CHARLOTTE – What are Turkey’s attractions?

What are Turkey’s attractions?Turkey has always attracted travelers and continues to do so despite increasing violence in the region.Just the mention of traveling to the Middle East today might raise a red flag, with all the unrest the region is experiencing.

In some ways, the violence in neighboring countries has probably helped increase the number of tourists to Turkey. Millions used to come and visit ancient historical places in neighboring countries, such as the caves in the ancient city of Petra, Jordan Mt Nebo, where Moses looked upon the Dead Sea the Jordan River valley and the distant hills of Jerusalem — what God told Moses was the “Promised Land” the old town of Jerusalem, where there are so many historical and important religious places packed into one spot and Byblos, Lebanon, an ancient port town that claims to be the oldest inhabited city in the world.

There are many more places to see in Syria and Egypt, but few go nowadays. Tourism in the Middle East has definitely been affected by violence and war, but not so much so in Turkey yet.

 Only recently has Turkey been put on the map as a real hot spot for tourists. Individual travelers and cruise ship passengers have made their way to visit over the years, but in the past decade or so, Turkey has made great progress in attracting a significantly higher number of tourists.

Istanbul is a fascinating city that is rich in culture, history and glory. Previously known as Byzantium and later as Constantinople, the city has played an important role in history for centuries.

Situated along the shores of the Bosporus Strait and spreading from the Marmara Sea to the entrance of the Black Sea, the city sprawls over both the Asian and European continents.It is a city that can take you some time to get your bearings.

The skyline of Sultanahmet (the old town) is dominated by giant domes and minarets of mosques that have made Istanbul so iconic, while the vibrate neighborhood of BeyoIlu is the heart of modern Istanbul — it is packed with fine cafes, small restaurants and boutiques. Keep in mind that Istanbul is no hidden secret and probably never has been, but until recently the area had not developed industry to attract tourists.

Nowadays, tourists from around the world pour in by the busload, pushing prices up and ordinary Turks out. Turkey, though not as cheap as it used to be, still has much to offer Over the centuries, the landmass of Asia Minor, the heart of the great multi-cultural Ottoman Empire and now the modern Turkish Republic has experienced waves of migrations in which one civilization displaced another, leaving a unique and glorious cultural heritage.

Its dramatic landscapes, magnificent ruins, miles of stunning beaches and legendary hospitality continue to draw visitors to its shores. I think it is helpful to say that at first glance, Turkey seems Westernized and modern in many ways — but its appearance is misleading.

It is a land of contrasts, a heady mixture of Oriental mystery, romance and ultra-modern city life deep-rooted religious faith and determined secularism a fierce sense of national pride and openness to foreign ideas. Turkish culture is a distinctive blend of European and Middle Eastern ways of life.

Turkish people are very much their own center of gravity, and for the unwary visitor there are pitfalls to avoid as well as great riches to be found. Turks are very hospitable, open and pleased to meet foreigners.

If you show an interest in their culture and respect for their point of view they will repay your effort many times over One of my favorite blogs about Turkey is by Pat Yale, a Today’s Zaman columnist who co-wrote the “Lonely Planet Turkey” guidebook and the “Istanbul: The Ultimate Guide.” Yale’s blog will help you discover Turkey — such an unbelievably rich country in terms of tourism resources.

She writes: “Despite the fact that I’ve been writing about it for more than 20 years, I never go on a research trip without coming across remarkable places I’ve never seen before. Inevitably some of them are far off the beaten track, as when I recently spent some time exploring around Hakkari in the far Southeast.

or places like Denizli and NiIde, both of them firmly on the tourist radar yet with so much more to offer than I’d realized. Let’s see what the next 20 years throw up.

I expect many more lovely surprises.” You can visit her blog and learn a lot from this reliable source about Turkey if you are planning to visit in the future.

The link is http:www.turkeyfromtheinside.

com .

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman