Turkey 101 The very besT Things abouT This unique and vibranT counTry
hoTels shops food sighTs acTiviTies
kanoo world Traveller
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We were walking through history, But for the first time, the old felt new. Turkish Culture & Tourism Office P.O.Box 9221 Dubai - U.A.E Tel: +971 4 331 86 62
Turkey has it all. A history as rich as it is dramatic, cutting-edge modernity in its shopping and hotels, people from a thousand walks of life – it even straddles two continents. Really, there’s almost too many great things about this nation to cram into 101 facts, but one thing really stands out: the magic that emanates from every shop, restaurant, cultural site and even hotel during Ramadan. Whether you want a beautiful place to worship, a quiet place to think or a bustling spot in which to break the fast, you’ll be spoilt for choice in this unique country. About This Guide We’ve compiled the 101 best things about Turkey and placed them into simple-to-reference sections, making it easy for you to plan your perfect trip. Our recommendations try to cater for all tastes and requirements. Istanbul
9 The Food – from national
4 The Hotels – the country’s
dishes to the best Iftar spots.
most exciting and alluring
12 The Sights – Turkey’s natural
accommodation. 7 The Shopping – where
Production in whole or in part without written permission from HOT Media Publishing is strictly prohibited. HOT Media Publishing does not accept liability for omissions or errors in this publication.
and manmade highlights. 14 The Activities – a huge spread
to spend, from souks to
of options on land, on water
and in the air.
Produced by HOT Media Publishing FZ LLC
Welcome to Turkey
Essential information for planning your trip GeTTinG THere
that some tolls don’t take cash – you’ll need to buy
Turkish Airlines is the national airline of Turkey and
a prepaid KGS card from a bank or the toll building
flies to the island regularly from the Middle East. It
and be aware that, when compared to GCC prices,
also offers several internal flight routes, perfect if
petrol is pretty expensive. Alternatively, Turkey’s
you plan to travel while there. For airline ticketing
public transport is reliable, and modern, with air-
information and to make a booking, visit your
conditioned buses operating routes between most
nearest Kanoo Travel or American Express Travel
major cities. Sleeper trains also exist but they can
add a lot of time to your journey and are not always particularly comfortable. If you’re travelling from
one coastal destination to another, you could also
Turkey is a big country and the best mode of
consider going by ferry.
transport is very much dependent on how far you’re travelling. If you wish to remain city-bound you’ll
find it easy to flag a cab, particularly in Istanbul.
The Turkish Lira is the official currency of Turkey,
As mentioned above, internal flights are available
and there are 100 kurus in a lira. Banknotes are
through Turkish Airlines, and if you’re making a
available in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50, and
long-distance trip this will generally be the best
ATM machines are widely available throughout the
option. However, it is possible to hire a car (be aware
country. 1 US dollar is equivalent to 1.7 Turkish Lira.
The height in metres of Mount Ararat, Turkey’s highest peak. It’s a snow-capped, dormant volcano which actually straddles Turkey and Iran.
The number of kilometres of coastline and beautiful beaches which run around Turkey’s character-packed periphery.
The approximate number of tiles used to decorate the interior of the exquisite Sultan Ahmed Mosque (also known as the Blue Mosque) in Istanbul. 31
The main events to enjoy...
The Blue Mosque, already captivatingly beautiful, is made even more breathtaking with sound and light shows throughout the month.
On the 31st, hit the streets of Istanbul for New Year’s Eve festivities like you’ve never seen before.
In the middle of the month, the izmir Fair means hotels will be packed with people wishing to celebrate Izmir’s Day of Liberation (1922) in reference to the Turkish War of Independence.
If you want to experience Turkey’s more eccentric side, head to Selcuk and watch the camel wrestling championships (yes, really).
The international istanbul Biennale begins in mid-September, runs throughout October and ends mid-November. Expect jaw-dropping artwork from exciting new talents.
Kurban Bayrami is the most important Islamic festival of the year in Turkey, and people celebrate in a big way (be sure to book your hotel well in advance).
It’s pretty cold in Turkey in February – make the most of it by going skiing on Mount Uludag near Bursa.
March The international istanbul Film Festival takes place in March, so get ready to mingle with the movie stars and watch some seriously good films.
Thanks to the Government having planted three million tulips in Istanbul in 2006, the city explodes in a riot of colour once spring hits, which is marked with the Tulip Festival.
The early summer Hidrellez Festival is all about making wishes although there are concerts and cook-offs too. Lots of fun.
The international istanbul Music Festival showcases a range of genres, from jazz to classical.
It is thought that Ramadan will begin on July 20th 2012 so prepare for a very peaceful, contemplative Turkey.
The Hotels When it comes to finding a suitably luxurious place to rest your head, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Turkey Istanbul is positively overflowing with glamorous
neon-lit lobby, and doesn’t let up throughout
five-star hotels, and the property you choose
the entire property. Book a ‘Marvellous Room’
will largely depend on which area of the city you
and you’ll get your own cabana, although as you
want to be in. Many would argue that the most
might expect, the ‘Extreme WOW Suite’ is the
glamorous option is to stay by the magnificent
true show-stopper, with an in-room tub almost as
Bosphorus, the strait that connects the Black Sea
enormous as the circular bed. Close by, the Ciragan
to the Sea of Marmara. The Four Seasons istanbul
palace Kempinski istanbul (www.kempinski.com)
at the Bosphorus (www.fourseasons.com) sits on
offers everything you could want from five-star
the European bank of the water, and is set in a
accommodation, though the crowning glory has
sumptuous 19th-century palace divided into 170
to be the heated infinity pool, from which you can
guestrooms (including 25 suites). When you get
watch boats glide down the Bosphorus – if you’re
there you’ll be hard pushed to resist cooling off in
there in the height of summer, be sure to take
the large outdoor pool before retreating to your
advantage of the pre-cooled towel provided by
room, all of which are decorated in the timelessly
refined manner for which Four Seasons is so well
The ritz-Carlton istanbul (www.ritzcarlton.
loved. Also on the European side is the Swissotel
com) features touches of decadent Turkish décor
The Bosphorus (www.swissotel.com), which nestles
throughout, and is ideally located just minutes
within 65 acres of historical gardens. With 63
from the Istanbul cruise port. While this hotel is
elegant suites ranging from one to three bedrooms,
slightly inland, many of the rooms boast jaw-
the five-star spot allows you to indulge in all
dropping Bosphorus views. Located in Taksim and
the luxuries the hotel has to offer (not least the
commanding stunning views of the Bosphorus,
delicious meals on room service) within the comfort
the Ceylan interContinental istanbul (istanbul.
and privacy of your own four walls.
intercontinental.com.tr) towers above the city and
There’s no denying the W istanbul (www. starwoodhotels.com) is phenomenally well designed – a fact that makes its impact the minute you step through the door and see the 4
showcases five-star living at its best, with eight places to eat and a predictably fabulous spa. The Hilton istanbul (www.hilton.com.tr) is also in Taksim, and is one of the city’s best-established
Previous page: Sunset over The Blue Mosque. This page: Pera Palace.
hotels. With a whopping 499 rooms, all boasting
Renovated and reopened last year, the pera
private balconies, the five-star destination has just
palace (www.perapalace.com) offers something
enjoyed a refurb in its tennis and squash courts and
truly unique, with unashamedly traditional décor
offers joggers a specially designated path on which
and furnishings not dissimilar to those Ernest
to perform their daily constitutional.
Hemingway would have been surrounded by when
The Grand Hyatt istanbul (www.istanbul.grand.
he stayed there. The Murano glass chandeliers
hyatt.com) is just round the corner and promises
are particularly spectacular. Located in the heart
to whisk you away from the city madness and
of the booming business district of Atasehir, the
soothe your senses with its peaceful rooms, lavish
Marriott istanbul (www.marriott.co.uk) offers
tree-lined pool and floodlit tennis courts. Also close
guests spacious rooms with high ceilings, LCD
by, the Crowne plaza istanbul old City (www.
TVs and glorious views from panoramic windows
ichotelsgroup.com) emits a warm Turkish welcome
(book a Marmara Sea-view room and you’ll also be
through its vast vaulted atrium and courtyard lobby.
able to see the Princes’ Islands). It’s got a cracking
Comfortable rooms, an inviting indoor pool and spa
selection of restaurants including the divine Orange
featuring Turkish bath all await those that stay here.
Southern Mediterranean Grill.
A little further east but still close to the
If you’d rather stay on the outskirts of the city,
Bosphorus is the Conrad istanbul (www.
Divan istanbul Asia (www.divan.com.tr) in the
conradhotels1.hilton.com), which is spread over 14
eastern district of Pendik is the spot for you. To
floors and offers a 24-hour gym, in- and outdoor
call it design-led would be an understatement:
pools and relaxing gardens. The Moevenpick
the 25-storey property sparkles from top to
istanbul (www.moevenpick-hotels.com) offers
bottom, with attention-grabbing headboards
everything you could wish for in a city-centre hotel.
in the bedrooms and surreal curved walls in the
With 249 chic, modern rooms and a selection of
spa. To the west, the historic area of Sultanahmet
trendy restaurants, the hotel is perfect for those
also boasts a stunning selection of hotels. The
seeking convenience, though downtime-seekers
Four Seasons istanbul at Sultanahmet (www.
will be interested to hear it’s just minutes from the
fourseasons.com) has been created from a century-
Istanbul Golf Club.
old neo-classic Turkish prison and lies just a few Turkey 101
Clockwise from bottom left: Crowne Plaza Istanbul Old City; The Grand Hyatt Istanbul; The Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus; Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul.
steps from the legendary Blue Mosque. With 65
Away from Istanbul, if you’re staying in the
rooms and suites framing a tranquil inner courtyard,
coastal town of Trabzon, there are two great
this is a very special hotel, not least due to the
accommodation options: firstly, there’s the novotel
architectural quirks evident throughout its unique
Trabzon (www.novotel.com), next to the World
bedrooms. Also in this fascinating district is the
Trade Centre. It’s a fantastic beachside spot with
eresin Crown Hotel (www.eresin.com.tr), a self-
extensive pool area and blissful sauna. Alternatively,
dubbed ‘boutique museum’. Based on the original
opt for the Zorlu Grand Hotel (www.zorlugrand.
site of the Great Palace, it showcases artefacts
com), a gorgeous five-star property where the
dating as far back as the third century BC. Rooms
lobby is made even more stunning by a star-shaped
are spacious and have a distinctly Turkish feel (and
fountain, the indoor pool soothes your stresses
all have a Jacuzzi).
away and rooms are modern and cleanly designed.
Not far away is the neighbourhood of Nisantasi,
Should you visit Bursa in the northwest of
which hosts The House Hotel nisantasi (www.
Turkey, the Celik palas (www.celikpalasotel.com)
thehousehotel.com). It has 23 luxury rooms and
embraces the rich hues and geometric shapes
suites and feels slightly Japanese in its design. As
of Turkish design while also rich with taste and
well as being near historical monuments and the
class. A treatment at its Thermal Spa will leave you
Bosphorus, the hotel enjoys close proximity to
feeling like you’ve had a whole holiday on the first
the subway, ideal for exploring. Another superb
day of your trip. The Almira (www.almira.com.tr),
boutique option in Nisantasi is The Sofa Hotel
meanwhile, has a more old-school vibe but it’s no
(www.thesofahotel.com), with 82 minimalist
less enticing for it, with a large sun-kissed pool area
guestrooms designed by Sinan Kafadar which
and several impressive eateries. Then there’s the
remind you of which city you’re in without, as the
Kervansaray Bursa (www.kervansarayhotels.com),
hotel itself puts it, ‘throttling you with Ottoman
where you can take in the marvellous city views
from the pool before retiring to your outsized room.
The Shopping When packing for your trip, be sure to save room in your suitcase – with Turkey’s mix of exquisite handmade craftworks and highend fashions, you’ll need it Whether it’s an exotic little something for your
auction at Sandal Bedestan on a Wednesday, where
home or a designer dress to make you (or your
you’ll be able to compete with locals to secure the
wife) feel a thousand dollars, you will be unable to
carpet of your dreams.
resist shopping while in Turkey. Without a doubt the first place to head is the
If you’d like to check out the intricate, handpainted ceramics or exquisite calligraphy Turkey
legendary Grand Bazaar. Open for trade since 1461,
is famous for, the istanbul Handicrafts Centre
it now encompasses 4,400 shops, which are spread
has a wide selection and reasonable prices. But if
across a maze of 61 covered streets. While there
wandering around enjoying the sights and smells of
you can pick up everything from intricate jewellery
the city is more your bag, you’ll still be able to shop
to ancient antiques, all for exceptionally reasonable
up a storm browsing the city’s various outdoor
prices (as long as you’re prepared to haggle). But
markets. Should you find yourself in Istanbul on a
if it’s something to cook with that you’re after,
Sunday, there’s a great flea market near the Grand
the egyptian Spice Bazaar is where you need to
Bazaar where you can haggle over quirky antiques
go: also undercover, it comprises 88 atmospheric,
and ornaments before meandering to the water’s
vaulted rooms where you can scoop up fragrant
edge to peruse the jewellery, arts and crafts on
spices from enormous sacks and learn about the
offer at the ortakoy fair.
health benefits of each product from the amazingly knowledgeable stallholders. Carpet-wise, for sheer quality, Sude (www.sude-
Istanbul also offers world-class clothes shopping. Opened in 2007, istinye park offers 291 stores (including Jimmy Choo and Tommy Hilfiger),
antiques.com) can’t be beaten – and if you need
with some being indoors and others in the open
advice on which rug or carpet to buy, you’ll be in
air. Architecturally speaking, the shopping centre
the right place as owner Suat Çapas Hurma has an
is very impressive indeed, with a scalloped
encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject. But for a
shell sheltering the Grand Rotunda, where the
livelier carpet-buying experience, head to the kilim
entertainment takes place. There’s also an outdoor Turkey 101
Clockwise from left: Egyptian Spice Bazaar; Turkish carpet; Turkish lanterns on sale at the Grand Bazaar.
‘Bursa is known as being the ‘other end’ of the Silk Route, having been the largest trading centre for silk during the Byzantine and Ottoman empire’ Lifestyle Centre with a park for resting in between
evident through the domed ceilings and skylights,
spending bouts and a glass-roofed Fashion District
and it’s a great place for buying traditional Karagoz
for all your sartorial needs.
City’s Mall, in the historical district of Nisantasi,
In Trabzon, meanwhile, the shops at
is something of an institution for the locals, mixing
Siramagazalar Caddesi sell beautifully soft leather
highend global brands such as Roberto Cavalli
items, including bags, belts and jackets, which you
with high street names like Mango and GAP. For
can pick up for around $100. It’s also great if you
choice however, there’s nowhere quite like Cevahir,
want to have a piece tailor-made for yourself. The
Europe’s second largest mall. With enormous
Avrupali pazari, or ‘European market’, has earned
department stores and a plethora of high street
itself the nickname ‘The Russian Bazaar’ due to the
shops, there’s something for everyone.
nationality of the majority of its vendors. This is
Away from Istanbul, a trip to Bursa wouldn’t be
the place to head if you want bargainous clothes.
complete without visiting the Silk Market or ‘Koza
Perhaps more authentic, though, are the goods to
Han’. Bursa is known as being the ‘other end’ of the
be found in the nearby village of Surmene, where
Silk Route, having been the largest trading centre
you can pick up one of the traditional handmade
for silk during the Byzantine and Ottoman empires,
knifes for which, alongside boat-building, the place
and Koza Han has been operating since the 15th
century – so buy there and you’ll have got yourself
Finally, look out for shops in Istanbul sporting a
a little slice of history as well as a pretty scarf. eski
‘Global Blue’ sign and, when at the airport, you can
Aynali Carsi, the Old Mirrored Market, is another
reclaim the tax back on your purhchases. Just ask
must-see in Bursa. Its original use as a hammam is
the shop assistant for details.
The Food Forget the holiday diet: food is an integral part of Turkish culture, and with dishes this good all thoughts of calorie-counting will soon be forgotten To eat a meal in Turkey is like going on a journey:
The west of the country is, geographically
the food is influenced by a truly eclectic range of
unsurprisingly, the area where you’ll find the most
cuisines, from those enjoyed in Central Asia to the
Mediterranean influences. The olive oil in this
fresh flavours of the Mediterranean. And a lot of
region is second to none: Turkey’s climate and soil
regional variation exists: in the Aegean regions
conditions are such that the olives give the oil a
you will find typically Ottoman dishes, in which
light, fruity flavour which doesn’t leave a bitter
a lightness of touch when it comes to seasoning
aftertaste. Be sure to dress your salads and breads
and spices is preferred, and rice is generally the
with it suitably enthusiastically.
favoured option over burghul. Stay near the Black
But while regional variations in commonly eaten
Sea, meanwhile, and you’ll be spoiled for choice
foods exist, most Turkish foods are so delicious that
when it comes to seafood, with the Black Sea
they’re loved equally throughout the land. Meat
anchovy and dishes using maize being particularly
– lamb, beef and chicken in particular – features
heavily on most cooks’ agendas. Turkish kebabs
In the south-east, every mealtime will feel like
are notoriously divine, and come in numerous
a feast. Meze is one of the best-known forms of
guises although there are two main forms: the shish
Turkish cuisine, involving several small dishes
kebab, where hand-minced meat (usually lamb) is
designed to complement each other. Typical dishes
twisted along a long, thick skewer and sometimes
might include beyaz peynir, a salty, white cheese
interspersed with peppers, and of course that
made from unpasteurised sheep’s milk, haydari, a
mighty bastion, the doner kebab, whereby layers
thick, strained yoghurt much like Lebanon’s labneh,
of ground meat are alternated with layers of sliced
honeydew melon, and various seafoods and cold
lamb leg on a huge rotating mount and cooked
salads. Also of particular popularity in the south-
slowly over a fire. Another popular form of meat
east of Turkey is baklava, a sweet, sticky filo pastry
is kofte, where ground lamb is mixed with spices,
that’s typically made with chopped nuts and made
egg and onion, moulded into balls and then fried
irresistibly moist with syrup or honey.
or boiled. Turkey 101
Vegetable-wise, aubergine is a particular
you prefer to keep things savoury first thing in the
favourite with the Turks, but the veggie delights
morning, be sure to try simit, a deliciously crisp,
don’t stop there. You simply have to try dolma –
circular bread covered with sesame seeds which
vegetables stuffed with spicy meat, rice or both,
is sometimes referred to as a ‘Turkish bagel’. You
cooked in olive oil and served with a refreshing
may wish to have some locally made cheese with
yoghurt sauce. In fact yoghurt is a popular
it: many either have beyaz peynir or kasar, a pale
accompaniment to many meals, especially during
yellow cheese made, again, from unpasteurised
the summer, because of its cooling quality. Fruit,
sheep’s milk and matured for a minimum of four
both dried and in compote form, is also a much-
months before serving.
loved side dish, with apples, apricots, dates, figs,
If, in your opinion, no breakfast is complete
grapes and plums all frequently being served
without a serving of meat, try ordering sucuk: a
thick, dry sausage made from beef, cumin, garlic,
Turks are big on bold, punchy flavours. The most
salt and red pepper, which is left to dry out for
commonly used herbs and spices include black
several weeks and is generally fried and served
pepper, cumin, mint, oregano, paprika, parsley,
with eggs. pastirma – an air-dried, cumin-paste-
and thyme. This love of flavour is even apparent at
cured beef – is another tasty option. But if pastry
breakfast, where there are far more exciting options
is your thing, Turkey won’t disappoint – and borek
to choose from than in most other countries.
and pogaca are especially lovely. The former is a
Turkey’s signature breakfast dish is menemen, and
savoury option made from thin layers of filo pastry
a typical recipe for this might comprise egg, onion,
filled with cheese, meat or vegetables and often
tomato, green pepper, black pepper, oregano, mint
coated in sesame seeds, while the latter is made
and olives – a combination sure to leave you fired
from puff pastry and generally filled with beyaz
up and ready for a day’s exploring.
Bread is a very important element in most Turkish meals, and breakfast time is no exception. If 10
Of course, no guide to Turkish food would be complete without a mention of Turkish delight.
Left and below: Traditional Turkish dishes.
Made from a sugary, starchy gel, the confectionery
a more regularly changing menu of seasonal dishes
is generally flavoured with rose water or lemon,
– the carrot stew with coriander and pomegranate
sometimes mixed with chopped nuts and served in
syrup is a particularly memorable dish, so order it if
icing sugar-dusted cubes.
it’s on the menu.
It’s very difficult to recommend a selection of
For a really fun Iftar experience, head to Fatih
‘best’ restaurants in Turkey, simply because there
Siirt Market, which is lined with small independent
are so many outstanding eateries. However, in
eateries where waiters will serve you shish kebab,
our experience, a restaurant or venue’s Iftar is a
salad and soup. The buzz is amazing here and it’s
strong indicator of its general quality, so here’s our
arguably the best place to go if you want to feel
lowdown on the best places to go to break the fast
part of the warm, familial Turkish culture.
during Ramadan. For sheer upscale decadence, visit 1897 Konyali
No matter where you are, what you’re doing or what you’ve just eaten, there’s one golden rule
(+90 0212 227 4243). The setting alone is fabulous,
in Turkey: wash it down with Turkish tea. Taken
contrasting exposed brick with enormous, glittering
without milk, it’s produced on the eastern Black Sea
chandeliers, but the food blows the decor out of
coast and prepared in quite a unique way: water is
the water. Aiming to recreate Ottoman dishes in
boiled in a large kettle – the lower of two stacked
their original forms, the menu reads surprisingly like
kettles – and then a small amount of the water is
that of a nouvelle cuisine restaurant, with dishes
transferred into the upper vessel, which contains
like quail with sultana sauce and grapevine leaves
a large amount of loose tea leaves. The tea is then
served from the top and plain water from the lower
Another Istanbul institution is Asitane (+90 0212
kettle is used to dilute each person’s glass (not cup)
534 8414). With a pretty garden it’s the perfect
to taste. Most people take it with beet sugar and,
spot for alfresco dining beneath the stars, and is
whether you like it or not, it’s best to accept when
without doubt one of the best places in the city for
your host offers you a glass, as it’s a very important
traditional, reasonably priced meze. But it also has
part of Turkish culture. Turkey 101
The Sights There are so many sights in Turkey you won’t know where to look – but what would you expect from the only country in the world to have a city straddling two continents? No matter where you are in Turkey, there are
Ibrahim the Crazy lost his mind after being jailed for
sights galore – but perhaps no more so than in
too long, and the legendary beauty Roxalena lived.
Istanbul. Many would argue that the Blue Mosque is
Numerous sultans have dwelled within the palace’s
the greatest sight of them all, which isn’t surprising
opulent walls and it’s well worth taking advantage
when you learn that Sultan Ahmet, the man behind
of the fact that they deserted it in favour of more
its creation, was so passionate about the project
European-style digs in the 19th century to have a
that he helped the construction labourers to build
nose around yourself.
it. With more minarets (six) than any other Istanbul
Next door is the Topkapi Harem, which provided
mosque, 260 windows and clad in the stunning
the private quarters of successive sultans and their
blue tiles for which it is famed, the mosque is truly
families. It was where the sultan would install the
deserving of the worldwide admiration it draws
slave girls he’d bought, who would subsequently be
to this day. Built in the 1550s, the Suleymaniye
schooled in Islam and Turkish before being allowed
Mosque is also extremely impressive. While smaller
to serve his wife and, if they were deemed good
than the Blue Mosque, it’s no less spectacular, a
enough, the sultan himself.
fact reflected through the number of worshippers it attracts.
To see an even more historical palace, check out the palace of Constantine porphyrogenetus. Built
The Hippodrome of Constantinople was, in its
into the city walls back in the 1200s, it might just
heyday, the sporting and social centre of the former
be a shell today, but you can still get a reasonable
capital of the Byzantine Empire. Though little more
idea of how the Byzantine emperors might have
than a few rocks remain now, it’s still well worth
lived. If you’d rather experience an altogether
visiting so you can imagine the chariot-racing that
more modern take on royal architecture, however,
used to entertain ancient populations.
go to Dolmabahce palace, where Ataturk died.
Topkapi palace is so loaded with history that it’s
Grand doesn’t even come close to describing this
inspired an opera, a film and a bestselling book: it is
place. With towering vaulted ceilings, lashings of
the place where Selim the Sot drowned in the bath,
gold, regal archways, rich colours and vast crystal
Clockwise from left: Topkapi palace; Basilica Cistern; Dome of the Suleymaniye Mosque.
‘Built in the 1550s, the Suleymaniye Mosque is extremely impressive. While smaller than the Blue Mosque, it’s no less spectacular’ chandeliers, it embodies the sort of decadence
over 100 years ago and is now a pretty, tree-dotted
most rulers could only dream of. If you’ve ever seen
space ideal for picnicking.
the scene in From Russia With Love in which James
Over in Bursa – the first capital of the Ottomans
Bond rows through a forest of marble columns,
– you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to
you’ll be familiar with the Basilica Cistern. Left over
parks (it’s even gained the affectionate nickname
from the days when Istanbul was Constantinople,
‘Green Bursa’). But if you really want to get back
the 138-metre underground network comprises 336
to nature and you’re there during the summertime,
marble columns and was used to store water for the
head out to Uludag, a 2,543m mountain where
Great Palace. It was actually forgotten for a long
you can trek and camp to your heart’s content.
time until an explorer found the entrance and told
Although they were refurbished in the 19th century,
people of the cistern’s existence.
erasing some of their historical authenticity, the
A major Istanbul landmark stands proudly in
Tombs of osman and orhan, the father-son duo
the form of yedikule Zindanlari, a great fortress
responsible for founding the Ottoman empire, make
in the south of the city. Incorporating an arch
for a poignant half hour’s exploration. And when
known as the Golden Gate which was built in
you’re in the city itself, you can’t miss Heykel, the
the fourth century, its structure and design have
historic square demarked by a statue of Ataturk
repeatedly been tinkered with by the city’s myriad
on a horse that is now the commercial and cultural
rulers and it’s worth visiting for the views from the
heart of Bursa.
battlements alone. Should you crave some green space during your
Finally, if you’re staying in Trabzon, be sure to pay your respects at the peaceful Gulbahar Hatun
stay in Istanbul, check out yildiz park, which was
Mosque, built in 1514 in memory of the mother of
originally commissioned by Sultan Abdul Hamit II
Yavuz Sultan Selim. Turkey 101
The Activities It’s impossible to run out of things to do in Turkey – so prepare yourself for an action-packed holiday. The best way to begin your stay in Istanbul is
over a million artefacts dating as far back as the
to take a Bosphorus cruise. Not only will it be a
sixth century BC, this fascinating trio houses the
relaxing way to immerse yourself into the city,
sarcophagus of Alexander the Great and a 1258BC
but it will help you gain an idea of where the
peace treaty signed between Ramesses II of Egypt
various landmarks are. Generally speaking, tours
and Hattusili III of the Hittite Empire, as well as
start from the south travelling northwards. As you
works of art created in the ancient Greek and
glide through the strait you will take in no less
than six Ottoman palaces, the Selimiye Barracks
A few days spent anywhere in Turkey will leave
where Florence Nightingale worked her magic, the
you very much aware of the national sense of pride
magnificent mansions in Arnavutkoy, and numerous
in Ataturk, the Republic’s founder. Gen up at the
fish markets. Not bad for as little as 90 minutes’
Ataturk Museum, in the western district of Sisli. It’s
set in the three-storey townhouse where he lived
Also reached via boat, the princes’ islands, a
with his mother and sister until 1919 and nowadays
chain of nine islands in the Sea of Marmara. Four
showcases the great man’s clothes, photographs
are open to the public and once on them you
will immediately be arrested by the mesmerising
If art’s your thing, a visit to the Turkish and
quietness: motorised vehicles are banned here,
islamic Arts Museum is a no-brainer. Set in
with horse-drawn carriages and bikes the only
the former palace of Ibrahim Pasha which was
means of transport. Lose yourself for a few hours
constructed in 1524, it yields notable examples of
by wandering through the Victorian cottages and
Islamic calligraphy, tiles, rugs and fabulous pieces
fragrant pine forests. You can reach the islands by
of nomadic artwork. For something a little more
ferry (either fast or normal but all operated by IDO).
21st century, head to the istanbul Modern Art
To get a feel for Istanbul’s almost inconceivably
Musem, which is located in a converted warehouse
rich history, check out the istanbul Archaeology
beside the Bosphorus in the Beyoglu district. There
Museums, comprising three separate museums
you’ll find some permanent and some temporary
– the Archaeological Museum, Museum of the
exhibitions as well as a cinema and arts library.
Ancient Orient and Museum of Islamic Art. With 14
You may have heard talk of whirling dervishes
Clockwise from left: Istanbul Archaeology Museum; Whirling dervish; Thermal baths. Overleaf: Ballon over Cappadocia.
in your time but have you ever actually seen this
see the country from a bird’s perspective than
mysterious, exotic art? A night at the Dance of
a horse’s, however, you simply must book a trip
Colours (www.danceofcolours.com) is a must if not:
in a hot air balloon. No matter where you are in
the two-part show begins with a whirling dervish
this geographically diverse country, the scenery is
and Sufi music performance, then moves on to
guaranteed to be spectacular.
showcase ten different forms of regional Turkish dance. Although it’s still quite an unusual sport in
Hammams or Turkish Baths are one of the things Turkey is most famous for and you will find them literally all over the country. In a typical hammam,
Turkey, various golf courses are beginning to
first you will spend time in a sauna-like area where
emerge throughout the country, and there are three
hot, dry air causes you to perspire, then you move
close at hand if you’re staying in Istanbul. istanbul
through to the hot room (which is, you guessed
Golf Club is the country’s oldest, with nine holes;
it, even hotter), before cooling off with a cold-
the 18-hole, par 73 championship course at Kemer
water splashdown. Next, a therapist will wash you
Golf & Country Club is half an hour from the city
thoroughly and give you a massage, before you
centre; and Klassis Golf & Country Club in Silivri,
retreat to the cooling room.
about an hour from Istanbul, also has 18 holes and is par 73. In fact its temperate climate makes Turkey
Another, even more Turkey-specific way of getting clean is to take a dip in the naturally occurring thermal baths which are prevalent
the ideal spot for all kinds of outdoor pursuits.
throughout the land. Some of the best are to be
Horse-riding is a wonderful way to explore the
found at Cekirge, just west of Bursa, where the
countryside, whether you’re trotting through the
hot, sulphurous springs are more than 80˚C (don’t
spectacular rocky formations at Cappodocia or
worry though – there are others nearby at a more
cantering along a sun-kissed beach. If you’d rather
clement 38-57˚C). Turkey 101
‘You simply must book a trip in a hot air balloon. No matter where you are in this geographically diverse country, the scenery is spectacular’ Visit Bursa in the winter (typically between
of the sultan and now a museum. Constructed in
December and late March) and you can indulge
1844, legend has it that it was built in 1844 – though
in some snow sports from the Mount Uludag ski
once you observe the delicate interior tile work
resort. Lined with forests, its pistes are fairytale
and carvings you may want to be the judge of the
pretty and most are suitable for intermediate skiers.
But go there in summer and you’ll also be able to
If you’re staying in the coastal city of Trabzon,
enjoy the mountain, this time by cable car – a novel
save a day for some hiking. The combination of
way of taking in the view.
peaky highlands and breathtaking valley lakes (the
If you like your parks with a side of
Sera Lake area is particularly memorable) is simply
entertainment, Kulturpark hosts the international
too good to miss. Having provided a bed to its
Bursa Festival each summer. It’s a fantastic event
namesake three times and eventually been given
that really brings locals and tourists together, with
to him as a gift, the Ataturk House was originally
the more locally sourced acts allowing you to gain a
built for Greek banker Konstantinos Kappagianidis.
unique insight into contemporary Turkish culture.
To children it will look like a Disney dream house,
Also on the theatrical side, Bursa is famed for its shadow puppet shows, which have been a local tradition since 1396 when two construction workers
to more serious architectural connoisseurs a fine example of art nouveau. Finally, Turkey wouldn’t be the same without its
were entertaining their colleagues by performing
aquatic attractions. Though Turkey has a fantastic
one and were subsequently put to death by the
235 blue flag beaches, you’re best heading south if
grumpy sultan. A Bursa attraction that’s open year-
you want kinder conditions and gorgeous turquoise
round is Hunkar Kosku, the former hunting seat
waters. So what are you waiting for?
Live the moment
The place was buzzing with people, But for the first time, I felt quietness and peace. Turkish Culture & Tourism Office P.O.Box 9221 Dubai - U.A.E Tel: +971 4 331 86 62
A guide to holidays in Turkey