the obvious choice if you are in a hurry – all the major cities are connected, including the Istanbul-Ankara corridor. On the other hand, if you are looking for good value for money, a cheaper possibility is to use the sleeping-car trains linking Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara. And of course, there are rent-a-car services available in almost every town, but have in mind that the traffic in the large cities is very busy.
Car ferries are another suitable way to travel and they also offer you a great opportunity to take a cruise in the clear waters along the Turkish coast. Ferries operate from Istanbul to Trabzon and Bursa from June to September.

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