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 of interesting history filled with religious and literary figures, civil war and a multitude of languages. Here are 15 facts about Turkey you probably never knew.
The country now known as the Republic of Turkey was part of the Ottoman Empire until the empire broke up in the aftermath of the First Worl War. The Turkish War of Independence followed, and then in 1923 came the Republic with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as the first President.
In 1503, Leonardo da Vinci submitted plans for a bridge across the Golden Horn – the inlet of the Bosphorus that divides the city of Istanbul (then known as Constantinople). The bridge was never built, although Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced several years ago that a volunteer project was underway to finally realise Da Vinci's plans.
Most of the world's hazelnuts grow in the Mediterranean basin, in Turkey, Greece, Italy and Spain. Italy is the next largest producer, accounting for almost 20% of the world's supply.
The Grotto of St Peter outside Antioch (now known as Antakya) is believed to have been created by Jesus' disciple Simon Peter. This makes it the oldest place of Christian worship in the world. You can still visit the church and see the traces of ancient decoration today.
St Nicholas – the historical figure behind the man we know as Santa Claus – was born in Patara, Turkey in around 300 AD. A holy man, people believe he performed many miracles in his lifetime, including saving sailors from sinking ships. Not only did tales of his generosity become the basis for Santa Claus, but St Nicholas also became one of the patron saints of sailors. The name Santa Claus comes from the dutch 'Sinter Klaas', a shortened version of Sint Nikolaas.
Tulips were first cultivated in the Ottoman Empire. The seeds of Holland's love for tulips were sown when the Dutch ambassador to the 16th-century court of Süleyman the Magnificent of Turkey returned to Amsterdam with a clutch of tulip bulbs.
A city divided in two by the mighty Bosphorus River, Istanbul's west bank lies on the European continent while the east bank is in Asia. You can walk between the two across the Galata bridge. Only 3% of Turkey is in Europe, the vast majority of the country is on the Asian continent. Find places to stay in Istanbul.
Opened in 1875, the Tünel connects the districts of Karaköy and Beyoğlu and is beaten in age only by the London Underground which opened in 1863. The tunnel 600 metres uphill between the riverside at Beyoğlu (once known as Galata) and the well-heeled hilltop area Karaköy (once Pera) where many of the city's banks and embassies were located.
Paul the Apostle (originally known as Saul) was born in Tarsus in southern Turkey. Many people believe Aesop, the famed Greek storyteller grew up in Thrace along the Black Sea (now Nesebar). The Greek historian Herodotus was born in what is now Bodrum.
Although the official language in the country is Turkish, there are over 30 minority languages spoken across the country, including Kurmanji (Northern Kurdish), Mesopotamian Arabic and Zazaki.
That’s the same as the driving distance between London and Venice.
The name of the iconic red felt hat with its black tassel comes from Fez in Morocco. That's where the red dye to colour the hat originated. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk banned the fez in the 1920s as it was seen to symbolise the Ottoman Empire. The law was never overturned, although you're unlikely to be arrested for wearing one!
One of the oldest (and largest) markets in the world, the Grand Bazaar welcomes up to 400,000 visitors a day. It's often described as one of the oldest shopping malls in existence. Consider taking a local guide with you to learn the art of haggling and avoid getting lost.
It roughly translates to As though you are from those whom we may not be able to easily make into a maker of unsuccessful ones and has 70 letters. It's not in common usage – the word was especially derived for a story.
There's no desert in Turkey – so no native camels. Despite this, Camel trains once crossed the country on the way to trading posts in Africa and Asia. And Camel wrestling a popular sport in the Agean region of Turkey.
Learn more about the country with the Rough Guide to Turkey.
Top image: Turkey's Cappadocia - the sultan cave from the mountain © Free Soul Searcher/Shutterstock