Europe Meets Asia at Turkey

Exotic Turkey has been a mixture and blend of two worlds: Europe and Asia. Both continents had a great influence in Turkey’s architecture, art and culture. Being an important passageway and gateway to both continents, history unfolded within its territories. Currently there are modern restaurants and party hubs. Turkey modernized with the world while maintaining its rich history.

When visiting to Turkey do not forget to visit the mosques, bazaars, and UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Location

Turkey is located in between Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It is bounded on the north by the Black Sea, on the northwest by Bulgaria, on the west by Greece and Augean Sea, on the northeast by Georgia, on the east by Azerbaijani and Nakhchivan, on the southeast by Iraq and Syria, and on the south by the Mediterranean Sea.

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Here are the top 12 places to visit while at Turkey

1.    Hagia Sophia

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Hagia Sophia is located at Istanbul, Turkey. It was built in 537 in devotion to the Wisdom of God, Logos. It was sometimes called the “Shrine of the Holy Wisdom of God.” It was once a Greek Orthodoxpatriatchal basilica until 1456. It was converted to a mosque in May 29, 1453 until 1931. It was the main mosque in Istanbul until the construction of the Blue Mosque. And in February 1, 1935 it became a museum.
The design of the building was done by Isidore of Miletus, a Geek scientist and Anthemius of Tralles, a mathematician. It became very popular and a tourist attraction due to its massive dome. The design was the bases of architectural designs for other Ottoman mosques.

2.    Sultan Ahmet Camii or Blue Mosque

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This historic mosque is located at Istanbul. The mosque is easily seen because of its height and grandeur. It took seven years to complete the mosque, from 1609 to 1616.

The mosque was designed by Sedefkâr Mehmed Ağa. It has a main dome, six minarets or towers and an additional eight secondary domes. It was influenced by Byzantine Christian elements and Islamic architecture.
The walls of the interior are lined with blue Iznik style ceramic tiles with over fifty different tulip designs. The walls without tiles were painted blue, it has stained glass windows, and ostrich eggs, gold and gems on its chandeliers. The flooring is lined by carpet which is regularly replaced.

The most valued piece in the interior of the mosque is the mihrab. It is made out of marble with a stalactite niche. On the right of the mihrab is an ornamented pulpit.

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The mosque’s interior

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Blue tiles lining the interior of the walls

3.    Topkapi Palace

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Topkapi Palace is one of its largest palaces located in Istanbul, Turkey. It was built in 1459 and became the residency of Ottoman sultans. It comprises patios, hospitals, bakeries, and mosques. It was the home to almost 4000 people. During the 17th century the sultans abandoned tha palace transferred to another royal residency. In 1923, the government of Turkey decided to convert the palace to a museum. Important artifacts and holy relics are kept here. It also showcases Ottoman architecture, treasures, jewelry and murals.

In 1985, the palace was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was known as “the best example[s] of ensembles of palaces […] of the Ottoman period.”

4.    Galata Tower

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The Galata Tower is also known as Galata Kulesi in Turkish or Christe Turris in Latin and located at Istanbul. It was built in the year 1348 to serve as an observation tower. It stands at a height of 66.9m or equivalent to nine-story. It is made out of stone which is 3.75 m thick. From the top of the tower, tourists could get a panoramic view of Istanbul and its neighboring places.  Inside the tower are a restaurant, café, and night club that tourists could enjoy.

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Panoramic view from the tower

5.    Grand Bazaar

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The Grand Bazaar is a shopping haven for tourists. It is a large, covered market in Istanbul. It encompasses a total land area of 62 streets with other 3000 shops. Throughout the years the marketplace had evolved and many tourists and merchants flock to the area to do trade. The reason for concentrating the market at one place is to decrease petty crimes and increase security. There are guards patrolling the area. It is open from 9am to 7pm except Sundays.

6.    Egyptian Bazaar

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The Egyptian Bazaar is also known as the Spice Bazaar. It is the second largest covered market in Istanbul. Just like the Grand Bazaar, this bazaar sells different products such as spices, jewelry, souvenirs, dried fruits and sweets. During weekdays and Saturdays it is open from 9am to 7pm. And on Sundays it is open from 10am to 6pm.

7.    Pera Palace Hotel

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Pera Palace Hotel is a specialty hotel – a fusion of a hotel and a museum. It was built in 1892 in Istanbul as a waiting area for passengers of the Orient Express. It was dubbed as the “oldest European hotel of Turkey.” The hotel is has the many ‘firsts’ in Istanbul like the first building to have electricity, the first electric elevator, and the first hotel to provide hot running water. Nearby establishments to the hotel includes Istiklal Avenue, Taksim Square and different consulates.

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Elevator door

8.    Antalaya

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The coast of Antalaya

Antalaya is the biggest international sea resort located along the Mediterranean coast at southwest Turkey. It is part of the Turkish Riviera. There are many different places one should see when visiting the town of Antalaya.
Kaleici is the place to go to see ancient and historic Ottoman houses. Here one could find hotels, bars, clubs, restaurants and shopping places. There is also a harbor located within its walls.

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Kaleici Harbor

Cumhuriyet Square is the main square where town performances and exhibitions are held.

And being a coast town, there are definitely beach destinations. One of its famous beaches is Konyaalti, Lara, and Karpuzkaldiran.

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Lower Duden Falls with Lara Beach at the background

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Konyaalti Beach

There are also a number of festivals and events celebrated throughout the year.

9.    Sumela Monastery

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Sumela Monastery is a monastery located at the ledge of a steep cliff at the Black Mountain, Trabzon Province. It overlooks the Altindere valley.

It was built in 386 AD as a dedication to the Virgin Mary that was found inside a cave on the said mountain. During the years, sultans destroyed the monastery. But since the 13th century sultans started sustaining and giving funds for its maintenance. Currently, it is a tourist destination for monks and other guests.

10.    Goreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia

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Goreme National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. It became popular due to the “fairy chimney” rock formations.

11.    Archeologic site of Troy

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Ruins of the walls of Troy

Troy is located at northwest of Turkey. It is a popular historical site with archeological importance. The famous Trojan War happened here. In the year 1998, Troy was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.

12.    Selimiye Mosque

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Selimiye Mosque was built in 1569 to 1575 by architect Mimar Sinan at Edirne, Turkey. It was designed in a way that the mihrab could be seen from any point within the mosque. On the exterior a giant dome could be seen with four similar minarets. It is an example of perfect symmetry.

This mosque was included in UNESCO World Heritage list in 2011.

Kristine Capanzana

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