As westerners around the world can tell you, at the end of a night on the booze the best way to say sorry to your body is by throwing a kebab into it. A handy Turkish (and, of course, Greek) cure to an international malady, but what do Turks themselves do? One answer is işkembe… Read more »
You probably didn’t know Turkey’s real name, you might have been confused about which city is the capital, and you probably thought tulips came from the Netherlands. It turns out, you were probably wrong. There is a lot more to Turkey than meets the eye – between the beaches and bustling markets lies a wealth… Read more »
Turkey is, in many respects, the ideal travel destination. It scores highly across the board: layer after layer of history; an amazing variety of landscapes; super-friendly people; terrific food; relatively low prices; reliable public transport… the list could go on. What a pity, then, that the vast majority of travellers to Turkey confine themselves to… Read more »
Given this amazing country’s holiday popularity and long standing twin personality in the eyes of the holiday industry what are your opinions or experiences of Turkey? Independent backpacking dream or too full of overpriced resorts?
The annual festival calendar is pretty full, especially between April and October. The most important modern art event is the International İstanbul Biennial, held on odd-numbered years. Organized by IKSV, the İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (wiksv.org), it uses venues ranging from historic buildings like the Topkapı Palace to urban-chic warehouses. April International Film… Read more »
Northeast of Van, the road skirts the lake before heading up into the volcanic peaks bordering Iran. The drive, over a bizarrely contorted laval landscape, is spectacular in places, especially on the 2644m Tendurek Pass. In clear weather, the views of Mount Ararat from the far side of the pass are stunning. Huddled on the… Read more »
Few mountains west of the Himalayas have as compelling a hold on Western imagination as Mount Ararat (Ağrı Dağı in Turkish). Traditionally, Armenian monks considered this volcanic mountain holy, and nobody was allowed to climb it; it was not until 1829 that Dr Johann Jacob Parrot, a German academic, conquered the peak. Numerous other ascents… Read more »
The mountain-rimmed basin of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers is perhaps the most exotic part of Turkey, offering travellers a heady mix of atmospheric ancient sites and bustling Middle-East-style towns. Forming the northern rim of ancient Mesopotamia (literally “between two rivers”), the region has been of importance since the Neolithic period. The eastern boundaries of… Read more »
The colossally expensive Güneydoğu Anadolu Projesi (GAP), or Southeastern Anatolia Project, was begun in 1974 with the aim of improving economic conditions in Turkey’s impoverished southeast. Centred on the massive Atatürk Dam, the fourth largest in the world, the US$32 billion scheme has diverted waters from the Euphrates and Tigris to irrigate vast swathes of… Read more »
The superb new Zeugma Mosaic Museum, slightly inconveniently located on the ring road north of the city centre, exhibits a superb collection of mosaics rescued from the once-luxurious Hellenistic/Roman border city of Zeugma, now virtually submerged by the Birecik dam on the Euphrates. On the ground floor, where visitors enter, arrows direct you along the… Read more »
The D-400 crosses the broad Euphrates River at BIRECIK. Set on a rise below the striking pale limestone bluffs backing the river, Birecik’s castle was founded during the eleventh century, and served as a frontier outpost for the Crusader state of Edessa. Birecik is also the hub for onward transport to atmospheric Halfeti.
Set where the southern foothills of the Toros Mountains fade into the scorching flatlands of upper Mesopotamia, Göbekli Tepe (Hill of the Navel) ranks among Turkey’s most intriguing archeological sites. Here, on a hilltop 870m above sea level, stands a man-made mound some 300m in diameter and 15m high, containing a series of circular enclosures,… Read more »
The beehive-style houses of HARRAN (Altınbaşak), 45km southeast of Urfa, are an established tourist attraction. The village has grown up within the crumbling remnants of the old, 4km circumference walls of a settlement once much more important than Urfa. Harran has strong biblical links, too: according to Genesis 11:31 and 12:4, the patriarch Abraham dwelt… Read more »
The remote, grandiose mountain-top sanctuary at Nemrut Dağı is unforgettable, while the mighty stone heads that adorn the temple and tomb of King Antiochus have become one of the famous images of Eastern Turkey. Most visitors want to get here before dawn, in order to watch the sunrise. The majority of the available minibus tours… Read more »
The largest producer of apricots in the world, MALATYA, is a seldom-visited city of nearly half a million people that’s set in a broad green valley around 60km north of Nemrut Dağı. Despite a long history going back over five thousand years, during which the Assyrians, Hittites, Romans, Selçuk Turks and Ottomans all held sway,… Read more »
The ruined Roman/Byzantine/Selçuk/Ottoman town of Eski Malatya, or “Old Malatya”, north of modern Malatya, has now been engulfed by the modern settlement of Battalgazi. From the main square where buses arrive, which holds plenty of shady çay places as well as a few basic restaurants, a 200m walk southwest brings you to a massive seventeenth-century… Read more »