Turkey is one destination that finds its way onto most avid travelers’ wish lists, but ask around and you’ll find that few people actually know about its real treasures.
An HSBC airport advertisement informs travelers that Turkey has three times the number of acres of vineyards as South Africa - riveting!
This should come as no surprise – after all, the country was once home to the Byzantine Empire and those Byzantinians loved their wine! It’s only fitting they’d ensure the empire’s lands were equipped to handle viticulture for centuries to come.
There are scores of little-known facts and findings to be uncovered about Turkey. Being the purveyors of wanderlust that we are, we went ahead and found a few to share with you…
1. In Turkey, your coffee can tell your future: Turkey is known the world over for its flavorful foods, but there’s no better way to end a meal than with a cup of Turkish coffee, or Turk kahvesi, which happens to also have psychic powers. Turk kahvesi refers to the method of brewing, not the type of bean used. Finely powdered roast coffee beans are boiled with sugar in a pot which, when poured into a cup, allows a layer of residue to form at the cup’s base. It's tradition for fortune tellers to cover the cup of residue with a saucer, let it get cold and thick and turn the cup upside down and around several times. The shapes that form in the cup dictate your future.
2. Turkey is the only secular country in the Islamic World: Turkey boasts a unique culture in which 99 percent of the population is of the Islamic faith, yet there is no official state religion. It’s the most religious secular country in the world – an oxymoron yes, but fact! Although open displays of religion in public buildings and by state officials are banned, the melodious call to prayer can be heard five times a day daily, and the 120 thousand-plus Christians who live there have more than 200 churches to choose from.
3. Istanbul is the only city in the world split between two continents: Thanks to Turkey’s unique geographic location, the Republic is split between the Asian continent (this portion is known as “Anatolia”) with the other half residing in Europe. Known as “Thrace,” the European half is significantly smaller and is bordered by Bulgaria and Greece. The Bosporus Strait, which runs through Istanbul, marks the split between the two continents.
4. Turkey is home to the World’s largest mosaic museum: Every great culture of the world has birthed an iconic form of art or architecture – the Italians are known for their colorful frescos, the French for their Gothic-style architecture and Byzantine people were major producers of mosaics. As the former home of the Byzantine Empire, Turkey has retained an impressive collection of historic mosaics, now housed in the Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum.
5. Forget the North Pole - Santa Claus was born in Turkey: St. Nicolas – the patron Saint known as the original Santa Claus – was born in Patara, Turkey and has a church dedicated to him in Demre, Turkey.
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