Modern-day Turkey is a fusion of vibrant Mediterranean cultures and the enchantment of the East, a combination of the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the international cities and the beautiful simplicity of village life.
Given the New World order, the geopolitical position of Turkey makes it as important a cultural crossroads today as it was in Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman times. Its vital position as a link between East and West gives the country great symbolic power.
Here are a couple additional facts which make Turkey the preferred event destination.
It has one of the world’s oldest and biggest malls.
Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, or Kapalı Çarşı, dates to 1455 and was established shortly after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. Over the centuries it has grown into a warren of 61 streets lined by more than 3,000 shops and currently occupies a nearly incomprehensible 333,000 square feet. You’ll never possibly be able to explore it all, but that doesn’t keep people from trying — according to Travel + Leisure, the Grand Bazaar was the world’s #1 attraction in 2014, drawing over 91 million people.
You might find chicken in your dessert.
The signature Ottoman treat is tavuk göğsü, or chicken breast pudding. It’s a strange blend of boiled chicken, milk, and sugar, dusted with cinnamon. And it’s delicious. Look for it on menus across the country.
In fact, there are 13 spots in Turkey inscribed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites, and a whopping 62 on the tentative list. They range from a Mesolithic temple (Göbekli Tepe) to a Biblical city (Ephesus) to a World War One battlefield (Gallipoli), and help make Turkey the sixth most-visited tourist destination in the world.
Saint Nicholas was born far from the North Pole, in Patara. And he’s not the only saint with connections to Turkey — the Virgin Mary’s resting place could be near Ephesus, while Saint Paul was from Tarsus in the south. Other Biblical figures include the Prophet Abraham, born in Şanlıurfa. And after the deluge, Noah may have run his ark aground at Mount Ararat.
One of the Mediterranean’s primary sea turtle nesting beaches is here.
İztuzu Beach, just west of Fethiye, is a major breeding ground for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle. The turtles arrive between May and October, climbing ashore at the exact site of their birth to lay a new generation of eggs. The beach sees around 300 nests dug each year, and government regulations have succeeded in balancing tourism with the need to protect and conserve this precious natural resource. Just down the coast, Patara is the longest beach on the Mediterranean (12 miles of pristine white sand dunes).