Sure, you’ve probably seen the Blue Mosque in magazine photos and marveled at the whirling dervishes in travel guides, but did you know Old Saint Nick was born in Turkey? Or that Cappadocia is home to literally hundreds of underground cities? Read on to learn five more interesting tidbits about Turkey’s intriguing past and present.
Turkey is home to over 9,000 species
Many don’t readily think of Turkey as a country with diverse wildlife. But despite its bustling cityscapes and rocky typography, the country actually boasts roughly 9,000 different types of flowers. This figure is especially impressive considering that Europe’s miles of lush countryside comparatively contain roughly 11,500 different species of flowers. Additionally, out of the 9,000 known bird species in the world, 453 of them are found in Turkey, including loons and Storm Petrels.
Istanbul is the only city in the world that straddles two continents
Influences from Europe and Asia come to a head in Istanbul, the city split into two distinct neighborhoods by the Bosphorous Strait. This duality can be observed through the country’s heterogeneous architecture, cuisine and culture.
The people are extremely gracious
The Turkish have long been known as extremely welcoming and warm to foreigners and acquaintances. It is believed that a stranger at one’s doorstep is considered and should be treated as “God’s guest” for at least three days. Turkish tea is especially regarded as a gesture of kindness and inclusion to guests. You will rarely visit a store without being handed a hot cup of çay from the merchant.
Istanbul was the last stop on the infamous Orient Express
Istanbul’s Sirkeci Train Station once served as the last stop on the Orient Express, the train line which ran from Paris to Istanbul from 1883 until 1977. The Orient Express was once known as “the king of trains and the train of kings,” during its service. The writer Agatha Christie was a frequent passenger and her experiences later inspired the mystery novel Murder on the Orient Express.
Insufficient coffee was once grounds for divorce
Many believe the Turks introduced coffee to Europe in 1683 during the Battle of Vienna when they conquered the European city. From there, the beverage became an instant favorite throughout the continent. But the caffeinated drink was also popular back home in Turkey, so much so that if a husband didn’t provide his wife with her caffeine fix daily, she could legally divorce him.
What fascinated you about visiting Turkey?