Turkey is a fascinating country with an inexhaustibly rich culture and traditions. The world's first known agricultural villages have been discovered there. Over 4,000 years ago it was home to the ancient Hittites, mentioned in the Bible but revealed by other sources to have been a mighty civilization able to defeat the Egyptians in battle. Much of the western part of it was what we call "Ancient Greece" and later made up an important part of the Roman Empire.
When Rome fell in the West, its culture carried on straight through the Middle Ages in the East as the Byzantine Empire centered on the city of Constantinople, later known as Byzantium, and now as Istanbul. When its last remnant was conquered in 1453 by the Turks, it became an important center for Muslim culture, persisting as the heart of the Ottoman Empire until World War I. The modern nation of Turkey was created under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who provided an influential model for social reform for other Muslim nations.
Again and again the student of history finds Turkey at center stage, and Turkish culture is rich in art, architecture, poetry, philosophy, and all sorts of scholarship. And the food is delicious!
For the American visitor, Turkey is a delight. Turkish hospitality and friendliness makes most people feel welcome. Americans have been rare in the past several years, and we were often mistaken for Australians come to visit the Gallipoli battleground from World War I, or for touring Germans. During our three-week tour, not one Turk we spoke with expressed the slightest hostility to America or Americans, and we were the recipients of many acts of hospitality and generosity.
At least in the western region most frequented by tourists, secularism is prevalent and religious extremism is rare. Few women cover their heads. The call to prayer rings out from mosques all over five times a day (beginning at dawn), but with about as much effect as the ringing of the church bells in Rome.
Costs for travel, food, and lodging are extremely low. High inflation makes life hard for the Turks, but the sinking value of the Turkish lira against other currencies makes Turkey a bargain for outsiders.
Join us for a photo tour of some of the most famous sites in Turkey and learn more about this fascinating land.
First mounted December 3, 2002
All photos copyright Paul Brians.
For a searchable database of downloadable higher-resolution copies of most of these pictures (plus some that aren't in this tour--go to the Washington State University Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections site at http://www.wsulibs.wsu.edu/holland/masc/xworldciv.html and click on "Turkey."