“If henceforward the women do not share in the social life of the nation, we shall never attain to our full development. We shall remain irremediably backward, incapable of treating on equal terms with the civilizations of the West” (Kinross, Ataturk, The Rebirth of a Nation). Through legislation, enacted on 5 December 1934, women gained full universal suffrage, earlier than most other countries. The reforms in the Turkish civil code, including those affecting women’s suffrage, were “breakthroughs not only within the Islamic world but also in the western world”.
Shared between both the European and Asian continents, Turkey is the gate keeper between the east and west in every sense. From trade routes to ideologies, for thousands of years, the Turkish people had to fight for their independence, their secular culture and way of life. One has to wonder why so many conquerers – from the Greeks, the Romans, the Persians, to the Ottomans, etc., would cause so much turmoil for control over Turkish lands. What could be so special about Turkey? Well, upon arriving, you’d instantly know why everyone would want a piece of what Turkey has to offer.
Turkey has surpassed all of my expectations in all of the best ways possible. It is exemplary of the obvious concept that not all Muslim-majority countries are homogenous. Turkey is also one of the best examples of what it looks like to have a culture devoted to its Islamic faith, yet secular in it’s society. After so many centuries under foreign and religious dominance, secularism and democracy flourishes brilliantly in Turkey, and it is a point of immense pride amongst Turkish people.
No nation is perfect, however, Turkey’s progressive history and it’s incredibly beautiful landscapes make me totally obsessed with this country. Here are 5 reasons why, if it isn’t already, Turkey should be your next destination.
In my opinion, Alaçati is Turkey’s hidden gem. For a Mediterranean destination, most people desire to travel to the islands of Greece. However, situated on Aegean coast, Alaçati is known for it’s picturesque, cobblestone streets and beautifully painted, stone homes that could rival those of Santorini and Mykonos. Alaçati was originally settled by Greeks in the 17th century. In 2005, Alaçati was declared a historical site. The buildings are well preserved and protected. Also, there are several boutique hotels and delectable restaurants that will sweep you off your feet.
As gate keeper between Asia and Europe, for better or worse, Turkey is bursting with important historical events that have shaped the region and world. Ephesus is an ancient Greek city, which was later conquered by the Romans. It is one the largest Romanic archaeological sites in the eastern Mediterranean. It houses one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis. Ephesus was an important site for early Christianity. Biblical figures, such as Paul and the Virgin Mary, are said to have lived in Ephesus for a point in time.
(3) Pamukkale & Hieropolis
Located in Turkey’s central aegean region, Hieropolis is a Greco-Roman city built on top of a natural world wonder. Translated to “cotton castle”, Pamukkale is a natural, thermal spring formed by calcium-enriched settlements creating a shimmering, snow-like layer. Dripping slowly off the sides of the mountain, travertine terraces of shallow pools were formed over a millennia. Inscribed as a U.N.E.S.C.O World Heritage Site in 1988, its popularity has since increased immensely. The word is out on Pamukkale’s beauty and has spread like wild fire on social media. Now, thousands of tourists are flocking to see this natural wonder in person.
(4) Göreme, Cappadocia
Cappadocia is a vibe! Göreme is a historical town in Turkey’s central region characterized by it’s fairy chimneys, cave houses, and hot-air ballooning. The carved-out houses, monasteries and churches into the soft volcanic stone have been well-preserved. Weather permitting, hundreds of hot-air balloons fill the sky daily. We visited during the winter months, and unfortunately, the weather wasn’t optimal. Therefore, the hot-air balloon flights were cancelled. Some locals recommended that we return during the summer months, which are better for hot-air ballooning. However, we still made the best of our time by renting a scooter to explore the surrounding sights. If your goal is to live your best Cappadocia dream, flying high in the skies in a hot-air balloon, then I recommend spending at least 3 days. In the case that you come across some bad weather, you’ll have a few days to play with as cushion.
Istanbul is a vibrant city of 15 million inhabitants. The city, separated by the Bosphorus River, is situated on both European and Asian continents. There’s so much to see and do in Istanbul, that I’d recommend spending at a minimum 3-4 days in this bustling city alone. Public transportation is incredibly efficient to meet the needs of thousands of people moving between the two continents. You might consider staying in the Sultanahmet neighborhood, as it’s considered the center of historic Istanbul and is where many of the most famous buildings are located.
That’s all for now folks! I hope that you’ve found these tips helpful, as well as inspirational, for your upcoming visit to this incredible country. I, for one, am looking forward to returning soon. Happy travels!
“Your time as a caterpillar has expired. Your wings are ready.”