On our nine-day tour of Turkey from Istanbul to Central Anatolia through Western Turkey with Tempel Travel, I took the chance to dig into some photography and put together an album of a genuinely beautiful country. Rich in history, Turkey in particular is really distinct with a mix of European, Asian and Middle-Eastern culture and a great place to view some stunning icons and unspoiled natural scenes.
Our viewing of Turkey began toward Old Istanbul where the metropolis makes for a remarkable panoramic view.
Bordering the streets, Old Istanbul also still maintains its city walls (Walls of Constantinople) that kept out barbarians while the western part of the Roman Empire collapsed between the late 4th to 5th centuries.
From here we headed to the Sultanahmet area in the centre of Old Istanbul, where the Topkapi Sarayi, Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia (Sancta Sapientia), form together a spectacular mix of buildings as UNESCO-designated World Heritage sites dispersed across the city’s natural harbour.
In Modern Istanbul we went to Taksim Square. Much like the CBD of Istanbul, Taksim is a short tram ride or close walking distance from Sultanahmet. In between, you will also find a variety of shops ranging from small local shops to mid-range department stores which is definitely more worthy a visit than an overrated Grand Bazaar.
As seen at the Dolmabahce Palace also in Taksim, Baroque and Neo-Classic western arts heavily influenced the traditional Ottoman Style in Turkish house design. Constructed during the reign of Sultan Abdulmecid, the palace preceded to house all the Sultans until Caliph Abdulmecid in 1924 and after the formation of the Republic, Turkey’s most recognized reformist leader, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Before leaving Istanbul we also took the Bosphorous cruise to take in the bordering viewpoints of the crossroads between Europe and Asia.
As a transcontinental city of Eurasia, Istanbul remains Turkey’s largest commercial and cultural hub, which really shows through the diversity of attractions compacted here. If you are visiting Istanbul, we found two days to be sufficient in seeing a fair range of sights but best reserve several days if you wanted some down time to linger between sights.
Leaving Istanbul on the way to Canakkale, we travelled to Dardanelles by ferry back to the Asian shore. Via the harbor town opposite the Gallipoli Peninsula, we later arrived at the Kolin’s Hotel in Canakkale.
Here, we found Turkish food, predominantly Middle Eastern and Mediterranean but with strong Asian and Western influences, is really quite distinct. In particular, the cold platters, with an array of olives, yoghurt, cheese and bread, make for amazing meals for health food fanatics.
Approaching mid-tour we went to Bergama through the great city of Troy to see the reconstruction of the Trojan horse and archeological stone fortress of Troia.
After a three-hour trip by bus, we arrived at the base of Bergama (Pergamon) where we took the cable car to Acropolis at the peak of the mountain to the ruins of Asclepion and Temple of Trajan of Red Basilica.
Bergama (Pergamon) market town also used to be considered one of the Middle East’s richest and most powerful small kingdoms before the Roman domination of Asia Minor. We found that the town really takes with it the antiquity of Ancient Greece and Rome but with some variations in architectural design, which leans toward Roman influences.
As much of Turkey wasn’t transformed from the Ottoman empire to modern Turkey until after the First World War, we found insofar much of Turkey to be rich in historical architecture and the decorative arts which brings with it traits of previous empires. Once the capital of the Roman province of Asia, Ephesus in particular is known as the best-preserved classical city in the eastern Mediterranean and gives a really good sense of the cultural heritage of the times.
Through the lower Agora textile and food market, we made our way along Processional Way and Curetes Street through to the Memmius monument, Terraced Houses, Temple of Hadrian and Celsus library to the Great theatre.
We also distinctly found the remaining citizens of Ephesus to be very photogenic, with the old city inhabited by wild cats amongst partially reinstated ruins after centuries of war and earthquakes.
By far the most picturesque heritage site in Turkey for foreigners, Ephesus is a really worthy visit.
With ongoing political tension between Secularists and Islamists from neighbouring Iraqi, Iranian and Syrian war culture still taking its toll on more traditional parts of South-Eastern Turkey and floods plaguing the North West, we were happy to give parts of Turkey a miss. Instead our tour headed toward Central Anatolia to Pamukkale via Konya.
Following a three-hour trip by bus, we arrived at Pamukkale Natural Park. The white cliffs made for quite a stretch of Kodak moments as heated water wells trickled down hundreds of feet into the central town square.
Our final travel plans to Cappadocia (Kapadokya) followed an eight-hour bus trip from Pammukale, the perfect time to put together an album here. The trip along the way also made for unspoiled views with a panorama of snowy mountains reminiscent of the Swiss Alps.
Here, we found the further into Central Anatolia toward Cappadocia, the closer it would get to Turkey’s four seasons, going from the snow to warmer green fields within the hour.
Also we were offered better prices for locally made goods such as Pashmina scarves, wool shawls and hand-woven carpets toward Central Anatolia.
On arrival in Cappadocia, we visited Goreme city, which really brings with it the rural life of the place from its village roots.
The stone caves, Castle Valley and Pidgeon valley red and white caves also offer safari-like views.
Though much of Cappadocia looks vastly similar after several hours of sightseeing and it became much harder to make the rocky desert look distinct, we still killed off a fair bit of battery life at Cappadocia with lots of photos taken here before heading to the Yasar Baba restaurant to see the infamous Turkish dance.
Well worth the trip, I’m looking forward to heading to other parts of the Middle East in time, though I don’t think we will quite find a safer and more diverse place than Turkey.