Armed with the allure of the archaic and the geographical distinction of its multi linear identity as a transcontinental territory, the expanses of Turkey are one rare kaleidoscope of experiences. Straddling the cultural realms of Western Asia and the heritage hues of a southeastern Europe, this country in the Middle East is a coming together of a wide range of influences that get as varied as they can, yet blending in seamlessly across the many elements that define its identity, and revealing forth a canvas of such exquisite riches, both tangible and intangible, that has your heart set upon them the minute you set foot on its premises. Crisscrossed by such facets of its own that are a profusion of beauty in all their uniqueness, Turkey presents itself as a magical land harbouring of the most glittering hues of the world. For a land fluttering so much in the fancies of what bathes the earth in all its glory, Turkey then shapes up indeed as a place that commands high esteem on every travelling nomad’s list.
No wonder, with such a panoply of entices playing out in the precincts of its traditionally modern stretch of ancientries, Turkey has been luring tourists into exploring its realms of a wonder filled tapestry. With so many stories to live in and a horde of experiences to savour, not to mention the array of natural sights to soak your soul in as well as an amalgamation of cultural traditions to relish and heritage structures to marvel at the beauty of, every escape through the Turkish trails promises to unleash a bounty of such sights and sounds that will remain etched in your hearts forever. Unsurprisingly therefore, tourism in Turkey has seen a rise through almost every year in the current century. One of the world’s top ten destination countries today, Turkey is splendidly done up by a range of its fascinating details set in every sphere of existence. In its identity as a country that is home to some of the most exquisite revelations in the travel world, Turkey continues to play to its potential with a flair that makes it so coveted an exotic pick for the wanderlusters of the world.
Summing up Turkey in travelogues is something that is never possible, even when you go insanely precise about it. For a land so magnificently steeped in such wonders that penetrate the deep ranges of art and culture and touches upon the mavericks of beauty and grandeur, as well as dwells in a gastronomic experience and lives a life experience that is as diversely distinctive and intriguingly immersive as no other, Turkey can only be encountered in all its glory, never encapsulated in words. And yet, there have been such renditions of the Turkish experience in journals and blogs and every scribbling space elsewhere that conjure up images of the country every time you dream away of this far off land of true fantasy. Every mention of Turkey brings to mind vivid details of its largest city Istanbul or its Instagram famous landscape of Cappadocia as it strikes with the almost outworldy regal vision of the Hagia Sophia or the gigantic expanse of its famed Grand Bazaar. No less pronounced is the Turkish touristry prominence in the gastronomic world, particularly in sweet land, with such stemmings of the Baklava and the namesake Turkish delight emerging to be global favourites today, paired of course with some authentic Turkish coffee or even some tea, the Turkish cay. Also famous for its carpets, magical in their beauty at least if not in the fairytalesque Aladdin references, as well as in its public bathing tradition hammam and its traditional Iznikware, each strand of the Turkish identity finds expression in an intricately woven canvas of dynamic experience, that which is so much of a factor lending Turkey a charm peculiar to its own.
Particularly with Istanbul, the extent of Turkey’s touristry charms has no end. In fact as one of the most important of tourist places in the world, Istanbul’s brush with popularity goes beyond its size to reside also in its stature as the only major city on earth to sprawl across two different continents. The transcontinental identity of Turkey lends itself particularly well to what is in fact the most populous city in Europe as it extends also into the Asian countries, swaddling a host of cultural influences that stand testimony to its expanses of dual wonder. Even in its history, Istanbul, then known as Byzantine had been as important a city central to the world, resplendent today in an array of architectural masterpieces dating to its earlier times. A historical cultural hub as well, and a regional artistic center, while being at present the most important of Turkey’s economic centers, Istanbul resides in a glory exclusive to its continuing legacy. Home to several of the 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites that Turkey takes pride in, Istanbul presents itself as a facade of grandiosity. Housing not just the world famous Hagia Sophia that which is said to have “changed the history of architecture” and the Grand Bazaar but also a range of diverse attractions like the equally famous Blue Mosque, the Topkapı Palace, the Basilica Cistern, the Dolmabahçe Palace, the Galata Tower, the Maiden’s Tower, the Spice Bazaar, and the Pera Palace Hotel along with some 50 museums and a host of other structures that explain just why Istanbul is among the top five most visited cities globally. In its extravagant premises and its presence also as one of the most unique of flea markets, the Grand Bazaar alone commands roughly half a million footfall every single day, making it the world’s most-visited tourist attraction at some point of time in the recent past. And why just man made structures, Istanbul plays out as gloriously to the unbounded beauty of nature as does the country of its origin. Surrounded by the Marmara and Black seas and linked by the Bosphorus with its small islands, Istanbul boasts also some of the best stretches of beachy sands, making it as relaxing a tourist getaway as any other more ‘indulgent’ vacay hotspot. Just for the record however, with its 436 blue-flagged, Turkey is just the second country after France to have the most number of the coveted Blue Flag. With so much to offer in terms of all that makes for the most perfect of travel experiences ever, Istanbul can in fact be all the reason we need to venture into this one wonder of an empire called Turkey!
But Turkey isn’t all about Istanbul; rather, it isn’t about just one facet at all. In every sphere of what makes this country remarkably diverse nestles such influences of splendid measure that cannot be comprehended in words. For one, Cappadocia is such an exotic existence stemming from Turkey that in its surreal premises of cave houses and cobblestoned roads and fairy chimneys and clusters of tall, cone-shaped rock formations present such a world of fairytale vibes that which has rendered it so commonly recurring a phenomenon in popular global media. Famed even more for its hot air balloons that float upon sunrise as a spectacular sight in postcard like picture perfect settings, Cappadocia is home also to some 36 underground cities!
Resting in an allure no less magical is the famed Turkish Riviera, an equally popular national and international tourist destination that however has to its distinction not just the beauty of a gorgeous coastline but also the richness of a cultural continuity that makes it such a trove of enchantment. Helped by the favorable climate coupled with a warm sea, mountainous scenery and fine beaches along more than a thousand kilometers of shoreline along the Aegean and Mediterranean waters, as well as abundant natural and archaeological points of interest, that which includes also two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Turkish Riviera is a piece of Turkey that remains encapsulated in fascinating flurry.
Magic resides in every exploration of Turkey, as one would discover with delight on stumbling upon the blue beauty of Pamukkale. Translating as ‘cotton castle’ in Turkish, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its many spectacular thermal pools, glittering in such shimmering shades of blue beset against an expanse of whites that make them appear almost unreal. Calcium-filled travertines cascade down nearly 200 metres and resemble frozen waterfalls, pooling down into shallow natural thermal spring basins to shape up the wonder that is Pamukkale, a phenomenon as much in its touristry prominence since the times of classical antiquity as in its stupendous beauty. Holding also the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis in close proximity, Pamukkale is a must visit destination in Turkey as are the sites of Ephesus, Troy, Pergamon, Trabzon, Didyma that project a version of ancientry in the modern world.
No less historic a city worth exploring is the cosmopolitan Turkish capital of Ankara, famous for its many museums, parks, honey, Kalecik Karasi grapes and other cultural and historical assets and even more famously, the home to the Mausoleum of Ataturk, the founding figure of the country. Stemming also of Ankara is one of the globally famous breed of cats, the Turkish Angora as well as the equally world famous Angora Goat and the fluffy Angora rabbit. Also featuring prominently on the tourism radar is Turkey’s tourism capital of Antalya as is the coastal town of Cesme that which is a popular holiday resort and also the third best surfing resort in the world. Be it therefore natural splendor or architectural finesse or leisurely luxury, Turkey is second to none when it comes to being a extensive haven of wonders for everyone who ventures to discover its utopic landscape.
No travel saga however would be half as attractive if there weren’t the charm also of deciphering the exotic elements of the local cuisine. As a country dwelling in dual identities, it only is natural that the experience of the gastronomic in Turkey would be one residing in fusions. Largely the continuing heritage of Ottoman cuisine, food in Turkey is a coming together of influences and elements very different from each other, making therefore for a realm of the culinary that is refreshingly distinctive yet accommodating in its many intermingling tastes. Famous for the eponymous Turkish kebabs, a particular variety of bread called lavash, the scrambled egg preparation menemen, Lahmacun or the Turkish pizza, along with a wide range of desserts including the baklava and Turkish delight but encompassing also the kunafa and the Şekerpare, as well as the distinctively Turkish ice cream known as Dondurma and the traditional Turkish dessert porridge that which is known as asure or Noah’s pudding, the epicurean experience in Turkey is one diversive array of such delectables that will have you spoilt for choice. Accompanied of course by copious amounts of the specialty Turkish tea and Turkish coffee, the latter also enlisted as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage, one can only envisage what the food adventures of a country that shares its name with a meaty bird can lead the taste buds into! Truly, in its profusion of tastes catering to each one of the senses through such treasures that are tremendously extraordinary, Turkey is a wholesome tale of a vividly enigmatic travel experience to savour and cherish for a lifetime.