As much for its tourist haunts and delightful way of life, did you know that Istanbul has some quirky facts to its own history?

Here are 15 surprising facts about Istanbul

- Istanbul is the only city in the world that straddles two continents: Asia and Europe.

- Istanbul, while being the ancient capital of many empires, from Rome to the Ottoman era, it is not the modern capital of Turkey as Ankara is.

- Istanbul, which used to be known as Constantinople thanks to the Roman Emperor Constantine the great, is built on seven hills to match the seven hills of Rome.

- Under the Ottoman Empire, the city was renowned for having more than 1,400 public toilets.

- While not the capital, Istanbul is Turkey's largest city with more than 13 million people - 99 percent of which are Muslim.

- Tulips, the symbol of Holland, originated in Istanbul and were sent from Istanbul to Netherlands.

- The Grand Bazaar is the biggest old covered bazaar in the world, with over 3.000 shops.

- British author Agatha Christie wrote her famous novel ''Murder on the Orient Express'' at Pera Palas Hotel in Istanbul.

- Istanbul is surrounded by sea/ with the Bosphours cutting right through it. And yet, snow is common in the city, with the annual average being 18 inches.

- Istanbul has the same population -- 13 million and rising -- as one of the smallest countries in Europe, Belgium.

- Originally named the Tower of Christ, the Galata Tower was built in 1348 at the apex of fortified walls and was used to house prisoners of war, later became an observatory, but now offers a 360-degree viewing gallery of the city.

- It has been a noted inspiration for authors from Paul Theroux and Ernest Hemingway to Orhan Pamuk and Abdulhak Sinasi Hisar.

- Istanbul was once renowned as the most crowded city in the world - in 1502.

- Istanbul has the third oldest subway in the world, built in 1875. It's 573 meters long and located in the Beyoglu district.

- Istanbul was the European Cultural Capital City in 2010, but has never hosted the Olympics.





Even the most frugal of travelers cannot resist shopping when they visit Turkey. Whether you want to merely browse for a cultural experience, or spend money on the most famous things to buy in Turkey, the lure is too much. We have a few suggestions on the most popular items, but before we list them, let's talk about haggling on expensive items, which is a Turkish tradition.

If an item not display a price tag, the seller is open to bargaining. He will say the price, and you should counter offer with another amount that is approximately 40% lower. The process has begun, and you go back and forth until both parties mutually agree on a set amount.

Shaking hands on the price is the equivalent of giving your word but remember this is nit a quick process polite conversations about your travel plans, friends, family and work might occur during the bargaining process, and you will be offered tea as well, so although the aim is to get a competitive price, also relax and enjoy the cultural tradition of bargaining.


Carpets, Kilims and Rugs

Buying a Turkish carpet is about much more than a souvenir. Each authentic Turkish carpet is handmade, often taking months and depending on the size, even years. The motifs and colors also reflect traditions and cultural beliefs from the area of Turkey where it was made. 

Specific regions are famous for their carpets including Milas, Usak and Konya. However, take your time with this purchase because unfortunately many Chinese fakes have flooded the market. If you want to buy something of a smaller size, look at Kilims and rugs that will also be easy to pack in your suitcase.

Tea and Coffee

Tea is the national drink of Turkey, and across the country, Turks drink thousands of cups every day. Many different varieties are for sale, but the best comes from Rize, the tea capital of Turkey. Traditionally, tea is served in tulip-shaped glasses sitting on small silver trays so also buy a set of them. Turkish coffee has a strong and distinctive taste. to make and serve it correctly, buy a small pot called a cezve and the little cups to serve it in.

Sweet Baklava and Turkish delight

You cannot put it in your suitcase, but baklava is a delicious afternoon or evening snack, and the most famous sweet dish in Turkey. No matter where they are, Turks feast on it often, either as a snack or pudding. Many Turkish housewives, also make it using age-old family recipes. Karakoy Gulluoglu in Istanbul is the best place to buy baklava from.

The combination of syrup, pastry and nuts is too sweet for some, in which case also try Turkish delight, which is also sold in small boxes by souvenir shops. if you are in Istanbul, visit the Haci Bekir shop, of which their ancestors invented Turkish delight for the Ottoman sultans.

Ramadan (also called Ramazan) will begin in Turkey on June the 6th 2016 and last until July the 4th during which dedicated followers of Islam will fast from morning to night. This religious time happens all across the world and many people often ask me, if it will affect their travel plans and if they should make alternative arrangements.

It is worth pointing out that not everyone in Turkey will fast. Quite a few people that I know see themselves as a Muslim but do not adhere 100% to the practices. Other close friends insist that it is impossible at this time of year when the sun is hot, to spend all day without water and still be efficient and productive at their work.

So there is no need to make alternative arrangements because tours will run as scheduled and historical sites are still open as normal but tact and discretion in certain cases is polite. Be sensitive to those around you who may be fasting.

Food and drink is still available at all hours of the day but avoid eating or drinking on public transport or while walking down the street. Sit down at a café or restaurant to eat meals or snacks and you will definitely notice other Turks doing the same.

In the more touristic areas like Istanbul or coastal resorts of the Aegean and Mediterranean, it is quite possible for you to not even notice the presence of people fasting unless you speak to them. Even most restaurants will continue to serve alcohol as normal.

However in more remote locations, like small villages and places that are off the beaten track, you will certainly encounter someone who will be fasting or you will hear the drummer boy in the early hours of the morning as he walks through the street, prompting practicing Muslins to eat before sunrise.

About Ramadan and Fasting

For the 30 days, from sunrise to sunset, people who are fasting will not allow anything to pass their lips. They will not drink water or eat food. After sunset has passed, the fast is broken with a meal called Iftar.

This period of time is also meant to be a reflection and examination of their life. When they have displayed dishonest characteristics and how they can improve to be of worthy standing in the eyes of fellow man by showing love, compassion and empathy. for this reason, during sunset you may see queues forming at certain restaurants who will give their food away for free to the less wealthy members of the community.

What happens after 30 Days?

There is a 3 Day celebration called Seker Bayram otherwise known as Candy holiday. It is traditional for children to knock on doors for sweets and for people to visit friends and family. This is an official national holiday that can affect transport and office hours.

Traffic is heavy, with Turks visiting families in their hometowns. Banks and offices will close for the duration of these periods. Attractions and historical sites will often close for the morning of the first day and open for normal business in the afternoon. 

Many people ask when is the best time to visit Turkey and our answer depends on two factors. The first is your preference for activities. For example are you a beach lover or do you like touring historical sites and trekking instead?

The second factor is where you plan to visit. After all, Turkey is the 37th largest country in the world and because of its size, weather climates are extremely diverse depending on the region. I have fond memories of a visit to the Northern Black Sea region at the end of June. Yet while I was snuggling up under blankets at night time, I knew people on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts were enjoying summer evenings dining al fresco style because of the warm climate.

When is the best time to visit Turkey?

The best time to see the Aegean and Mediterranean Coasts.

Most businesses along these coastlines operate according to the official summer season as dictated by incoming flights. It runs from May to October and then flights schedules swap over to the winter version.

For this reason, most small holiday resorts like Didim, Gumbet or Olu Deniz are quiet from the months of November to April. Some of the hotels, bars and restaurants close down and you will also find a lack of facilities, in some resorts a lack of clean beaches and the weather to be ad-hoc. With temperatures averaging 23 degrees Celsius, don't plan to visit the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts during winter if you want the typical sun, sea and sand holiday.

Visiting Istanbul

In terms of facilities and amenities, Istanbul operates all year round so if the weather is the least of your priorities, visit in any month. From the back end of November through to the beginning of March, don't be surprised to see rain and even snow on the weather forecast. Last year, at certain times, the bosphorus cruises and feries closed down because of the extreme wind and rain conditions.

Best time to go to Cappadocia

Likewise, Cappadocia is one of those touristic places that is open all year round but most attractions involve outdoor activities and since Cappadocia is also prone to snow, rain and hard winds during winter, these might be cancelled, especially the number one attraction of hot air balloon trips. The preferred time for the resorts of Cappadocia is usually May to October.

Do you like exploring, trekking or hiking?

If so, the best time to visit Turkey is April, May and June. Likewise, October is cool enough for walking around in the daytime heat. Try to avoid visiting during the height of summer that is July, August and September because the heat averages 40 degrees and is extremely uncomfortable. If you do plan to trek or hike during that time, wear a hat, sunscreen and drink lots of water.

Beach lovers


Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has held talk with Qatari Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha.

During his visit, Erdogan discussed regional developments and bilateral ties with Sheikh Tamim, a month after a meeting between the two leaders in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

This is the Turkish leader's second visit to the gulf country since the start of a major diplomatic crisis in the region more than five months ago.

Erdogan arrived in the Qatari capital on Tuesday to attend the third meeting of Turkey-Qatar supreme strategic committee to be held on Wednesday.

Accompanied by Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, his wife and chief of general staff general Hulusi Akar among other delegates, Erdogan was welcomed at the Hamad International Airport by Qatar's Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, Turkey's Ambassador to Doha Fikret Ozer and other officials.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt cut ties and blockaded Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting ˜terrorism" and fostering ties with their rival Iran, Qatar denies the accusations.

Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from outside the Emir's palace in Doha, said the Gulf dispute will top the agenda of the meeting between Erdogan and Sheikh Tamim.

"Turkey since the start of the crisis expressed a desire to help all the parties to set aside their differences," he said. "At the peak of the crisis, it sided with Qatar, sent troops to the country and also established a military base, a move that has angered Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

"This is something, I think, the Turkish government is willing to further explore to be able to mend fences with all neighbouring countries."

Strategic ties

Qatar's Emir said on Tuesday that the Saudi-led bloc has shunned dialogue and has no desire to end the dispute.

With no solution in sight, Al Jazeera's senior political analyst Marwan Bishara said both Qatar and Turkey are taking their bilateral relations to "a whole new strategic level".

"It's clear now that Qatar needs solid relations with the outside world, notably Turkey," he said. "And it's also clear for the Turks, because of the cooling of the relations with a number of countries, especially Western countries that they need to forge big, important relations in the East, and I think, Qatar is becoming one of them," he said.

Erdogan, who also visited Qatar in July as part of a regional Gulf tour in a bid to defuse the crisis, has strongly spoken out against the measures applied by the Saudi-led group of countries.

In a show of solidarity, Turkey has also sent cargo ships and hundreds of planes loaded with food to help Qatar offset the blockade.

Ankara has a military base in Qatar and deployed more troops in the wake of the crisis.

The closure of the Turkish base was one of 13 demands by the Saudi-led group of countries in order to lift their embargo on Qatar.

Erdogan also visited Kuwait on Monday, where he met the Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. 

Kuwait has been leading mediation efforts since the start of the diplomatic rift. 

Besides politics, Al Jazeera's Ahelbarra said economic cooperation between Qatar and Turkey is also an important issue.

"The Qatari investors are hoping to now use Turkey as a new hub where they would like to look into new investment opportunities."

Turkey's Istanbul. Antalya. Edirne and Artvin are among the most visited 100 cities of the world.

In a list released on Nov.7 by market researcher Euromonitor International in London, these cities are among the top destinations for tourists in the world.

According to the report, Hong Kong holds the title of the most visited city in the world for the eighth consecutive year, followed by Bangkok and London, which represents the most visited city in Europe and the only European city in the top 10 ranking, along with Paris.

Four Turkish cities appeared in the top 100 ranking: Istanbul, the Mediterranean resort of Antalya, the northwestern province of Edirne and the Black Sea province of Artvin.

Istanbul came 15th with over 9.2 million visitors in the list, Antalya 29th with over 6.1 million, Edirne 68th with almost 2.8 million and Artvin ranked 85th with almost 2.4 million.

International arrivals to Antalya and Istanbul have, however, declined considerably on the back of terror attacks and geo-political instability, it added.

Istanbul dropped four places in the global ranking, registering 5.8 percent arrivals in 2017. Nevertheless, Istanbul remained to be one of the top four European destinations along with London, Paris and Rome.

Antalya and Edirne also slipped down the ranking over security concerns, according to the report.

The only exception in Turkey is Artvin, which bucks the trend as it remains popular with Georgians.

Artvin is one of the top five best performing cities in Europe, as it is popular with Georgians, the report read.

The ranking is based on Euromonitor International's research in 100 countries and is based on the number of international arrivals that spend 24 hours or more in a city.

Being a foreigner in a country and visiting only the museums, the parks, and the restaurants and diving into daily life and the transport problems in addition to not being able to find the customary goods in the markets are completely different things. so, when you decide to live in Istanbul, you will most probably find an environment which is very different from what you are used to.

The first shock you will get in Istanbul is that only a very few people speak English. The number of people who speak English is higher in working life, but you may need to use signs to describe everything at cafes and in shops. that is to say, the faster you are able to learn Turkish, the easier life will get for you in Turkey. Turks appreciate it very much when foreigners try to speak Turkish.

Get used to drinking tea; a lot of tea, an average Turk drinks tea all through the day. When offered to you, you shouldn't turn it down but remember that soon you will become a tea addict. The meals in Turkey are very different as well. We recommend that you do not turn down anything that has been offered to you when you are a guest somewhere. Try it. You may like it. But again, be wary of this if you don't want to put on a lot of weight.

Turks remain faithful to their craftsmanship traditions which have been passed from generation to generation. These include pottery making, carpet weaving, the making of ceramics and of course, Turkish cuisine, Turkish men are very good chefs. They are masters, especially on the matters of rolling pastry dough and kebabs.

Of course, there are some negative aspects among which, it will be to your benefit to take care while shopping, in particular. For instance, be prepared for inflated process from time to time. And sometimes, you may not be given your change, thinking that you may not ask for it anyway. Of course, not everyone is the same, but such incidents do occur.

You might also experience other negative aspects. In addition to some peculiar characteristics of Turkish people you will observe, you might have to get used to several negative situations such as a large number of people smoking and throwing rubbish on to the ground. Some do not even step aside to avoid hitting a person coming in the opposite direction. Additionally, be prepared for the occasional intense interest in you on the streets and in public transport.

Despite all of these, Istanbul is still one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with its religious and cultural mosaic, Istanbul is one of the few cities that never sleep. With the palaces which have been woven like lace on to its shores, its mansions, pavilions, bridges which stand out like pearl necklaces and waterfront residences, the bosphorus is unique in the world, with an insatiable view. You can watch the Bosphorus while sipping tea in the gardens of a palace, walk around among skyscrapers, take a swim in the sea, go around museums, take trips to the islands, be on two continents on the same day, stay up to the morning having fun at the night clubs, experience Turkish cuisine, walk around brightly lit streets at daybreak, or go to church. 



Representatives from over 50 countries will join summit and expo, of which Anadolu agency is global communications partner.

The world halal summit Istanbul (WHSI) and the 5th organization of Islamic cooperation (OIC) halal expo are going to begin under the auspices of the president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Nov.23 Istanbul.

Fifty-seven countries ministers and representatives will join the summit and expo, for which Anadolu agency is the global communications partner.

More than 7500 people and 150 top brands, institutions and organizations, which are active in halal food, Islamic tourism, Islamic finance, halal chemistry, cosmetcs, medicine and pharmacy, from over 80 countries are expected to attend.

Heads of state of some countries including Somalia. Pakistan and Malaysia and representatives of some international organizations such as the OIC, the Islamic development bank and the international Islamic fiqh academy are predicted to attend to summit.

Conferences and workshops titled Islamic finance, halal food industry, Islamic tourism, Haj and Umrah, Halal medicine, pharma and chemistry, Islamic life and halal textile will be held in the expo.

The summit and expo are preparing to host the halal industry in collaboration with the Islamic centre for development of trade and the standards and metrology institute for the Islamic countries and discover events, according to WHSI website.

Both programs will be at Lutfi Kirdar international convention and exhibition center in Istanbul and will run to Nov.25.

A comparison to living costs in the Europe of a few of the simple items shows only what advantages the Turks enjoy, A litre of petrol while quite expensive, is still about 20 pence more affordable, a pint of beer is just a Euro more affordable. Whilst a can of Coke is more affordable in the Europe, a loaf of bread is significantly less than half the Europe cost at around 20p.

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If you are considering an international property investment, purchasing property in Alanya is an appealing alternative. In latest years Alanya became a firm favorite with British holiday makers as you will find direct flights between the two nations. The beaches are sandy, as well as both the climate as well as the Turkish people are warm as well as welcoming.

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