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Did You Know?

  • The only city in the world located on two continents is Istanbul which has been the capital of three great empires - roman, Byzantine and ottoman - for more than 2000 years.
  • The oldest known human settlement, dating back to 6500 B.C., is in Catalhoyuk, near Konya in the central Anatolian region of turkey. The earliest landscape painting in history exists on a wall of a Catalhoyuk house. It shows the eruption of a volcano, probably that of nearby Hasandag.
  • Two of the seven wonders of the world stood in Anatolia: the temple of Artemis at Ephesus and the mausoleum at Hallicarnassos - Bodrum.
  • The first coins were minted at Sardis, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia in western Anatolia, at the end of the 7th century B.C.. Lydia is the first known civilization in the world to use money as a means of exchange.
  • Many important events in the birth of Christianity occurred in turkey. Apostles St. John, St. Paul and St. Peter have all lived and preached in Anatolia. About three miles away in the forested mountain above Ephesus is the house of Virgin Mary (Meryemana Evi), a modest stone house where the Virgin Mary lived her last days. It is believed that St. John brought Mary to this site after Christ's crucifixion. Vatican declared the house of the Virgin Mary a holy site in 1967.
  • The seven churches mentioned in the book of revelation, the last book of the bible, is all located in Anatolia: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.
  • Antioch, once called the "queen of the east" and known as the third largest city of the roman empire, played a key role in the spread of Christianity. St Paul began his three missionary journeys from there and it was at Antioch that the followers of Jesus were first called Christians. A cave known today, as the grotto of St. Peter or the church of St. Peter is believed to be where the apostle peter preached when he lived in Antioch. In 1963, the papacy designated the site as a place of pilgrimage and also recognized it as the world's first cathedral.
  • Anatolia is the birthplace of many historic legends, such as: the powerful Phrygian king Midas, the world's first historian Herodotus and St. Paul, the apostle. Archeologists from the Pennsylvania museum opened the tomb of king Midas in 1957. They discovered some of the earliest and best-preserved wooden furniture in the world.
  • St. Nicholas, known today as Santa Claus, was born in Patara and served as bishop of Myra (Demre) on turkey's Mediterranean coast. It is believed that Nicholas died in Myra on December 6th at the age of 65. The village is home to the famous church of St. Nicholas which houses a sarcophagus believed to be the original tomb of St. Nicholas.
  • According to the Old Testament, the patriarch Abraham was born in Sanliurfa, a city in southeast turkey. The city's ancient name was Ur or Edessa. A cave there is thought to be Abraham's birthplace. It has become a place of pilgrimage and is now surrounded by the Halil Rahman mosque.
  • Trojan wars, depicted in homer's epic Iliad took place in western turkey in about 1200 B.C. A symbolic wooden horse at the site commemorates this legendary war.
  • According to the legend of the great flood mentioned in both the Koran and the Old Testament, Noah's ark landed at mount Ararat (Agri Dagi) in eastern Anatolia. For centuries scientists have launched expeditions on the mountain's slopes in search of the remains of the Noah's ark.
  • The word "turquoise" comes from "Turk" meaning Turkish, and was derived from the beautiful color of the Mediterranean Sea on the southern Turkish coast.
  • Coffee was first brought to Istanbul from Yemen in the 16th century. It was in turkey that a new method of preparing ground coffee -now called Turkish coffee- was invented and Turks introduced this new drink prepared in their own way to Europe by the 17th century. Pierre Loti, victor Hugo, Dumas, Moliere and Balzac are among those who are known to have admired Turkish coffee. Drinking coffee is still an essential element of Turkish culture.
  • Tulips were introduced to Holland from turkey by Ogier Ghiselin De Busbecq which started the craze for the flower in the Netherlands and England. He was the ambassador of Charles V to the court of ottoman emperor Suleyman the magnificent in 1554.
  • It was from Giresun, a city on the black sea coast of turkey, that the roman general lucullus exported the first cherry trees to Europe. Giresun is a variation of the ancient name Kerasus, meaning city of cherries, from the Greek word for cherry, Kerasi.

Piri Reis, well-known Turkish captain and navigator of the late 15th century, prepared and drew the map known today as "Piri Reis Map" in the city of Gallipoli-Turkey in 1513.

Drawn on gazelle hide, this map showed the then known portions of the world: Europe, Asia, Africa and such parts of America as had been discovered. Erich von Daniken in his famous book "the chariots of the gods" advocates that he was taken to an airship by the visitors from the universe to see the world and drew this map, which resembles the photos of the earth taken from the satellites.


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