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A country of sun and history, Turkey is located where the three continents making up the old world, Asia, Africa and Europe are closest to each other and straddle the point where Europe and Asia meet.
Because of its geographical location, the mainland, Anatolia, has witnessed the mass migration of diverse peoples shaping the course of history. The home to countless civilisations, Anatolia has developed a unique synthesis of cultures, each with its own distinct identity, yet each linked to its predecessors through insoluble treads.

Turkey's largest city -- the region's capital for a span of almost 1,600 years -- is the only major city in the world resting in two continents. Istanbul's European and Asian sections are separated by the Bosporus Straight, which joins the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara.

Turkish nationalist Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) moved the capital to Ankara in 1923, but Istanbul remains Turkey's commercial and cultural center. At the Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian Bazaar, tourists and locals haggle over prices in a colorful maze of carpets, spices and gold.

Tumultuous history
Istanbul -- first named Byzantium and then Constantinople -- was chosen as capital of the Byzantine Empire by the Roman emperor Constantine I in 324, almost a thousand years after its founding. The city was the centerpiece in political tugs-of-war for centuries, as Persians, Arabs, nomads, and Crusading Christians battled for its prime location.

One of the city's most beloved treasures, the Aya Sofya, was born from one destructive sequence. After riots left much of Constantinople in ruin, the Byzantine emperor Justinian I built the magnificent church in 537, decorating it with extraordinary Byzantine mosaics. Aya Sofya was Constantinople's cathedral for 900 years, and then the city's main mosque following the 1453 Ottoman conquest. It was converted to a museum in 1935.

Opposite Aya Sofya is the Sultanahmet Cami (the Blue Mosque), built by Sultan Ahmet I in an attempt to trump Justinian. The mosque, with its six elegant minarets, is open to the public. Nearby is an ancient Hippodrome -- the largest such arena built by the Greeks for horse and chariot races -- and the 16th century Ibrahim Pasa Palace, which houses Turkish and Islamic art.

Istanbul's oldest mosque, the Beyazit, adjoins the older section of the Grand Bazaar, and its grandest mosque, the Suleymaniye, features an elaborate mausoleum -- built for Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent and his wife.

Away from the city
Inside Turkish Asia, nature has forged mysterious creations. Calcium-rich springs in Pamukkale -- the ancient Greek Hierapolis -- have built a cascade of white pools and stalactites called "cotton castles." Westward, across the mountains, the coastal city of Bodrum boasts the remains of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Resorts at Bodrum and Kusadasi call tourists to wonderful beaches -- with fewer visitors than the better-known Greek isles just a few miles away in the Aegean Sea. The region is home to another of the ancient world's seven wonders -- the Temple of Artemis at Seljuk -- although little remains of the site.

About 125 miles (200 kilometers) from Ankara, Turkey's capital, lie the ruins of another capital. Hattusas was the center of the region for the Hittites -- Turkey's first recorded inhabitants -- around 2200 B.C. The tunnel that served as the gate through the city's protective wall and an open-air temple are among the sites open to visitors for an entry fee of just a few dollars.

In the many centuries since the Hittites, a slew of legendary empires have claimed this land -- Persian, Roman, Mongol and Ottoman.... Like Turkey's history, its religious traditions -- from ancient Christian to majority Muslim -- are carved deep into its cultural landscape. It is the contrast of sacred and secular, of past and present that makes Turkey a fascinating crossroads of Europe and the Middle East.
Source: CNN Online

Did you know that Turkey
Is the home of civilizations that have been recorded to date as far back as 9000 B.C.
Is the location of two of the seven wonders of the world: the Temple of Artemis and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Is the home of the first known Human Rights Declaration in 1463, 485 years before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Is where Alexander the Great cut the intricate Gordian knot - litteraly a phrase used for shortcut to 'solving difficult problems'
Is the birth place of King Midas - who in mythology turned everything he touched to gold
Is one of the youngest nations in the world with 70% of its population under the age of 35
Is the home of the oldest, biggest, and most diversified shopping space in the world - the Grand Covered Bazaar: 64 streets,
3500 shops, 22 entrances, and 25000 workers
Is the birth place and home of St. Nicolas - popularly known as Santa Claus
Is where Noah's Ark landed - at Mount Agri (Ararat) Eastern Turkey
Is the home of the first recorded International Treaty - in 1284 B.C.
Is the home of the most valuable silk carpet in the world, located in the Mevlana Museum, Konya. It has 144 knots per sq. cm.
Is whre Marco Polo described in the 13the century as "The best and handsomest of rugs are woven here, and also silks of crimson
and other rich colors
Is said to have provided the water for the Garden of Eden from its 2 great rivers: the Euphrates, and the Tigris
Is the birth place of St.Paul
Is the location of Troy: where the Trojan war was faught for ten years
Is believed to be the producer of the firt wines: 4000 B.C.
Has a city named Mardin, which is one of the few places in the world where you can hear the native language of Jesus Christ - Aramaic
Is home to the ancient city of Ephesus where it is believed to be the final home of Virgin Mary, to which she traveled with St.John
Is the home of the St.Peter's Church located in Antioch, southern Turkey, which is considered to be the first church ever. It is also
the site of the oldest temple at Urfa, dated between 8500 and 9000 B.C.
Is the country that first introduced Tulips to Holland
Is the home of the earliest landscape painting, dating from 6200 B.C.
Reputidly has one of the world's three greatest cuisines
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