Given its recent history, Turkey is a country taking its place on the world stage. This has lead to an upswing in people wondering… is Turkey in Europe or Asia?
Take this map of Europe, which is fairly common in its depiction:
So that’s a matter settled then: Turkey is in Europe, continentally, correct? Some people disagree; in fact, some parts of the European media go into meltdown at the idea of Turkey joining that most European of ventures: the European Union.
Why does this matter for a traveller? Because this mix of influence – the European and the Asian – helps to make Turkey one of the most fascinating countries on the map.
The most potent area this can be witnessed is with religious buildings. There is all the Asiatic charm of the Ottoman Empire and their faith, combined with a centuries-old Christian tradition. For fans of architecture, Turkey has got everything you could ever need – so the only question that remains is, where do you begin?
Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
Over its storied history, the stunning Hagia Sophia has had a changing fortune. It was constructed in 537CE as a Greek Orthodox church.
However, following the fall of Constantinople (the modern-day Istanbul) to the Ottoman Empire, the building was transformed into a mosque in 1453.
In 2017, it’s a museum to the history of one of the most complicated cities in the world. It’s open to the public, and offers a variety of different experiences – there’s something here for history buffs, architecture fans, and even those following religion. Particular highlights include the complex mosaic work, which dates as far back as the 11th century. It’s even a destination you can make a stop at on a city break, after a short Istanbul airport transfer of only about 30 minutes, and there’s plenty of accommodation nearby.
If you prefer your ventures abroad to include a little less history and a little more luxury, then Turkey has got plenty to offer you. It’s easy to picture the country as a dusty, ancient land; the kind that is always filtered yellow in movie post-production, to signify its heritage. However, as a country that straddles the European/Asian divide, Turkey has plenty of contemporary fun to offer.
Nowhere is a better example of this than TerraCity. Not only is it home to the biggest mall in the country – complete with stores you’d more associate with New York’s Fifth Avenue than this region of the world – but there is also a nearby bazaar, bringing together the two different cultures in a close setting.
Accommodation is simple enough to find, especially if you have a budget to match the price tags on display at the mall. It’s also close to the Mediterranean Sea, with a short hop to the island of Cyprus making the perfect daytrip.
In essence, whatever you’re looking for in Turkey, you can find it. While it may be making the headlines for the wrong reasons at the moment, there’s no doubt this is a country that has been there, seen it, survived and – ultimately – thrived.