TOUR OF TURKEY

One city just won’t be enough when you em­bark on a jour­ney through this ex­otic na­tion.

Signature Travel & Lifestyle - - Contents -

Get­ting lost is easy in Is­tan­bul. Not be­cause the street sys­tem is com­plex, but be­cause with so many con­trary cur­rents ed­dy­ing through the streets, it is hard to main­tain your ori­en­ta­tion. Chic rooftop bars and cen­turies-old mosques; avant­garde art and bar­ter­ing in the bazaar over glasses of ap­ple tea; wiz­ened men fish­ing on the banks of the Bospho­rus while seafood feasts are served in exclusive restau­rants.

Is­tan­bul is a hotspot not just ge­o­graph­i­cally - the city fa­mously strad­dles two con­ti­nents, Europe on one side of the Bospho­rus, Asia on the other – but also his­tor­i­cally. Ro­mans, Byzan­tines and Ot­tomans have all ruled here, leav­ing the city with such an ar­ray of magnificent mon­u­ments, you would need a week to do jus­tice to them all.

Top of the list are the ex­quis­ite Blue Mosque, the dizzy­ing Top­kapi Palace, and the Ha­gia Sophia, the sixth-cen­tury church con­verted into a mosque. Of­ten over­looked but well worth a visit is the at­mo­spheric un­der­ground cis­tern.

Tourist-cen­tral Sul­tanah­met is home to the in­ti­mate Four Sea­sons Ho­tel Is­tan­bul at Sul­tanah­met, where ev­ery win­dow has views of the Blue Mosque. Hag­gle over ce­ram­ics, spices and scarves in the nearby Grand Bazaar, or dis­cover buzzing Beyo­glu, where Istik­lal Av­enue of­fers great peo­ple watch­ing.

Along the Bospho­rus, former fish­ing vil­lages now draw trendy crowds. Next to the Bospho­rus sus­pen­sion bridge, Or­taköy’s wa­ter­front is lined with fish restau­rants; fur­ther afield, Be­bek is a favourite brunch spot. For Ot­toman op­u­lence, a stay at Ci­ra­gan Palace Kempin­ski Is­tan­bul is a must. Built around an ac­tual palace, it also fea­tures a su­perb perch right on the Bospho­rus, and an eye-catch­ing in­fin­ity pool.

Bat­tles old and new

Head west from Is­tan­bul to reach Gal­lipoli, Aus­tralia’s most in­fa­mous bat­tle­field. Start at the Gal­lipoli

Sim­u­la­tion Cen­tre, where 3D tech­nol­ogy il­lu­mi­nates all as­pects of the con­flict. A visit to An­zac Cove is a must for many Aus­tralians, as is a stop at one of the 40 ceme­ter­ies, such as Lone Pine.

Not far from Gal­lipoli lies a much more an­cient the­atre of con­flict: the fa­bled city of Troy, re­put­edly be­sieged by the Greeks for 10 years. Ex­ca­va­tions are on­go­ing at the site, where nine dif­fer­ent lay­ers tes­tify to the city’s de­cline, re­birth and de­cline.

Turkey’s most im­pres­sive an­cient city is still to come. Eph­e­sus was one of the ma­jor me­trop­o­lises of Greco-Ro­man times, its Tem­ple of Artemis in­cluded among the Won­ders of the An­cient World. It is the best-pre­served clas­si­cal city in Europe – as­ton­ish­ing when you think that only 20 per cent of the city has so far been un­earthed.

Keep coast­ing

Not far from Eph­e­sus lie two very dif­fer­ent at­trac­tions. Pa­mukkale’s hot min­eral springs, gath­ered in sparkling white cal­cite ter­races, are a favourite with In­sta­gram­mers the world over. Al­most as pho­to­genic is Bo­drum, the an­cient city of Hali­car­nas­sus to­day rein­car­nated as Turkey’s most glam­orous get­away. White­washed houses, palm tree-lined prom­e­nades and chic clubs draw large crowds ev­ery sum­mer.

Fur­ther along the coast, the city of An­talya is also worth vis­it­ing for its at­mo­spheric district of Kaleiçi, with its beau­ti­fully-pre­served Ot­toman houses, and the su­perb An­talya Mu­seum. This is one of the world’s rich­est repos­i­to­ries of ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dis­cov­er­ies, of­fer­ing in­sights into the many em­pires that have held sway in this part of the world.

Turkey’s other must-visit des­ti­na­tion is Cap­pado­cia, a sur­real lu­narscape of thrust­ing lime­stone spires, where homes and churches are carved into the soft rock or buried deep un­der­ground. The ac­com­mo­da­tion of choice is one of the area’s many cave hotels, where you can en­joy a 21st-cen­tury take on caveman liv­ing. Ar­gos in Cap­pado­cia, a re­stored me­dieval vil­lage, is both rich in at­mos­phere and com­fort. Make your­self get up early to take part in a sunrise hot air bal­loon ride: it’s an ex­pe­ri­ence that doesn’t dis­ap­point.

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Im­age cour­tesy Turkey Travel

05 05 Ex­plore Cap­pado­cia’s sur­real land­scape by hot air bal­loon.

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