Sitting on the border of Europe and Asia, Turkey has always possessed a unique charm which is hard to find anywhere else in the world. This amalgamation of cultures sees the Eurasian nation stand out as a holiday destination unmatched by any other. It’s little wonder that as many as 41 million people travelled there in the year prior to the pandemic. But while we all know about its beautiful beaches, delicious food and unparalleled blend of old and new, how many of us can say we’re experts on the country? In this short blog, let’s explore 5 things about Turkey you didn’t already know.
1. Santa Claus was Turkish
While we tend to associate jolly Saint Nicholas with countries like Lapland and Iceland, the nice old guy with white-beard is actually Turkish. Living between 270-343AD, St Nicholas was famed for his kindness and generosity, particularly with children. He was also said to perform other-worldly miracles. As the folklore evolved throughout the ages, he slowly transitioned to the persona of Santa Claus we all
know and love today.
Amazingly, the 1600-year-old final resting spot of St Nicholas was recently found underneath a Byzantine church. As his remains were stolen 700 years ago, historians were unsure where his tomb had initially been constructed until the 2022 discovery.
2. It’s home to one of the largest temples of ancient times
While locations like the Temple of Zeus, in Athens, might grab the headlines, Turkey has its own iconic ancient worshipping place to shout about. The Temple of Apollo in Didim was one of the largest known constructs of the ancient world. In fact, it was the fourth largest in the entirety of the Greek era of antiquity.
It’s even said that the famous Oracle of Apollo frequently visited and made prophecies there. This would have been an immense honour for the temple – with the Oracle seen as one of the most mystical and heaven-sent figures in the ancient world. An A-list celebrity of her day, to be sure. 😉
3. World’s second oldest underground train system
Underground railways probably aren’t the first things that come to mind when you think of Turkey, but it was actually the second country in the world to adopt them. The name of the first line couldn’t be any more perfect – Tünel. Constructed in 1875, only the London underground system is older. Thankfully, it’s been renovated a little since then. 😀
4. You’ve been getting the capital city wrong for years
Most of people think Istanbul is the capital of Turkey. Well, it actually isn’t. Despite being the
most famous and largest city in the country, Istanbul isn’t the official capital city. That honour
instead goes to Ankara. While no minnow (with over 5 million inhabitants itself), Ankara
certainly hasn’t left the same impression the former Constantinople has on our psyches.
5. Oil wrestling is their national sport
Holding on to a tradition which stretches back centuries, oil wrestling continues to be the
national sport of Turkey. Such is the prevalence of the discipline, there’s even a wrestling
hold named after the country itself – “The Turk”. The name was introduced off the back of
Turkey’s dominance of the sport at the 1948 London Olympics, where the country brought
home a staggering 12 medals for their efforts. I’m sure they’re keen to see it reintroduced.
Even if you aren’t impressed with these random 5 things about Turkey, it is still a country you can’t afford to miss off your bucket list. Besides Istanbul, there are places like Bodrum, Cappadocia and Pamukkale that will blow your mind in a positive way! 😉