“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”
That was the famous dialogue of Maximus from the box office film ‘Gladiator”. When I was a kid, I always dreamed of becoming a Gladiator or Spartan who is willing to die to serve the country and protect his loved ones. Luckily, I had the chance to wear their dress while I was backpacking Turkey. Although, there is no arena, no real fight and no crowds to win but the feeling when you wear it is priceless and it felt liked my dream came true in just one snap.
A lot of people are confused if Turkey is a part of Asia or Europe but the reality is in fact it is located in both Asia and Europe. Half of the city of Istanbul is in Asia while the other half is in Europe. When you look at a map and look for the water way that splits Istanbul, that’s where Asia and Europe meets.
Turkey has got something for everybody.
You can’t see much attraction on this capital city and I think you can stay here just for two days. If you are the person who loves night life, partying until the break of dawn, loud trance music and getting stone drunk then this is the ideal place for you. You can find a lot of bars located along the street going to the famous Taksim Square.
The tourist attraction of the city is the Blue Mosque just 7kms away from Taksim Square. You really don’t need to take a taxi. You can either walk along the Istiklal Cad until the Tunnel, take the antique Tunnel tram to Karakoy and switch onto the tram to Sultanahmet Place or you can take the underground funikular from Taksim to Kabatas and then take (the same) tram to Sultanahmet, this might be the faster version. But a walk along the Istiklal, perhaps combined with a visit of the Galata Tower, might be very pleasurable.
You can also visit Basilica Cistern, the city’s most unexpectedly romantic attraction where you can see the upside-down head of Medusa, a winged human female with a hideous face and living venomous snakes in place of hair. Another attractions here in Istanbul are the famous Chora Church and Aya Sofya that has a big part in the history of Turkey during Ottoman empire.
Home of the legendary ancient city of Troy located a little south of the city of Canakkale. The site resembles an overgrown archaeological dig and it’s very difficult to imagine what the ancient city would have looked like. Fortunately, an informative audio guide helps to evoke this ancient city for those who are visiting without a tour guide.
The wooden horse that appeared in the Brad Pitt 2004 movie “Troy” is exhibited on the seafront of this city. Like Istanbul, it has a territory in both Europe and Asia with a population of around 186,000. Canakkale has one airport which is 3 km from the city centre. Also, there are buses from Istanbul at any time, day or night and will take 5 to 6 hours to get from Istanbul to Canakkale.
Highlight of this city is the epic ruins of Ephesus that are favorite local and international tourist attraction and can be access from Adnan Menderes Airport or from the cruise ship port of Kusadasi. Visiting this ancient city was an absolute delight. Although my friend and I weren’t able to hire a tour guide and I suggest you do since they will provide you with a myriad of illuminating historical facts, a detailed history of the culture, philosophy and lifestyle of this area.
Another highlight is the house of Virgin Mama Mary that is entirely made of stones located on the top of Mount Bulbul, 9km ahead of Ephesus. It is the place where Mama Mary spent her last days on Earth. Today, only the central part and the room on the right of the altar are open to visitors. Don’t forget to visit the ‘Water of Mary” to be found at the exit of the church area and where a rather salt water, with curative properties can be drunk by all.
Make sure to visit Cappadocia if you ever set your foot in Turkey. Cappadocia is known around the world as one of the best places to fly with hot air balloons. The spectacular surrealistic landscapes combined with excellent flying conditions allow the balloons to gently drift over and between fairy chimneys, pigeon houses hewn into the unique rock formations, orchards and vineyards – through impressive valleys, each with distinctive rock formations, colors and features – and then float up over rippled ravines for breathtaking views over the region.
Also, if you love hiking then this is the right place for you. A free option to hike following the paths along the valleys but before you do that, make sure to ask for a map from your hotel or tourist office that has suggested walks and trails.
Pamukkale literally means “cotton castle” in Turkish is located in Southwestern of Turkey. The travertine rock formations are one of the most visited attractions in this place. You are able to see the famous white terraces and limestone slopes, and visit the hot springs that lay at the center of the ancient Greek city of Hierapolis.
In the archaeological zone of Hierapolis to the west of the village, you can see the Temple of Apollo and a restored 2nd-century Roman theater that features an amazing amount of intact, elaborate reliefs. You can still see the colonnades of the ancient main street, as well as the elaborate tomb of Flavius Zeuxis, a part of the largest necropolis in Asia Minor.