The nation of Turkey straddles two continents — Asia and Europe. Because of its location, it has played an important role in both Asian and European history. For some 600 years Turkey was the center of the great Ottoman Empire. At the height of its power, the empire stretched from east central Europe to Southwest Asia and North Africa. The modern Republic of Turkey, which was founded in 1923, retains only a part of the once vast Ottoman Empire. But it is still a country of considerable size, about as large in area as Utah, Arizona, and Nevada combined.
The nation of Turkey straddles two continents — Asia and Europe. Because of its location, it has played an important role in both Asian and European history. For some 600 years Turkey was the center of the great Ottoman Empire. At the height of its power, the empire stretched from east central Europe to Southwest Asia and North Africa. The modern Republic of Turkey, which was founded in 1923, retains only a part of the once vast Ottoman Empire. But it is still a Istanbul is situated on either side of the Bosporus, in both Europe and Asia. It is the largest city in Turkey. For nearly 400 years Istanbul was the capital of Turkey. Although no longer the capital, it has remained the country's major port and most important commercial center.
Once called Byzantium, Istanbul became the capital of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire) in A.D. 330. The name "Byzantium" later was changed to Constantinople in honor of the Roman emperor Constantine the Great. The Turks conquered the city in 1453 and changed the name to Istanbul.
Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the nation's second largest city. Once known as Angora, the city is situated in the central part of the Anatolian plateau. The older part of the town was an ancient trading center. The newer town was built by Kemal Atatürk (1881–1938), the Turkish republic's first president. Outside the new town is a magnificent monument marking Atatürk's burial place.
About 3,000 years ago the country now known as Turkey was divided into several kingdoms. The most important of these was the Hittite Kingdom. Another kingdom was ruled from the city of Troy. Around 1200 B.C. many Greeks began to migrate to Turkey. They settled along the coasts and established their own states there. These ancient Greeks conquered the people of Troy during the Trojan War, one of the most famous wars in history. Subsequently, both Asian and European Turkey were conquered by the Persians, who in turn were driven out by the Macedonian Alexander the Great in 333 B.C. After the death of Alexander several small kingdoms rose and fell in Turkey. They all were conquered eventually by the Roman general Pompey (106–48 B.C.) in 63 B.C. The Romans divided Turkey into several provinces and built many cities.
The Byzantine Empire. In A.D. 330 the Roman emperor Constantine chose Byzantium as his eastern capital. Byzantium, renamed Constantinople, became the most important city in the Byzantine, or Eastern Roman, Empire. For some 200 years, from the 800s to 1000s, the Byzantine Empire was a great world power. The Christian religion and much of the ancient Greek civilization survived here and were passed on to other parts of Europe and Asia.
During the 1000s, the first Turkish tribes, called Seljuks, came from western Central Asia and settled in what is now central and eastern Turkey. The Seljuks were followers of the Islamic religion. They attacked the Byzantine Empire and set up a Muslim state in Asian Turkey. The Seljuks in turn were weakened by the Christian Crusaders on their way to capture Palestine from its Muslim rulers. Later, Mongol invaders from Central Asia destroyed the little remaining power of the Seljuks. But the Seljuk settlements and states survived.
The Ottoman Empire. Another group of Turkish tribes from Central Asia arrived in the 1200s. They were called Ottomans, after their legendary first leader, Osman, or Othman (1259–1326). The Ottomans, or Ottoman Turks, conquered what remained of the Seljuk states. In 1326 they reached the Sea of Marmara. By 1360 the Ottomans had conquered much of what is now European Turkey. Constantinople held out until 1453, when it, too, fell to the Ottoman Turks. The Ottoman Empire reached its height during the 1500s. Under Sultan Suleiman I (1496–1566), known as the Magnificent, the empire extended across southeastern Europe and through parts of southern Russia, to Southwest Asia and North Africa.
Under succeeding sultans the empire began to slowly decline. By the late 1800s and early 1900s, it had lost most of its European territories, including what are today Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, and other parts of the Balkans. Egypt and other northern African states also became virtually independent.
Many Turks believed that changes in Turkish laws and customs were necessary to halt further decline. Sultan Abdul-Hamid II, known as Abdul the Damned, promised reforms but did not keep his word. In 1908 he was overthrown by a group of reforming politicians called Young Turks. They introduced political and social reforms and established a constitutional monarchy under Sultan Mohammed V.
It was too late, however, to stem the decline. The final breakup of the empire came after World War I (1914–18). As one of the defeated powers, the empire was forced to give up its remaining non-Turkish lands. The chief victorious powers, France and Britain, occupied Istanbul for a time, and in 1919, Greek troops invaded Turkey's Aegean coast.
Republic of Turkey. With the Ottoman government helpless, a Turkish general, Mustafa Kemal, organized a temporary government whose forces expelled the Greeks in 1922. The last sultan, Mohammed VI, was deposed, and in 1923, Kemal established a Turkish republic, with its capital in Ankara. Kemal became its first president. Adopting the surname Atatürk ("Father of the Turks"), he introduced many reforms that helped transform Turkey into a modern nation.
Holiday in Turkey
A mass collection of holiday resorts in Turkey have made it a top tourist hotspot. Additionally, holidaymakers often prefer familiarity and return year after year to the same resort where they have made long life friends with local Turks.
Much of the holiday industry centres around Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, boasting of excellent beaches and nightlife scenes, and popular places benefitting include the Bodrum peninsula, Fethiye, Marmaris and Antalya regions.
The Aegean, stretching from the north near Istanbul, meets the Mediterranean on the Marmaris peninsula. As a popular holiday destination for people of all nationalities, the biggest attraction is Ephesus ancient city ruins. However, other historical landmarks, and beautiful landscapes and traditional coastal fishing villages, are good reasons to extend your stay.