A country of sun and history, Turkey straddles the point where Europe and Asia meet. It is located where the three continents making up the old world, Asia, Africa and Europe, are closest to one another.
Because of its geographical location, the mainland, Anatolia, has witnessed the mass migration of diverse peoples shaping the course of history. Home to countless civilizations, Anatolia has developed a unique blend of cultures-each with its own distinct identity, each linked to its predecessors through history.
As an ancient land and modern nation, Turkey today holds and protects the common past of all people.
* Istanbul is the only city in the world located on two continents – Europe and Asia. During its 25,000-year history, it has been the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires.
* Two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World stood in Turkey – the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Bodrum.
* St. Nicholas, known as Santa Claus today, was born and lived in Demre (Myra) on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. The village contains the famous Church of St. Nicholas, which contains the sarcophagus believed to be his tomb.
* The first man ever to fly was Turkish. Using two wings, Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi flew from the Galata Tower over the Bosphorus to land in Usküdar in the 17th century.
* Many archeologists and biblical scholars believe Noah’s Ark landed on Agri Dagi (Mount Ararat) in eastern Turkey.
* The famous Trojan War took place in western Turkey, around the site where a wooden statue of the Trojan Horse rests today.
* Turks introduced coffee to Europe.
* According to Turkish tradition, a stranger at one’s doorstep is considered “a guest from God,” and should be accommodated accordingly.
* Julius Caesar issued his celebrated proclamation, Veni, Vidi, Vici (“I came, I saw, I conquered”), in Turkey upon defeating the Pontus, a formidable kingdom in the Black Sea region of Turkey.
* Alexander the Great conquered a large territory in what is now Turkey, and also cut the Gordion Knot in the Phrygian capital (Gordium), not far from Turkey’s present-day capital (Ankara).
* Aesop – famous all over the world for his fables and parables – was born in Anatolia.
* Homer was born in Izmir on the west coast of Turkey. He depicted Troy in his epic Iliad.
* Part of Turkey’s southwestern shore was a wedding gift from Marc Antony to Cleopatra.
* The number of archaeological excavations going on in Turkey every year is at least 150.
* Writing was first used by people in ancient Anatolia. The first clay tablets – in the ruins of Assyrian Karum (a merchant colony) – date back to 1950 B.C.
* The last home of the Virgin Mary is in Selçuk, Turkey.
* Leonardo da Vinci drew designs for a bridge over the Bosphorus, the strait that flows through Europe and Asia. (Although da Vinci’s bridge was never built, there are now two bridges over the Bosphorus.)
In 1492, Sultan Beyazıd II, after learning about the expulsion of Jews, dispatched the Ottoman Navy to bring them safely to the Ottoman lands.
* Likewise, Jews expelled from Hungary in 1376, from Sicily early in the 15th century, from Bavaria in 1470, from Bohemia in 1542, and from Russia in 1881, 1891, 1897, and 1903 all took refuge in the Ottoman Empire.
* As was the case during the Bolshevik revolution, Turkey served as a safe passage and haven for those fleeing their native countries during World War II.
* Turkey was one of the few countries in the world to welcome Jewish refugees escaping the horrors of Nazism.
* During the Gulf War in 1991, Turkey welcomed nearly half a million Kurds from Northern Iraq. The Kurds were fleeing the danger posed by Saddam Hussein’s regime.
* Turkey provided homes for some 313,000 Bulgarian refugees of Turkish origin when they were expelled from their homelands in Bulgaria in 1989.