A country of sun and history, Turkey is the only country in the world that spans two continents, at the point where Europe and Asia meet.
Because of its geographical positioning, the mainland Anatolia has been home to countless civilizations, witnessing the mass migration of diverse peoples shaping the course of history. This is why Anatolia has developed a unique blend of cultures – each with its own distinct identity, each linked to its predecessors through history.
As an ancient land and modern nation, Turkey today is still a melting pot of many cultures and religions, and a country that holds and protects the common past of all of its people.
Fascinating facts about Turkey’s rich heritage:
- Two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are located in Turkey – the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus in Bodrum.
- St. Nicholas, known as Santa Claus today, was born and served as a bishop in Demre (Myra) on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. The village contains the famous Church of St. Nicholas, which contains the sarcophagus believed to be his tomb.
- The first man ever to fly was Turkish. Using two wings, Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi flew from the Galata Tower over the Bosphorus to land in Uskudar in the 17th century.
- Many archeologists and biblical scholars believe that Noah’s Ark landed on Agri Dagi (Mount Ararat) in eastern Turkey.
- The famous Trojan War took place in the city of Troy located near the Dardanelles Straight on the Aegean coast of Turkey . Every year, a wooden replica of the Trojan Horse is photographed by thousands of tourists.
- The word “coffee” is actually derived from the Ottoman Turkish word “kahve”.
- According to Turkish tradition, a stranger at one’s doorstep is considered “a guest from God,” and should be accommodated accordingly. This is why Turks are known to be very hospitable people!
- Julius Caesar issued his famous proclamation, “Veni, Vidi, Vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered) in Anatolia upon defeating the Pontus, a formidable kingdom in the Black Sea region of Turkey.
- In 333 BC Alexander the Great conquered a large territory of Anatolia, then part of the Phrygian Empire. It was here in the Phrygian capital Gordium (not far from modern-day Turkey’s capital, Ankara) that he is said to have cut the Gordian Knot. Today, the term cutting the Gordian knot is used as a metaphor for solving a complex problem with a bold move or decision.
- Aesop, famous for his fables and parables, was born in Anatolia.
- Homer, the legendary poet of Ancient Greece, was born in Izmir on the west coast of Turkey . He depicted Troy in his epic work, the Iliad.
- Part of Turkey’s southwestern shore was a wedding gift from Marc Anthony to Cleopatra.
- Writing was first used by people in ancient Anatolia. The first clay tablets – in the ruins of Assyrian Karum (a merchant colony) – date back to 1950 B.C .
- The last home of the Virgin Mary was Ephesus (now known as Selcuk, Turkey).
- Leonardo Da Vinci drew designs for a bridge to be built over the Bosphorus, the strait that flows through Istanbul, separating Europe from Asia. While Da Vinci’s bridge design was never used, today there actually are two suspension bridges that span the Bosphorous. To help the traffic flow in Istanbul (with a population of 15 million!), the government is planning a third bridge in the near future.