For a millennium, the Hagia Sophia stood tall as the largest temple of Christendom humanity had ever seen.


Constructed by emperor Justinian I. nearly 1.500 years ago, she is not only the most impressive building in Istanbul but one of the finest monuments ever created.


Unrivalled for centuries, she is an extraordinary testament to the ingenuity of mankind.  


Tombs of ancient kings, carved into the harsh rock face. An old Ilkhanate hospital, and a Seljuk mausoleum. Scenic Ottoman dwellings. And seven mummies.


Located in the quiet hinterlands of the Black Sea coast, Amasya presents herself as an incredibly exciting Turkish travel destination off the tourist trail.


Immortalized in ochre stone in a remote and arid corner of Anatolia lies one of Turkey's most remarkable architectonic wonders: the Great Mosque of Divriği.


Built at the height of the Seljuk Empire in the 13th century CE, the structure is a spectacular display of Islamic masonry art not found anywhere else in the world.


VISA | Turkey grants visa-free entry for all European countries for up to 90 days (60 days for Russia/North Macedonia; 30 days for Azerbaijan/Belarus/Latvia). Citizens of Armenia (up to 30 days) and Cyprus (up to 90 days) may apply for an eVisa. If you are a resident of a non-European country check Passport Index for a quick overview.

MONEY | Currency: Turkish Lira (TL). ATMs are ubiquitous, and “ATM clusters” (ATMs of different banks grouped together) can be found in every larger settlement along busy roads, on squares, or street corners.


I recommend withdrawing money from Ziraat, since they don’t charge a fee. Being the largest bank institute in Turkey, they are present throughout the country, so you shouldn’t have any troubles finding their shops or ATMs. 


Debit and credit cards are widely accepted; however, I recommend carrying some cash regardless as you will still need it occasionally.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT | Inner-city transportation | Depending on the city, you will find a wide array of different modes of transportation, ranging from metro to bus and even trams. Most major settlements will have their own public transport card (IstanbulKart, AnkaraKart, etc.) which you will need in order to use the transportation network. Simply buy the card at the designated machine or ticket booth (e.g., in metro stations/next to tram stops) for a one-off fee and top it up with the desired amount.


Tip: Be aware that you will always be charged the maximum rate when taking the metro, so make sure to claim the balance at one of the smaller, inconspicuous machines located behind the turnstiles.


Bus | There are dozens of different companies operating within Turkey, connecting the country’s numerous cities and towns. Coaches are spacious and you will even be served small snacks and drinks during the ride. Minibuses are also used for small distances.


Normally, there are multiple connections a day and it won’t be necessary to book in advance, however, if you want to be certain your trip is set, check Obilet for tickets and schedules.


Train | The cheapest and by far best way to travel Turkey. Trains are comfortable, fares are extremely affordable, and the scenery is mesmerising (especially in the east of the country). Try to book a few days in advance if you want to secure the best tickets, though.


Ferry | Especially an option in the Sea of Marmara when travelling between Europe and Asia, with the main companies being Budo and Ido. Check schedules, prices, and availability here.



Assyrian Empire

Assyrian merchants establish a series of outposts to exploit the region's natural resources, trade and mix with the local populace. Besides commodities they introduce the cuneiform script to the area thus initiating the written history of the region.

1650-1190 BCE
Hittite Empire

The Hittites, a people most likely hailing from the Pontic Steppe, subjugate their neighbours until their empire encompasses nearly the entire peninsula. Hattuşa becomes their thriving capital and they emerge as one of the great Bronze Age civilizations of the Ancient East.

1190-546 BCE
Lydia and Phrygia

Facing natural disaster, internal strife, and external threats, the empire collapses. The Greek kingdoms of Lydia and Phrygia fill the power vacuum in Anatolia prior to the Persian conquest.

546-334 BCE
Persian dominance

The Iranian Achaemenid Empire sweeps across the Middle East and incorporates Asia Minor into their vast realm, dividing it into several satrapies. The Ionian Revolt briefly leads to the independence of the Greek poleis (449-387 BCE) before Persia regains control.

334-323 BCE
Alexander's conquest

Alexander the Great challenges the might of the Persian Empire. Within a mere four years the Achaemenids are not only ousted from Anatolia but entirely vanquished.

323 BCE-133 CE
Diadochi era and Hellenization of Anatolia

Following Alexander's sudden death, the realm breaks apart and is divided between his rival generals, the Diadochi. The Kingdom of Pergamon emerges in the West of the peninsula, while the central and eastern parts fall into the hands of the Seleucid Empire. The region enters an era of relative stability, leading to its peaceful Hellenization.

133 BCE-324 CE
Roman rule

Rome begins to meddle in the affairs of local rulers and by the mid-1st century BCE, controls much of the peninsula, only struggling to exert control in the far eastern fringes. Throughout the Roman occupation Asia Minor enjoys military and political stability and her cities prosper.

Middle ages

Byzantine Empire

Christianity spreads throughout the Near East, and in 330 CE Constantine I moves his court to Constantinople. Following the split of the empire in 395, Anatolia becomes the heartland of the Byzantine Empire and flourishes. However, the Arab conquests of the 7th century start to challenge Roman hegemony in the region.

Turkish and Mongol invasions

In the wake of the Battle of Manzikert (1071), the Seljuk Turks establish themselves in the region, introducing Islam and the Turkish language and slowly replacing Christian and Greek traditions. The Mongol invasions of the 13th century amplify this trend further.

Rise of the Ottomans

Seljuk influence steadily declines and by the mid-13th century Anatolia is divided between various Turkish beyliks. From their power base in Bursa, the Ottomans slowly start to incorporate their neighbours and control most of the peninsula and the southern Balkans by 1453.

Modern era

Ottoman Empire

In 1453, Constantinople falls to Mehmed the Conqueror, and by 1517, the Ottomans have completed their conquest of the peninsula by capturing the Knights Hospitaller fortress in Halicarnassus (Bodrum). Subsequently, Anatolia becomes the heartland of their vast empire, stretching from the Caucasus to Egypt and the Balkans to Persia.

World War I

The Ottoman Empire sides with the Central Powers, finding themselves on the losing side of the war despite fending off allied forces at Gallipoli. The empire is completely dismantled in the process, reducing its territory to Anatolia and parts of Thrace.

Greco-Turkish War

The "sick man of Europe" stumbles right into the next conflict, resulting in the near complete banishment of the Greek population from Anatolia.

Contemporary history

Atatürk and the Turkish republic

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a war hero of the Gallipoli campaign, abolishes the Ottoman government and establishes the Republic of Turkey. Modelled on Western principles and laws, he aims to create a secular and modern state.

Political instability

Turkey remains neutral for most of World War II, and quickly joins NATO in 1952 when the power blocks of the Cold War form. The next decades are characterised by military coups, inner-political instability, and the Kurdish fight for independence.

Return of authoritarianism

Although Turkey already started accession negotiations with the EU in 2005, following comprehensive human rights reforms in the early 2000s, the authoritarian governing style of current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has halted the process.

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