1. World’s second greatest mozaic museum is found in Antakya (Antioch). The most beautiful and ancient examples of mosaics, which were first used by the Sumerians 5000 years by mixing the fragments of pottery into the wall daub, could be seen all around Anatolia. The mosaic museum in Zeugma, Gaziantep is as rich as the one in Antioch.
2. Istanbul is the only city in the world located on two continents, Europe and Asia. In its thousands of years of history, it has been the capital of three great empires – Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman.
3. Çatalhöyük, which is known as one of the earliest settlements in the Neolithic Age, is located in Çumra district of the present-day city of Konya (ancient Iconium). By virtue of sheltering unique findings as proofs of the first home architecture, religious facilities and landscape paintings, it bears a special place in the history of civilizations and impresses its guests immensely.
4. Two of the world’s seven wonders are located in Turkey; The Temple of Artemis and The Halicarnassus Mausoleum. The Temple of Artemis, which is situated in İzmir-Efes (Smyrna-Ephesus), is an exquisite architectural masterpiece. Dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis, the temple was built in the 800s BC.
The Mausoleum, which is located in Halicarnassus (Bodrum), was built by the Karian Queen Artemisia between the years 355 and 340 BC to commemorate his husband Maussollos. However the archeological findings of these temples which were done in 1869-1874 by J.T Wood and 1904-1905 by David G. Hogart was taken to British Museum.
5. At the end of the seventh century BC, the first coin was minted in Sardis, the capital of the Lydian Kingdom, which neighbors with Salihli district of the present-day city Manisa.
6. Coffee was first brought from Yemen to Istanbul in the sixteenth century. Prepared in a specific method peculiar to Turks, and always in a ceremonial attitude, the delicious reputation of the Turkish coffee spread all around Europe in the seventeenth century. Among its many lovers, Balzac, Moliere, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo and Pierre Lotti are few to be named. Drinking coffee is still a very essential part of Turkish culture.
7. The word “turquoise” comes from “Turk”, meaning Turkish, and was derived from the perfect blue of the Mediterranean Sea on the southern Turkish coast.
8. Tulips were in fact introduced to Holland from Turkey by Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq who was Charles V’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in the era of Süleyman the Lawmaker. In the 1500s, bulbs were so popular that by 1634 in Holland it was called ‘tulipmania’. People invested money in tulips as they do in stocks today. This period of elegance and amusement in 17th-century Turkey is referred to as “The Tulip Age.”
9. The most valuable silk carpet in the world is in the Mevlana (Rumi) Museum in Konya, Turkey. Marco Polo’s journeys in the thirteenth centuries took him here, and he remarked that the “best and handsomest of rugs” were to be found in Turkey.
10. A cave known today as the Grotto of St Peter, or Church of St Peter, is believed to be where the apostle Peter preached when he visited Antioch (Antakya, in southern Turkey). It is widely considered to be one of the earliest Christian houses of worship. In 1963, the Papacy designated the site as a place of pilgrimage and recognised it as the world’s first cathedral. Every year on June 29, a special service held at the church, is attended by Christians all around the world.
11. Anatolia is the birthplace of many historical figures such as the mighty Phrygian King Midas, the father of history Herodotus and St Paul the Apostle. When the archaeologists from the Pennsylvania Museum opened the tomb of Midas, they found some of the earliest and well-preserved wooden furniture in the world.
12. St Nicholas, rather known as Santa Claus, was born in Patara and served as the Bishop of Myra on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. It is believed that St Nicholas died in Myra on December 6, at the age of 65. Each year, ceremonies are held to commemorate him and children all around the world cherish this opportunity of bonding and sharing their joy with each other. The village contains the famous Church of St Nicholas with the sarcophagus believed to be his tomb.
13. Many important events surrounding the birth of Christianity occurred in Turkey. St John, St Paul and St Peter all lived and prayed in southern Anatolia. Tradition has it that St John brought Virgin Mary to Ephesus after the Crucifixion, where she spent her last days in a small stone house (Meryem Ana Evi) on what is now Bülbüldağı (Mount Koressos). It is a very popular pilgrimage site for Christians today.
14. According to the Legend of Great Flood told in both the Koran and the Old Testament, after the withdrawal of the waters, Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat (Ağrı) in eastern Anatolia. Throughout centuries, the scientists have conducted expeditions on the slopes of Ararat with the hope of finding the remains of Noah’s Ark.
15. The seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation -Ephesos, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea- are all found in Turkey.
16. Anatolia played a crucial role in the organization and spread of Christianity. The religious councils, which are integral to Christianity, were all convened in Anatolia.
-Nicaea Council (325 AC)
-First Constantinople Council (381 AC)
-Ephesos Council (431 AC)
-Chalcedon Council (451 AC)
-Second Constantinople Council (553 AC)
-Third Constantinople Council ( 680-681 AC)
-Sevond Nicae Council (787 AC)
-Fourth Constantinople Council ( 869-870 AC)
17. Troy where the Trojan wars recounted in Iliad by Homeros of Smyrna were fought is situated in a small village (Tevfikiye) of Dardanelle (Çanakkale) in western Turkey. The symbolic Wooden Horse erected at the site to memorialize the historical significance of the place, stands as an invitation to a mystical, epical and romantic journey through time.
18. One of the first most accurate world maps were drawn by the well-known Turkish cartographer and navigator Piri Reis in 1513. The map known today as Piri Reis Map skillfully depicted Europe, Asia, Africa and the then known portions of America as well as the places which were yet to be discovered. Erich von Daniken in his famous book The Chariots of the Gods suggests that the accuracy of the Piri Reis Map could only be explained by considering the possibility of an extraterresterial help.
19. Şanlıurfa is known to be the City of the Prophets where Prophet Abraham, Prophet Job, Prophet Elijah and Prophet Jacob lived. Lake of Fishes which is accepted as one of the holy grounds can be found in this city.
20. Every year, at least 150 archaelogical excavations are going on in Turkey.
21. An ancient city, founded at Gaziantep, on the shallowest part along the shores of the River Euphrates in 300 B.C., was conquered by the Romans in the 1st century B.C. and renamed Zeugma. At the time, with a population of over 80,000, Zeugma was on of the largest cities in the world, bigger than Pompei and Londinium (London) and as big as Athens.
22. Unveiled at the Topkapı Palace in 1929 and drawn by the renowned Turkish seaman Piri Reis (1457 – 1555), this map bewildered the world of sience, since the Mountain ranges in Antarctica, the Northern and Southern coasts of the American Continents , even the mountain chains and their summits, only discovered in 1952 with acoustical devices, were accurately located and shown on it.
23. Turks gave the Dutch their famous tulips.
24. Alexander the Great conquered a large part of what is now Turkey and cut the Gordion Knot in the Phrygian capital of Gordium, not far from Turkey’s present –day capital, Ankara
25. Early Christians escaping Roman persecution nearly 2000 years ago sheltered in the caves of Cappadocia in central Anatolia.