As of 2018, Turkey was the first country on my bucket list and if something has surprised me has been its originality:
- For tourists, the only city is Istanbul, a place where Middle East wants to be Europe. The result is a unique mix, curious and attractive. The others, no matter how many inhabitants may have, are urban centers with little interest.
- But in the absence of interesting cities, there are plenty of ruins of cities that were lavish and important in their time. Many will know their names, and more will be surprised to know that they are here and not in current Greece. The best preserved and best known is Ephesus, but fans of Greek and Roman civilizations will also find Miletus, Pergamum, Aphrodisias or Hierapolis as some of the best preserved (there is also Troy, but there is hardly anything left to see). In the east, there are ruins of ancient civilizations from the Middle East, with Mount Nemrut, a burial mound with enormous figures of animals and Persian, Greek and Armenian gods, being the best exponent. If it is ever restored, it will be comparable to Abu Simbel temple in Egypt.
- Continuing with the originality, it has two areas with the best nature of its kind, to the point that they seem unreal:
- Land composed of multiple strata of different color and consistency, eroded by the action of wind and rain so that aesthetic results are found in all parts of the world, but the gold medal to design, quantity and spectacularity of rocks in shapes and colors goes to Cappadocia. In case nature is not worth seeing in itself, the landscape is full of artificial caves, with ancient homes, churches, and even the oldest underground cities that exist, where thousands of people once lived.
- The terraces of Pamukkale, the whole slope of a mountain covered by a layer of snowy calcareous rock, with hundreds of pools in which the water reflects, forming an unthinkable landscape.
- But Turkey does not lack interesting nature even if it is not so unique:
- In the south, being the star Fethiye and Oludeniz region, there are magnificent examples of Mediterranean beaches. Given the low prices of Turkey, many European tourists decide on them instead of the comparable Balearics, Corsica or Sicily.
- In addition to other volcanoes in Cappadocia, the most famous and highest is Mount Ararat (5137 m) near the border with Armenia.
- Among the many possibilities of walking in nature, two stand out, being the starting point of both Antalya:
- The Lycian Way, multiday trek 509 km long to Fethiye, passing through some of the best beaches and coasts of the country, along with stretches of low mountains and Mediterranean forest.
- St. Paul’s Trail, so called because it is the route that the apostle followed on his first pilgrimage in Asia Minor to preach the gospel. It finishes 500 km to the northeast, in Egirdir lake. It is much harder than the previous one because it is uphill, so it is usually done in the opposite direction.
- Gastronomy. Delicious, but the variety is not in my opinion the strong point in this country. Every day we’ll eat at least once salad or soup as starter and kebab or casserole of chicken, veal or lamb with pepper or eggplant as main, mixed in all varieties. On the fifth day, you will sigh for a pizza.
- About environment, social customs, cuisine and degree of development, sometimes reminiscent of Greece and sometimes reminiscent of Egypt, but Turkey is now a cheap country (or very cheap if you know how to search well), has good tourism infrastructure, hotels and transport, a climate that respects the traveler for more than half a year and crime rates similar to those of many European countries. Despite the current war on the border with Syria, avoiding that area, which in no case was on the radar of most tourists, we will not feel any danger.
With all this, it is not surprising that tourism is starting to increase again, so you should consider going as soon as possible.
- WHEN TO GO
- DANGERS AND PROBLEMS