TURKEY

TURKEY

TURKEY

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Name: Hagia Sophia
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Hagia Sophia is the former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral, later an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Built in 537 AD at the beginning of the Middle Ages, it was famous in particular for its massive dome. It was the world's largest building and an engineering marvel of its time. It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture".

From the date of its construction's completion in 537 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted by the Fourth Crusaders to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was later converted into an Ottoman mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. It remained the world's largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.

The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagia_Sophia
Name: Sultan Ahmed Mosque
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is a historic mosque located in Istanbul, Turkey. A popular tourist site, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque continues to function as a mosque today; men still kneel in prayer on the mosque's lush red carpet after the call to prayer. The Blue Mosque, as it is popularly known, was constructed between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. Its Külliye contains Ahmed's tomb, a madrasah and a hospice. Hand-painted blue tiles adorn the mosque’s interior walls, and at night the mosque is bathed in blue as lights frame the mosque’s five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes. It sits next to the Hagia Sophia, another popular tourist site.

After the Peace of Zsitvatorok and the crushing loss in the 1603–18 war with Persia, Sultan Ahmet I, decided to build a large mosque in Istanbul to reassert Ottoman power. It would be the first imperial mosque for more than forty years. While his predecessors had paid for their mosques with the spoils of war, Ahmet I procured funds from the Treasury, because he had not gained remarkable victories. The construction was started in 1609 and not completed until 1617.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sultan_Ahmed_Mosque
Name: Grand Bazaar
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops on a total area of 30,700 m2, attracting between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. In 2014, it was listed No.1 among the world's most-visited tourist attractions with 91,250,000 annual visitors. The Grand Bazar at Istanbul is often regarded as one of the first shopping malls of the world.

Today the Grand Bazaar is a thriving complex, employing 26,000 people and one of the major landmarks of Istanbul. It must compete with modern shopping malls common in Istanbul, but its beauty and fascination represent a formidable advantage for it. The head of the Grand Bazaar Artisans Association claimed that the complex was in 2011 – the year of its 550th birthday – the most visited monument in the world. A restoration project starting in 2012 should renew its infrastructure, heating and lighting systems. This project should finally solve the big problems of the market: for example, in the whole Bazaar there is no proper toilet facility.

The Grand Bazaar is opened each day except Sundays and bank holidays from 9:00 until 19:00.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Bazaar,_Istanbul
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COUNTRY INFORMATION GUIDE
PLEASE SEE BELOW FACTS, USEFUL US GOVERNMENT TRAVEL LINKS AND BUSINESS VISITOR ACTIVITIES, FOR TRAVEL TO TURKEY.
FACTS:
Official Languages: Turkish
Currency: Turkey Lira (TRY)
Time zone: TRT (Turkey Time) (UTC+3)
Drives on the right
Calling code: +90
Local / up-to-date weather in Ankara (and other regions): BBC global weather – click here
US GOVT TRAVEL LINKS:

For more useful information on safety & security, local laws / customs, health and more, please see the below official US travel.state.gov web link for Turkey travel advice. NB: Entry requirements herein listed are for US nationals only, unless stated otherwise.

You can also find recommended information on vaccinations, malaria and other more detailed health considerations for travel to Turkey, at the below official US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weblink.

BUSINESS VISITOR ACTIVITIES*:
Activities you may undertake on a business visa / as a business visitor:
PERMISSIBLE
ATTENDING MEETINGS / DISCUSSIONS: TBC
ATTENDING A CONFERENCE: TBC
RECEIVING TRAINING (CLASSROOM-BASED): TBC
NON-PERMISSIBLE
AUDIT WORK: TBC
PROVIDING TRAINING: TBC
PROJECT WORK: TBC
*This information does not constitute legal advice and is not an exhaustive list. For a full legal assessment on business visitor activities, please revert to your internal company legal team / counsel.
TRAVEL INFORMATION**
It is highly recommenced that you access the above official US travel.state.gov web link and read all safety & security information prior to making your travel arrangements / planning your trip.
PLEASE CLICK / TOGGLE BELOW FOR USEFUL TRAVEL INFORMATION TO TURKEY.

The currency of the country is the Turkish lira, denoted by the symbol “₺” or “TL” (ISO code: TRY). Wikivoyage articles will use TL to denote the currency.

The lira is divided into 100 kuruş (abbreviated kr).

In 2005, Turkey dropped six zeroes from its currency, thus making each post-2005 lira worth one million pre-2005 lira (or so called “old lira”). Don’t be confused if you see the currency symbolised YTL or ytl, standing for yeni lira). Pre-2009 banknotes and coins (those bearing yeni lira and yeni kuruş) are not legal tender, and can no longer be exchanged at banks.

The new Turkish lira symbol, title=Turkish Lira Sign, was created by the Central Bank in 2012 after a country-wide contest.

Banknotes are in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 TL denominations. Coins of 5, 10, 25 and 50 kuruş are legal tender. There’s also a 1 TL coin.

BY PLANE:

It’s a huge country, with mountains impeding the highways and railways, so domestic air travel is well-developed. Especially on routes to Istanbul it’s also very competitive, with Turkish Airlines, Onur Air, Pegasus Airlines and Atlasjet fighting for your custom, so fares are affordable. There are flights between Istanbul and Ankara hourly; Izmir and Adana have several flights a day to Istanbul (both IST and SAW) and Ankara, and every city has at least a daily flight.

Regional airports usually have a connecting Havaş bus to the city centre, which will wait for incoming flights within reason. Buses and minibuses also fan out from the airports to other nearby towns, so you may not need to travel into the city before heading out again.

BY BUS:

Turkey has a very good long-distance bus network with air-conditioned buses, reserved seats and generally good-quality service, at least with the major operators. There are now quite a number of companies providing more comfortable buses with 2 + 1 seats per row. Standard buses, however, have seats narrower than those of economy class on aircraft. Buses are often crowded and smoking is prohibited.

Go to the Otogar (bus station) in any of the major cities and you can find a bus to almost any destination departing within half an hour, or a couple of hours at the most. Buses are staffed by drivers and a number of assistants. During the ride you will be offered free drinks, a bite or two, and stops will be made every 2½ hr or so at well-stocked road restaurants. The further east you travel, the less frequent buses will be, but even places as far as Dogubeyazit or Van will have regular services to many places hundreds of kilometers away. Only the smallest towns do not have a bus straight to Istanbul or Izmir at least once every two days.

The four biggest bus companies are:

  • Metro Bus
  • Pamukkale
  • Ulusoy
  • Kamil Koç

Although, even the smallest company can nowadays be booked via a streamlined website of that bus company. All of them demand a Turkish phone number, but you might just fill in a fake one starting with “539” or so. But the email address should work, to get the ticket. All companies accept foreign passengers and passport IDs. In high season it might make sense to book ahead—just check out the situation a couple of days ahead online. You can also use websites that accumulate all the connections, like obilet or busbud—check both, they have different companies. Buses are reliable and will pick you up—remember Istanbul has at least 3 bus stations.

Otherwise, bus tickets can also be bought inside of bus terminals. Often checking out several ticket booths will give you a better price, since some specialize on certain bus companies and others do not.

Be careful, scammers will be waiting for you in and before bus stations, and some may assist you in buying a ticket to a bus that won’t depart in the next two hours. Sometimes there simply is no other bus, but on other occasions you will be sitting there while other buses with the same destination start well ahead. If you have some time to spare: check the departure (and arrival) times of other companies, that may save you time overall. Still, if you indicate you really want to leave now (use phrases like “hemen” or “şimdi”, or “acelem var” – I am in a hurry ), people will realize you are in hurry, and off you go on the next bus departing for your destination.

If you have several operators to choose from, ask for the number of seats in the buses you compare. Roughly, a larger capacity implies a greater comfort (all bus-seats have approximately the same leg-room, but larger 48-seat buses are certainly more comfortable than a 15-seat Dolmuş, which may be considered a ‘bus’ by the company selling the seat). Also, the bus company with the largest sign is usually the one with the most buses and routes. If possible, ask other travellers you meet about their experiences with different operators: even big operators have different standards of service, and even with the same operator the standards may vary from region to region.

Don’t be surprised if halfway to some strange and far-off destination you are asked out of the bus (your luggage will often be already standing next to it) and transferred to another. The other bus will “buy” you, and will bring you to the destination. This may even happen for ‘direct’ or ‘non-stop’ tickets.

Sometimes long-haul bus lines will leave you stranded on some ring-road around a city, rather than bringing you to the center. That can be annoying. Inquire ahead (and hope they don’t lie). On the other hand, many companies will have “servis aracı” or service vehicles to the center, when the Otogar is on the periphery of a city, as they nowadays often are. In some cities these service vehicles are used by many companies combined, and a fleet of them, to different parts of the metropolis, will be waiting. The company may also choose to combine the passengers of multiple buses; meaning that you may have to wait until another bus or two arrives before departing. Keep your ticket ready as proof you were on a bus (though most of these services are run on good faith). In some cities (including Ankara, excluding Istanbul), the municipality have prohibited the use of service buses due to their effect on traffic. In that case, you might have to take a public bus or metro to get to your destination. One should probably avoid using taxis (at least departing from the Otogar) since they usually tend to abuse their monopolistic position by refusing to go to closer destinations, behaving rudely towards the passenger, charging on the night tariff, etc. If you have to take a taxi, it is usually suggested that you do it from outside the bus terminal.

Seating within buses is partly directed by the “koltuk numarası” or seat number on your ticket, partly by the ritualistic seating of women next to women, couples together and so forth. So don’t be too annoyed if you are required to give up your seat. In general, as a foreigner, you will have the better seat much of the time. It is often easiest to take a seat in the back, whatever the number of your koltuk, and not be bothered for much of the ride. This is particularly true if you travel alone, and want to keep it that way, even though the last row may be reserved for the driver-off-duty, who wants to sleep. And remember: many buses pick up short-track fare along the ride, and park them in the last two or three rows. The back of the bus may be more noisy than the front, since that is where the engine is located.

If you have a bicycle it will be transported free of extra charge. In most buses it fits in the luggage area of the bus. Make sure you have the tools to fold your bike as small as possible (height matters most).

Fez Bus. This is another alternative, a Hop on hop off travel network that links Istanbul to the most popular tourist destinations in western Turkey, and a few other destinations. The buses runs hostel to hostel and have an English speaking tour leader on board. The pass can be purchased for a few days or all summer. Departures are every other day. More expensive than local buses, but could be far less hassle, and offers a different experience. The main office in Istanbul is in Sultanahmet next to the Orient Youth Hostel on Yeni Akbiyik Cd.

BY TRAIN:

Mainline train services in Turkey fall into three categories: i) very fast and modern; ii) slow and scenic; and iii) suspended long-term for rebuilding or for other reasons. The train operator is TCDD, Turkish Republic State Railways, visit their website for timetables, fares and reservations. The trains are inexpensive, but trains often sell out. Some overnight connections exist.

Train reservations online are straight forwards, available in English (as soon as you are in the reservation site), and preferred over buying at station, because generally you would need to book ahead at least 1-2 days. You will have to provide your passport number, which is sufficient to board the train. But you should download or screenshot your ticket to know your seat.

Most cities in Turkey have a rail connection of some sort, but not the Mediterranean and Aegean holiday resorts, which have been built in the 21st century and are hemmed in by mountains. (Kuşadası is the exception, being close to Selçuk on the line between Izmir and Pamukkale.) For some destinations, connecting buses meet the trains, eg at Eskişehir for Bursa, and at Konya for Antalya and Alanya. The main cities also have metro and suburban lines, described on those cities’ pages.

The very fast, modern trains are called YHT: yüksek hızlı tren. These serve Istanbul, Eskişehir, Konya and Ankara. They are clean, comfortable and modern; fares are low and reservations are compulsory (see below, it’s the same reservation procedure as for slow trains.) They run on new, dedicated track at up to 300 km/h so they keep to time. Thus, from Istanbul it’s under 5 hours to Ankara (8 per day, standard single about €20), and likewise 5 hours to Konya (3 per day). Because journey times are short, YHT trains only run daytime, and have only snack-catering. On-train announcements in English forbid “smoking, alcohol, smelly food and peanuts.” The smoke-free and alcohol-free rules are enforced, it’s unclear how zealous they are about peanuts. Between the cities, YHTs make a few momentary intermediate stops. The only one likely to be relevant to visitors is Eryaman, as an interchange with the Ankara suburban system.

The YHT network is gradually extending: routes under construction are from Ankara towards Kars, from Konya towards Adana, and from Istanbul towards Edirne. The long-term strategy is to create a high-speed, high-capacity passenger and freight route from Edirne on the western border through to Kars in the east.

But where the YHT services terminate, the line closures and disruptions immediately begin, as Turkey’s Ottoman-era railways are upgraded for the 21st century. The main closures (as at summer 2019) are from Adana east to Gaziantep, and between Izmir and Bandirma (for the Istanbul ferry).

The conventional trains are slow and scenic, with the emphasis on slow: most run overnight, with journeys from Ankara to eastern cities taking 24 hours. They are infrequent, at best daily, sometimes only one or two per week. The typical train set includes a sleeping car (yataklı vagon), a couchette car (kuşetli), and three open saloons (layout is single row-aisle-double row), plus a buffet that may or may not have any food, plan on bringing your own. How clean and comfortable they are depends on how busy: at quiet times they are fine, but when crowded they soon become filthy. (Always carry your own toilet-roll and hand-wipes.) They are difficult for anyone with impaired mobility to use, and station re-building makes access worse. Nominally these trains are non-smoking, but there’s often a smell of tobacco smoke aboard. They are diesel-hauled and run on single track: on straight level sections they can rattle along at 100 km/h, but in the mountains they plod up steep gradients and round tight bends. So they generally start on time but become delayed along the route.

In summer 2019 these are being supplemented by tourist trains on several long-distance routes, eg Ankara to Kars. These cost about twice the normal fare, make fewer stops, but make a few 2-3 hour stops for tourist excursions; so the total running time is a little longer. You’re tied to the tourist itinerary without flexibility of stopover. The accommodation is the same as on conventional trains: indeed the rolling stock has been provided by pulling sleeping cars off the conventional trains, so the travel experience on these has been degraded.

You can book mainline (‘’anahat’’) trains on the TCDD website; international trains can be booked by other methods (below) but not via the website; and regional (‘’bolger’’) trains are not bookable. TCDD replacement buses are considered trains, and bookable (or not) on the same basis. Consult the timetable first, for the latest on timings and disruptions, but beware that timetable and reservations system sometimes give different days of running for some services, for no good reason. The timetable only lists the main stations, where the train waits for about 10 minutes, and you might just have time to dash to the station kiosk and replenish your food supplies. The trains also stop momentarily at many little wayside halts, where sometimes food vendors will hop on.

Then to buy your ticket, move to the reservation system, but this only opens 15 to 30 days in advance – look further ahead and it will seem like there aren’t any trains. Pick your preferred train service and seat or berth, whereupon the system will display the price and give you the choice of immediate purchase, or of holding the option for a few days. Immediately note your confirmation number, and print your ticket at home whenever convenient – it doesn’t need validating at the station. It’s unclear whether a soft ticket on your phone is acceptable without validation.

The Inter Rail Global Pass and Balkan Flexipass are valid for all trains within Turkey and the trains to & from Europe, but you may still need a seat reservation. TCDD also offer discounts for those under 26 (genç bilet, whether or not you’re a student) and for those over 60 (yaşlı bilet). Check their website for other discount offers, but usually these are aimed at commuters and others making multiple repeat journeys.

Tickets can also be bought from the stations (either at the counter, or from self-service kiosks), from travel agents, or from PTT post offices. The main stations (including the train-less Sirkeci) accept credit cards and can book you onto any bookable train, but they’re unlikely to accept non-Turkish cash. (And nowadays you may struggle to find a money-changer, as they’re replaced by ATMs.) Advance reservations are strongly recommended during summer, on Fridays and Sundays, and around public holidays and religious festivals. Of course you may be able to get a reservation for immediate departure, and the non-YHT trains usually have non-bookable seats, and a scrummage on the platform to claim them. Bear in mind that the main stations may involve a queue for security just to get into the station hall, then another queue for tickets, then a further queue for security and document-check to get onto the platform. You can’t just rock up and jump on.

BY CAR:

Like all of its neighbours (except Cyprus off the southern coast of Turkey), driving is on the right side of the road in Turkey.

It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving. Maximum permitted amount of alcohol in blood for drivers is 0.05mg per ml (0.05%), just like in most European countries. A pint of beer enjoyed right before driving might get your license temporarily confiscated in case of police checks. The use of seat belts both at the front and back line is obligatory, but, although failing to use one carries a penalty, this is not always adhered to by locals, including the drivers themselves.

Turkish signboards are almost identical to the ones used in Europe, and differences are often insignificant. The place names written on green background lead to motorways (which you should pay a toll, unless it is a ring road around or within a city); on blue background means other highways; on white background means rural roads (or a road inside a city under the responsibility of city councils); and on brown background indicates the road leads to a historical place, an antique city, or a place of tourist interest (these signboards used to be on yellow background till a few years ago, so still there is a chance of unreplaced yellow signboards existing here and there). These signboards are sometimes not standardized.

Most intercity highways avoid city centres by circling around them. If you’d like to drive into the centre for shopping, dining, and the like, follow the signposts saying Şehir Merkezi, which are usually on white background, and are accompanied by no further translations though you can still spot some old signs saying “Centrum” besides Şehir Merkezi. City centres typically have two or more entrances/exits from the ringroads that surround them.

As Turkey uses the metric system, all distances on the signboards are in kilometres, unless otherwise stated (such as metres, but never in miles).

Renting a car:

You may rent a car to get around Turkey from an international or local car rental agent. The main airports all have car rental desks, but book ahead for the best deals.

BY DOLMUS:

The minibus (or Minibüs as called in Istanbul) is a small bus (sometimes car) that will ride near-fixed routes. The ride may be from the periphery of a major city to the centre or within a city, but may also take three to four hours from one city to the next, when demand along the route is not sufficient to justify large busses. They sometimes make a detour to bring some old folks home or collect some extra heavy luggage. You will find them in cities as well as in inter-city traffic. All during their journey people will get in and out (shout “Inecek var” – “someone to get off” – to have it stop if you’re in). The driver tends to be named “kaptan” (captain), and some behave accordingly. The fare is collected all through the ride. In some by a specially appointed passenger who will get a reduction, in others by a steward, who may get off halfway down the journey, to pick up a dolmuş of the same company heading back, and mostly by the driver himself. If the driver collects himself, people hand money on from the back rows to the front, getting change back by the same route. On some stretches tickets are sold in advance, and things can get complicated if some of the passengers bought a ticket and others just sat inside waiting – for maybe half an hour – but without a ticket.

The concept of dolmuş in Istanbul is somehow different than the rest of Turkey. The vehicles are different, they take max. 7 sitting passengersand non standing. they do not tend to take passengers along the way, they depart immediately when they are full, and many of them operate 24 hours a day. The name derives from “dolmak”, the verb for “to fill”, as they used not to start the journey without a decent number of passengers. They usually leave when they are full, but sometimes start at fixed hours, whatever the number.

BY BOAT:

Fast ferries (hızlı feribot) are fast (50-60km/hour) catamaran-type ferryboats that connect for instance Istanbul to the other side of the Marmara Sea. They can cut travel time dramatically. Again for instance leaving from the Yenikapı jetty in Istanbul (just a bit southwest of the Blue Mosque) you can be at the Bursa otogar in two hours, with less than an hour for the actual boat ride to Yalova. Similar services are operated to connect several parts of Istanbul with the Asian side, or places farther up the Bosporus. And this type of fast ferry is increasingly seen all over the country wherever there is enough water.

There are also ferry connections between Istanbul and Izmir operating only in summer months.

All inhabited Turkish islands have at least one daily cruise to the nearest mainland city or town during summer. But as winter conditions at the seas can go harsh, the frequency of voyages drop significantly due to the bad weather.

Perhaps one of the best cruising grounds in the world, Turkey offers thousands of years of history, culture and civilization set against a stunning mountainous backdrop. The coastline is a mixture of wide gulfs, peaceful coves, shady beaches, uninhabited islands, small villages and bustling towns. Many of these locations are still only accessible by boat. Rare in the Mediterranean, one can still find some seclusion on a private charter in Turkey. In fact, Turkey offers more coastline than any other Mediterranean country. The best way to see Turkey is from your own private yacht on your own schedule. Turkey offers some of the most exquisite yachts in the world known as gulets.

BY BICYCLE:

Simply put, long distance cycling is not a very easy task to do in Turkey, mainly for two reasons: most of the country’s terrain is hilly, and special lanes devoted to bicycles are virtually non-existent, especially along the intercity routes. That being said, most coastal cities nowadays have cycling lanes of varying shapes and lengths along the shores (mainly built for a leisurely ride rather than serious transportation, though) and most highways built within the last decade or so have quite wide and well surfaced shoulders, which can double as bicycle lanes.

If you have already made up your mind and give cycling a try in your Turkey trip, always stay as much on the right side of the roads as possible; avoid riding a bicycle out of cities or lightened roads at night, do not be surprised by the drivers horning at you, and do not enter the motorways, it is forbidden. You could better prefer rural roads with much less traffic density, but then there is the problem of freely roaming sheepdogs, which can sometimes be quite dangerous. Rural roads also have much much less signboards than the highways, which turns them into a labyrinth, in which it is easy to get lost even for non-local Turkish people, without a detailed map.

Air can be pumped into tyres at any petrol station without a charge. Bicycle repair-shops are rare in cities and often in hard-to-locate places; motorcycle repair shops can be tried alternatively (however, they are very reluctant to repair a bicycle if they are busy with their customers who have motorcycles).

On Istanbul’s Princes’ Islands, renting a bike is an amusing and cheaper alternative to hiring a horse-drawn carriage. On these islands well-paved roads are shared only by horse-drawn carriages, bicycles and public service vehicles (like ambulances, police vans, school buses, garbage trucks).

ON FOOT:

Trail blazing is on the rise in Turkey lately and nowadays all Turkish regions have waymarked hiking trails of various lengths and shapes. Most of them follow a theme, such as connecting to the sites of an ancient civilization, retracing the footsteps of a historical figure or chasing the treats of a specific regional cuisine. The oldest, and the most popular trail is the Lycian Way, which snakes its way over the mountains backing the Turquoise Coast in the southwest. The website of the Culture Routes Society maintains an up-to-date list of the major hiking trails in the country. Guided tours, often involving hiking the most scenic sections and homestays in the villages, along some of these trails are offered by local travel agencies as well as those based in major cities.

Inside the cities, there are white-, or rarely yellow-painted pedestrian crossings (zebra crossing) on the main streets and avenues, which are normally pedestrian-priority spots. However, for many drivers, they are nothing more than ornamental drawings on the road pavements, so it is better to cross the streets at where traffic lights are. Still, be sure all the cars stopped, because it is not unusual to see the drivers still not stopping in the first few seconds after the light turns to red for vehicles. As a better option, on wide streets, there are also pedestrian overpasses and underground pedestrian passages available. In narrow main streets during rush hour, you can cross the street anywhere and anytime, since cars will be in a stop-go-stop-go manner because of heavy traffic. Also in narrow streets inside the residential hoods, you need not to worry about keeping on the sidewalk, you can walk well in the middle of the road, only to step aside when a car is coming.

EAT:

Turkish cuisine combines Mediterranean, Central Asian, Caucasian, and Arabic influences, and is extremely rich. Beef is the most important meat (lamb is also common but pork is very hard to find although not illegal), and eggplant (aubergine), onion, lentil, bean, tomato, garlic, and cucumber are the primary vegetables. An abundance of spices is also used. The main staples are rice (pilav), bulgur wheat and bread, and dishes are typically cooked in vegetable oil or sometimes butter.

There are many kinds of specialized restaurants to choose from, since most do not prepare or serve other kinds of food. Traditional Turkish restaurants serve meals daily prepared and stored in a bain-marie. The meals are at the entrance so you can easily see and choose. Kebapçis are restaurants specialized in many kinds of kebab. Some Kebab restaurants serve alcohol while others don’t. There are subtypes like ciğerci, Adana kebapçısı or İskender kebapçısı. Fish restaurants typically serve meze (cold olive oil dishes) and Rakı or wine. Dönerci’s are prevalent through country and serve döner kebap as a fast food. Köfeci’s are restaurants with meatballs (Köfte) served as main dish. Kokoreçci, midyeci, tantunici, mantıcı, gözlemeci, lahmacuncu, pideci, çiğ köfteci, etsiz çiğ köfteci are other kinds of local restaurants found in Turkey which specialization in one food.

A full Turkish meal at Kebab restaurant starts with a soup, often lentil soup (mercimek çorbasi), and a set of meze appetizers featuring olives, cheese, pickles and a wide variety of small dishes. Meze can easily be made into a full meal, especially if they are consumed along with rakı. The main course is usually meat: a common dish type and Turkey’s best known culinary export is kebab (kebap), grilled meat in various forms including the famous döner kebap (thin slices of meat shaved from a giant rotating spit) and şişkebab (skewered meat), and a lot more others. Köfte (meatball) is a variation of the kebab. There are hundreds of kinds of köfte throughout Anatolia, but only about 10 to 12 of them are known to the residents of the larger cities, kike İnegöl köfte, Dalyan köfte, sulu köfte etc.

Eating on the cheap is mostly done at Kebab stands, which can be found everywhere in Istanbul and other major cities. For the equivalent of a couple dollars, you get a full loaf of bread sliced down the middle, filled with broiled meat, lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. For North Americans familiar with “donairs” wrapped in pita bread or wraps, you should look for the word dürüm or dürümcü on the windows of the kebab stands and ask for your kebab to be wrapped in a dürüm or lavaş bread depending on the region.

Vegetarians:

Vegetarian restaurants are not common, and can be found only in very central parts of big cities and some of the tourist spots. However, every good restaurant offers vegetable dishes, and some of the restaurants offering traditional “ev yemeği” (“home food”) have olive-oil specialities which are vegetarian in content. A vegetarian would be very happy in the Aegean region, where all kinds of wild herbs are eaten as main meals, either cooked or raw, dressed with olive oil. But a vegetarian would have real difficulty in searching for food especially in Southeastern region, where a dish without meat is not considered a dish. At such a place, supermarkets may help with their shelves full of canned vegetables, or even canned cooked olive-oil courses and fresh fruits. If you are a vegetarian and going to visit rural areas of Southeastern region, better take your canned food with you, as there will be no supermarkets to rescue you.

Desserts:

Some Turkish desserts are modeled on the sweet and nutty Arabic kind: famous dishes include baklava, a layered pastry of finely ground nuts and phyllo dough soaked in honey and spices, and Turkish Delight (lokum), a gummy confection of rosewater and sugar. There are also many more kinds of desserts prepared using milk predominantly, such as kazandibi, keşkül, muhallebi, sütlaç, tavuk göğsü, güllaç etc.

Breakfast:

Turkish Breakfast, tend to comprise of çay (tea), bread, olives, feta cheese, tomato, cucumber and occasionally spreads such as honey and jam. This can become very monotonous after a while. A nice alternative to try (should you have the option) is menemen: a Turkish variation on scrambled eggs/omelet. Capsicum (red bell pepper), onion, garlic and tomato are all combined with eggs. The meal is traditional cooked (and served) in a clay bowl. Try adding a little chili to spice it up and make sure to use lots of bread as well for a filling hot breakfast. Bread is omnipresent in Turkey, at any given meal you’ll be presented with a large basket of crusty bread.

Ubiquitous simit (also known as gevrek in some Aegean cities such as Izmir), much like bagel but somewhat thinner, crustier, and with roasted sesame seeds all over, is available from trolleys of street vendors in virtually any central part of any town and city at any time except late at night. Perhaps with the addition of Turkish feta cheese (beyaz peynir) or cream cheese (krem peynir or karper), a couple of simits make up a filling and a very budget conscious breakfast (as each costs about 0.75 TL), or even a lunch taken while on the go.

DRINK:

Turkish coffee (kahve), served in tiny cups, is strong and tasty, just be careful not to drink the sludgy grounds at the bottom of the cup. It is very different from the so-called Turkish coffees sold abroad. Sade kahve is served black, while as şekerli, orta şekerli and çok şekerli will get you a little, some or a lot of sugar in your cup.

Instant coffees, cappuccinos, and espressos are gaining more popularity day by day, and can be found with many different flavours.

Despite coffee taking a substantial part in national culture, tea (çay) is also very popular and is indeed the usual drink of choice. Most Turks are heavy drinkers of tea in their daily lives. Having only entered the scene in the 1930s, tea quickly gained ground against coffee due to the fact that Yemen, the traditional supplier of coffee to Turkey then, was cut off from the rest of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century, and the first tea plants took root in Eastern Karadeniz after some unsuccessful trials to grow it in the country, as a result of protectionist economic policies that were put into effect after World War I. Be careful, if your tea is prepared by locals, it can be much stronger than you’re used to. Although it is not native-typical and a rather touristy feature, you have to taste the special apple tea (elma çayı) or sage tea (adaçayı, literally island tea) of Turkey.

Ayran is a popular drink of water and yoghurt not unlike the Finnish/Russian “buttermilk” or Indian “lassi”, but always served without sugar (and, in fact, typically with a little salt added). If you’re travelling by bus over the Taurus Mountains, ask for “köpüklü ayaran’ or “yayık ayaranı”, a variety of the drink much loved by locals.

Boza is a traditional cold, thick drink that originates from Central Asia, but is also common in several Balkan countries. It is fermented bulgur (a kind of wheat) with sugar and water additions. Vefa Bozacisi is the best known and traditional producer of boza in Istanbul. In Ankara, you get excellent Boza from Akman Boza Salonu in the old city area of Ulus. Boza can also be found on the shelves of many supermarkets, especially in winter, packaged in 1-litre PET bottles. However these bottled bozas lack the sourness and consistency of traditional boza, they are sweeter and less dense.

Sahlep (or Salep) is another traditional hot drink, made from milk, orchid root and sugar, typically decorated with cinnamon. It is mostly preferred in winter and can be found in cafés and patisseries (pastane) and can be easily confused by the looks of it with cappuccino. You can also find instant sahlep in many supermarkets sold with the name Hazır Sahlep.

Red poppy syrup is one of the traditional Turkish drinks made of red poppy petals, water and sugar by natural ways. Bozcaada is famous with red poppy syrup.

International brands of colas, sodas and fruit-flavoured sodas are readily available and much consumed alongside some local brands. In Turkish, soda means mineral water, whereas what is called as soda in English is gazoz or sade gazoz in Turkish.

While a significant proportion of Turks are devout Muslims, alcoholic beverages are legal, widely available, and thoroughly enjoyed by the locals. The local firewater of choice is rakı, an anise-flavoured liquor double distilled from fermented grape skin. It is usually mixed with water and drunk with another glass of iced water to accompany it. You may order tek (single) or duble (double) to indicate the amount of rakı in your glass. Make sure to try it but don’t overindulge as it is very potent. Remember not to mix it with anything else. There is a wide selection of different types in supermarkets. Mey and Efe Rakı are two of the biggest producers. Only the connaisseurs know which type is the best. Yeni Rakı which is a decent variety has the wıdest distribution and consumption.

As for Turkish wine, the wines are as good as the local grape varieties. Kalecik Karası from Ankara, Karasakız from Bozcaada, Öküzgözü from Elmalı, Boğazkere from Diyarbakır are some of the most well-known varieties. The biggest winemakers are Kavaklıdere, Doluca, Sevilen, and Kayra with many good local vineyards especially in the Western part of the country. In addition liquory fruit wines of Şirince near Izmir are well worth tasting. One specific sweet red wine to try while you’re there is Talay Kuntra.

There are two major Turkish breweries. Efes and Tekel Birası are two widely known lagers. In addition, you can find locally brewed Tuborg, Miller, Heineken, and Carlsberg too.

HOTELS:

All major cities and tourist spots have 5-star hotels, many of them are owned by international hotel chains like Hilton, Sheraton, Ritz-Carlton, Conrad to name a few. Many of them are concrete blocks, however some, especially the ones out of cities, are bungalows with private gardens and private swimming pools.

If you are into holiday package kind of thing in a Mediterranean resort, you would definitely find better rates when booking back at home rather than in Turkey itself. The difference is considerable, compared with what you would pay when booking at home, you may end up paying twice as much if you simply walk in the resort.

HOSTELS AND GUESTHOUSES:

Hostels are not widespread, there are a few in Istanbul, mainly around Sultanahmet Square where Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are, and around Taksim Square, and still fewer are recognized by Hostelling International (HI, former International Youth Hostel Federation, IYHF). Alternatively, guesthouses (pansiyon) provide cheaper accommodation than hotels (expect around 50 TL daily per person). B&Bs are also generally covered by the word pansiyon, as most of them present breakfast (not always included in the fee, so ask before deciding whether or not to stay there).

Unique in the country, Olympos to the southwest of Antalya is known for its welcoming visitors in the wooden tree-houses or in wooden communal sleeping halls.

It is possible to rent a whole house with two rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and necessary furnitures such as beds, chairs, a table, a cooker, pots, pans, usually a refrigerator and sometimes even a TV. Four or more people can easily fit in these houses which are called apart hotels and can be found mainly in coastal towns of Marmara and Northern Aegean regions, which are more frequented by Turkish families rather than foreigners. They are generally flats in a low-story apartment building. They can be rented for as cheap as 25 TL daily (not per person, this is the daily price for the whole house!), depending on location, season and the duration of your stay (the longer you stay, the cheaper you pay daily).

OGRETMENEVI:

Like Atatürk statues and crescent-and-star flags etched into the sides of mountains, the öğretmenevi (“teacher’s house”) is an integral part of the Turkish landscape. Found in almost every city in Turkey, these government-run institutions serve as affordable guesthouses for educators on the road and—since anyone is welcome if space is available—for those traveling on a teacher’s budget (about 35 TL/person, WiFi and hot water avalaible, breakfast (kahvalti) 5 TL).

For the most part, these guesthouses are drab affairs, 1970s-era concrete boxes usually painted in a shade of pink and found in some of the least interesting parts of town. To find the teacher’s house in a town ask around for öğretmenevi.

CAMPING:

There are many private estates dotting the whole coastline of Turkey, which the owner rents its property for campers. These campsites, which are called kamping in Turkish, have basic facilities such as tap water, toilets, tree shade (this is especially important in dry and hot summers of the western and southern coasts) and some provide electricity to every tent via individual wires. Pitching a tent inside the cities and towns apart from campsites is not always approved, so you should always ask the local administrator (village chief muhtar and/or gendarme jandarma in villages, municipalities belediye and/or the local police polis in towns) if there is a suitable place near the location for you to pitch your tent. Pitching a tent in the forest without permission is OK, unless the area is under protection as a national park, a bioreserve, a wildlife refuge, a natural heritage or because of some other environmental concern. Whether it is an area under protection or not, setting fire in forests apart from the designated fireplaces in recreational (read “picnic”) areas is forbidden anyway.

Stores offering camping gear are hard to come across, usually in back alleys, underground floors of large shopping arcades. So, unless you are exactly sure you can obtain what you need at your destination, it’s best to pack along your gear if intending to camp. In smaller stores in non-major towns, the price of many of the stuff on sale is pretty much negotiable—it is not uncommon for shop attendants to ask 30 TL for camp stove fuel, whereas it would cost typically 15 TL or even less in another store in a neighbouring town.

Caravan/trailer parks cannot be found as much as they used to be; there remains only a few, if any, from the days hippies tramped the Turkish highways with their vans—perhaps the most famous one, the Ataköy caravan park, known amongst the RV-ers for its convenient location in the city of Istanbul is long history (but there is another one still in operation several kilometres out in the western suburbs of the city). However, caravan riders can stay overnight in numerous resting areas along the highways and motorways, or virtually in any place which seems to be suitable. Filling the water tanks and discharging wastewater effluent seems to matter most.

Apart from classical tourist souvenirs like postcards and trinkets, here are a few of what you can bring back home from Turkey.

  • Leather clothing — Turkey is the biggest leather producer in the world, so the leather clothing is cheaper than elsewhere. Many shops in Laleli, Beyazıt, Mahmutpaşa districts of Istanbul (all around the tram line which goes through Sultanahmet Square) are specialized on leather.
  • Carpets and kilims — Many regions in Turkey produce handmade kilims and carpets. Though the symbols and figures differentiate depending on the region in which the carpet is produced, they are generally symbollic expressions based on ancient Anatolian religions and/or nomadic Turkic life which takes shape around shamanic beliefs more than 1,000 years ago. You can find shops specialized on handmade carpets and kilims in any major city, tourist spot and Sultanahmet Area.
  • You seriously cannot go anywhere in Turkey without someone trying to sell you a carpet. People will approach you on the street, engage in a little friendly conversation about where you’re from, how do you like Turkey, and “would you like to come with me to my uncle’s shop? It’s just around the corner, and has the best authentic kilims.” It can be irritating if you let it get to you, but remember that a large part of these people’s economy comes from tourist’s wallets so you can’t blame them for trying.
  • Silk — Dresses and scarves. Although can be found in many parts of the country, silk fans should head for Bursa and before that, pick up basics of bargaining.
  • Earthenware — Handmade Cappadocian pottery (amphoras, old-style plates, flowerpots etc.) are made of local salty clay. Salt content of clay, thanks to salt spray produced by the Salt Lake –which is the second largest lake in Turkey- in the heartland of Central Anatolia, is what makes local earthenware top quality. In some Cappadocian towns, it is possible to see how these artifacts are produced, or even to experience producing one, at the dedicated workshops. Tiles with classical Ottoman motives that are produced in Kütahya are also famous.
  • Turkish delight and Turkish coffee — If you like these during your Turkey trip, don’t forget to take a few packages back home. Available everywhere.
  • Honey — The pine honey (çam balı) of Marmaris is famous and has a much stronger taste and consistency than regular flower honeys. Although not easily attained, if you can find, don’t miss the honey of Macahel valley, made out of flowers of a temperate semi-rainforest, which is almost completely out of human impact, in the far northeastern Black Sea Region.
  • Chestnut dessert — Made out of syrup and chestnuts grown on the foothills of Mt. Uludağ, chestnut dessert (kestane şekeri) is a famous and tasty product of Bursa. There are many variations, such as chocolate coated ones. Chestnut dessert can be found in elsewhere, too, but relatively more expensive and in smaller packages.
  • Meerschaum souvenirs — Despite its name meaning “sea foam” which it resembles, meerschaum (lületaşı) is extracted only in one place in the world: landlocked Eskişehir province in the extreme northwest part of Central Anatolia Region. This rock, similar to gypsum at sight, is carved into smoking pipes and cigarette holders. It has a soft and creamy texture and makes for a great decorative item. Available at some shops in Eskişehir.
  • Castile (olive oil) soap — Natural, a silky touch on your skin, and a warm Mediterranean atmosphere in your bathroom. Absolutely cheaper than those to be found in Northern and Western Europe. Street markets in the Aegean Region and southern Marmara Region is full of olive oil soap, almost all of which are handmade. Even some old folk in the Aegean Region is producing their castile soaps in the traditional way: during or just after the olive harvest, neighbours gather in yards around large boilers heated by wood fire, then lye derived from the wood ash is added to hot water and olive oil mix. Remember – supermarkets out of the Aegean Region are generally offering no more than industrial tallow based soaps full of chemicals. In cities out of the Aegean Region, natural olive oil soap can be found in shops specialized in olive and olive oil. Some of these shops are even offering ecological soaps: made of organic olive oil and sometimes with additions of organic essential oils.
  • Other soaps unique to Turkey are: laurel soaps (defne sabunu) which is produced mainly in Antakya (Antioch), soaps of Isparta enriched with rose oil which is produced abundantly in the area around Isparta, and bıttım sabunu, a soap made out of the oil of seeds of a local variety of pistachio tree native to the mountains of Southeastern Region. In Edirne, soaps shaped as various fruits are produced. Not used for their lather, rather they make a good assortment when different “fruits” are placed in a basket on a table, they fill the air with their sweet scent as well.
  • Olive-based products apart from soap — Other olive-based products to give a try are olive oil shampoos, olive oil based eau de colognes and zeyşe, abbreviation from the first syllables of zeytin şekeri, a dessert similar to chestnut desserts, but made from olives.
**All travel information has been sourced from wikivoyage. However like wikipedia, wikivoyage is an open platform editable by any member of the public. Therefore, although very useful, all above information IS INDICATIVE ONLY and must be verified prior to personal use. Moreover, if you wish to see more information please visit: https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Turkey
TOP ATTRACTIONS
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Name: Hagia Sophia
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Hagia Sophia is the former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral, later an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Built in 537 AD at the beginning of the Middle Ages, it was famous in particular for its massive dome. It was the world's largest building and an engineering marvel of its time. It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture".

From the date of its construction's completion in 537 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted by the Fourth Crusaders to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was later converted into an Ottoman mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. It remained the world's largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.

The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hagia_Sophia
Name: Sultan Ahmed Mosque
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is a historic mosque located in Istanbul, Turkey. A popular tourist site, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque continues to function as a mosque today; men still kneel in prayer on the mosque's lush red carpet after the call to prayer. The Blue Mosque, as it is popularly known, was constructed between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. Its Külliye contains Ahmed's tomb, a madrasah and a hospice. Hand-painted blue tiles adorn the mosque’s interior walls, and at night the mosque is bathed in blue as lights frame the mosque’s five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes. It sits next to the Hagia Sophia, another popular tourist site.

After the Peace of Zsitvatorok and the crushing loss in the 1603–18 war with Persia, Sultan Ahmet I, decided to build a large mosque in Istanbul to reassert Ottoman power. It would be the first imperial mosque for more than forty years. While his predecessors had paid for their mosques with the spoils of war, Ahmet I procured funds from the Treasury, because he had not gained remarkable victories. The construction was started in 1609 and not completed until 1617.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sultan_Ahmed_Mosque
Name: Grand Bazaar
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops on a total area of 30,700 m2, attracting between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. In 2014, it was listed No.1 among the world's most-visited tourist attractions with 91,250,000 annual visitors. The Grand Bazar at Istanbul is often regarded as one of the first shopping malls of the world.

Today the Grand Bazaar is a thriving complex, employing 26,000 people and one of the major landmarks of Istanbul. It must compete with modern shopping malls common in Istanbul, but its beauty and fascination represent a formidable advantage for it. The head of the Grand Bazaar Artisans Association claimed that the complex was in 2011 – the year of its 550th birthday – the most visited monument in the world. A restoration project starting in 2012 should renew its infrastructure, heating and lighting systems. This project should finally solve the big problems of the market: for example, in the whole Bazaar there is no proper toilet facility.

The Grand Bazaar is opened each day except Sundays and bank holidays from 9:00 until 19:00.

SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Bazaar,_Istanbul
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