Introduction to Turkey
An Introduction to Turkey
For those who have never been to Turkey before this country seems mysterious and a little foreboding. You may not be sure of what to expect, or whether you will like the food or the people, but all these fears are soon gone once you arrive in this friendly and welcoming country.
Anyone who’s been to Turkey will tell you what a wonderful place it is and that its people are among the friendliest in the world. It’s this friendly welcome, plus of course the great weather, scenery, cuisine, culture and ancient history, that keeps many visitors coming back to Turkey year after year, and we’re sure that once you’ve visited Turkey you’ll be returning for more yourself!
A Brief History of Turkey
Understanding the very long and varied history of this great country is the perfect way to get to understand the people and the culture, and makes your holiday in Turkey even more meaningful. Turkey has a very long history, so here are the important historical facts in a nutshell…
Anatolia is the name of the huge peninsula that the majority of Turkey sits upon and this is one of the oldest continuously inhabited regions in the world. Since Neolithic times people have been living here, and one of Turkey’s most famous ancient cities, Troy, was settled from Neolithic times onwards.
The Hittites were the first major civilisation to live in what’s now modern day Turkey, beginning in the 18th century BC through to the 13th century BC, and from around 1200 BC the Ionian and Aeolian Greeks settled on the coasts. The Persians conquered during the 5th and 6th centuries BC and later Alexander the Great became the ruler of the region.
By the middle of the 1st century BC the Romans had pretty much taken over the whole of Turkey. They lived here for hundreds of years and left many great cities in their wake, including remnants in what’s now called Istanbul. This city (which at the time was called Byzantium) was chosen as the new capital of the Roman Empire in the year 324AD and was renamed Constantinople after the Roman emperor Constantine.
The next great empire to rule over the region was the Ottoman Empire, who conquered Constantinople in 1453 from the Byzantine Romans. Although the Ottomans were Muslim, the sultan wanted to encourage all religions back into the city to create a very cosmopolitan place. This was also the beginning of an era of lavish construction projects including great palaces and mosques which still remain in Istanbul to this day.
For over 600 years the Ottoman Empire was a mighty force to be reckoned with but coming into the 1900s the empire’s strength was diminishing. When the Empire sided with the Central Powers during World War 1 this was to be its demise and led to an order to break up the Ottoman Empire when the Allies won the war. This was to be the start of a new nation though, and in 1923 the new Republic of Turkey was established and Ankara was declared the new capital city.