Mesmerizing Turkey

February 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Crossroad of Asia, Feature Highlights

To many foreigners, Turkey is synonymous with beautiful carpeted hallways of grandiose halls, with mesmerizing carvings and handcrafted decorations adorning the walls. It brings to mind the tale of a storyteller princess who fascinated her tyrannic monarch with her tales, night after night, for the whole a thousand and one nights.

With Turkey’s expansive space and its varied tourist attractions, you would be similarly fascinated with this welcoming country. In no time, you’ll find yourself admiring the various attractions that dots the country.

Hot air balloons are popular for those wanting to enjoy the beauty of Anatolia from the air. Photo credit - khoogheem

Hot air balloons are popular for those wanting to enjoy the beauty of Anatolia from the air. Photo credit - khoogheem

Cappadocia – Volcanic Rocks
The majority of Turkey is located at Anatolia, or Asia Minor. In this region, you will find Ankara, the Capital of Turkey, as well as several others hotspots for travelers. Cappadocia is a popular spot for those wanting to enjoy the beauty of Anatolia from hot air balloons and famed as well for its uniquely fascinating scenery. Imagine an expansive space carved out of eroded rocks of all sizes dotting the desert sand, from smaller stones to gigantic mountains with holes perfect for enjoying a beautiful view.

Cappadocia's uniquely fascinating scenery. Photo credit - Alaskan Dude

Cappadocia's uniquely fascinating scenery. Photo credit - Alaskan Dude

Formed from the results of volcanic dust and lava erosion, this desert space is often compared with the landscape of moon.

One of the popular attraction is the various caves on these volcanic rocks that were used as houses and churches in the past. These caves were built by carving out the softer rocks from the large mountains, and even now some of the caves are still occupied. For those wanting to experience the lifestyle of a cave-man, there are even accommodations that lets you stay in these caves, but with the modern amenities of a 5-star hotel!

Roman hot-springs in Pamukkale/Hireapolis. Photo credit - rich lem

Roman hot-springs in Pamukkale/Hireapolis. Photo credit - rich lem

Pamukkale (Hireapolis) – Roman Hot Springs
One of the historical sites of Roman period that you can find here in Turkey is the hot-springs in Pamukkale. Previously called Hierapolis, this site has been famed for its numerous spas and hot-springs even from way back during the Roman period! Combine this with the amazing sights of steep tall cliffs towering around the area as you enjoy a warm bath – a very relaxing experience guaranteed to refresh and recharge you for the next journey of your trip.

Pamukkale means “cotton castle” in Turkish, aptly describing the dazzling white calcareous castles formed by limestone-laden thermal springs. It creates an unbelievable formation of stalactites, potholes and cataracts. The water of Pamukkale is famous for its benefits to the eyes and skin; and its curing properties to the ills of asthma, rheumatism, as well.

Istanbul – Two Cultures Collide
Another half of Turkey, called Thrace, lies in the European continent and in it you’ll find Istanbul.
As the largest city in Turkey, Istanbul boasts an expansive pier able to accommodate all kinds of cruise-ships and sail boats, various historical sites from the Roman and Ottoman regime, and it is surrounded by a beautiful ocean popular for sailing across towards Anatolia.

Located strategically near the Bosphorus Bay and Marmara Ocean, Istanbul is a popular site for travelers who can’t afford too much time in Turkey.

Hagia Sophia, or Ayasoyfa in Turkish. Photo credit - Scott MacLeod Liddle

Hagia Sophia, or Ayasoyfa in Turkish. Photo credit - Scott MacLeod Liddle

This geographic advantage makes it a site often fought for in the centuries of old, and the Roman and Ottoman empire were but two of the many empires who had conquered it before. The varied influences of these two empires gives Istanbul its rich historical and cultural uniqueness.

In Istanbul, you will find a number of Roman churches that were converted to mosques during the Ottoman regime. These classical architectures share tales of blood and war, fought for centuries between two of the most established religions in the world. Hagia Sophia, or Ayasoyfa in Turkish, is one of those sites. Now, it is renovated and rebuilt as a museum showcasing both its Christianity and Muslim influences.

Basilica Cistern, back from when Istanbul was known as Constantinople. Photo credit - marcus_jb1973

Basilica Cistern, back from when Istanbul was known as Constantinople. Photo credit - marcus_jb1973


As the largest city in Turkey, Istanbul also boasts a wide and complete array of attractions, accommodations and amenities available in other metropolitan cities of the world.

Topkapi Palace – the Sultans’ home, – and the famed Blue Mosque, are two of the varied attractions that you may want to check out. There is also the Basilica (the underwater palace), which acts as a gigantic water storage from back when Istanbul was still called Constantinople. This huge palace is able to contain 100,000 tones of water! Interestingly, it acted not only as a water storage, but there is also an impressive underground palace built there, adorned with 336 pillars from all over Europe.

Those out to find a good bargain would find themselves exhausted by the titanic array of choices at the Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi in Turkish), which was said to contain more than 4000 kiosks. All kinds of merchandises, from carpets to handcrafted items, decorations and antiques can be found here. Be warned however, that the place is closed on Sundays.

Finally, there is also the beautiful Istanbul beach and ocean. Enjoy al-fresco dining at the various sea-side restaurants dotting the coastal walkway. Swim at the beach, or charter a boat ride out and experience the ocean air. Truly, Turkey is a place of many fascinating attractions and sights.

About the Author. Trangh Nguyen. Come to Vietnam, enjoy a cup of bia hoi in the street restaurant, ride moto, cruise in the labirynth of Mekong Delta and Halong Bay. Come with us and share the delight of one of the most beautiful country in Asia. We welcome you with our heart, hospitality and excellent cuisine.