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Turkey 101 The very besT Things abouT This unique and vibranT counTry

hoTels shops food sighTs acTiviTies

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11


Istanbul

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Turkish Delight

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

Trabzon

Turkey Bursa

Contents

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

boutiques.

and in the air.

Produced by HOT Media Publishing FZ LLC

Turkey 101

1


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

outlet.

add a lot of time to your journey and are not always particularly comfortable. If you’re travelling from

TrAnSporT

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

Money

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.

2

Turkey 101


5,137

The height in metres of Mount Ararat, Turkey’s highest peak. It’s a snow-capped, dormant volcano which actually straddles Turkey and Iran.

7,200

The number of kilometres of coastline and beautiful beaches which run around Turkey’s character-packed periphery.

20,000

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...

August

The Blue Mosque, already captivatingly beautiful, is made even more breathtaking with sound and light shows throughout the month.

December

On the 31st, hit the streets of Istanbul for New Year’s Eve festivities like you’ve never seen before.

September

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.

January

If you want to experience Turkey’s more eccentric side, head to Selcuk and watch the camel wrestling championships (yes, really).

October

November

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).

February

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.

April

May

June

July

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.

Turkey 101

3


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

your butler.

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

Turkey 101

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

5


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

styling’.

from the pool before retiring to your outsized room.

6

Turkey 101


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

7


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.

shadow puppets.

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

is famous.

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.

8

Turkey 101


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

popular.

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

9


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

alongside meat.

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.

peynir.

Bread is a very important element in most Turkish meals, and breakfast time is no exception. If 10

Turkey 101

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

de rigeur.

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

11


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

12

Turkey 101


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

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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

Roman eras.

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

sailing.

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

and paintings.

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

Turkey 101

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

15


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‘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.

rumour’s accuracy.

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?

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Istanbul

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


Turkey 101_Aug'11