International Travel

4 fascinating facts about Turkey

4 fascinating facts about Turkey

1. Turkey is a Land Bridge 

Straddling the edges of eastern European and western Asia, Turkey’s largest city Istanbul is divided by the Bosphorus Strait. Formerly called Constantinople, modern-day Istanbul is often wrongly thought of as the capital of Turkey, when in fact Ankara is. Perhaps this is because it was the richest and largest city in Europe from the 4th to early 13th centuries and the capital of both the late Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire.

2. Home to the First Map

Long before Emperor Constantine moved in, nomadic Homo sapiens had settled in Çatalhöyük on the Southern Anatolian plateau. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is thought to date back to 7000–6000 BCE. Çatalhöyük is home to the world’s first map, or more accurately, earliest landscape painting, depicting the settlement and mountain backdrop.

3. The Legendary City 

Homer’s epic poems of Ancient Greece, the Iliad and the Odyssey, both make reference to the legendary city of Troy. But Troy is more than myth: Troia as the Anatolian city we know today, is in fact one and the same city. It was built and destroyed so many times by various rulers that it leaves a variety of artefacts and ruins from many historic periods – from the Troy of Homer, to the Troy of the Roman poet Virgil and beyond.

4. A New Alphabet 

While Turkish was written in a form of Arabic script (rich in consonants and poor in vowels) for centuries, it didn’t represent the language of the common people. So reform was introduced in 1928, with the adoption of a Latin-based alphabet and an education and literacy drive.

This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.