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Turkey builds on an old and rich history. It represents a cultural mixture, stretching across the Anatolian peninsula in Western Asia and Thrace in the Balkans. The Anatolian peninsula is one of the oldest continuously inhabited regions in the world. The earliest Neolithic settlements such as Catalhoyuk, Cayonu, Nevali Cori, Hacilar, Gobeklitepe and Mersin are considered to be among the earliest human settlements in the world. Anatolia is a melting pot where Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian cultures interacted with Hittites, Romans, Lycians and Phrygians. The result is a unique Anatolian civilization which has long inspired the thoughts and legends of the West.
Any visitor to Turkey will be struck by the plethora and variety of religious buildings and ancient shrines. There are temples dedicated to ancient goods, churches of many denominations, synagogues and mosques. As civilizations succeeded each other for thousands of years, they left their religious legacy. After the monotheistic domination of Anatolia, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism co-existed in harmony.
The ancient Bronze Age witnessed the establishment of the first independent city states. The first major empire in the area was that of the Hittites, from the 18th through the 13th century BC. Next were the Phrygians, an Indo-European community. The other prominent states of the period were Lydia, Caria and Lycia. Meanwhile Ionians, one of the ancient Greek communities, were settling at the western coasts of Anatolia. In 334 BC, Alexander the Great got the hold of the whole region and this also marked the beginning of the Hellenistic period since Anatolia was divided into small kingdoms. All these kingdoms joined Rome by the 1st century BC.
In 324 AD, the Roman emperor Constantine I declared Byzantium the new capital of the Roman Empire. He renamed Byzantium as the New Rome which would be called Constantinople and Istanbul respectively. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Constantinople became the capital of the Byzantine Empire. In the 10th century the Seljuk Turks started migrating to Anatolia. After the Battle of Malazgirt, Anatolia became the homeland for the Oguz Turkic tribes. The war gave way to the foundation of Anatolian Seljuk state, which would later be defeated by Mongols. While the state was slowly collapsing, the Turkish principality governed by Osman I was to evolve into the Ottoman Empire.
Throughout its history of 623 years, the Ottoman Empire acted as a link between the Western and Eastern worlds. Until it collapsed at the end of World War I, the empire was a major economic and cultural center. Modern Turkish Republic founded after the War of Independence by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, is among the fastest growing countries of Europe. One of Turkey’s most important features is its capacity for synthesis, which is a historical inheritance. Such a rich history has left an unforgettable mark and Turkey flourishes with historic sites and archaeological wonders set in a diverse and beautiful landscape. The Mediterranean coastline is punctuated with well-preserved Greco-Roman cities such as Pergamon and Ephesus, while the austere and rugged Anatolian plateau has cave churches hidden away in the fairytale landscape of Cappadocia.
This is the land where Alexander the Great slashed the Gordion Knot, where Achilles battled the Trojans in Homer’s Iliad, where the first coin was minted in Sardis and where the Ottoman Empire fought battles that shaped the world. The country is the haven of two of the world’s seven wonders: the temple of Artemis, and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. History buffs can plunge in marvels and souvenirs stretching back to the dawn of civilization. Nature lovers can enjoy the amazing mountain views and forests of the Black Sea region, as well as the astonishing beaches and natural wonders of the Aegean and Mediterranean shores. Adventure enthusiasts can head east to Nemrut Mountain National Park or to the Palandoken Ski Center. The list goes on and on.
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