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About Turkey

 Tourism in Turkey Turkey (Turkish: Türkiye) is on the Mediterranean Sea, in the Anatolian region of West Asia, with a small area in southeastern Europe separated by the Turkish Straits - The Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles with the Black Sea to the north and the Aegean Sea on the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the southwest. Tourists visiting Turkey can enjoy a variety of historical sites and seaside resorts along its Aegean and Mediterranean Sea coasts. In the past few years Turkey has also become a popular destination for culture, spa, and health related tourism. In 2010, Turkey attracted more than 28.6 million foreign tourists arriving mainly through Istanbul, Antalya and Dalaman airports.

Early Civilizations

Turkey has an enormous number of ancient ruins of past civilizations that populated the area that comprises the modern day Republic of Turkey. The Hittites were the first indigenous people to found a state in Anatolia with one Çatalhöyük settlement preceding them which is the earliest settlement ever found to the date in Turkey. The ruins of this settlements capital at Hattuşaş is proof of their existence. Ancient Greeks and Romans closely following left remains mostly in the Aegean and Mediterranean Regions. Marble ruins of hundreds of cities, temples, and monuments such as those at Ephesus, Aphrodisias and Knidos, as well as numerous others can be seen along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. There are other indigenous peoples, such as the Lycians who carved beautiful tombs — many of which are quite well preserved and can be seen around the area that once was Lycia. The city of Troy stands out as an example of different civilizations literally living on the top of each other. While what is visible today is evidently of Hellenistic origin, the place has its roots as Hittite Wilusa, and later re-built many times over by Ancient Greeks. An extremely unique architectural heritage in the country are the Cappadocian cave houses and churches carved into stone formations with underground cities that date back to the early Christians where they evaded persecution.

Byzantine Architecture

After the Romans the Byzantines furthered the civilization of the area with more far reaching architectural projects such as the Hagia Sophia of Istanbul, built in 537, and which had the distinction of being the largest cathedral in the world for almost a thousand years. Most of Byzantine heritage still intact today is found in Marmara Region, especially in Istanbul. The Seljuks, being the first ever Turkic state to be founded in Asia Minor, built most of their monuments with large majestic portals and heavy delicate stonework in eastern and central Anatolia, especially in Konya, their capital. The Ottomans built most of their landmarks in the Balkans area or the Marmara Region. Much of the earlier Ottoman monuments were built in Bursa, which have a little Byzantine and a comperatively large Seljuk influence. It wasn't until the Fall of Constantinople that the Ottomans adopted Byzantine style architecture with minor adjustments. The Ottoman imperial architecture possibly reached its zenith in Edirne in the form of the Selimiye Mosque which was built by Sinan the great Ottoman architect of the 16th century.

Ottoman Architecture

The 19th century brought back the Greek and Roman taste in architectural styles, so there was a huge explosion of neo-classical architecture, being as much fashionable in Turkey as in most of the rest of the world at that time. The Galata side of Istanbul, Izmir - which unfortunately lost most of its old buildings in the big fire of 1922 - and numerous towns along the coasts quickly filled with these neo-classical buildings. But people in more inland locations were favouring more traditional and less pretentious half-timbered whitewashed houses. These now form the picturesque towns such as Safranbolu, Beypazarı, and Şirince in northern, central, and the western part of the country respectively. It was also at this time that the impressive wooden mansions of Istanbul's seaside neighbourhoods were built. These beautiful Ottoman-style wooden seaside mansions were called “Yalı”. The yalı was originally intended as a summer house.

Climate

The Aegean and Mediterranean coasts have a typical Mediterranean climate. There is usually little rain during the sunny and hot summer from May through October. Winters are rainy but mild in these regions, with the exception of mountainous areas higher than 2000 meters, which can be quite snowy and are often not passable. The water temperature in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas is warm from May to October which constitutes the tourist season. The region around the Sea of Marmara, including Istanbul, has a climate which varies between an oceanic climate and a semi-Mediterranean climate. It does rain, but not very much, during the very warm summer as showers tend to only last for 15-30 minutes. Its winters are certainly colder than those of the western and southern coasts.

The Black Sea region has an oceanic climate due to the protective shield effect of the Caucasus Mountains. It has the greatest amount of precipitation and is the only region of Turkey that receives high precipitation throughout the year. The eastern part of that coast averages 2,500 millimeters annually which is the highest precipitation in the country. Summers are warm and humid while the winters are cool and damp. The water temperature along the whole Turkish Black Sea coast is always cool and fluctuates between 10° and 20°C throughout the year.Most of the coastal areas have a high humidity during most of the year which makes hot weather feel much hotter and cold weather feel even colder than it actually is. Interior areas like Ankara, generally have hot summers with nights that are much cooler. These areas also experience cold and snowy winters, with the more easterly the location - the colder the winters and the heavier the snowfall. The northeastern part of Turkey around Erzurum and Kars is the only inland area which has cool and rainy summers. The southeastern region bordering Syria has a desert-like climate with the temperature being frequently above 40°C during summers with no rain and occasional snows in winter.

Religion

Islam is the faith of the majority of the population, but the interpretation of it varies vastly across the country. Many Turks in northwestern Turkey and along the western coasts are more liberal about their religion, while those of the central steppes are far more conservative. The rest of the country falls somewhere in between - coastal regions being relatively liberal while inland regions are relatively conservative. The largest religious minority in the country is Alevites and a few other religious minorities including Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Jews, Syriac Orthodox, and Catholic are now mostly confined to the large cities of Istanbul and Izmir, or parts of Southeastern Anatolia in the case of the Syriac Orthodox. Ramadan (Ramazan in Turkish) is a month of fasting, prayer and celebration during which Muslims neither drink nor eat anything from sun up until the sun goes down. Businesses, banks and official places are not closed during this time. It is considered to be in bad taste to eat or drink in front of locals in private or public areas but restaurants are usually open and it is no problem to eat in them as usual. However, you will unlikely see any closed restaurants in the big cities or resort towns of western and southern Turkey. After sunset prayer call there is a cannon boom which signals the time to sit down for iftar, the first meal of the day.

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