12 Facts You May Not Know about Turkey

12 Facts You May Not Know about Turkey

By Kimi Huang | Updated Dec. 5, 2023

Turkey has plenty of historical sites and a rich culture. It is a great travel destination because there are so many places to explore. Read on for some facts about Turkey before you start planning your trip. 

1. "Turkey" Comes from "Turchia"

It is believed that the name "Turkey" comes from the word turchia, which is the name that the Italians used to refer to Anatolia, the Asian portion of Turkey. This usage goes back to the early 12th century. Indeed, Turks never used the name "Turkey" for their land until the Republic of Turkey was officially established in 1923. Turkey means "the land of the Turks".

2. The Capital City of Turkey is Ankara 

Most people who aren't familiar with this country believe that Istanbul is the capital. Although Istanbul is the biggest city and is very popular among tourists, the capital is Ankara. In 1923, the city of Ankara was named the capital of Turkey in place of Istanbul. 

3. Istanbul Is One of the Few Transcontinental Cities in the World

Istanbul is the most popular tourist destination in Turkey and the largest transcontinental city in the world. The Bosphorus Strait runs through the city; it separates the Asian and European parts of Istanbul. Every single point on the Bosphorus Strait offers amazing views of the city.

4. Turkey Has Two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Turkey is an ancient civilization with a 4,000-year-old history; it is home to a lot of amazing architecture, including two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The first one is the Temple of Artemis, located in the ancient city of Ephesus in Izmir. The second one is the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus in the modern city of Bodrum.

5. The Ottoman Empire Was Responsible for Popularizing Tulips

Many people believe that tulips come from Holland, but in reality, they were brought to Anatolia by Turks during their migration from Central Asia. These flowers can be seen in decorative patterns in Turkish art since the 12th century. They were introduced in Europe in the second half of the 15th century. The tulip is the national flower of Turkey. 

The famous Tulip Festival is held every April in Istanbul, and the whole city bursts with color during this time.

6. Turkey Is Heaven for Beach Lovers

Turkey is world-renowned for its many beaches. It has 8,000 km (4,900 mi) of coastline, stretching across Europe and Asia.

The Mediterranean Coast of Turkey holds the record for the highest number of Blue Flag Certified beaches in the world. This award is given to the cleanest beaches with the best water quality and highest environmental standards.

7. Turkey Has the Second Oldest Underground Railway in the World

The second-oldest underground railway in the world in Istanbul, Tunel, operates between Karakoy and the Galata Tower area. Only the London Underground is older than Tunel.

8. Most Turks Don't Believe in the Evil Eye

Charms to ward off the evil eye are some of the most popular souvenirs that you can buy in Turkey. It is known as nazar boncugu in Turkish. Turks believe that it protects people from bad energy. Nowadays, however, Turkish people don't really believe in these charms. If you see the evil eye in the houses or stores of locals, they are probably just keeping it because it is a custom from past generations.

9. Turkey Is Heaven for Cats

Turkey is well known internationally for its many stray dogs and cats. If you are a cat lover, then Turkey is the perfect destination for you. Don't forget to take photos with these furry little creatures because they wander through the streets constantly and will definitely try to get some food and love from you.

10. Turkey Is the World's Largest Tea Drinking Country

A Turkish person usually drinks 10 or more cups of tea per day. This is why Turkey is the country with the highest per capita consumption of tea in the world. Turkey also ranks among the top five producers of tea in the world.

11. Lemon Cologne is Everywhere

When you travel in Turkey, you will probably notice when you enter restaurants, stores, or houses that many people use some sort of lemon cologne. It's part of a ritual in Turkey that helps to refresh guests and gets rid of germs.

12. Turkey's National Sport is Oil Wrestling

Although there are many sports that are popular in Turkey, oil wrestling is the national sport. This sport is exactly what it sounds like. It involves big and burly men wrestling while covered in grease. Oil wrestling started in the 1300s and is the oldest running sanctioned sporting competition in the world.

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