Turkey in Brief
Turkey (officially Republic of Turkey) was founded in 1923. The capital is Ankara and the largest cities are Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Adana, and Antalya. The official language is Turkish and the currency is Turkish Lira where 1 Euro is approximately 2.30 Turkish Liras. Visa is required for citizens of most countries and easily obtained upon the arrival at the airports. Yet, we strongly recommend you check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for specific visa requirements for foreigners.
Turkey has so much to offer her visitors; breathtaking natural beauties, unique historical and archaeological sites, steadily improving hotel and touristic infrastructure and a tradition of hospitality and competitive prices. Therefore, it is not surprising that this country has recently become one of the world's most popular tourism destinations. Due to Turkey's diverse geography, one can experience four different climates in any one day. The rectangular shaped country is surrounded on three sides by three different seas. Its shores are laced with beaches, bays, coves, ports, islands and peninsulas. The summers are long, lasting as long as eight months in some areas. Turkey is also blessed with majestic mountains and valleys, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and grottoes perfect for winter and summer tourism and sports of all kinds.
Skiing fans, mountain climbers, trekkers, hikers and hunters can enjoy new and unforgettable experiences in Turkey. Turkey is, above anything else, a huge open-air museum, a repository of all the civilizations nurtured by the soils of Anatolia. The huge amount of historical and archaeological wealth in Turkey seems more appropriate for an entire continent than a single country. Recently, a new field of tourism has opened up: health tourism. The country is in fact rich with hot springs, healing waters and healing muds, which come highly recommended by the medical authorities as a remedy for many diseases.
For centuries, Turkey has also been a crossroads of religions, not only of Islam and Christianity, but also of many others now forgotten by history. Many religious devotees can find a site, a shrine, a monument, a tomb or a ruin connected with their faith or belief.
Turkey is truly the place where East and West meet. Click for More.
Food and Drink in Turkey
Turkish cuisine is renowned as one of the world's best. It is considered to be one of the three main cuisines of the world because of the variety of its recipes, its use of natural ingredients, its flavours and tastes that appeal to all palates and its influence throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The cuisine originated in central Asia, the first home of the Turks, and then evolved with the contributions of the inland and Mediterranean cultures with which Turks interacted after their arrival in Anatolia.
Turkish cuisine is in a sense a bridge between far-Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, with the accent always on enhancing the natural taste and flavour of the ingredients. There is no one dominant element in Turkish cuisine, like sauces in French and pasta in Italian cuisines.
Here are some major food categories which you can enjoy in Turkey.
A main meal will usually starts with soup and the meze, a variety of small cold and hot dishes similar to antipasti or tapas, which are made for sharing. In many restaurants, a waiter will bring these around on a tray for you to look and make your choice. Tarama salad, cacık (tzatziki), dolma (vine leaves or peppers stuffed with rice), börek (pastries), beyaz peynir (similar to feta), arnavut ciğeri (cubed fried liver) are amongst the many types of mezes found in most of the restaurants which are mopped up with crusty Turkish baguettes, deep fried seafood and the list goes on. Some people find that a selection of meze is plenty for their main meal.
The main course is usually meat or fish. Turks always eat bread with their meal and main courses are usually served with rice. Typically, Çoban salatası, a salad made of tomato, cucumber, parsley and onion, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, will be offered as a side dish. Lamb is the most popular meat and prepared in a variety of ways, including "şiş kebap" (grilled cubes of seasoned meat on a skewer). "Köfte", which are like small lamb meatballs and are well worth trying. Those who prefer something hot and spicy should try "Adana kebap", which is made of minced lamb but with the addition of hot peppers and spices formed around a flat skewer. There are numerous variations and regional specialities of kebap.
Turks are traditionally fond of stews called sulu yemek or ev yemeÄi (home cooked) and therefore there are many restaurants offering these foods which are usually displayed in the entrance of the restaurant in large glass displays making it easier to choose.
Fish is usually grilled to bring out its natural flavour and there is a wide variety of seafood mezes' including midye tava (fried mussels), kalamar (calamari), and midye dolma (mussels stuffed with seasoned rice). It is worth asking for the catch of the day but some of the tastiest fish are levrek (sea bass), Çupra (sea bream), and kalkan (turbot). Fish is usually sold by weight in restaurants where some customers prefer to make their choice from the fish offered on a large display.
Desserts & Pastries
Wafer-thin pastry soaked in syrup and layered with ground pistachio nuts is the famous Turkish sweetmeat, Baklava, not to miss along with baklava-like desserts (Şöbiyet, bülbül yuvası, sarı burma). Kadaif (kadayıf), walnuts or pistachio filled shredded fillo dough, is quite common in restaurants with several kinds. Deep fried dough balls in syrup (lokma), Turkish style rice pudding (sütlaç), and several milk-based desserts (keşkül, kazandibi, tavuk göğsü) are all samples of desserts available in most any Turkish restaurant. Many Turks however stick to a platter of sliced fresh fruits and berries after their meal. Fruit in Turkey really does taste better!
Rakı is the national alcoholic drink and it has a strong taste of aniseed and when mixed with water takes on a milky hue. Turkish beers and lagers are excellent as are the wines on offer which come mainly from the vineyards around Ankara and Tekirdag by the Sea of Marmara. The big soft drinks companies all produce in Turkey. Fruit juice is widely available. Also try ayran which is made up of plain yoghurt whisked in with spring water and a pinch of salt. It is surprisingly refreshing on a hot summer's day. For winters, you can try Salep, a bold and sweet Turkish drink served hot with cinnamon.