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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 39°N 32°E / 39°N 32°E / 39; 32

Composite satellite image of Turkey. Anatolia corresponds to the western two-thirds of Turkey.

Anatolia (Turkish: Anadolu, from Greek Aνατολή anatolē; also Asia Minor, from Greek: Μικρά Ασία, mikrá asía) is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising about two-thirds of the modern Republic of Turkey. The region is bounded by the Black Sea to the north, Georgia to the northeast, Armenia and the Euphrates river to the east, the Mesopotamian plain and Orontes river to the southeast,[1] the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Aegean Sea to the west.

Though Anatolia lies entirely within Turkey, the two are not synonymous, as the borders of Turkey extend far to the east of Anatolia. Anatolia has been home to many civilizations throughout history, such as the Hittites, Phrygians, and Lydians, and Achaemenid, Greek, Armenian, Roman, Byzantine, Anatolian Seljuk and Ottoman states.

While the coastal regions of Anatolia are generally humid and covered with forests, the central Anatolia mostly consists of a semiarid, high-altitude plateau, with altitude increasing to the east. Steep ranges separate the plateau from the coastline to the north and south, while to the west the plateau slopes down gently to the broad Aegean coastal plain. The Sea of Marmara forms a connection between Black and Aegean seas through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, and separates Anatolia from Thrace on the European mainland.

The vast majority of the people residing in Anatolia are Turks. Kurds, who constitute a major community in southeastern Anatolia, are the largest ethnic minority. Azerbaijanis, Albanians, Arabs, Armenians, Bosnians, Circassians, Georgians, Greeks, Jews, Lazs and a number of other ethnic groups also live in Anatolia in smaller numbers.



The name Anatolia comes from the Greek Aνατολή (anatolē) meaning the "East" or more literally "sunrise."[2] The precise reference of this term has varied over time, perhaps originally referring only to the Ionian colonies on the Asia Minor coast. In the Byzantine Empire, Anatolikon was a theme covering the western and central parts of Turkey's present-day Central Anatolian Region.[3][4]


Asia Minor

While not entirely synonymous with Anatolia, the term Asia Minor, derived from the Latin Asia Minores, refers to Asia inside the Roman Empire, versus Asia Magna, all of Asia beyond the borders.[5]

Physical geography

The Anatolian peninsula is bounded by the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Aegean Sea to the west, and the sea of Marmara to the northwest, which separates Anatolia from Thrace in Europe. To the east, Anatolia is bounded by Georgia, Armenia and the Euphrates River before that river bends to the southeast to enter Mesopotamia. To the southeast, Anatolia is bounded by the ranges that separate it from the Orontes valley in Syria and the Mesopotamian plain. The norther coast of Anatolia stretches farther east than the central region, reaching all the way to the modern border with Georgia.

Anatolia's terrain is structurally complex. A central massif composed of uplifted blocks and downfolded troughs, covered by recent deposits and giving the appearance of a plateau with rough terrain, is wedged between two folded mountain ranges that converge in the east. True lowland is confined to a few narrow coastal strips along the Aegean, Mediterranean, and Black Sea coasts. Flat or gently sloping land is rare and largely confined to the deltas of the Kızıl River, the coastal plains of Çukurova and the valley floors of the Gediz River and the Büyük Menderes River as well as some interior high plains in Anatolia, mainly around Tuz Gölü (Salt Lake) and the Konya Basin (Konya Ovasi).


Black Sea Coast

The seven census-defined regions of Turkey
Panoramic view of the Pontic Mountains

The Black Sea is characterized by a range of steep mountains that extend along the entire length of the Black Sea coast, separating it from the inland Anatolian plateau. In the west, the mountains tend to be low, with elevations from 1,525 to 1,800 meters, but they rise in the easterly direction to heights greater than 3,000 meters south of Rize, reaching 3,937 m at the Kaçkar Mountains in the Pontic Alps. Lengthy, troughlike valleys and basins characterize the mountains. The southern slopes, facing the Anatolian Plateau, are mostly unwooded, but the northern slopes contain dense growths of both deciduous and evergreen trees. The higher slopes facing northwest tend to be densely forested.

The coast is rugged and rocky, with rivers that cascade through the gorges of the coastal ranges. A few larger rivers, those cutting back through the Pontic Alps, have tributaries that flow in broad, elevated basins. Access inland from the coast is limited to a few narrow valleys because mountain ridges. Because of these natural conditions, the Black Sea coast historically has been isolated from Anatolia.

Marmara Coast

View of Bursa from the hills near Uludağ, the ancient Mysian Olympus

The coast of Anatolia that borders the Sea of Marmara consists mainly of rolling plateau country well suited to agriculture. It receives about 520 millimeters of rainfall annually.

Densely populated, this area includes the cities of Istanbul and Bursa, Turkey's fourth largest city. The Bosphorus, which links the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, is about twenty-five kilometers long and averages 1.5 kilometers in width but narrows in places to less than 1000 meters. There are two suspension bridges over the Bosphorus, both its Asian and European banks rise steeply from the water and form a succession of cliffs, coves, and nearly landlocked bays. Most of the shores are densely wooded and are marked by numerous small towns and villages. The Dardanelles Strait, which links the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean Sea, is approximately forty kilometers long and increases in width toward the south. Unlike the Bosphorus, the Dardanelles has fewer settlements along its shores.

The most important valleys are the Kocaeli Valley, the Bursa Ovasi (Bursa Basin), and the Plains of Troy (historically known as the Troad.) The valley lowlands around Bursa are densely populated.

Aegean Coast

View of Ölüdeniz near Fethiye

Located on the west coast of Anatolia, the Aegean region has a fertile soil and a typically Mediterranean climate; with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. The broad, cultivated lowland valleys contain about half of the country's richest farmlands.

The largest city in the Aegean Region of Turkey is İzmir, which is also the country's third largest city and a major manufacturing center, as well as its second largest port after Istanbul.

Olive and olive oil production is particularly important for the economy of the region. The seaside town of Ayvalık and numerous towns in the provinces of Balıkesir, İzmir and Aydın are particularly famous for their olive oil and related products; such as soap and cosmetics.

The region also has many important centers of tourism which are known both for their historic monuments and for the beauty of their beaches; such as Assos, Ayvalık, Bergama, Foça, İzmir, Çeşme, Sardis, Ephesus, Kuşadası, Didim, Miletus, Bodrum, Marmaris, Datça and Fethiye.

Panoramic view of Bodrum, ancient Halicarnassus, the city of Herodotus and the home of the Mausoleum of Maussollos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Mediterranean Coast

Beaches and marina of Kemer near Antalya in the Turkish Riviera

Beginning in the west of Antalya province, the south-facing mediterranean coast of Turkey is separated from the interior by steep ranges, known as the Taurus mountains, that run along the entire length of the coast. The Taurus Mountains (Toros Dağları) are Anatolia's second chain of folded mountains. The south facing slopes rise steeply from the mediterranean coastal plain, but slope very gently on the north side towards the Anatolian plateau. In the east, the Taurus mountains arc around the northern side of the Arabian Platform, before turning south and continuing as the ranges that define the Great Rift Valley. Between Adana and Antalya, the Taurus Mountains rise sharply from the coast to high elevations, reaching altitudes of over 3,700 meters north of Adana. The Taurus Mountains are more rugged and less dissected by rivers than the Pontus Mountains and historically have served as a barrier to human movement inland from the Mediterranean coast except where there are mountain passes such as the historic Cilician Gates (Gülek Pass), northwest of Adana.

Toward the east, the extensive plains around Adana, Turkey's fourth largest city, consist largely of reclaimed flood lands. In general, rivers have not cut valleys to the sea in the western part of the region. East of Adana, much of the coastal plain has limestone features such as collapsed caverns and sinkholes. Other than Adana, Antalya, and Mersin, the Mediterranean coast has few major cities, although it has numerous farming villages.

Panoramic view of Alanya, inhabited since the Hittites and the medieval homeport of the Seljuk naval forces, famous today for its natural beauty and historic monuments

Central Plateau

Stretching inland from the Aegean coastal plain, the Central Anatolia occupies the area between the two zones of the folded coastal ranges in the north and south, extending east to the point where the two ranges converge. The plateau-like, semiarid highlands of Anatolia are considered the heartland of the country. The region varies in elevation from 600 to 1,200 meters from west to east. The Anatolian plateau is interspersed with extinct volcanoes, the tallest of which is Mt. Erciyes, rising to 3917 m near Kayseri.

Frequently interspersed throughout the folded mountains, and also situated on the Anatolian Plateau, are well-defined basins, which the Turks call "ova". Some are no more than a widening of a stream valley; others, such as the Konya Ovasi, are large basins of inland drainage or are the result of limestone erosion. Most of the basins take their names from cities or towns located at their rims. Where a lake has formed within the basin, the water body is usually saline as a result of the internal drainage — the water has no outlet to the sea. The two largest basins on the plateau are the Konya Ovasi and the basin occupied by the large salt lake, Tuz Gölü.

Forested areas are confined to the northwest and northeast of the plateau. Rain-fed cultivation is widespread, with wheat being the principal crop. Irrigated agriculture is restricted to the areas surrounding rivers and wherever sufficient underground water is available. Important irrigated crops include barley, corn, cotton, various fruits, grapes, opium poppies, sugar beets, roses, and tobacco. There also is extensive grazing throughout the plateau.

Central Anatolia receives little annual rainfall with an average precipitation of 400 millimeters per year. While parts of the northeastern and northwestern of the region receives more than 500 mm (19.69 in) precipitation, the driest semiarid central part of the plateau receives an average yearly precipitation of only 300 millimeters. However, actual rainfall from year to year is irregular and occasionally may be less than 200 millimeters, leading to severe reductions in crop yields for both rain-fed and irrigated agriculture. Overgrazing has contributed to soil erosion on some parts of the plateau. In general, the plateau experiences high temperatures and little rainfall in summer and cold weather with heavy snow in winter.


Anatolia has a varied range of climates. The central plateau is characterized by a continental climate, with hot summers and cold snowy winters. The south and west coasts enjoy a typical Mediterranean climate, with mild rainy winters, and warm dry summers. The Black sea and Marmara coasts have temperate oceanic climate, with cool foggy summers and much rainfall throughout the year.


Anatolia's diverse topography and climate has fostered a similar diversity of plant and animal communities.

The mountains and coastal plain of northern Anatolia, with its humid and mild climate, is home to temperate broadleaf, mixed and coniferous forests. The central and eastern plateau, with its drier continental climate, is home to deciduous forests and forest steppes. Western and southern Anatolia, which have a Mediterranean climate, are home to Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub ecoregions.

  • Euxine-Colchic deciduous forests: These temperate broadleaf and mixed forests extend across northern Anatolia, lying between the mountains of northern Anatolia and the Black Sea. They include the enclaves of temperate rainforest lying along the southeastern coast of the Black Sea in eastern Turkey and Georgia.[6]
  • Northern Anatolian conifer and deciduous forests: These forests occupy the mountains of northern Anatolia, running east and west between the coastal Euxine-Colchic forests and the drier, continental climate forests of central and eastern Anatolia.[7]
  • Central Anatolian deciduous forests: These forests of deciduous oaks and evergreen pines cover the plateau of central Anatolia.[8]
  • Central Anatolian steppe: These dry grasslands cover the drier valleys and surround the saline lakes of central Anatolia, and include halophytic (salt tolerant) plant communities.[9]
  • Eastern Anatolian deciduous forests: This ecoregion occupies the plateau of eastern Anatolia. The drier and more continental climate is home to steppe-forests dominated by deciduous oaks, with areas of shrubland, montane forest, and valley forest.[10]
  • Anatolian conifer and deciduous mixed forests: These forests occupy the western, Mediterranean-climate portion of the Anatolian plateau. Pine forests and mixed pine and oak woodlands and shrublands are predominant.[11]
  • Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests: These Mediterranean-climate forests occupy the coastal lowlands and valleys of western Anatolia bordering the Aegean Sea. The ecoregion is home to forests of Turkish Pine (Pinus brutia), oak forests and woodlands, and maquis shrubland of Turkish Pine and evergreen sclerophyllous trees and shrubs, including Olive (Olea europaea), Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo), Arbutus andrachne, Kermes Oak (Quercus coccifera), and Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis).[12]
  • Southern Anatolian montane conifer and deciduous forests: These mountain forests occupy the Mediterranean-climate Taurus Mountains of southern Anatolia. Conifer forests are predominant, chiefly Anatolian black pine (Pinus nigra), Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani), Taurus fir (Abies cilicica), and juniper (Juniperus foetidissima and J. excelsa). Broadleaf trees include oaks, hornbeam, and maples.[13]
  • Eastern Mediterranean conifer-sclerophyllous-broadleaf forests: This ecoregion occupies the coastal strip of southern Anatolia between the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. Plant communities include broadleaf sclerophyllous maquis shrublands, forests of Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis) and Turkish Pine (Pinus brutia), and dry oak (Quercus spp.) woodlands and steppes.[14]



Ancient regions of Anatolia.

Eastern Anatolia contains the oldest monumental structures in the world. For example, the monumental structures at Göbekli Tepe were built by hunters and gatherers a thousand years before the development of agriculture. Eastern Anatolia is also a heart region for the Neolithic revolution, one of the earliest areas in which humans domesticated plants and animals. Neolithic sites such as Çatalhöyük, Çayönü, Nevali Cori and Hacilar represent the world's oldest known agricultural villages.

The earliest historical records of Anatolia are from the Akkadian Empire under Sargon in the 24th century BC. The region was famous for exporting various raw materials.[15] The Assyrian Empire claimed the resources, notably silver. One of the numerous Assyrian cuneiform records found in Anatolia at Kanesh uses an advanced system of trading computations and credit lines.[15]

Unlike the Akkadians and the Assyrians, whose Anatolian possessions were peripheral to their core lands in Mesopotamia, the Hittites were centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia. They were speakers of an Indo-European language known as the "language of Nesa". Originating from Nesa, they conquered Hattusa in the 18th century BC, imposing themselves over a Hurrian speaking population. During the Late Bronze Age they created an empire, the Hittite New Kingdom, which reached its height in the 14th century BC. The empire included a large part of Anatolia, north-western Syria and upper Mesopotamia. After 1180 BC, the empire disintegrated into several independent "Neo-Hittite" states. Ancient Anatolia is subdivided by mordern scholars into various regions named after the people that occupied them, such as Lydia, Lycia, Caria, Mysia, Bithynia, Phrygia, Galatia, Lycaonia, Pisidia, Paphlagonia, Cilicia, and Cappadocia.

Beginning with the Bronze Age Collapse at the end of the 1st millennium BC, the west coast of Anatolia was settled by Ionian Greeks. Over several centuries numerous Ancient Greek city states were established on the coasts of Anatolia. In the 6th century BC all of Anatolia was conquered by Cyrus the Great ,founder of Achaemenid Empire. In the 4th century BC Alexander the Great conquered the peninsula. Following his death and the breakup of his empire, Anatolia was ruled by a series of Hellenistic kingdoms. Two hundred years later western and central Anatolia came under Roman control, but it continued to be strongly influenced by Hellenistic culture. In the first century BC the Armenians established the Armenian Empire under Tigran who reigned throughout much of eastern Anatolia between the Caspian, Black and Mediterranean seas. Anatolia is known as the birthplace of coinage as a medium of exchange (some time in the 7th century BC), which flourished during the Greek and Roman eras.[16][17]

Medieval Period

Anatolia c. 1200.
Beyliks and other states around Anatolia, c. 1300.

After the division of the Roman Empire, Anatolia became part of the East Roman, or Byzantine Empire. Byzantine control was challenged by Arab raids starting in the seventh century, but in the 9th and 10th century a resurgent Byzantine Empire regained its lost territories, including Armenia and Syria. Following the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, the Seljuk Turks swept across Anatolia and conquered all of it except parts of the northern and western coasts by 1080. The Turkish language and Islamic religion were gradually introduced as a result of the Seljuk conquest, and this period marks the start of Anatolia's slow transition from predominantly Christian and Greek-speaking, to predominantly Muslim and Turkish-speaking. In the following century, the Byzantines managed to reassert their control in Western and Northern Anatolia. Control of Anatolia was then split between the Byzantine Empire and the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm, with the Byzantine holdings gradually being reduced. In 1255, the Mongols swept through central and eastern Anatolia, and would remain until 1335. The Ilkhanate garrison was stationed near Ankara.[18][19]

By the end of the 14th century, most of Anatolia was controlled by various Anatolian Turkish Beyliks. The Turkmen Beyliks were under the control of the Mongols, at least nominally, through declining Seljuk Sultans.[20][21] The Beyliks did not mint coins in the names of their own leaders while they remained under the suzerainty of the Ilkhanids.[22] The Osmanli ruler Osman I was the first Turkish ruler who minted coins in his own name in 1320's, for it bears the legend "Minted by Osman son of Ertugul".[23] Since the minting of coins was a prerogative accorded in Islamic practice only to be a sovereign, it can be considered that Osmanli became independent of the Mongol Khans.[24]

After the decline of the Ilkhanate from 1335–1353, the Mongol Empire's legacy in the region was the Uyghur Eretna Dynasty that was overthrown by Kadi Burhan al-Din in 1381.[25] Among the Turkmen leaders the Ottomans emerged as great power under Osman and his son Orhan I. Smyrna was conquered in 1330, and the last Byzantine possession, Philadélphia (modern Alaşehir), fell in 1323. The Anatolian Turkish beyliks were in turn absorbed into the rising Ottoman Empire during the 15th century. The Ottomans completed the conquest of the peninsula in 1517 with the taking of Halicarnassus (Bodrum) from the Knights of Saint John.

Modern times

Ethnographic map of Anatolia from 1911.

With the beginning of the slow decline of the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century, and as a result of the expansionist policies of Czarist Russia in the Caucasus, many Muslim nations and groups in that region, mainly Circassians, Tatars, Azeris, Lezgis, Chechens, and several Turkic groups left their ancestral homelands and settled in Anatolia. As the Ottoman Empire further fragmented during the Balkan Wars, much of the non-Christian populations of its former possessions, mainly the Balkan Muslims, flocked to Anatolia and were resettled in various locations, mostly in formerly Christian villages throughout Anatolia.[26]

Anatolia remained multi-ethnic until the early 20th century (see the rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire). Following the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, all remaining ethnic Anatolian Greeks were forced out during the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey.

Since the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, most of Anatolia has been part of Turkey, its inhabitants being mainly Turks and Kurds (see demographics of Turkey and history of Turkey).

See also


  1. ^ Mitchell, S. Anatolia: Land, men, and gods in Asia Minor. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993. Volume I, p. 1. [1]
  2. ^ "Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon". 
  3. ^ "On the First Thema, Called Anatolikon. This theme is called Anatolikon, not because it is above and in the direction of the east where the sun rises, but because it lies East of Byzantium and Europe." Constantine VII Porphyogenitus, De Thematibus, ed. A. Pertusi. Vatican: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1952, pp. 59–61.
  4. ^ John Haldon, "Byzantium, a History", 2002. PAge 32.
  5. ^ History of the Goths, Herwig Wolfram second edition page 81, (85-29044)
  6. ^ "Euxine-Colchic deciduous forests" WWF scientific report. Accessed May 25, 2008. [2]
  7. ^ "Northern Anatolian conifer and deciduous forests" WWF scientific report. Accessed May 25, 2008. [3]
  8. ^ "Central Anatolian deciduous forests" National Geographic ecoregion profile. Accessed May 25, 2008 [4]
  9. ^ "Central Anatolian steppe" WWF scientific Report. Accessed May 25, 2008
  10. ^ "Eastern Anatolian deciduous forests" WWF scientific report. Accessed May 25, 2008. [5]
  11. ^ "Anatolian conifer and deciduous mixed forests" WWF scientific report. Accessed May 25, 2008 [6]
  12. ^ Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests" WWF scientific report. Accessed May 25, 2008 [7]
  13. ^ "Southern Anatolian montane conifer and deciduous forests" WWF scientific report. Accessed May 25, 2008 [8]
  14. ^ "SEastern Mediterranean conifer-sclerophyllous-broadleaf forests" WWF scientific report. Accessed May 25, 2008
  15. ^ a b Freeman, Charles (1999). Egypt, Greece and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198721943. 
  16. ^ Howgego, C. J. (1995). Ancient History from Coins. ISBN 0415089921. 
  17. ^ Asia Minor Coins - an index of Greek and Roman coins from Asia Minor (ancient Anatolia)
  18. ^ H. M. Balyuzi-Muḥammad and the course of Islám, p.342
  19. ^ John Freely- Storm on Horseback: The Seljuk Warriors of Turkey, p.83
  20. ^ Mehmet Fuat Köprülü, Gary Leiser-The origins of the Ottoman empire, p.33
  21. ^ Peter Partner-God of battles: holy wars of Christianity and Islam, p.122
  22. ^ Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire, p.13
  23. ^ Artuk-Osmanli Beyliginin Kurucusu, 27f
  24. ^ Pamuk-A Monetary history, p.30-31
  25. ^ Clifford Edmund Bosworth-The new Islamic dynasties: a chronological and genealogical manual, p.234
  26. ^ Justin McCarthy,"Death and Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922",1996,ISBN 0878500944

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Turkey article)

From Wikitravel

Europe : Turkey
Quick Facts
Capital Ankara
Government Republican parliamentary democracy
Currency Türk Lirası/Turkish Lira (TL)
Area 780,580 km2
Population 73,193,000 (2006 est.)
Language Turkish (official); Kurdish, Zaza, Arabic, Azeri, Laz
Religion Muslim 99.8% (mostly Sunni), Others 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews)
Electricity 220V/50Hz (European plug)
Calling Code +90
Internet TLD .tr
Time Zone UTC +2

Turkey (Türkiye) [1] is on the Mediterranean, in the Anatolian region of West Asia, with a small section in Southeastern Europe separated by the Turkish Straits (Bosphorus, Sea of Marmara, and Dardanelles). With the Black Sea to the north and the Aegean Sea in the west and Mediterranean Sea to the southwest, Turkey is surrounded by Bulgaria and Greece to the west, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to the northeast, Syria, Iraq and Iran to the southeast.


There is evidence that the bed of the Black Sea was once an inhabited plain, before it was flooded in prehistoric times by rising sea levels. The biblical flood may be an account of this event. Mount Ararat (Ağrı Dağı), at 5,165 m, is the country's highest point while the legendary landing place of Noah's Ark, lies in the mountains on the far eastern edge of the country.

Turkey was founded in 1923 from the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. Soon thereafter the country instituted secular laws to replace traditional religious fiats. In 1945 Turkey joined the UN, and in 1952 it became a member of NATO.


The savvy traveler should remember that when traveling into, in or around Turkey there are several holidays to keep in mind as they can cause delays in travel, traffic congestion, booked up accommodations and crowded venues. Banks, offices and businesses are closed during official holidays and traffic intensifies during all of the following holidays so do your research before you visit. Do not be put off by these holidays, it is not that difficult and often quite interesting to travel during Turkish holidays, simply plan ahead as much as possible.

Official holidays

  • Jan 1: New Year's Day (Yılbaşı)
  • Apr 23: National Soveirignity and Children's Day (Ulusal Egemenlik ve Çocuk Bayramı)— anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Grand National Assembly
  • May 1: Labour and Solidarity Day (Emek ve Dayanışma Günü, also unofficially known as İşçi Bayramı, i.e. Worker's Day) was long banned as a holiday for almost 40 years and only restarted as a national holiday in 2009 because in years past it usually degenerated into violence. The wary traveler would be advised to not get caught in the middle of a May Day parade or gathering.
  • May 19: Atatürk Commemoration and Youth & Sports Holiday (Atatürk'ü Anma Gençlik ve Spor Bayramı)— the arrival of Atatürk in Samsun, and the beginning of the War of Independence
  • Aug 30: Victory Day (Zafer Bayramı)— Celebration of the end of the war for Turkish Independence over invasion forces. A big Armed Forces day and display of military might by huge military parades.
  • Oct 29: Republic Day (Cumhuriyet Bayramı or Ekim Yirmidokuz) is anniversary of the declaration of Turkish Republic. If it falls on a Thursday for example, Friday and the weekend should be considered in your travel plans. October 29 is the official end of the tourist season in many resorts in Mediterranean Turkey and usually there is a huge celebration at the town squares.
  • Nov 10, 9:05 AM— Traffic usually stops and sirens blare for two minutes starting at 9:05 AM, the time when Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic, died in Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul in 1938. That moment in time is officially observed throughout the country but businesses and official places are not closed for the day. However, do not be surprised if you are on the street, you hear a loud boom and all of a sudden people and traffic stop on the sidewalks and streets for a moment of silence in observance of this event.

Religious holidays

Ramadan dates

  • 2010 (1431): Aug 11 - Sep 9
  • 2011 (1432): Aug 1 - Aug 29
  • 2012 (1433): Jul 20 - Aug 18

The festival of Eid ul-Fitr is held after the end of Ramadan and may last several days. Exact dates depend on astronomical observations and may vary from country to country.

Ramadan (Ramazan in Turkish) is a month long time of fasting, prayer and celebration during which pious Muslims neither drink nor eat anything, even water, from sun up to sun down. Businesses, banks and official places are not closed during this time. In some parts of Turkey, such as most of inland and eastern locations as locals are more conservative than people in the rest of the country, it is considered to be bad taste to eat snacks or drink sodas in front of locals in public places or transport—to be completely on the safe side, watch how localfolk act—but restaurants are usually open and it is no problem to eat in them as usual, though some restaurant owners use it as an opportunity for a much-needed vacation (or renovation) and shut their business completely for 30 days. However, you will unlikely see any closed establishment in big cities, central parts of the cities, and touristy towns of western and southern Turkey. At sunset, call for prayer and a cannon boom, fasting observers immediately sit down for iftar, their first meal of the day. Banks, businesses and official places are NOT closed during this time.

During Ramadan, many city councils set up tent-like structures in the major squares of the cities to serve passers-by (or those in poverty) warm meals during the sunset (iftar), free of charge (much like soup kitchens, instead serving full meals). Travellers can easily join in the queue, no matter how 'foreign' they look (In fact, no one looks foreign in Turkey where you can see locals who have blond hair with blue eyes to those with curly black hair and dark complexion).

Immediately following Ramazan is the Eid-ul Fitr, or the three-day national holiday of Ramazan Bayrami, also called Şeker Bayrami (i.e. "Sugar" or more precisely "Candy Festival") during which banks, offices and businesses are closed and travel will be heavy. However, many restaurants, cafes and bars will be open.

Kurban Bayrami (pronounced koor-BAHN bahy-rah-muh) in Turkish, (Eid el-Adha in Arabic) or sacrifice holiday is the most important Islamic religious festival of the year. It lasts for several days and is a public holiday in Turkey. Almost everything will be closed during that time (many restaurants, cafes, bars and some small shops will be open however). Kurban Bayrami is also the time of the annual pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca, so both domestic and international travel is intense in Turkey at this time. If you are in smaller towns or villages you may even observe an animal, usually a goat but sometimes a cow, being slaughtered in a public place. In recent years the Turkish government has cracked down on these unofficial slaughterings so it is not as common as it once was.

The dates of these religious festivals change according to the Muslim lunar calendar and thus occur 10-11 days (the exact difference between Gregorian and Lunar calendars is 10 days and 21 hrs) earlier each year. According to this,

  • Şeker Bayramı falls Half-day on Thursday, September 9th, full-days on September 10th, 11th & 12th (Friday-Saturday-Sunday) in 2010; half-day on Tuesday, August 30th, full-days on August 31st, September 1st & 2nd (Wednesday-Thursday-Friday) in 2011; and half-day on Saturday, August 18th, full-days on August 19th, 20th & 21st (Sunday-Monday-Tuesday) in 2012.
  • Kurban Bayramı falls on November 16th , (Tuesday), and continues for four days until the evening of November 20th (Saturday) (but be aware that people will be traveling through Sunday, November 21st) in 2010; November 6th, (Sunday), and continues for four days until the evening of November 10th (Thursday) (but most Turkish people will still be on holiday or traveling on Friday, November 4th, through Sunday, November 13th) in 2011; and October 25th (Thursday), and continues for four days until the evening of October 29th (Monday, Turkey's Republic Day, a major patriotic holiday), with travel effects through October 30th (Tuesday) in 2012.

During both religious holidays, many cities (but not all) provide public transport for free (but note that these do not include privately owned minibuses, dolmuşes, taxis, or inter-city buses). This depends on the place and time. For example, Istanbul's public transport authority provided free transport in Eid-ul Fitr 2008, but not in Eid-ul Adha 2008 when it passengers have to pay a discounted rate. For some years, it was all free in both holidays, while in some others there was no discount at all. To be sure, check whether other pessengers use a ticket/token or not.


The climate in Turkey has a vast diversity depending on the diverse topography and latitude.

Aegean and Mediterranean coastal areas enjoy the typical Mediterranean climate. There is hardly a drop of rain during the sunny and hot summer (May to October). Winters are mild and rainy in these regions, and it very rarely snows at coastal areas, with the exception of mountainous areas higher than 2000 metres of these regions, which are very snowy and are frequently not passable. The water temperature in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas is warm during the long summer season (May to October) which constitutes the swimming season and fluctuates between 23° and 28°C from north to south.

The region around the Sea of Marmara, including Istanbul, has a transitional climate between an oceanic climate and a semi-Mediterranean climate, but it does rain, albeit not a lot, during the very warm summer (as showers which tend to last for 15-30 minutes). Its winters are colder than those of the western and southern coasts. Snow is common at coastal areas, although it doesn’t stay on the ground for long and is limited to only a few days every winter. The water temperature in the Sea of Marmara is also colder than the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, with the water temperature reaching only between 20° and 24°C during the summer (June, July and August) and the swimming season is restricted to those summer months.

The Black Sea region has an oceanic climate (thanks to the protective shield effect of Caucasus mountains) with the greatest amount of precipitation and is the only region of Turkey that receives high precipitation throughout the year. The eastern part of that coast averages 2,500 millimeters annually which is the highest precipitation in the country. Summers are warm and humid while the winters are cool and damp. Snow is common at coastal areas, although it doesn’t stay on the ground for long and is limited to only a few days every winter, though mountains are very snowy as it is expected to be and are frequently not passable, there are glaciers around the year in the highest zones. The water temperature in the whole Turkish Black Sea coast is always cool and fluctuates between 10° and 20°C throughout the year, and is even less suitable for swimming during the summer than in the Sea of Marmara.

Most of the coastal areas have a high level of relative humidity during most of the year which makes hot weather feel hotter and cold weather feel colder than it actually is.

Interior areas like Ankara, generally have hot summers (though the nights are cool enough to make someone who is wearing only a thin t-shirt uncomfortable outdoors) and cold and snowy winters. The more easterly the location is, the colder the winters are and the heavier the snow is. The northeastern part (around Erzurum and Kars) is the only inland area which has cool and rainy summers.

The southeastern region near the Syrian border has a desert-like climate, temperature is frequently above 40°C during summers with no rain. Snowfall is occasional in winter.

Aegean Turkey
Greek and Roman ruins between azure sea on one side and silvery olive grooves on the other
Black Sea Turkey
Heavily forested mountains offering great outdoor sports such as trekking and rafting
Central Anatolia
Tree-poor central steppes with the national capital, Hittite and Phrygian ruins, and moon-like Cappadocia
Eastern Anatolia
High and mountainous eastern part with harsh winters
Marmara Region
The most urbanized region with Byzantine and Ottoman monuments in some of the country's greatest cities
Mediterranean Turkey
Mountains clad with pine woods ascending right from the heavily-indented coastline of the crystal clear sea
Southeastern Anatolia
Semi-desert Middle-Easternmost part of the country
  • Ankara - the capital of Turkey and its second largest city.
  • Antalya - the fastest growing city, hub to an array of beach resorts.
  • Bursa - the first capital of the Ottoman Empire on the foothills of Mt. Uludag, a national park and a winter sports resort.
  • Edirne - the second capital of the Ottoman Empire.
  • Istanbul - Turkey's largest city, the former capital of both the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, and the only city in the world to straddle two continents.
  • Izmir - Turkey's third largest city.
  • Konya- a Central Anatolian city, former home to Rumi, and the site of his tomb.
  • Sinop - an ancient fortress and port city on the northernmost tip of Anatolia.
  • Trabzon - the wonderful Sumela Monastery is just outside the city and it is a great gateway to exploring the Turkish Northeast.
  • Bergama - located near the ruins of the ancient city of Pergamon.
  • Bozcaada - a small and attractive island just opposite ancient Troy.
  • Bodrum - nice and trendy Aegean resort in Muğla.
  • Cappadocia is an area in Central Anatolia in Turkey best known for its unique moon-like landscape (the "fairy chimneys"), underground cities, cave churches and houses carved in the rocks.
  • Datça - unspoilt local resort at the tip of the Datça peninsula, Knidos nearby forms the boundary between Mediterranean and Aegean.
  • Gallipoli - site of 1915 Anzac landing and many WWI memorials, with the Monument of Martyrs erected in the honor of the Turkish martyrs who died in the Battle of Gallipoli being a great source of pride for the nation, as well as being a symbol of Turkish courage and love of country. Don't be afraid to visit memorials of the Anzac soldiers though, people here are used to it and actually are more friendlier towards you than other foreigners.
  • Hasankeyf - old town near Şanlıurfa.
  • Marmaris - a little touristy, but nice resort in Muğla.
  • Olympos - tourist attraction for young people, full of wooden tree-houses and rich night life.
  • Safranbolu - old town with Ottoman architecture.
  • Selcuk - tourist town near the ancient city of Ephesus.

Get in

Citizens of the following countries can get a sticker-type entry visa at the point of entry into Turkey for a fee:

Valıd for nine months:

  • The Netherlands (cost: €15)

Valid for three months:

  • UK (cost: US$20 / €15 / £10)
  • US (cost: US$20 /€15)
  • Canada (cost: €45)
  • Australia (cost: $20 / €15)
  • Ireland (cost: €10)
  • Italy (cost: €10)
  • Portugal (cost: €10)

Valid for two months:

  • Ukraine (cost: US$20)

Valid for one month:

  • Slovakia (cost: €10 or US$15)
  • Azerbaijan, Moldova, Russia (cost: €10 or US$20)
  • Serbia (cost: €10)
  • Norway (cost: €20)

The citizens of the countries/territories listed below can enter Turkey visa-free for 90 days unless otherwise stated: Andorra, Argentina, Bahrain, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina (60 days), Brazil (30 days), Bulgaria, Chile, Costa Rica (30 days), Croatia, Czech Republic, Northern Cyprus (Turkish republic of), Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Hong Kong, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan (30 days), Kyrgyzstan (30 days), Korea (South), Latvia (30 days), Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau (30 days), Macedonia (60 days), Malaysia, Moldova (30 days), Monaco, Mongolia (30 days), Montenegro (60 days), Morocco (90 days), New Zealand, Nicaragua, Paraguay, San Marino, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan (30 days), Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan (30 days), UAE, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vatican City and Venezuela.

German citizens don't need a visa for stays up to 90 days and can even enter with their national ID card (Personalausweis) or an expired passport/ID unless arriving at the non-Council of Europe land border crossings (i.e. from Iran, Iraq and Syria). 1 [2]

More information can be found at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website [3].

By plane

Turkey's primary international gateway by air is Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport [4]. Ankara's Esenboğa Airport handles a comparatively limited selection of international flights, and there are also direct charters to Mediterranean resort hot spots like Antalya in the peak summer and winter seasons. In 2005 customs at Istanbul international airport was rearranged to the effect that one is now required to go through customs and "enter the country" there, rather than first travel to a regional destination and pass customs there. Luggage will generally travel to the final destination without further ado, but on occasion you may have to point it out to be sure it will be transported on. The information given by flight attendants in the incoming flight may not be adequate so until the procedure is changed (it is supposed to be only temporary) it is wise to inquire on Istanbul airport. Since one must pass security again for any inland flight, it is advisable to hurry and not spend too much time in transit. There are also some other regional airports which receive a limited number of flights from abroad, especially from Europe and especially during the high season (Jun-Sep).

Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW [5])

Of special interest to those traveling on low-cost carriers, this airport is situated some 50km east of Istanbul's Taksim Square on the Asian side of Istanbul. Airlines servicing this airport include EasyJet [6], Germanwings [7], Condor [8], THY (Turkish Airlines) [9] and many more. It is interesting to point out that there is the possibility of catching a plane from Emirates' budget carrier Air Arabia [10] to Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) and from there to India for a very competitive price. All those low-cost options though, entail departure and arrival times in the middle of the night.

Airport Transportation

From Istanbul International airport, you can catch the light rail, which will take you directly to the Otogar (bus station) or to numerous stops within Istanbul (Aksaray is the last stop, near Sultanahmet where most of the famous tourist sites are). It is possible to be at the Otogar within less than one hour after landing. Another way of getting to downtown Istanbul is by bus, either on Havaş coaches (special airport shuttle leaving every 30min; first bus 4am, last bus midnight) to Taksim, Etiler, Kozyatağı (Asian side) or on public buses (Line 96T) to Taksim. Public bus and the light rail costs 1.30 TL, Havaş to/from Taksim is 10 TL (2010). Taxi is about 30-35 TL to Taksim (2010) and 25-30 TL to Sultanahmet (2010). Travel times depend a lot on traffic, and Istanbul is heavily congested!

From SAW, Havaş coaches depart regularly to Kozyatağı, and Taksim for 10-13 TL respectively (2010). If you arrive in the middle of the night, you can move to the departure hall after passing customs and rest on very comfortable seats — you will even find coin-operated Japanese massage chairs. Then, at about 4AM (but better ask to be sure) the first Havaş bus will take you to town. The Havaş bus schedule is sometimes linked to the arrival/departure times of planes. Check the company website. [11] There is also a public bus (line E-10) which operates 24 hours a day (once every hour between midnight and 6AM, more frequent in the rest of the day) between Sabiha Gökçen Airport and Kadıköy, the main centre of the city in Asian side. It costs about 3.00 TL.

By train

You can still travel from Europe to Turkey by train, although these days this is more of historical or perhaps even romantic interest than fast or practical. The famed Orient Express from London now travels no further than Vienna, but you can take the daily TransBalkan from Budapest (Hungary) via Bucharest (Romania), a two-night journey with a scheduled 3-hour stop in Bucharest. 1st/2nd class sleepers and couchettes are available, but the train lacks a restaurant car so stock up on supplies. From/to Greek stations there are two daily services, from Istanbul to Pythion every morning and from Istanbul to Thessaloniki every night. There are also daily trains to Istanbul from Sofia (Bulgaria).

There are also once-weekly services from Istanbul to Aleppo and Damascus in Syria, Tabriz and Tehran in Iran.

A cheap way of traveling to or from Turkey might be the Balkan Flexipass.

By car

From Central Europe, getting to Turkey is not too difficult. In any case you'll need your International Insurance Card (Green Card). Pay attention to "TR" not being canceled and be sure your insurance is valid for the Asian part of Turkey, too. Otherwise you will have to buy Turkish car insurance separately.

A carnet de passage is not necessary unless you intend to move on to Middle Eastern countries of Syria and Iran, both of which require you to have a carnet de passage.

National driving licences from some of the European countries are accepted. If you are not sure about your situation, obtain an international driving licence beforehand.

Major roads from Europe are:

E80 enters Turkey at Kapıkule border gate (NW of Edirne, SE of Svilengrad) from Bulgaria

E87 enters Turkey at Dereköy border gate (north of Kırklareli, south of Tirnovo) from Bulgaria

E90 enters Turkey at İpsala border gate (west of Keşan, east of Alexandroupolis) from Greece

Major roads from Middle East enter Turkey at numerous border gates around Antakya (Antioch), from Syrian cities such as Aleppo and Latakia, Habur border gate (south of Silopi, north of Zakho) from Iraq, and Dogubeyazit border gate (near Ararat) from Iran.

Major roads from Caucasia enter Turkey at Sarp/Sarpi border gate from Georgia (south of Batumi) and Türkgözü border gate south of Akhaltsikhe (this is the nearest border gate from Tbilisi). The border with Armenia is currently closed, thus impassable by car.

There are also other border gates (unlisted here), from all the countries Turkey has a common land border with (except Armenia), leading to secondary roads passable with a car.

By bus


From Bucharest there is a daily bus to Istanbul at 4PM for 125 Lei. There are also several daily buses from Constanta, Romania and from Sofia, Bulgaria and from there you can get connections to the major cities of Europe. Another possibility is the bus from Athens in Greece via Thessaloniki. You may also find smaller bus companies offering connections to other countries in the Balkans.


There is a direct bus to Istanbul from Teheran in Iran which takes approx 48hrs and costs US$ 35.00 for a one-way ticket between Istanbul or Ankara and Tehran.

  • Dogubeyazit/Bazerghan This Turkey/Iran border crossing is easyly (and fast) done by puplic transport. Take a bus to Bazerghan and a shared taxi to the border (ca. 2-3$). Cross the border stretch per pedes and catch a a frequent minibus (ca. 5 TL, 15 minutes) to Dogubeyazit. Check the security situation in the region, due to the unsolved PKK conflict.

Make sure you get a clear idea about exchange rates if you want to change TL or Rial as the official bank at the border does not exchange these currencies and you have to deal with the plentyful black market.


From Aleppo in Syria a 3hr bus to Antakya costs S£250 departing at 5AM. There is also a minibus service at 3PM for S£350. From Antakya you can get connecting buses to almost anywhere in Turkey, however initial prices may be overinflated and often inconvenient times. If travelling through to Istanbul, there are bus services from Damascus with bus changes along the way at Antakya. Purchasing a bus ticket in Damascus will be significantly cheaper than in Aleppo or Antakya. If traveling from Syria it is worthwhile to purchase additional supplies of snacks and drinks before leaving the country - these are significantly more expensive at bus stations in Turkey.

By boat

Many people arrive in Bodrum on one of the hydro-foils or ferries that run from most of the close Greek islands into the port. A fairly pretty way to arrive. While many of the lines that originate and terminate in Istanbul have recently been discontinued (due to bankruptcy), there are still summer departures direct to Eastern Italy.

Other main towns on the Aegean coast have ferry connections with the nearest Greek islands as well. Trabzon, a major city on the eastern Black Sea coast has a regular line from/to Sochi on the Russian Black Sea coast. Mersin, Taşucu, Anamur and Alanya on the Mediterranean coast has ferry links with either Famagusta (with Mersin) or Kyrenia (with others) in Northern Cyprus.

See Ferries in the Mediterranean

Get around

By plane

Major cities are served by airlines as well, with reasonable prices, beating the bus travel experience especially over longer distances. Tickets can be conveniently bought at the Istanbul domestic terminal and local ticket offices of Turkish Airlines [12] , Onur Air [13] , Fly Air [14] , Pegasus Airlines [15] and Atlasjet [16] among others . Many of the large cities have daily connections to the traffic hubs Ankara and Istanbul, others will have flights on specific days only. Upon arrival at regional airports there will often be a connecting Havas bus, which is much, much cheaper than taking a taxi. They may wait for half an hour, but will be available after the arrival of major flights. In some spots a whole fleet of minibusses will be waiting for an important flight, and then they will head out for cities in the region. For instance, flying to Agri in the East a connecting minibus will head for Dogubeyazit within twenty,thirty minutes or so, so you don't have to travel into Agri first, then wait for a Dogybeyazit bus. Do ask for such easy connections upon arrival!

By bus

Turkey has a good long-distance bus network with air-conditioned buses, reserved seats and generally good-quality service, at least with the major operators. There are now a few firms providing luxury buses with 1st class seats and service. Standard buses, however, have seats narrower than those of economy class on airplanes. Buses are often crowded, and smoking is strictly prohibited. Cellphone use is also restricted on many buses.

Bus travel is convenient in Turkey. Go to the Otogar (bus station) in any of the major cities and you can find a bus to almost any destination within half an hour, or a couple of hours at the most. Buses are staffed by drivers and a number of assistants. During the ride you will be offered free drinks, a bite or two, and stops will be made every two hours and a half or so at well-stocked road restaurants. The further east you travel, the less frequent buses will be, but even places as far as Dogubeyazit or Van will have regular services to many places hundreds of kilometers away. Only the smallest towns do not have a bus straight to Istanbul or Izmir at least once every two days.

Finding the right bus quickly does require some help and thus some trust, but be careful. Scammers will be waiting for you, and some may assist you in buying a ticket to a bus that won't depart in the next two hours. Sometimes there simply is no other bus, but on other occasions you will be sitting there while other buses with the same destination start well ahead. If you have some time to spare: check the departure (and arrival) times of other companies, that may save you time overall. Still, if you indicate you really want to leave NOW (use phrases like "hemen" or "shimdy", or "adjelem var" - I am in a hurry ), people will realize you are in hurry, and off you go on the next bus departing for your destination.

If you have several operators to choose from, ask for the number of seats in the buses you compare. Roughly, a larger capacity implies a greater comfort (all bus-seats have approximately the same leg-room, but larger 48-seat buses are certainly more comfortable than a 15-seat Dolmus, which may be considered a 'bus' by the company selling the seat). Also, the bus company with the largest sign is usually the one with the most buses and routes. If possible, ask other travellers you meet about their experiences with different operators: even big operators have different standards of service, and even with the same operator the standards may vary from region to region.

Don't be surprised if halfway down to some strange and far-off destination you are put out of the bus (your luggage will often be already standing next to it) and transferred to another. The other bus will "buy" you, and will bring you to the destination. This may even happen for 'direct' or 'non-stop' tickets.

Sometimes long-haul bus lines will leave you stranded on some ring-road around a city, rather than bringing you to the centre. That can be annoying. Inquire ahead (and hope they don't lie). On the other hand, many companies will have "servis aracı" or service vehicles to the centre, when the Otogar is on the periphery of a city, as they nowadays often are. In some cities these service vehicles are used by many companies combined, and a fleet of them, to different parts of the metropolis, will be waiting. The company may also choose to combine the passengers of multiple buses; meaning that you may have to wait until another bus or two arrives before departing. Keep your ticket ready as proof you were on a bus (though most of these services are run on good faith). In some cities (including Ankara, discluding Istanbul), the municipality have prohibited the use of service buses due to their effect on traffic. In that case, you might have to take a public bus or metro to get to your destination. One should probably avoid using taxis (at least departing from the Otogar) since they usually tend to abuse their monopolic position by refusing to go to closer destinations, behaving rudely towards the passenger, charging on the night tariff, etc. If you have to take a taxi, it is usually suggested that you do it from outside the bus terminal.

Seating within buses is partly directed by the "koltuk numarası" or seat number on your ticket, partly by the ritualistic seating of women next to women, couples together and so forth. So don't be too annoyed if you are required to give up your seat. In general, as a foreigner, you will have the better seat much of the time.

One hint: it often is easiest to take a seat in the back, whatever the number of your koltuk, and not be bothered for much of the ride. This is particularly true if you travel alone, and want to keep it that way, even though the last row may be reserved for the driver-off-duty, who wants to sleep. And remember: many buses pick up short-track fare along the ride, and park them in the last two or three rows. Also keep in mind that the back of the bus may be more noisy compared to the front, since that is where the engine is located.

If you have a bicycle it will be transported free of extra charge. In most buses it fits in the luggage area of the bus- Make sure you have the tools to fold your bike as small as possible (height matters most)

Another alternative to local bus travel in Turkey is the 'Fez Bus'. A Hop on hop off travel network that links Istanbul to all the best places to see in western Turkey, and a few that are a bit off the tourist trail. The bus runs hostel to hostel and they have an english speaking tour leader on board that lets you know about everything there is to do. The pass can last a few days or all summer and there are departures every other day. It may be a just little more expensive than the local bus, but really flexible and a lot less hassle. The main office in Istanbul is in Sultanahmet next to the Orient Youth Hostel on Yeni Akbiyik Cd.

By train

Offering considerably cheap, but slower travel compared with the bus, TCDD (Turkish Republic State Railways) operate passenger trains all over the country. However, as Turkey has fewer than 11,000 km of rail network in the total, many cities and tourist spots are out of rail coverage.

Istanbul-Ankara and Istanbul-Edirne lines are the only lines that are electrified, so the rest of the lines are serviced by diesel trains. The services from Istanbul to the East change their locomotives at Ankara station, and services to the South change their locomotives at Enveriye station, the remote one of two stations in Eskişehir (located about two-thirds distance to Ankara from Istanbul). No steam locomotives run on Turkish railways regularly, except occasional ceremonies.

Istanbul-Ankara rail line is the busiest and the most ridden one. There are several daily trains on this line, and a ride takes between 6.5 to more than 10 hours, depending on the train one takes and the delays, which are quite frequent. From Istanbul’s Haydarpasa station on the Asiatic side, one can find a direct train to almost all cities and towns in Asian Turkey served by a rail line, exceptions being Izmir, Balıkesir, Manisa, Zonguldak, and Samsun.

TCDD also offers two “train+bus” lines in summer months. One of these is Istanbul-Antalya, and the other is Ankara-Akçay (on the northern Aegean shore). In this kind of travel, for example one buys a ticket for Antalya at Haydarpasa station, rides the train until the transfer station (Dinar in this case), and takes the bus awaiting there for passengers to Antalya. Bus fee is included in the train ticket price, no additional payment is made in the bus. Train+bus travel takes a little more time than completely bus travel but it is almost half in expense.

Other major cities or tourist spots that can be reached by rail from Istanbul directly are Edirne (from Sirkeci station on the European side, not Haydarpasa), Eskişehir, Denizli (near Pamukkale), Konya, Adana, Kayseri (where Cappadocia is a few hours bus ride away), Gaziantep, Diyarbakır, Erzurum (a few minutes away from Palandöken ski centre), Kars, and Tatvan on the shore of Lake Van.

If you have determined to reach to Izmir from Istanbul only on rail, you should first catch a train to Ankara (or to further east), then transfer in Eskişehir station to one of the trains operating between Ankara and Izmir (you will need another ticket unless you have a pass like Interrail ticket). You can also buy a combined ticket, catch the fast ferry from Istanbul to Bandirma (on the southern coast of Marmara) and take the train heading for Izmir there with the same ticket. From there on, you can catch the regional train to Selçuk, where Roman city of Ephesos and Virgin Mary's House, which is a declared pilgrimage destination for Catholics, are a few kilometers away. So is Şirince, a cute village famous for the wines it produce. Also, Kuşadası is only half an hour bus ride away from Selçuk.

1st and 2nd class tickets are available, while some trains are consisted of only 1st class cars. 1st class usually means a pullman car (which has large leg-rooms between the seats, and most of which has air-conditioners nowadays), and 2nd class usually means compartment having 6 or far worse 8 seats. 8-seated compartments are not widespread, still ask before in order to avoid having a ticket for one. Also, 2nd class tickets do not have seat numbers written on them, so you should rush into the train to find a suitable empty seat.

Many trains have couchettes and sleeping cars, however even some of the night trains lack one, so ask before choosing your departure.

Although none of the regional trains –which operate between nearby cities- have a dining car, most long-distance trains have one. However, dining cars of the trains heading for eastern Turkey may have a limited menu and beverage list or there might be no dining car at all due to the low interest of the passengers of these lines. Have some supplies, especially if you are going to take one of the services to the East, but don’t worry if you don’t have any time to get anything. In the stations where the train stops for 15 minutes or more, you will find a kiosk or a buffet to buy some snacks and drinks. You can also buy some snacks –or even fresh fruits during spring and summertime- from vendors “jumping” into the cars in smaller stations as well. Dining cars are closed between 12:30AM and 6:30AM in all trains except Fatih Express, the daily night train between Istanbul and Ankara, the dining car of which is open until 1:30AM-2AM.

All cars have lavatories, although they may not be always so clean or have toilet paper.

Smoking is generally allowed on the first cars, so avoid buying a ticket for this car if you are not a smoker or buy one for this car if you would like to smoke during your journey. You may be asked “smoking or non-smoking” in the ticket window, if there are still empty seats at the both parts, but probably only in Turkish. (Sigara içilmeyen=non-smoking, write this on a paper and show it to the official in doubt)

Inter Rail and Balkan flexipass tickets are valid in all trains in Turkey (except international trains operating between Turkish and Iranian/Syrian stations), but holders of these tickets may have to get a seat number before ride, free of charge, especially in the trains that are consisted of only 1st class cars. TCDD also offers Tren Tur pass cards which lets its holder a month of free rail travel on any Turkish train (Again, Tren Tur is not accepted in international trains operating between Turkish and Iranian/Syrian stations and the international train operating between Istanbul and Thessaloniki) . Tren Tur card is considerably cheaper than one-zone Interrail tickets, but be sure to get a seat number in the stations before you get into a train that is consisted of only 1st class cars.

TCDD offers 20% discounted tickets for students. On board the trains, discounted ticket holders are usually asked for a valid student ID card during the ticket check. If the holder of a discounted ticket fails to show a student ID card, then he/she is punished with a penalty to pay the full price+20% more for his/her journey.

Train tickets can be bought online, at the station of departure (however, you can also buy your ticket for an Anatolian destination at the Sirkeci station, the main station of Istanbul on the European side), some of the central postoffices, authorized tourism agencies or from the automatic ticket machines which are rarely located at the main stations of the big cities. Credit cards are accepted only in major stations, be sure to have enough cash if you’ll buy a ticket in a small town station a few minutes before the train departs.. If you are buying your ticket from a station, remember that only booths of a limited number of very central stations accept foreign currency alongside Turkish lira, you can pay only in Turkish lira in the rest. Getting on a train without a valid ticket could land you with a fine, but purchasing a ticket on the train is often possible at a higher price.

A reservation is recommended during summer, on Fridays and Sundays, and before domestic religious feasts, when a one-week break is common and trains get really crowded.

For reservation and timetables, see [17]

Bosphorus Bridge, a part of Turkish highway system, connecting Europe and Asia
Bosphorus Bridge, a part of Turkish highway system, connecting Europe and Asia

Like all of its neighbours (except Cyprus off the southern coast of Turkey), driving is on the right side of the road in Turkey. Though it is legal to drive a vehicle with driver positioned on the right (which were designed for countries driving on the left) it is not very comfortable and is risky indeed (the driver cannot see the coming traffic and so on…).

It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving. Maximum permitted amount of alcohol in blood for drivers is 0.05 grams per litre (g/1000 ml), that is roughly equal to two cups (a cup=500 ml) of beer or two glasses (a wine glass=330 ml) of wine. The use of seat belts both at the front and back line is obligatory.

Turkish signboards are almost identical to the ones used in Europe, and differences are often insignificant. The place names written on green background lead to motorways (which you should pay a toll, unless it is a ring road around or within a city); on blue background means other highways; on white background means rural roads (or a road inside a city under the responsibility of city councils); and on brown background indicates the road leads to a historical place, an antique city, a place of tourist interest or a city out of Turkey (these signboards used to be on yellow background till a few years ago, so still there is a chance of unreplaced yellow signboards existing here and there). Also keep in mind that these signboards are not always standardized; for instance, some of the blue ones may be leading into the rural roads.

As Turkey uses the metric system, all distances on the signboards are in kilometers, unless otherwise stated (such as meters, but never in miles).


Despite bordering countries which have the richest oil resources, fuel in Turkey is ridiculously expensive, in fact one of the most expensive in the world because of the very heavy taxes. For example, a litre of unleaded gasoline costs more than 2.90 TL (~€ 1.50/~US$ 1.90, that makes ~US$ 10.40 per gallon!). Diesel and LPG is less damaging to your wallet (and to the environment in case of LPG), but not that drastically.

Petrol stations (benzin istasyonu) are frequently lined along the highways, most (if not all) serving round the clock and accepting credit cards (you have to get out of the car and enter the station building to enter your PIN code if you are using credit card). In all of them you can find unleaded gasoline (kurşunsuz), diesel (dizel or motorin), and LPG (liquid petroleum gas, LPG). In many (if not most) of them you can also find CNG (compressed natural gas, CNG). Though, petrol stations in the villages off the beaten track are exception, all they offer is often limited to only diesel, which is used for running the agricultural machinery. It is advised to keep the gas tank full if you are going to stray away from main roads. Also petrol stations along the motorways (toll-ways) are rarer than other highways, usually once every 40-50 kms. Make sure to fill your tank in the first station you’ll pass by (there are signs indicating you are soon going to pass by one) if your “tank is getting empty” alert signal is on.

Biofuels are not common. What most resembles a biofuel available to a casual driver is sold in some of the stations affiliated with national chain Petrol Ofisi under the name biyobenzin. But still it is not mostly biofuel at all – it consists of a little bioethanol (2% of the total volume) stirred into pure gasoline which makes up the rest (98%). Biodiesel is in an experimental stage yet, not available in the market.

Repair shops

In all cities and towns, there are repair shops, usually located together in complexes devoted to auto-repairing (usually rather incorrectly called sanayi sitesi or oto sanayi sitesi in Turkish, which means “industrial estate” and “auto-industrial estate” respectively), which are situated in the outskirts of the cities. And all cities and towns,there are big 3 s plants.(sales,service,spare parts).these are more corporate than sanayi sitesi these called oto plaza..

Renting a car

You may rent a car to get around Turkey from an international or local car rental agent. If you are traveling by plane you may find car rental desks in arrival terminals of all airports such as IST Ataturk Airport, Istanbul.

By dolmuş

The minibus (or Minibüs as called in Istanbul) is a small bus (sometimes car) that will ride near-fixed routes. The ride may be from the periphery of a major city to the centre or within a city, but may also take three to four hours from one city to the next, when the route is not commercial for large busses. They sometimes make a detour to bring some old folks home or collect some extra heavy luggage. You will find them in cities as well as in inter-city traffic. All during their journey people will get in and out (shout “Inecek var” – “someone to get off” – to have it stop if you’re in). The driver tends to be named “kaptan” (captain), and some behave accordingly. The fare is collected all through the ride. In some by a specially appointed passenger who will get a reduction, in others by a steward, who may get off halfway down the journey, to pick up a dolmuş of the same company heading back, and mostly by the driver himself. If the driver collects himself, people hand money on from the back rows to the front, getting change back by the same route. On some stretches tickets are sold in advance, and things can get complicated if some of the passengers bought a ticket and others just sat inside waiting – for maybe half an hour - but without a ticket.

The concept of dolmuş in Istanbul is somehow different than the rest of Turkey. The vehicles are different, they take max. 7 sitting passengersand non standing. they do not tend to take passengers along the way, they depart immediately when they are full, and many of them operate 24 hours a day. The name derives from “dolmak”, the verb for “to fill”, as they used not to start the journey without a decent number of passengers. They usually leave when they are full, but sometimes start at fixed hours, whatever the number.

By boat

Fast ferries (hızlı feribot) are fast (50-60km/hour) catamaran-type ferryboats that connect for instance Istanbul to the other side of the Marmara Sea. They can cut travel time dramatically. Again for instance leaving from the Yeni Kapi jetty in Istanbul (just a bit South-West of the Blue Mosque) you can be at the Bursa Otogar in two hours, with less than an hour for the actual boat ride to Yalova. Similar services are operated to connect several parts of Istanbul with the Asian side, or places farther up the Bosporus. And this type of fast ferry is increasingly seen all over the country wherever there is enough water.

There are also ferry connections between Istanbul and Izmir and between Istanbul and Trabzon in the eastern Black Sea region, ships operating on the latter line also stop at all of the significant cities along the Turkish Black Sea coast. However both of these lines are unfortunately operating only in summer months.

All inhabited Turkish islands have at least one daily cruise to the nearest mainland city or town during summer. But as winter conditions at the seas can go harsh, the frequency of voyages drop significantly due to the bad weather.

Perhaps one of the best cruising grounds in the world, Turkey offers thousands of years of history, culture and civilization set against a stunning mountainous backdrop. The coastline is a mixture of wide gulfs, peaceful coves, shady beaches, uninhabited islands, small villages and bustling towns. Many of these locations are still only accessible by boat. Rare in the Mediterranean, one can still find some seclusion on a private charter in Turkey. In fact, Turkey offers more coastline than any other Mediterranean country. The best way to see Turkey is from your own private yacht on your own schedule. Turkey offers some of the most exquisite yachts in the world known as gulets.

By bicycle

Special lanes devoted to bicycles are virtually non-existent, except a few quite short routes –which are built mainly for sport, not transportation- along coastal avenues or parks in the big cities like Istanbul or Izmir. Terrain of the country is mostly hilly, another factor which makes long-distance cycling in Turkey more difficult. If it is the case that you have already made up your mind and give cycling a try in your Turkey trip, always stay as much on the right side of the roads as possible; avoid riding a bicycle out of cities or lightened roads at night, do not be surprised by the drivers horning at you, and do not enter the motorways, it is forbidden. You could better prefer rural roads with much less traffic density, but then there is the problem of freely roaming sheepdogs, which can sometimes be quite dangerous. Rural roads also have much much less signboards than the highways, which turns them into a labyrinth, in which it is easy to get lost even for non-local Turkish people, without a detailed map.

  • Great Explorations [18]offers a 10 day/ 9 night cycling tour along the coast, beginning in Bodrum and finishing in Antalya staying in 3&4-star hotels. By incorporating a 'blue-cruise' between Gocek and Olympos, the busier and hilliest sections are avoided and you get to enjoy a few days exploring the Aegean Sea by yacht.

Air can be pumped into tyres at any petrol station without a charge. Bicycle repair-shops are rare in cities and cannot be easily found, motorcycle repair shops can be tried alternatively (however, they are very reluctant to repair a bicycle if they are busy with their customers who have motorcycles).

In Istanbul’s Princess’ Islands, renting a bike is an amusing, cheaper, and obviously more animal-friendly alternative to hiring a horse-drawn carriage. On these islands well-paved roads are shared only by horse-drawn carriages, bicycles and public service vehicles (like ambulances, police vans, school buses, garbage trucks etc).

By thumb

Almost every driver has an idea about what universal hitchhiking sign (“thumb”) means. Don’t use any other sign which may be equivalent of a signal meaning a danger. In addition to the thumb, having a signboard with the destination name certainly helps. Waiting for someone to take you generally doesn't exceed half an hour, though this dramatically varies depending on the density of traffic (as is elsewhere) and the region, for example, it usually takes much longer to attract a ride in Mediterranean Turkey than in Marmara Region. Best hitchhiking spots are the crossroads with traffic lights, where ring-roads around a city and the road coming from the city center intersect. Don’t be so away from the traffic lights so drivers would be slow enough to see you and stop to take you; but be away enough from the traffic lights for a safe standing beside the road. Don’t try to hitchhike on motorways, no one will be slow enough to stop, it is also illegal to enter the motorways as a pedestrian. Don’t start to hitchhike until you are out of a city as cars may head for different parts of the city, not your destination, and if not in hurry, try to avoid hitchhiking after night falls, especially if you are a lone female traveller.

Although the drivers are taking you just to have a word or two during their long, alone journey, always watch out and avoid sleeping.

On some occasions, you may not be able to find someone going directly to where your destination is, so don’t refuse anyone stopped to take you –refusing someone stopped to take you is impolite-, unless he/she is going to a few kilometres away, and if he/she would go to a road that doesn’t arrive at your destination in a coming fork. You may have to change several cars even on a 100-km course, changing in each town after town. However, because of the enormous numbers of trucks carrying goods for foreign markets, you can find unexpectedly long-haul trips from, say a town in western Turkey to as far as, for instance, Ukraine or southern Germany.

Not many, but some drivers –especially van drivers- may ask for money (“fee”) from you, refuse and tell them that if you would have money to waste, then you would be on a bus, not standing beside a road.

Drivers staying in the area may point downwards (to the road surface) or towards the direction they’re driving or flash their headlights while passing, indicating that they wouldn't make a good long-haul ride. Smile and/or wave your hand to show courtesy.

On foot

Turkey has two long-distance waymarked hiking trails, one of them is the famous Lycian Way, between Fethiye and Antalya, the other one is the Saint Paul Trail, between Antalya and Yalvaç up to the north, in the Turkish Lakes District. Both are about 500 km, and signed with painted stones and signboards. Since Lycian Way is much older, it has more facilities for shopping and accommodation in the villages situated along or near its route.

Eastern Black Sea region covers very beautiful quite long trekking routes between the greenest of green plateaus well above the clouds as well, and some tourism agencies in the main cities of Turkey are offering guided trekking tours –including the transportation- in this region.

Inside the cities, there are white-, or rarely yellow-painted pedestrian crossings (zebra crossing) on the main streets and avenues, which are normally pedestrian-priority spots. However, for many drivers, they are nothing more than ornamental drawings on the road pavements, so it is better to cross the streets at where traffic lights are. Still, be sure all the cars stopped, because it is not unusual to see the drivers still not stopping in the first few seconds after the light turns to red for vehicles. As a better option, on wide streets, there are also pedestrian overpasses and underground pedestrian passages available. In narrow main streets during rush hour, you can cross the street anywhere and anytime, since cars will be in a stop-go-stop-go manner because of heavy traffic. Also in narrow streets inside the residential hoods, you need not to worry about keeping on the sidewalk, you can walk well in the middle of the road, only to step aside when a car is coming.


The sole official language of Turkey is Turkish. Turkish is an Altaic language and its closest living relatives are other Turkic languages, which are spoken in southwestern, central and northern Asia; and to a lesser degree by significant communites in the Balkans. Because Turkish is an agglutinative language, native speakers of Indo-European languages generally find it difficult to learn. Since 1928, Turkish is written in a variant of the Latin alphabet (after so many centuries of using the Arabic one, evident in many historical texts and documents) with the additions of ç/Ç, ğ/Ğ, ı/I, i/İ, ö/Ö, ş/Ş and ü/Ü, and with the exclusions of Q, W and X.

Kurdish is also spoken by an estimated 7-10% of the population. Several other languages exist, like Laz in the North-East (also spoken in adjacent Georgia), and in general people living near borders will often be speaking the language at the other side too, like Arabic in the South-East.

Thanks to migration, even in rural areas most villages will have at least somebody who has worked in Germany and can thus speak German. The same goes for other West-European languages like Dutch (often mistakenly called "Flemish" there) or French. Recent immigration from Balkans means there is also a possibility to come across native Serbo-Croatian, Bulgarian, and Albanian speakers mainly in big cities of western Turkey, but don't count on this. English is also increasingly popular among the younger generation. The "Universities" that train pupils for a job in tourism pour out thousands of youngsters who want to practice their knowledge on the tourist, with varying degrees of fluency. Language universities produce students that nowadays are pretty good at their chosen language.


In 2005, Turkey dropped six zeroes from its currency, thus making each post-2005 lira worth 1,000,000 pre-2005 lira (or so called "old lira"). During the transition period between 2005 and 2009, the currency was briefly called new lira (yeni lira) officially. Since Jan 1, 2009, a new series of banknotes and coins have been introduced and the currency is again simply called lira (officially Turkish Lira, Türk Lirası, locally abbreviated TL, ISO 4217 code: TRY), which is divided into 100 kuruş (abbreviated kr). Since Jan 1, 2010, neither pre-2005 nor pre-2009 banknotes and coins (those bearing yeni lira and yeni kuruş) are not legal tender, but can be exchanged at certain banks till Dec 31, 2010 (for coins) and Dec 31, 2019 (for banknotes).

Banknote nominations are in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 lira, whereas coin nominations are in 1 (very rare in circulation), 5, 10, 25, 50 kuruşes and 1 lira.

Money exchange – There are legal exchange offices in all cities and almost any town. Banks also exchange money, but they are not worth the hassle as they are usually crowded and do not give better rates than exchange offices. You can see the rates office offers on the (usually electronic) boards located somewhere near its gate. Euro and American Dollars are the most useful currencies, but Pound Sterling (Bank of England notes only, not Scottish or Northern Irish notes), Swiss Francs, Japanese Yen, Saudi Riyals, and a number of other currencies are also not very hard to exchange. It is important to remember that most exchangers accept only banknotes, it can be very hard to exchange foreign coins. In some places, where there is a meaningful explanation for it, more uncommon currencies can also be exchanged, too, for example Australian Dollars may be exchanged in Canakkale where grandchildren of Anzacs gather to commemorate their grandfathers every year, or in Kaş, which is located just across the Greek island of Kastelorizo, which in turn has a large diaspora in Australia. As a general rule, if a place attracts many visitors from a country, then it is usually possible to exchange that country’s currency there.

Tourism-oriented industries in tourism-oriented towns, as well as shops where big amounts of money change hands, like supermarkets, in most parts of the country, generally accept foreign currency (usually limited to Euro and American Dollars only), but the rates they accept the currency are usually a little lower than those of exchange offices. Ask first if they accept foreign currency.

€ 1 = 2.17 TL

US$ 1 = 1.51 TL

GB£ 1 = 2.41 TL

(all as of Dec 25, 2009)

Credit cards and ATMs - Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, American Express much less so. Starting from June 1, 2007 all credit card users (of those with a chip on them) have to enter their PIN codes when using the credit card. Older, magnetic card holders are exception to this, but remember that unlike some other places in Europe, salesclerk has the legal right to ask you a valid ID with a photo on to recognize that you are the owner of the card. ATMs are scattered throughout the cities, concentrated in central parts. It is possible to draw Turkish Lira (and rarely foreign currency) from these ATMs with your foreign card. Any major town has at least one ATM.

ATMs ask whether to provide instructions in English or in Turkish (and sometimes some other languages, too) as soon as you insert a foreign card (or a Turkish card which is not the operating bank’s own). When withdrawing money from ATMs, if the ATM in question does not belong to the bank that you already have an account in, they charge some percentage (generally 1%-one per cent) of what you withdraw from your account each time. This percentage is higher for advance withdrawing with your credit card.

No establishments require a commission surcharge when using a credit card.

Tipping - A 10% of the total bill or simply rounding up to the next lira for smaller purchases is welcome, though this is not a custom to be strictly followed. Tipping ceremony is performed like this, especially in the restaurants and cafes: first you ask for the bill, the waiter/ress brings the bill inside a folder, and puts it on the table and goes away. You put the money into the folder (with the bill), and after a few minutes later waiter comes back to collect the folder. A few minutes more later, waiter comes again with the same folder in his/her hands and leaves it once more on the table. This time there is change in it. You leave the amount of change you think waiter deserves and close the folder. The waiter comes again last time a few minutes later to take it. If you think they don’t deserve any tip, walking out into the street without leaving anything is totally okay, and there is no need to feel ashamed. Some establishments charge an additional 10% on your bill that you have to pay, that is the “service charge”, and sometimes it is not declared to the customer until the bill shows up. There is obviously not a reason to leave any more tip in that kind of places. It’s also a bit odd to tip in self-service restaurants and cheap&dirty bars.

Taxi drivers usually tend to round up what the meter says to the next lira and give your change accordingly. So tipping is not necessary. If you insist on taking your exact change back, ask for para üstü? (pronounced something like “pah-rah oos-too”, which means “change”). Driver will be reluctant to give it at first, but you will succeed eventually.

Supermarket cashiers usually round up the total sum to the next 5 kuruş if you pay in cash (the exact sum is extracted when paid by a credit card though). This is not a kind of involuntary tip, as the 2-3-4 kuruşes don’t go into their pockets. It is simply because they are not adequately supplied with enough 1 kuruş coins as it is very rare in circulation. So don’t be surprised if the change given to you is short of a few kuruşes from what should be given to you according to what the electronic board of the till says. It is totally okay to pay the exact sum if you have enough number of 1 kuruş coins.

Bargaining – In Turkey, bargaining is a must. One can bargain everywhere that doesn’t look too luxurious: shops, hotels, bus company offices, and so on. During your bargaining, don’t look so impressed and interested, and be patient. Since foreigners (especially Western people) aren’t expected to be good at bargaining, sellers are quick to reject any bargaining attempt (or are at least quick to look like so), but be patient and wait, the price will fall! (Don’t forget, even if you are successful at your bargaining attempt, when you get your credit card out of your wallet, rather than cash, the agreed price may rise again, though probably to a lower level than the original one)

VAT refund - You can get a VAT refund (currently 18% or 23% on most items) if you are not a citizen or permanent resident of Turkey. Look for the blue “Tax-Free” sticker on the windowpane or entrance of the shops, these kind of shops are the only places you can get a VAT refund. Don’t forget to take the necessary papers from the shop that will enable you for a VAT reclaim when leaving Turkey.

Although Turkey is in a customs union with the European Union for some goods, unlike the situation in the EU, there is currently not an initiative to abolish duty-free shops in the airports.

What to buy?

Apart from classical tourist souvenirs like postcards and trinkets, here are a few of what you can bring back home from Turkey.

  • Leather clothing – Turkey is the biggest leather producer in the world, so the leather clothing is cheaper than elsewhere. Many shops in Laleli, Beyazıt, Mahmutpaşa districts of Istanbul (all around the tram line which goes through Sultanahmet Square) are specialized on leather.
  • Carpets and kilims – Many regions in Turkey produce handmade kilims and carpets. Though the symbols and figures differentiate depending on the region in which the carpet is produced, they are generally symbollic expressions based on ancient Anatolian religions and/or nomadic Turkic life which takes shape around shamanic beliefs more than 1000 years ago. You can find shops specialized on handmade carpets and kilims in any major city, tourist spot and Sultanahmet Area.

You seriously cannot go anywhere in Turkey without someone trying to sell you a carpet. People will approach you on the street, engage in a little friendly conversation about where you're from, how do you like Turkey, and "would you like to come with me to my uncle's shop? It's just around the corner, and has the best authentic kilims." It can be irritating if you let it get to you, but remember that a large part of these people's economy comes from tourist's wallets so you can't blame them for trying.

  • Silk - Dresses and scarves. Although can be found in many parts of the country, silk fans should head for Bursa and before that, pick up basics of bargaining.
  • Earthenware - Handmade Cappadocian pottery (amphoras, old-style plates, flowerpots etc) are made of local salty clay. Salt content of clay, thanks to salt spray produced by the Salt Lake –which is the second largest lake in Turkey- in the heartland of Central Anatolia, is what makes local earthenware top quality. In some Cappadocian towns, it is possible to see how these artifacts are produced, or even to experience producing one, at the dedicated workshops. Tiles with classical Ottoman motives that are produced in Kütahya are also famous.
  • Turkish delight and Turkish coffee – If you like these during your Turkey trip, don’t forget to take a few packages back home. Available everywhere.
  • Honey – The pine honey (çam balı) of Marmaris is famous and has a much stronger taste and consistency than regular flower honeys. Although not easily attained, if you can find, don’t miss the honey of Macahel valley, made out of flowers of a temperate semi-rainforest, which is almost completely out of human impact, in the far northeastern Black Sea Region.
  • Chestnut dessert – Made out of syrup and chestnuts grown on the foothills of Mt. Uludağ, chestnut dessert (kestane şekeri) is a famous and tasty product of Bursa. There are many variations, such as chocolate coated ones. Chestnut dessert can be found in elsewhere, too, but relatively more expensive and in smaller packages.
  • Meerschaum souvenirs – Despite its name meaning “sea foam” which it resembles, meerschaum (lületaşı) is extracted only in one place in the world: landlocked Eskişehir province in the extreme northwest part of Central Anatolia Region. This mineral, similar to gypsum at sight, is chipped into smoking pipes and cigarette holders. It has a soft and creamy texture and makes for a great decorative item. Available at some shops in Eskişehir.
  • Castile (olive oil) soap – Natural, a silky touch on your skin, and a warm Mediterranean atmosphere in your bathroom. Absolutely cheaper than those to be found in Northern and Western Europe. Street markets in the Aegean Region and southern Marmara Region is full of olive oil soap, almost all of which are handmade. Even some old folk in the Aegean Region is producing their castile soaps in the traditional way: during or just after the olive harvest, neighbours gather in yards around large boilers heated by wood fire, then lye derived from the wood ash is added to hot water and olive oil mix. Remember – supermarkets out of the Aegean Region are generally offering no more than industrial tallow based soaps full of chemicals. In cities out of the Aegean Region, natural olive oil soap can be found in shops specialized in olive and olive oil. Some of these shops are even offering ecological soaps: made of organic olive oil and sometimes with additions of organic essential oils.
  • Other soaps unique to Turkey are: laurel soaps (defne sabunu) which is produced mainly in Antioch, soaps of Isparta enriched with rose oil which is produced abundantly in the area around Isparta, and bıttım sabunu, a soap made out of the oil of seeds of a local variety of pistachio tree native to the mountains of Southeastern Region. In Edirne, soaps shaped as various fruits are produced. Not used for their lather, rather they make a good assortment when different “fruits” are placed in a basket on a table, they fill the air with their sweet scent as well.
  • Olive-based products apart from soap - Other olive-based products to give a try are olive oil shampoos, olive oil based eau de colognes and zeyşe, abbreviation from the first syllables of zeytin şekeri, a dessert similar to chestnut desserts, but made from olives.

WARNING! To export or to take out the antiques which are more than 100 years old from Turkey is subject to heavy restrictions or in many cases outright forbidden. If it is the case that someone offers you to sell antiques, either he/she is a liar, just trying to sell cheap imitations or he/she is committing a crime, which you are about to be a part of, if you accept to be the purchaser.

Adana kebap, a skewer of minced meat spiced with chili and topped with pide bread, a speciality of Adana
Adana kebap, a skewer of minced meat spiced with chili and topped with pide bread, a speciality of Adana

Turkish cuisine combines Mediterranean, Central Asian, Caucasian, and Arabic influences, and is extremely rich. Beef is the most important meat (lamb is also common but pork is very hard to find although not illegal), and eggplant (aubergine), onion, lentil, bean, tomato, garlic, and cucumber are the primary vegetables. An abundance of spices is also used. The main staples are rice (pilav), bulgur wheat and bread, and dishes are typically cooked in vegetable oil or sometimes butter.

There are many kinds of specialized restaurants to choose from, since most do not prepare or serve other kinds of food. Traditional Turkish restaurants serve meals daily prepared and stored in benmarry. The meals are at the entrance so you can easily see and choose. Kebapçis are restaurants specialized in many kinds of kebap. Some Kebab restaurants serve alcohol while others don't. There are subtypes like ciğerci, Adana kebapçısı or İskender kebapçısı. Fish restaurants typically serve meze (cold olive oil dishes) and Rakı or wine. Dönerci's are prevalent through country and serve döner kebap as a fast food. Köfeci's are restaurants with meatballs (Köfte) served as main dish. Kokoreçci, midyeci, tantunici, mantıcı, gözlemeci, lahmacuncu, pideci, çiğ köfteci, etsiz çiğ köfteci are other kinds of local restaurants found in Turkey which specialization in one food.

A full Turkish meal at Kebab restaurant starts with a soup, often lentil soup (mercimek çorbasi), and a set of meze appetizers featuring olives, cheese, pickles and a wide variety of small dishes. Meze can easily be made into a full meal, especially if they are consumed along with rakı. The main course is usually meat: a common dish type and Turkey's best known culinary export is kebab (kebap), grilled meat in various forms including the famous döner kebap (thin slices of meat shaved from a giant rotating spit) and şişkebab (skewered meat), and a lot more others. Köfte (meatball) is a variation of the kebab. There are hundreds of kinds of köfte throughout Anatolia, but only about 10 to 12 of them are known to the residents of the larger cities, kike İnegöl köfte, Dalyan köfte, sulu köfte etc.

Eating on the cheap is mostly done at Kebab stands, which can be found everywhere in Istanbul and other major cities. For the equivalent of a couple dollars, you get a full loaf of bread sliced down the middle, filled with broiled meat, lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. For North Americans familiar with donairs wrapped in pita bread, don't try to make the comparison. Pitas and wraps are almost unseen in Turkey, they like their bread thick and crusty.


Vegetarian restaurants are not common, and can be found only in very central parts of big cities and some of the tourist spots. However, every good restaurant offers vegetable dishes, and some of the restaurants offering traditional “ev yemeği” (“home food”) have olive-oil specialities which are vegetarian in content. A vegetarian would be very happy in the Aegean region, where all kinds of wild herbs are eaten as main meals, either cooked or raw, dressed with olive oil. But a vegetarian would have real difficulty in searching for food especially in Southeastern region, where a dish without meat is not considered a dish. At such a place, supermarkets may help with their shelves full of canned vegetables, or even canned cooked olive-oil courses and fresh fruits. If you are a vegetarian and going to visit rural areas of Southeastern region, better take your canned food with you, as there will be no supermarkets to rescue you.

Turkish delight
Turkish delight

Some Turkish desserts are modeled on the sweet and nutty Arabic kind: famous dishes include baklava, a layered pastry of finely ground nuts and phyllo dough soaked in honey and spices, and Turkish Delight (lokum), a gummy confection of rosewater and sugar. There are also many more kinds of desserts prepared using milk predominantly, such as kazandibi, keşkül, muhallebi, sütlaç, tavuk göğsü, güllaç etc.


Turkish Breakfast, tend to comprise of çay (tea), bread, olives, feta cheese, tomato, cucumber and occasionally spreads such as honey and jam. This can become very monotonous after a while. A nice alternative to try (should you have the option) is Menemen a Turkish variation on scrambled eggs/omelet. Capsicum (Red Bell Pepper), onion, garlic and tomato are all combined with eggs. The meal is traditional cooked (and served) in a clay bowl. Try adding a little chili to spice it up and make sure to use lots of bread as well for a filling hot breakfast. Bread is omnipresent in Turkey, at any given meal you'll be presented with a large basket of crusty bread.


Ayran is a popular drink of water and yoghurt not unlike the Finnish/Russian buttermilk or Indian lassi, but always served without sugar (and, in fact, typically with a little salt added). A version loved by the locals köpüklü ayran is a delicacy if you're travelling by bus over the Toros (Taurus) Mountains. Ask for yayık ayranı or köpüklü ayran.

Turkish coffee (kahve), served in tiny cups, is strong and tasty, just be careful not to drink the slugdy grounds at the bottom of the cup. It is much different than the so called Turkish coffees sold abroad. Sade kahve is served black, while as şekerli, orta şekerli and çok şekerli will get you a little, some or a lot of sugar in your cup.

Instant coffees, cappuccinos and espressos are gaining more popularity day by day, and can be found with many different flavours.

Tea (çay) is also very popular in the country. Be careful, if your tea is prepared by locals, it can be much stronger than you're used to. Although it is not native-typical and a rather touristic feature, you have to taste the special apple tea (elma çayı) or island tea (adaçayı) ( sage )of Turkey!

Boza is a traditional cold, thick drink that originates from Central Asia. It is fermented bulgur with sugar and water additions. Vefa Bozacisi [19] is the most known and traditional producer of boza in Istanbul. In Ankara, you get excellent Boza from Akman Boza Salonu in the old city in Ulus. Boza can also be found on the shelves of many supermarkets, especially in winter, packaged in 1-litre PET bottles. However these bottled bozas lack the sourness and consistency of traditional boza, they are sweeter and less dense.

Sahlep is another traditional hot drink, made from milk, orchid root and sugar, typically decorated with cinnamon. It is mostly preferred in winter and can be found in cafes and patisseries (pastane). You can also find instant sahlep in many supermarkets sold with the name Hazır Sahlep.

Red Poppy Syrup is one of the traditional turkish drinks made of red poppy petals, water and sugar by natural ways. Bozcaada is famous with red poppy syrup.[20]

International brands of colas, sodas and fruit-flavoured sodas are readily available and much consumed alongside some local brands. Please note, in Turkish, soda means mineral water, whereas what is called as soda in English is gazoz or sade gazoz in Turkish.

While a significant proportion of the Turks are devout Muslims, alcoholic beverages are legal, widely available, and thoroughly enjoyed by the locals. The local firewater of choice is rakı, an anise-flavoured liquor double distilled from fermented grape skin. It is usually mixed with water and drunk with another glass of iced water to accompany it. You may order 'tek' (single) or 'duble' (double) to indicate the amount of rakı in your glass. Rakı is a national drink of Turkey. Make sure to try it but don't overindulge as it is very potent! Remember not to mix it with anything else. There is a wide selection of different types in supermarkets. Mey [21], and Efe Rakı [22] are two of the biggest producers. Only the connaisseurs know which type is the best. Yeni Rakı which is a decent variety has the wıdest distribution and consumption.

As for Turkish wine, the wines are as good as the local grape varieties. Kalecik Karası from Ankara, Karasakız from Bozcaada, Öküzgözü from Elmalı, Boğazkere from Diyarbakır are some of the most well-known varieties. The biggest winemakers are Kavaklıdere [23], Doluca [24], Sevilen [25], and Kayra [26] with many good local vineyards especially in the Western part of the country. In addition liquory fruit wines of Şirince in İzmir are well worth tasting. One specific sweet red wine to try while you're there is Talay Kuntra [27].

There are two major Turkish breweries. Efes [28] and Tekel Birası [29] are two widely known lagers. In addition, you can find locally brewed Tuborg, Miller, Heineken and Carlsberg too.


Accommodation in Turkey varies from 5-star hotels to a simple tent pitched in a vast plateau. So the prices hugely vary as well.

All major cities and tourist spots have 5-star hotels, many of them are owned by international hotel chains like Hilton, Sheraton, Ritz-Carlton, Conrad to name a few. Many of them are concrete blocks, however some, especially the ones out of cities, are bungalows with private gardens and private swimming pools.

If you are into holiday package kind of thing in a Mediterranean resort, you’d for sure have better rates when booking back at home rather than in Turkey itself. Difference is considerable, compared with what you’d pay when booking at home, you may end up paying twice as much if you simply walk in the resort.

It is possible to rent a whole house with two rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and necessary furnitures such as beds, chairs, a table, a cooker, pots, pans, usually a refrigerator and sometimes even a TV. Four or more people can easily fit in these houses which are called apart hotels and can be found mainly in coastal towns of Marmara and Northern Aegean regions, which are more frequented by Turkish families rather than foreigners. They are generally flats in a low-story apartment building. They can be rented for as cheap as 25 YTL daily (not per person, this is the daily price for the whole house!), depending on location, season and the duration of your stay (the longer you stay, the cheaper you pay daily).

Youth hostels are not widespread, there are a few in Istanbul, mainly around Sultanahmet Square where Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are, and still fewer are recognized by Hostelling International (HI, former International Youth Hostel Federation, IYHF). However, pensions (pansiyon) provide cheaper accommodation than hotels, replacing the need for hostels for low-cost accommodation, regardless of their visitors’ age. Please note, pansiyon is the word in Turkish which is also used for small hotels with no star rankings, so somewhere with this name does not automatically mean it must be very cheap (expect up to 50 YTL daily per each person). B&Bs are also generally covered by the word pansiyon, as most of them present breakfast (not always included in the fee, so ask before deciding whether or not to stay there).

Olympos to the southwest of Antalya is known for its pensions welcoming visitors in the wooden tree-houses or in wooden communal sleeping halls.

Recently, Bugday Association has launched a project named TaTuTa (acronym from the first syllables of Tarım-Turizm-Takas: Agriculture-Tourism-Barter [of knowledge]), a kind of WWOOF-ing, which connects farmers practicing organic/ecological agriculture and individuals having an interest at organic agriculture. The farmers participating in TaTuTa share a room of their houses (or a building in the farm) with the visitors without charge, and the visitors help them in their garden work in return. For more about TaTuTa, see [30]

There are many private estates dotting the whole coastline of Turkey, which the owner rents its property for campers. These campsites, which are called kamping in Turkish, have basic facilities such as tap water, toilets, tree shade (this is especially important in dry and hot summers of the western and southern coasts) and some provide electricity to every tent via individual wires. Pitching a tent inside the cities and towns apart from campsites is not always approved, so you should always ask the local administrator (village chief muhtar and/or gendarme jandarma in villages, municipalities belediye and/or the local police polis in towns) if there is a suitable place near the location for you to pitch your tent. Pitching a tent in the forest without permission is OK, unless the area is under protection as a national park, a bioreserve, a wildlife refuge, a natural heritage or because of some other environmental concern. Whether it is an area under protection or not, setting fire in forests apart from the designated fireplaces in recreational (read “picnic”) areas is forbidden anyway.

Caravan/trailer parks cannot be found as much as they used to be; only a few remain from the 70s. The most known one is the one in Ataköy, near the Atatürk International Airport in Istanbul. However, caravan riders can stay overnight in numerous resting areas along the highways and motorways, or virtually in any place which seems to be suitable. Filling the water tanks and discharging wastewater effluent seems to matter most.

  • Naile's Art Home [31] is a marbling paper (Ebru) gallery and workshop located in Cappadocia.
  • Kayaköy Art School [32], located in Kayaköy, a ghost town near Fethiye is offering art classes in summer, specializing on photography, painting, and sculpture.
  • You can take the Ottoman Turkish classes in Adatepe, a village frequented by intellectuals near Küçükkuyu/Altınoluk in the northern Aegean Region. You can also participate in philosophy classes [33] taking place every summer in nearby Assos, organized as a continuation of the ancient “agora”/”forum” tradition of Mediterranean cities.
  • Glass workshops located around Beykoz on the northern Asian banks of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, are offering one-day classes that you can learn making (recycled) glass and ornaments made of glass.
  • There are many language schools where you can study Turkish in most of the big cities. Ankara University affiliated Tömer [34] is one of the most popular language schools in Turkey and has branches in many big cities, including Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir among others.
  • Many Turkish universities (both public and private) are participating in pan-European student exchange programs (Socrates, Erasmus, and the like). Some also have agreements with non-European universities, too. Check with your own university and the one that you intend to study in Turkey.


Work as an English teacher is reasonably easy to stumble upon.

Being that import-export is huge in Turkey, there are also many opportunities outside of teaching, though these are often much more difficult to find and require some legalwork.

You need to have a work permit to work in Turkey. The control over illegal workers have grown stricter in the past five years with the consequence of deportation, so take the work permit issue seriously.

However, if you own your own company in Turkey you are allowed to "manage" it without having a work permit. Setting up what is known as an FDI (foreign direct investment) company is relatively straightforward, takes a few days and costs around 2300 ytl (April 07). You don't need a Turkish partner, the company can be 100% foreign owned and required a minimum of two people as share holders. Running costs for a company average about 2500 ytl per year for a small to medium enterprise, less for an inactive company.

Owning a company allows you to be treated as Turkish in respect of purchasing real estate and bypasses the need for military permission and allows you to complete a sale in one day if required.

Stay safe

Dial 155 for police, from any telephone without charge. However, in rural areas there is no police coverage, so dial 156 in such a place for jandarma (Military Polices) , a military unit for rural security.

Big cities in Turkey, especially Istanbul, are not immune to petty crime. Although petty crime is not especially directed towards tourists, by no means are they exceptions. Snatching, pickpocketing, and mugging are the most common kinds of petty crime. However, recently with the developing of a camera network which watches streets and squares –especially the central and crowded ones- 24-hour a day in Istanbul, the number of snatching and mugging incidents declined. Just like anywhere else, following common sense is recommended. (Please note that the following recommendations are for the big cities, and most small-to-mid size cities usually have no petty crime problems at all) Have your wallet and money in your front pockets instead of back pockets, backpack or shoulder bag.

Don’t exhibit your camera or cellphone for too long if it is a new and/or expensive model (they know what to take away, no one will bother to steal a ten-year-old cell phone as it would pay very little). The same goes for your wallet if it’s overflowing with money. Have a wide space off and quickly move away when you see two persons nearby suddenly bursts into a quarrel, they may be acting to fight to have your attention while a third person is peeling you off from your valuables (or simply one of the two fighting, who acts like falling over you after a hard fist, does this “duty”). Be on alert, everything just happens so quickly. Watch your belongings in crowded public transport, especially in trams and urban buses.

Avoid dark and desolate alleys at night. If you know you have to pass such a place at night, don’t take excessive cash with you, instead deposit your cash into the safe-box at your hotel. Stay away from demonstrating crowds if the demonstration seems to be turning into an unpeaceful one. Also in resort towns, when going to beach, don’t take your camera or cell phone with you if there will be no one to take care of them while you are swimming. And lastly, when you realize your wallet is taken away, before going to a police station to file a report, look into the trash cans near where you think it was stolen, as tossing the wallet into the nearest garbage can is what most thieves do in Turkey, for not getting busted in possession of the wallet which proves he/she is the thief. Your money will probably be not in it, but there is a chance that your credit cards and papers are still there.

See also scams section of Istanbul article to have an idea about what kinds of scams you may come across with in other parts of the country too, especially the touristy ones, not just Istanbul.

Though slightly off-topic be advised to carry passport or other means of identification at all times. One may not be requested to show them for a long period, then all of a sudden a minibus is checked by the traffic police (or the military, particularly in Eastern Turkey), or one runs into an officer of the law with time on his hand, and one must show papers. Hotels may request you to hand your passport in until you paid the bill, which puts you into an awkward situation. Referring to the police always made them hand the passport back, once the registration procedure was finalized. Showing a personal visiting card, one or two credit cards or knowing the address of a respectable hotel may solve the no-papers situation, but any self-respecting officer will tell you that you are in the wrong, and will be sorry next time. If treated politely however police and military can be quite friendly and even offer rides to the next city (no joke intended).

If you intend to travel to Eastern or Southeastern Anatolia, stay ahead of the news. Although it offers many beautiful sights such as the ruins of Antioch, the situation is far from secure due to ethnic strife and protests, sometimes resulting in violence. The region is far from a war zone, but take precaution when visiting this volatile place. The real risk of threat is not very big though, if you stick on major routes and follow common sense rules (such as avoiding demonstrations).

  • Animals – Turkish wilderness is home to both poisonous and non-poisonous snake (yılan) species. In fact, humid forests of northeastern Black Sea region is habitat of a small-sized but one of the most poisonous snakes in the world. Southern and especially southeastern parts (even cities!) of the country has large numbers of scorpions (akrep), so exercise caution if/when you are sleeping on open rooftops, which is common in southeastern region in summer. If you are bitten by one, seek urgent medical aid.

As for wild mammals, presumably the most dangerous ones are wolves, bears and wild boars. All of these animals live only in mountainous areas (of almost all regions) and your chance of sighting one is very low (except boars which are not so rare). Wolves and bears do not attack if you don’t follow or disturb them (or, particularly, their youngs) aggressively, however boars are known to attack even with the slightest provocation.

The biggest animal threat comes from stray dogs (or sheepdogs in rural areas). Don’t assume you will come across gangs of aggressive stray dogs next to the gate of Hagia Sophia, or the beach club however. They are mostly found in rural areas and non-central parts of the cities. They are usually discreet and are usually afraid more of you than you are afraid of them. Rabies (kuduz) is endemic in Turkey (and most of the world) [35], so anyone bitten by a dog or other carnivore should seek urgent treatment, despite what you may be told by your hotel or other well meaning strangers.

Many stray dogs you’ll see in the cities bear plastic “ear rings”. Those ear tags mean the dog is cleaned up, vaccinated (against rabies and a number of other diseases), sterilized, and then returned back to the streets as this is the most humane treatment (compare with keeping them in a cage or a cage-like environment or putting them to sleep). The process is going on, so we can assume stray dog problem in Turkey will disappear in natural ways sometime in future.

Stay healthy

Dial 112 from any telephone, anywhere, free of charge for an ambulance.

Food safety - Food is generally free of parasitical or bacterial contamination, but be prudent anyway. Look at where local people are prefering to eat. Do not eat stuff that is sold outdoors, at least in summer and at least which local folk don’t eat. They can spoil fairly quickly without needed refrigation. Wash throughly and/or peel fresh fruits and vegetables. They may be free of biological contaminants but their skin is probably heavily loaded with pesticides (unless you see the not-very-common certified organic produce marker on, of course). Food in western regions of the country is OK for (western) travellers for the most part, but the more east, south, and northeast you go, the more unaccustomed contents in the food you’ll come across, like goat or goose meat or hot/heavy spices. These contents may or may not cause diarrhea, but it is wise to have at least some anti-diarrhea medicine nearby, especially if you are going to travel to places a bit off-beaten-track.

Water safety - However tempting it may be on a hot day, try to avoid water from public water tanks and fountains (şadırvan), frequently found in the vicinity of mosques. Also, though tap water is always chlorinated, it is better to drink only bottled water. Bottled water is readily available everywhere except the most remote, uninhabited spots.

The most common volumes for bottled water are 0.5 litre and 1.5 litre. 5 lt, 8 lt, 10 lt, and gigantic 19 lt bottles (known as office jar in the West, this is the most common variety used in households, delivered to houses by the employees of specialized water selling shops, because it is far too heavy to carry) can also be found with varying degrees of possibility. General price for half-a-litre and one-and-a-half-litre bottled water is YTL 0.50 and YTL 1.25 repectively in kiosks/stalls in the central parts of the cities and towns (can be much higher in a touristy or monopolistic place such as beach, airport, café of a much-visited museum, kiosk of a roadside recreation facility), while it can be as cheap as YTL 0.15 and YTL 0.35 respectively in supermarkets during winter (when the number of bottled water sales drop) and a little higher in summer (still cheaper than kiosks, though). Water is served free of charge in intercity buses, packaged in 0.25 lt plastic cups, whenever you request from the steward. In kiosks, water is sold chilled universally, sometimes so cold that you have to wait the ice to thaw to be able to drink it. Supermarkets provide it both reasonably chilled and also at room temperature.

If you have no chance of finding bottled water –for example, in wilderness, up in the eastern highlands- always boil your water; if you have no chance of boiling the water, use chlorine tablets –which can be provided from pharmacies in big cities-, or devices like LifeStraw. Also avoid swimming in fresh water, which you are not sure about its purity, and at seawater in or near the big cities –unless a beach which is declared safe to swim exists. And lastly, afterall, be cautious about water, not paranoid.

Hospitals – In Turkey, there are two kinds of hospitals (hastane)-private and public. Private hospitals are run by associations, private parties, and private universities. Public hospitals are run by the Ministry of Health, public universities, and state-run social security institutions. Private hospitals provide health care in standards equal to Western Europe, though standards of public hospitals are inferior compared with the Western Europe. All mid-to-big size cities, as well as major resort towns, have private hospitals, more than one in many cities, but in a small town all you can find will probably be a public hospital. Avoid public hospitals as much as possible, as they are generally really crowded. Although this is not legal, you may also be denied entry to the public hospitals for expensive operations if you don’t have a state-run national (Turkish) insurance or a necessary amount of cash for prepayment which replaces it, though showing a respected credit card may solve this problem. A travel health insurance is highly recommended because the better private hospitals operate with the “user-pays” principle and their rates are much inflated compared with the public hospitals. Also make sure your insurance includes air transport (like a helicopter) if you are going to visit rural/wilderness areas of Black Sea or Eastern regions, so you can be dispatched to a city with high-standard hospitals on time. In the outlying hoods of cities, there are usually also policlinics which can treat simpler illnesses or injuries. In the villages all you can find are little clinics (sağlık ocağı, literally “health-house”) which have a very limited supply and staff, though they can effectively treat simple illnesses or provide antibody against, for example, snake bite. On road signage, hospitals (and roads leading to hospitals) are shown with an “H” (over the dark blue background), whereas village clinics are shown with a red crescent sign, Turkish equivalent of red cross.

There is an emergency ward (acil servis) open 24 hours a day in every hospital. Suburban policlinics don’t have to provide one, but some of them are open 24-hr anyway. Village clinics do certainly have a much limited opening hours (generally 8 am to sunset).

Dentists – There are lots of private dentist offices in the cities, especially along the main streets. Look for the diş hekimi signs around, it won’t take long before you see one. Most dentists work on an appointment, although they may check or start the treatment on your turning up without an appointment if their schedule is okay. A simple treatment for a tooth decay costs about 40 YTL on the average.

Ordinary toothbrushes and pastes (both local and international brands) can be obtained from supermarkets. If you want something special, you may check out pharmacies. It is okay to brush teeth with tap water.

Pharmacies - There are pharmacies (eczane in Turkish) in all cities and many towns. Pharmacies are open from 8:30AM until 7PM, however every town has at least one drugstore on duty overnight (nöbetçi eczane), all other pharmacies in the town usually display its name, address and telephone numbers on their windows. Most basic drugs, including painkillers such as Aspirin, are sold over the counter, although only in pharmacies.

Mosquitoes - Keeping a mosquito repellent handy is a good idea. Although the risk of malaria anywhere in the country is long gone (except the southernmost areas near the Syrian border which used to have a very low level of risk until up to 1980s), mosquitoes can be annoying especially in coastal areas out of cities, including vacation towns at nights between June and September. In some towns, especially the ones near the deltas, mosquito population is so large that people desert the streets during the “mosquito raid” which occurs between the sunset and one hour after that. DEET-containing aerosol repellents (some are suitable to apply to the skin while others, the ones that are in tall tin cans are for making a room mosquito-free before going to bed, not to be applied onto skin, so choose what you buy wisely) can be obtained from supermarkets and pharmacies. There are also solid repellents coming in a tablet form which are used with their special devices indoors having an electricity socket. They release scentless chemicals into the air of the room which disturb the senses of mosquitoes and make them unable to “find” you. The tablets, together with their devices, can also be obtained from supermarkets and pharmacies. Beware! You shouldn’t touch those tablets with bare hands.

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (Kırım-Kongo kanamalı ateşi in Turkish, shortly KKKA) is a serious viral disease and transmitted by a tick (kene) species. It can kill the infected person in a very short time, usually within three or four days. This disease has claimed more than 20 lives in Turkey within the past two years. The biggest risk is in the rural parts (not urban centres) of Tokat, Corum, Yozgat, Amasya, and Sivas provinces, all situated in an area where disease-carrying tick thrives because of the area’s location between the humid climate of maritime Black Sea Region and arid climate of Central Anatolia. Authorities recommend to wear light coloured clothing which makes distinguishing a tick clinged to your body easier. It’s also recommended to wear long trousers rather than shorts if you plan to walk through dense and/or tall grass areas (the usual habitat for ticks). If you see a tick on your body or clothing, in no means try to pull it out since this may cause the tick’s head (and its mouth where it carries the virus) sticking inside your skin. Instead, go to the nearest hospital immediately to seek urgent expert aid. Being late to show up in hospital (and to diagnose) is number one killer in this disease. Symptoms are quite like that of flu and a number of other illnesses, so doctor should be informed about the possibility of Crim.-Cong. hemorr. fever and be shown the tick if possible.

Coastal Black Sea Region, Marmara Region, Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, and East Anatolia are generally deemed free of this disease (and also free of the disease-carrying species of tick) with no casualties. But in the name of being cautious, you should head for the nearest hospital anyway if you are bitten by (most likely an innocent) tick. Also remember that if you should head for the danger zone described above, ticks are not active in winter. Their active period is April to October, so is the danger period.

Public restrooms - Though many main squares and streets in the cities have a public restroom, if you cannot manage to find one, look for the nearest mosque, where you will see a public restroom in a corner of, or below its courtyard. Despite the fact that there is no shortage of cheap toilet papers anywhere in the country, however, you are unlikely to find toilet paper in almost any of the public restrooms (except lavatories of restaurants –including the road restaurants, hotels and most of the cafés and bars, of course). Instead, you are likely to find a bidét or a tap. So it is a good idea to have a roll of toilet paper in your backpack during your walkings for sightseeing. It is best to take your single roll of toilet paper from home or bathroom of the hotel you’re staying at, because the smallest size available in Turkey market is 4-rolls per package (8-rolls per package being the commonest) which would last very long (actually longer than your trip, unless you will do all the road down to India overland). It isn’t expensive but it takes unnecessary backpack space, or unnecessary landfill space if you won’t use it liberally and won’t take the unused rolls back to home as an unusual souvenir from Turkey. In the better places on the road in the country there are rest rooms that are maintained and an attendent ready to collect YTL.50 to YTL 1. from the tourist for the privilege of using one. Restroom is tuvalet in colloquial Turkish, though you’ll more likely to see WC signs, complete with diagrams and doors signed Bay or Bayan (with their rather crude translations: ‘Men’, ‘Women’).

Menstrual products – Different types and designs of disposable pads are widely available. Look around in the supermarkets. However, Turkish women prefer tampons much less than European women do, so they are rarer. They are available only in some of the pharmacies.

Hamam - If you haven't been to one, you've missed one of life's great experiences and never been clean. You can catch your inner peace with history and water in a bath (hamam). See hamams in Istanbul.


Things to do:

Turks are a very friendly, polite and hospitable people, sometimes even to a fault.

  • When you are invited into a Turkish home, make sure to bring them a gift. Anything is fine from flowers to chocolate and indeed something representative from your country (but not wine and other alcoholic beverages if you are about to meet the host or if you do not know them well enough, as many Turks, for religious reasons or not, do not drink alcoholic beverages, and that is why it would be considered inappropriate as a gift). When you arrive at the house take off your shoes just outside or immediately inside the door, unless the owner explicitly allows you to keep them on. Even then, it might be more polite to remove your shoes. And if you really want their respect, thank your host for the invitation and compliment them. When inside the house, don't ask for anything for they will surely offer it. The host will make sure to make you feel at home, so don't take advantage of their kindness.
  • People in Turkey respect elderly people, so in a bus, tram, subway and in other forms public transportation, young(er) people will always offer you a place to sit if you are an old(er) person as well as a handicapped or a pregnant person or have children with you.
  • It is respectful to bend slightly (not a complete bow) when greeting someone older or in a position of authority.
  • Try to use some Turkish phrases. They will be complimentary if you try, and there is no reason to be embarrassed. They realize that Turkish is very difficult for foreigners and won't scoff at all at your mistakes; on the contrary, they will be delighted for trying it, even if they may not always be able to understand your pronunciation!

Things to avoid:

Turkish people understand that visitors are usually not aware with Turkish culture and customs and tend to be tolerant of blunders in this regard by foreigners. There are however, which will meet with universal disapproval, and these should be avoided at all costs:


  • Turks in general have very strong nationalistic views, and would view any criticisms of their country and expressions and attitudes insulting the Turkish flag, the republic and Atatürk - the founding father of the republic as very offensive and with varying degrees of hostility. To avoid getting into the bad raps of your hosts, it is advisable to only praise the country and avoid bringing up anything negative about it.
  • Don't mention the Armenian Genocide, Kurdish separatism and the Cyprus problem. These are extremely sensitive topics and are definately to be avoided. Turkish society has a highly emotional approach to these issues.


  • Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country, though secular, and although you will see varying degrees of Islamic practice in Turkey, with most Turks subscribing to a liberal form of Islam, it is extremely rude to insult or mock some of its traditions, and ensure that you do not speak badly of the Islamic religion. In regard to the Call to Prayer, which is read 5 times a day from the speakers of the numerous mosques throughout Turkey. Do not mock or mimick the recordings, as Turks are extremely proud and sensitive of their heritage and culture, and will be very offended.

Social custom and ettiquette breaches:

  • Don't try to shake hands with a devout Muslim (that is veiled) woman unless she offers her hand first, and with a devout Muslim (often recognizable with a cap and beard) man unless he offers his hand first.
  • Don't blow your nose during meals, even discreetly. This is considered extremely rude.
  • Don't pick your teeth during meals, even discreetly. This is considered extremely rude.
  • Do not put your feet up while sitting and try not to show the bottom of your feet to someone. This is considered rude.
  • Don't point with your finger at someone, even discreetly. This is considered rude.
  • Don't chew gum while having a conversation and during public occasions. This is considered extremely rude.
  • Don't touch someone without permission. This is considered extremely rude.
  • Don't bear hug or back slap someone, especially in formal situations and occasions and with someone you just met and/or you do not know well enough. This is considered very rude.

Certain gestures, common in the western world, are considered rude expressions in this culture. People tend to be tolerant if they can see you are a foreigner. They know you are probably doing it subconsciously, but if you take the time to keep these in mind, you won’t have any misunderstandings. Making an ‘O’ with your thumb and forefinger (as if to say “OK!”) is rude because you are making the gesture for a hole - which has connotations refering to homosexuality in the Turkish psyche. Avoid clicking your tongue. Some people do this subconsciously at the beginning of a sentence. It is a gesture of dismissal.

Other things to watch for:

  • Public displays of affection in larger cities and tourist resorts is tolerated but might invite unnecessary stares from the public. In more rural areas it is frowned upon and is to be avoided. Gay and lesbian travellers should avoid any outward signs of affection, as this will definately invite unnecessary stares from the public. However overt displays of affection regardless of sexual orientation is regarded as inappropriate.
  • Avoid shouting or talking loudly in public and especially on public transportation (Talking on a mobile phone on public transportation is not considered rude, unless the conversation is too "private").


Because of religious traditions, all women are required to wear head scarves and not to wear miniskirts or shorts upon entering a mosque as well as as churches and synagogues. The same goes for the tombs of Islamic saints, too, if the tomb is not named “museum” officially. If you don’t have a shawl or a scarve to put on your head, you can borrow one at the entrance. However wearing-a-scarve rule is somewhat relaxed recently, especially in big mosques of Istanbul in which seeing a tourist is not a rarity. On such mosques, no one is warned about their clothes, or because of their lack of head scarves. Even if you’d have to wear a head scarve, no need to worry about how head scarves can be worn properly, just put it onto the crown of your head (you may wrap it under your chin or behind your neck, lest it slip), that will be excessively adequate.

Also, men are required to wear trousers, not shorts, upon entering a mosque, however nowadays no one is warned about their clothes (at least in big cities). You may find when entering a mosque in more rural areas you will be expected to follow all traditional procedures.

During the prayer time, worshippers choose to line in the front rows of the mosques, at such a time stay behind and try not to be noisy. During the Friday noon prayer, which is the most attended, you might be asked to leave the mosque, don’t take it personally, it is because the mosque will be very crowded, there just won’t be enough room for both the worshippers and the sightseers. You will be able to enter back as soon as worshippers are out of the gate.

Unfortunately for rock bottom budget travellers, mosques are not good examples of Turkish hospitality. Unlike some other Middle Eastern cultures, eating, drinking, smoking (which is strictly banned), talking or laughing loudly, sleeping or just lying, even sitting on the ground inside the mosques is frowned upon in Turkish culture. Public displays of affection is definately taboo.

All shoes should be removed before entering any mosque. There are shoes desks inside the mosques, though you can choose to hold them in your hand (a plastic bag which would be used only for this purpose would help) during your visit. Some mosques have safeboxes with a lock instead of shoe desks.

Although there are “official” opening hours, which are typically shorter than what the mosque is actually open, at the entrances of the most sightseen mosques, they don’t really mean anything. You can visit a mosque as long as its gates are open.

Despite the odd tourists who do not conform to the dress code, it is best to dress conservatively and to follow all traditional procedures, when entering mosques, tombs and other places of worship; not only because it is required but also a sign of respect.

Gay and lesbian travelers

Turkey is considered to be quite safe for gay and lesbian travelers, and violence against homosexuals is quite rare. There are no laws against homosexuality in Turkey, but same-sex relationships are not recognized by the government and flaunting your orientation openly is very likely to draw stares and whispers.


Dial 112 for an ambulance in anywhere, from any telephone, without a charge. In case of a fire, dial 110; for police, call 155. However, in rural areas there is not a police coverage, so dial 156 for gendarme, a military unit for rural security. All these numbers are free of charge and can be called from a telephone booth without inserting a calling card, or any phone including cell phones.


You can find telephone booths on streets, post-offices and almost any public building. Phone cards are available in two types: Magnetic cards (which are becoming obsolete) and newer cards with a chip on them. You can also use your credit card on the phones operating with chipped-cards, although it may not always work. Cards are available in 30, 60 or 120 units and can be obtained at post offices, newspaper and tobacco kiosks. All phones in the booths have Turkish and English instructions and menus, many also have German and French in addition. There are also telephones available in private kiosks where you pay cash after your call. These telephones are more expensive than the ones at the booths.

It is estimated that approximately 96% of the population of Turkey lives within the coverage areas of Turkey’s three cell phone line providers. Line providers from most countries have roaming agreements with one or more of these companies.

Telephone area codes for some cities and their towns are: 212-Istanbul European side; 216-Istanbul Asian side, and the Princess’ Islands; 232-Izmir, Çeşme, Foça; 256-Aydin, Kuşadası; 252-Mugla, Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye; 242-Antalya, Kaş, Kemer, Alanya; 312-Ankara; 384-Nevsehir, Most of Cappadocia (though a few well-known Cappadocian towns which are parts of the province of Aksaray have 382 as their area code); 286-Çanakkale, Gallipoli; 224-Bursa, Uludag; 258-Denizli, Pamukkale; 332-Konya; 352-Kayseri. Dial 0 prior to telephone code for intercity calls.

Numbers starting with 0800 are pay-free, whereas the ones starting with 0900 are high-fee services. 7-digit numbers starting with 444 (mainly used by companies) are charged as local calls wherever they are dialed in Turkey.

Dial 00 prior to country code for international calls. International country code of Turkey is 90.


Post offices are recognizable by their yellow-black “PTT” signs. Letters and cards should be taken to a post office since the postboxes on the streets are rare. Nevertheless, Turkish Post (PTT) prints some beautiful stamps. Sending international letters to most countries now cost only 0.80 TL (about €0.40). Please check the PTT Webpage for the most current rates [36] Main post offices in cities are open between 8:30AM and 8:30PM, whereas post offices in towns and smaller post offices in cities are usually open between 8:30AM and 5:30PM.

Poste restante letters should be sent to an address in the format of: official full name of the addressee (because the receiver will be asked for an ID card, passport or anything that can proof he/she is the receiver)+POSTRESTANT+name of the quarter/hood/district if in a city where there are more than one post office or name of the town where the post office is+postal code (if known, not obligatory)+the name of the province which the quarter/town of the post office is within. The receiver should pay 0.60 TL (fee of a domestic letter) to take his/her letter.


“Internet-cafés” or “net-cafés” are available even in small towns. All of them have good DSL connections, and price for connection is about more or less 1 TL/hour . Most, if not all, of these internet-cafés also have cd-writers which are available for anyone who makes an additional payment. Free wireless connections are available at some airports, hotels and restaurants/cafés (especially in big cities). Please see the Turkish Telecom web page for information on Telecommunication services [37] .

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Up to date as of January 22, 2010

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Asia Minor
This is a disambiguation page, which lists works which share the same title. If an article link referred you here, please consider editing it to point directly to the intended page.

Asia Minor may refer to:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ASIA MINOR, the general geographical name for the peninsula, forming part of the empire of Turkey, on the extreme west of the continent of Asia, bounded on the N. by the Black Sea, on the W. by the Aegean, and on the S. by the Mediterranean, and at its N.W. extremity only parted from Europe by the narrow straits of the Bosporus and Dardanelles. On the east, no natural boundary separates it from the Armenian plateau; but, for descriptive purposes, it will suffice to take a line drawn from the southern extremity of the Giaour Dagh, east of the Gulf of Alexandretta along the crest of that chain, then along that of the eastern Taurus to the Euphrates near Malatia, then up the river, keeping to the western arm till Erzingan is reached, and finally bending north to the Black Sea along the course of the Churuk Su, which flows out west of Batum. This makes the Euphrates the main eastern limit, with radii to the north-east angle of the Levant and the south-east angle of the Black Sea, and roughly agrees with the popular conception of Asia Minor as a geographical region. But it must be remembered that this term was not used by classical geographers (it is first found in Orosius in the 5th century A.D.), and is not in local or official use now. It probably arose in the first instance from a vague popular distinction between the continent itself and the Roman province of "Asia", which at one time included most of the peninsula west of the central salt desert (Axylon). The name Anatolia, in the form Anadol, is used by natives for the western part of the peninsula (cis Halym) and not as including ancient Cappadocia and Pontus. Before the reconstitution of the provinces as vilayets it was the official title of the principal eyalet of Asia Minor, and was also used more generally to include all the peninsular provinces over which the beylerbey of Anadoli, whose seat was at Kutaiah, had the same paramount military jurisdiction which the beylerbey of "Rumili" enjoyed in the peninsular provinces of Europe. The term "Anatolia" appears first in the work of Constantine Porphyrogenitus (loth century).

The greatest length of Asia Minor, as popularly understood, is along its north edge, 720 m. Along the south it is about 650 m. The greatest breadth is 420 m. from C. Kerembe to C. Anamur; but at the waist of the peninsula, between the head of the Gulf of Alexandretta and the southernmost bight of the Black Sea (at Ordu), it is not quite 300 m. The greater portion of Asia Minor consists of a plateau rising gradually from east to west, 2500 ft. to 45 00 ft.; east of the Kizil Irmak (Halys), the ground rises more sharply to the highlands of Armenia. On the south the plateau is buttressed by the Taurus range, which stretches in a broken irregular line from the Aegean to the Persian frontier. On the north the plateau is supported by a range of varying altitude, which follows the southern coast of the Black Sea and has no distinctive name. On the west the edge of the plateau is broken by broad valleys, and the deeply indented coast-line throws out long rocky promontories towards Europe. On the north, excepting the deltas formed by the Kizil and Yeshil Irmaks, there are no considerable coast plains, no good harbours except Sinope and Vona, and no islands. On the west there are narrow coast plains of limited extent, deep gulfs, which offer facilities for trade and commerce, and a fringe of protecting islands. On the south are the isolated plains of Pamphylia and Cilicia, the almost land-locked harbours of Marmarice, Makri and Kekova, the broad bay of Adalia, the deep-seated gulf of Alexandretta (Iskanderun), and the islands of Rhodes with dependencies, Castelorizo and Cyprus.

Table of contents


The Taurus range, perhaps the most important feature in Asia Minor, runs the whole length of the peninsula or. the south, springing east of Euphrates in the Armeno-Kurdish highlands, and being prolonged into the Aegean Sea by rocky promontories and islands. It attains in Lycia an altitude of 10,500 ft., and in the Bulgar Dagh (Cilicia) of over 10,000 ft. The average elevation is about 7000 ft. East of the Bulgar Dagh the range is pierced by the Sihun and Jihun rivers, and their tributaries, but its continuity is not broken. The principal passes across the range are those over which Roman or Byzantine roads ran: - (i) from Laodicea to Adalia (Attalia), by way of the Khonas pass and the valley of the Istanoz Chai; (2) from Apamea or from Pisidian Antioch to Adalia, by Isbarta and Sagalassus; (3) from Laranda, by Coropissus and the upper valley of the southern Calycadnus, to Germanicopolis and thence to Anemourium or Kelenderis; (4) from Laranda, by the lower Calycadnus, to Claudiopolis and thence to Kelenderis or Seleucia; (5) from Iconium or Caesarea Mazaca, through the Cilician Gates (Gulek Boghaz, 3300 ft.) to Tarsus; (6) from Caesarea to the valley of the Sarus and thence to Flaviopolis on the Cilician Plain; (7) from Caesarea over Anti-Taurus by the Kuru Chai to Cocysus (Geuksun) and thence to Germanicia (Marash). Large districts on the southern slopes of the Taurus chain are covered with forests of oak and fir, and there are numerous yailas or grassy "alps," with abundant water, to which villagers and nomads move with their flocks during the summer months.

Anti-Taurus is a term of rather vague and doubtful application. (a) Some have regarded it as meaning the more or less continuous range which buttresses up the central plateau on the north, parallel to the Taurus. (b) Others take it to mean the line of heights and mountain peaks which separates the waters running to the Black Sea and the Anatolian plateau from those falling to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. This has its origin in the high land, near the source of the Kizil Irmak, and thence runs south-west towards the volcanic district of Mt. Argaeus, which, however, can hardly be regarded as orographically one with it. After a low interval it springs up again at its southern extremity in the lofty sharp-peaked ridge of Ala Dagh (11,000 ft.), and finally joins Taurus. (c) South of Sivas a line of bare hills connects this chain with another range of high forest-clad mountains, which loses itself southwards in the main mass of Taurus, and is held to be the true Anti-Taurus by geographers. It throws off, in the latitude of Kaisarieh, a subsidiary range, the Binboa Dagh, which separates the waters of the Sihun from those of the Jihun. The principal passes are those followed by the old roads: - (1) from Sebasteia to Tephrike and the upper valley of the western Euphrates; (2) from Sebasteia to Melitene, by way of the pass of Delikli Tash and the basin of the Tokhma Su; (3) from Caesarea to Arabissus, by the Kuru Chai and the valley of Cocysus (Geuksun). The range of Amanus (Giaour Dagh) is separated from the mass of Taurus by the deep gorge of the Jihun, whence it runs south - south - west to Ras el - Khanzir, forming the limit between Cilicia and Syria, various parts bearing different names, as Elma Dagh above Alexandretta. It attains its greatest altitude in Kaya Duldul (6500 ft.), which rises abruptly from the bed of the Jihun, and it is crossed by two celebrated passes: - (1) the Amanides Pylae (Baghche Pass), through which ran the road from the Cilician Plain to Apamea-Zeugma, on the Euphrates; (2) the Pylae Syriae or "Syrian Gates" (Beilan Pass), through which passed the great Roman highway from Tarsus to Syria. On the western edge of the plateau several short ranges, running approximately east and west, rise above the general level: - Sultan Dagh (6500 ft.); SalbacusCadmus (8000 ft.); Messogis (3600 ft.); Latmus (6000 ft.); Tmolus (5000 ft.); Dindymus (8200 ft.); Ida (5800 ft.); and the Mysian Olympus (7600 ft.). The valleys of the Maeander, Hermus and Caicus facilitate communication between the plateau and the Aegean, and the descent to the Sea of Marmora along the valleys of the Tembris and Sangarius presents no difficulties. The northern border range, though not continuous, rises steadily from the west to its culmination in the Galatian Olympus (Ilkaz Dagh), south of Kastamuni. East of the Kizil Irmak there is no single mountain chain, but there are several short ranges with elevations sometimes exceeding 9000 ft. The best routes from the plateau to the Black Sea were followed by the Roman roads from Tavium and Sebasteia to Sinope and Amisus, and those from Sebasteia to Cotyora and Cerasus-Pharnacia, which at first ascend the upper Halys. Several minor ranges rise above the level of the eastern plateau, and in the south groups of volcanic peaks and cones extend for about 150 m. from Kaisarieh (Caesarea) to Karaman. The most important are Mt. Argaeus (Erjish Dagh, 13,100 ft.) above Kaisarieh itself, the highest peak in Asia Minor; Ali Dagh (6200 ft.); Hassan Dagh (8000 ft.); Karaja Dagh; and Kara Dagh (7500 ft.). On the west of the plateau evidences of volcanic activity are to be seen in the district of Kula (Katakekaumene), coated with recent erupted matter, and in the numerous hot springs of the Lycus, Maeander, and other valleys. Earthquakes are frequent all over the peninsula, but especially in the south-east and west, where the Maeander valley and the Gulf of Smyrna are notorious seismic foci. The centre of the plateau is occupied by a vast treeless plain, the Axylon of the Greeks, in which lies a large salt lake, Tuz Geul. The plain is fertile where cultivated, fairly supplied with deep wells, and in many places covered with good pasture. Enclosed between the Taurus and Amanus ranges and the sea are the fertile plains of Cilicia Pedias, consisting in great part of a rich, stoneless loam, out of which rise rocky crags that are crowned with the ruins of Greco-Roman and Armenian strongholds, and of Pamphylia, partly alluvial soil, partly travertine, deposited by the Taurus rivers.


The rivers of Asia Minor are of no great importance. Some do not flow directly to the sea; others find their way to the coast through deep rocky gorges, or are mere torrents; and a few only are navigable for boats for short distances from their mouths. They cut so deep into the limestone formation of the plateau as to over-drain it, and often they disappear into swallow holes (dud en) to reappear lower down. The most important rivers which flow to the Black Sea are the following: - the Boas (Churuk Su) which rises near Baiburt, and flows out near Batum; the Iris (Yeshil Irmak), with its tributaries the Lycus (Kelkit Irmak), which rises on the Armenian plateau, the Chekerek Irmak, which has its source near Yuzgat, and the Tersakan Su; the Halys (Kizil Irmak) is the longest river in Asia Minor, with its tributaries the Delije Irmak (Cappadox), which flows through the eastern part of Galatia, and the Geuk Irmak, which has its sources in the mountains above Kastamuni. With the exception of Sivas, no town of importance lies in the valley of the Kizil Irmak throughout its course of over 600 in. The Sangarius (Sakaria) rises in the Phrygian mountains and, after many changes of direction, falls into the Black Sea, about 80 m. east of the Bosporus. Its tributaries are the Pursak Su (Tembris), which has its source in the Murad Dagh (Dindymus), and, after running north to Eski-shehr, flows almost due east to the Sakaria, and the Enguri Su, which joins the Sakaria a little below the junction of the `Pursak. To the Black Sea, about 4.0 m. east of Eregli, also flows the Billaeus (Filiyas Chai). Into the Sea of Marmora run the Rhyndacus(Edrenos Chai) and the Macestus (Susurlu Chai), which unite about 12 m. from the sea. The most celebrated streams of the Troad are the Granicus (Bigha Chai) and the Scamander (Menderes Su), both rising in Mt. Ida (Kaz Dagh). The former flows to the Sea of Marmora; the latter to the Dardanelles. The most northerly of the rivers that flow to the Aegean is the Caicus (Bakir Chai), which runs past Soma, and near Pergamum, to the Gulf of Chanderli. The Hermus (Gediz Chai) has its principal sources in the Murad Dagh, and, receiving several streams on its way, runs through the volcanic district of Katakekaumene to the broad fertile valley through which it flows past Manisa to the sea, near Lefke. So recently as about 1880 it discharged into the Gulf of Smyrna, but the shoals formed by its silt-laden waters were so obstructive to navigation that it was turned back into its old bed. Its principal tributaries are - the Phrygius (Kum Chai), which receives the waters of the Lycus (Giirduk Chai), and the Cogamus (Kuzu Chai), which in its upper course is separated from the valley of the Maeander by hills that were crossed by the Roman road from Pergamum to Laodicea. The Caystrus (Kuchuk Menderes) flows through a fertile valley between Mt. Tmolus and Messogis to the sea near Ephesus, where its silt has filled up the port. The Maeander (Menderes Chai) takes its rise in a celebrated group of springs near Dineir, and after a winding course enters the broad valley, through which it "meanders" to the sea. Its deposits have long since filled up the harbours of Miletus, and converted the islands which protected them into mounds in a swampy plain. Its principal tributaries are the Glaucus, the Senarus (Banaz Chai), and the Hippurius, on the right bank. On the left bank are the Lycus (Churuk Su), which flows westwards by Colossae through a broad open valley that affords the only natural approach to the elevated plateau, the Harpasus (Ak Chai), and the Marsyas (China Chai). The rivers that flow to the Mediterranean, with two exceptions, rise in Mt. Taurus, and have short courses, but in winter and spring they bring down large bodies of water. In Lycia are the Indus (Gereniz Chai), and the Xanthus (Eshen Chai). The Pamphylian plain is traversed by the Cestrus (Ak Su), the Eurymedon (Keupri Su), and the Melas (Menavgat Chai), which, where it enters the sea, is a broad, deep stream, navigable for about 6 m. The Calycadnus (Geuk Su) has two main branches which join near Mut and flow south-east, and enter the sea, a deep rapid river, about 12 m. below Selefke. The Cydnus (Tersous or Tarsus Chai) is formed by the junction of three streams that rise in Mt. Taurus, and one of these flows through the narrow gorge known as the Cilician Gates. After passing Tarsus, the river enters a marsh which occupies the site of the ancient harbour. The Cydnus is liable to floods, and its deposits have covered Roman Tarsus to a depth of 20 ft. The Sarus (Sihun) is formed by the junction of the Karmalas (Zamanti Su), which rises in Uzun Yaila, and the Sarus (Saris), which has its sources in the hills to the south of the same plateau. The first, after entering Mt. Taurus, flows through a deep chasm walled in by lofty precipices, and is joined in the heart of the range by the Saris. Before reaching the Cilician Plain the river receives the waters of the Kerkhun Su, which cuts through the Bulgar Dagh, and opens a way for the roads from the Cilician Gates to Konia and Kaisarieh. After passing Adana, to which point small craft ascend, the Sihun runs south-west to the sea. There are, however, indications that at one period it flowed south-east to join the Pyramus. The Pyramus (Jihun) has its principal source in a group of large springs near Albistan; but before it enters Mt. Taurus it is joined by the Sogutli Irmak, the Khurman Su and the Geuk Su. The river emerges from Taurus, about 7 m. west of Marash, and here it is joined by the Ak Su, which rises in some small lakes south of Taurus. The Jihun now enters a remarkable defile which separates Taurus from the Giaour Dagh, and reaches the Cilician Plain near Budrun. From this point it flows west, and then south-west past Missis, until it makes a bend to discharge its waters south of Ayas Bay. The river is navigable as far as Missis. The only considerable tributary of the Euphrates which comes within our region is the Tokhma Su, which rises in Uzun Yaila and flows south-east to the main river not far from Malatia. In the central and southern portions of the plateau the streams either flow into salt lakes, where their waters pass off by evaporation, or into freshwater lakes, which have no visible outlets. In the latter cases the waters find their way beneath Taurus in subterranean channels, and reappear as the sources of rivers flowing to the coast. Thus the Ak Geul supplies the Cydnus, and the Beishehr, Egirdir and Kestel lakes feed the rivers of the Pamphylian plain.


The salt lakes are Tuz Geul (anc. Tatta), which lies in the great central plain, and is about 60 m. long and 10 to 30 m. broad in winter, but in the dry season it is hardly more than a saline marsh; Buldur Geul, 2900 ft. above sea-level; and Aji-tuz Geul, 2600 ft. The freshwater lakes are Beishehr Geul (anc. Karalis), 3770 ft., a fine sheet of water 30 m. long, which discharges south-east to the Soghla Geul; Egirdir Geul (probably anc. Limnae, a name which included the two bays of Hoiran and Egirdir, forming the lake), 2850 ft., which is 30 m. long, but less broad than Beishehr and noted for the abundance and variety of its fish. In the northwest portion of Asia 1VIinor are Isnik Geul (L. Ascania), Abulliont Geul (L. Apollonia), and Maniyas Geul (L. Miletopolis).


Asia Minor is remarkable for the number of its thermal and mineral springs. The most important are: - Yalova, in the Ismid sanjak; Brusa, Chitli, Terje and Eskishehr, in the Brusa vilayet; Tuzla, in the Karasi; Cheshme, Ilija, Hierapolis (with enormous alum deposits), and Alashehr, in the Aidin; Terzili Hammam and Iskelib in the Angora; Boli in the Kastamuni; and Kha y sa, in the Sivas. Many of these were famous in antiquity and occur in a list given by Strabo. The Maeander valley is especially noted for its hot springs.

==Geology== The central plateau of Asia Minor consists of nearly horizontal strata, while the surrounding mountain chains form a complex system, in which the beds are intensely folded. Around the coast flat-lying deposits of Tertiary age are found, and these often extend high up into the mountain region. The deposits of the central, or Lycaonian, plateau consist of freshwater marls and limestones of late Tertiary or Neogene age. Along the south-eastern margin, in front of the Taurus, stands a line of great volcanoes, stretching from Kara-Dagh to Argaeus. They are now extinct, but were probably active till the close of the Tertiary period. On its southern side the plateau is bounded by the high chains of the Taurus and the Anti-Taurus, which form a crescent with its convexity facing southwards. Devonian and Carboniferous fossils have been found in several places in the Anti-Taurus. Limestones of Eocene or Cretaceous age form a large part of the Taurus, but the interior zone probably includes rocks of earlier periods. The folding of the Anti-Taurus affects the Eocene but not the Miocene, while in the Taurus the Miocene beds have been elevated, but without much folding, to great heights. North of the Lycaonian plateau lies another zone of folding which may be divided into the East Pontian and West Pontian arcs. In the east a well-defined mountain system runs nearly parallel to the Black Sea coast from Batum to Sinope, forming a gentle curve with its convexity facing southwards. Cretaceous limestones and serpentine take a large part in the formation of these mountains, while even the Oligocene is involved in the folds. West of Sinope Cretaceous beds form a long strip parallel to the shore line. Carboniferous rocks occur at Eregli (Heraclea Pontica), where they have been worked for coal. Devonian fossils have been found near the Bosporus and Carboniferous fossils at Balia Maden in Mysia. Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous beds form a band south of the Sea of Marmora, probably the continuation of the Mesozoic band of the Black Sea coast. Farther south there are zones of serpentine, and of crystalline and schistose rocks, some of which are probably Palaeozoic. The direction of the folds of this region is from west to east, but on the borders of Phrygia and Mysia they meet the north-westerly extension of the Taurus folds and bend around the ancient mass of Lydia. Marine Eocene beds occur near the Dardanelles, but the Tertiary deposits of this part of Asia Minor are mostly freshwater and belong to the upper part of the system. In western Mysia they are much disturbed, but in eastern Mysia they are nearly horizontal. They are often accompanied by volcanic rocks, which are mainly andesitic, and they commonly lie unconformably upon the older beds. In the western part of Asia Minor there are several areas of ancient rocks about which very little is known. The Taurus folds here meet another system which enters the region from the Aegean Sea.


The climate is varied, but systematic observations are wanting. On the plateau the winter is long and cold, and in the northern districts there is much snow. The summer is very hot, but the nights are usually cool. On the north coast the winter is cold, and the winds, sweeping across the Black Sea from the steppes of Russia, are accompanied by torrents of rain and heavy falls of snow. East of Samsun, where the coast is partially protected by the Caucasus, the climate is more moderate. In summer the heat is damp and enervating, and, as Trebizond is approached, the vegetation becomes almost subtropical. On the south coast the winter is mild, with occasional frosts and heavy rain; the summer heat is very great. On the west coast the climate is moderate, but the influence of the cold north winds is felt as far south as Smyrna, and the winter at that place is colder than in corresponding latitudes in Europe. A great feature of summer is the inbat or north wind, which blows almost daily, often with the force of a gale, off the sea from noon till near sunset.

Products, &c. - The mineral wealth of Asia Minor is very great, but few mines have yet been opened. The minerals known to exist are - alum, antimony, arsenic, asbestos, boracide, chrome, coal, copper, emery, fuller's earth, gold, iron, kaolin, lead, lignite, magnetic iron, manganese, meerschaum, mercury, nickel, rock-salt, silver, sulphur and zinc. The vegetation varies with the climate, soil and elevation. The mountains on the north coast are clothed with dense forests of pine, fir, cedar, oak, beech, &c. On the Taurus range the forests are smaller, and there is a larger proportion of pine. On the west coast the ilex, plane, oak, valonia oak, and pine predominate. On the plateau willows, poplars and chestnut trees grow near the streams, but nine-tenths of the country is treeless, except for scrub. On the south and west coasts the fig and olive are largely cultivated. The vine yields rich produce everywhere, except in the higher districts. The apple, pear, cherry and plum thrive well in the north; the orange, lemon, citron and sugar-cane in the south; styrax and mastic in the south-west; and the wheat lands of the Sivas vilayet can hardly be surpassed. The most important vegetable productions are - cereals, cotton, gum tragacanth, liquorice, olive oil, opium, rice, saffron, salep, tobacco and yellow berries. Silk is produced in large quantities in the vicinity of Brusa and Amasia, and mohair from the Angora goat all over the plateau. The wild animals include bear, boar, chamois, fallow red and roe deer, gazelle, hyena, ibex, jackal, leopard, lynx, moufflon, panther, wild sheep and wolf. The native reports of a maneless lion in Lycia (arslan) are probably based on the existence of large panthers. Amongst the domestic animals are the buffalo, the Syrian camel, and a mule camel, bred from a Bactrian sire and Syrian mother. Large numbers of sheep and Angora goats are reared on the plateau, and fair horses are bred on the Uzun Yaila; but no effort is made to improve the quality of the wool and mohair or the breed of horses. Good mules can be obtained in several districts, and small hardy oxen are largely bred for ploughing and transport. The larger birds are the bittern, great and small bustard, eagle, francolin, goose; giant, grey and redlegged partridge, sand grouse, pelican, pheasant, stork and swan. The rivers and lakes are well supplied with fish, and the mountain streams abound with small trout.

The principal manufactures are: - Carpets, rugs, cotton, tobacco, mohair and silk stuffs, soap, wine and leather. The exports are: - Cereals, cotton, cotton seed, dried fruits, drugs, fruit, gall nuts, gum tragacanth, liquorice root, maize, nuts, olive oil, opium, rice, sesame, sponges, storax, timber, tobacco, valonia, walnut wood, wine, yellow berries, carpets, cotton yarn, cocoons, hides, leather, mohair, silk, silk stuffs, rugs, wax, wool, leeches, live stock, minerals, &c. The imports are: - Coffee, cotton cloths, cotton goods, crockery, drysalteries, fezzes, glass-ware, haberdashery, hardware, henna, ironware, jute, linen goods, manufactured goods, matches, petroleum, salt, sugar, woollen goods, yarns, &c.


There are few metalled roads, and those that exist are in bad repair, but on the plateau light carts can pass nearly everywhere. The lines of railway now open are: - (I) From Haidar Pasha to Ismid, Eski-shehr and Angora; (2) from Mudania to Brusa; (3) from Eski-shehrtoAfium-Kara-hissar, Konia and Bulgurli, east of Eregli (the first section of the Bagdad railway). These lines are worked by the German Gesellschaft der anatolischen Eisenbahnen. (4) From Smyrna to Manisa, Ala-shehr and Afium Kara-hissar, with a branch line from Manisa to Soma. This line is worked by a French company. (5) From Smyrna to Aidin and Dineir, with branches to Odemish, Tireh, Sokia, Denizli, Ishekli, Seidi Keui and Bouja, constructed and worked by an English company. (6) From Mersina to Tarsus and Adana, an English line under a control mainly French. There are two competing routes for the eastern trade - one running inland from Constantinople (Haidar Pasha), the other from Smyrna. The first is connected by ferry with the European railway system; the second with the great sea routes from Smyrna to Trieste, Marseilles and Liverpool. The right to construct all railways in Armenia and north-eastern Asia Minor has been conceded to Russia, and the Germans have a virtual monopoly of the central plateau.

==Ethnology== None of the conquering races that invaded Asia Minor, whether from the east or from the west, wholly expelled or exterminated the race in possession. The vanquished retired to the hills or absorbed the victors. In the course of ages race distinction has been almost obliterated by fusion of blood; by the complete Hellenization of the country, which followed the introduction of Christianity; by the later acceptance of Islam; and by migrations due to the occupation of cultivated lands by the nomads. It will be convenient here to adopt the modern division into Moslems, Christians and Jews: - (a) Moslems. The Turks never established themselves in such numbers as to form the predominant element in the population. Where the land was unsuitable for nomad occupation the agricultural population remained, and it still retains some of its original characteristics. Thus in Cappadocia the facial type of the nonAryan race is common, and in Galatia there are traces of Gallic blood. The Zeibeks of the west and south-west are apparently representatives of the Carians and Lycians; and the peasants of the Black Sea coast range of the people of Bithynia, Paphlagonia and Pontus. Wherever the people accepted Islam they called themselves Turks, and a majority of the so-called "Turks" belong by blood to the races that occupied Asia Minor before the Seljuk invasion. Turkish and Zaza-speaking Kurds (see Kurdistan) are found in the Angora and Sivas vilayets. There are many large colonies of Circassians and smaller ones of Noghai (Nogais), Tatars, Georgians, Lazis, Cossacks, Albanians and Pomaks. East of Boghaz Keui there is a compact population of Kizilbash, who are partly descendants of Shia Turks transplanted from Persia and partly of the indigenous race. In the Cilician plain there are large settlements of Nosairis who have migrated from the Syrian mountains (see Syria). The nomads and semi-nomads are, for the most part, representatives of the Turks, Mongols and Tatars who poured into the country during the 350 years that followed the defeat of Romanus. Turkomans are found in the Angora and Adana vilayets; Avshars, a tribe of Turkish origin, in the valleys of Anti-Taurus; and Tatars in the Angora and Brusa vilayets; Yuruks are most numerous in the Konia vilayet. They speak Turkish and profess to be Moslems, but have no mosques or imams. The Turkomans have villages in which they spend the winter, wandering over the great plains of the interior with their flocks and herds during the summer. The Yuruks on the contrary are a truly nomad race. Their tents are made of black goats' hair and their principal covering is a cloak of the same material. They are not limited to the milder districts of the interior, but when the harvest is over, descend into the rich plains and valleys near the coast. The Chepmi and Takhtaji, who live chiefly in the Aidin vilayet, appear to be derived from one of the early races. (b) Christians. The Greeks are in places the descendants of colonists from Greece, many of whom, e.g. in Pamphylia and the Smyrna district, are of very recent importation; but most of them belong by blood to the indigenous races. These people became "Greeks" as being subjects of the Byzantine empire and members of the Eastern Church. On the west coast, in Pontus and to some extent of late in Cappadocia, and in the mining villages, peopled from the Trebizond Greeks, the language is Romaic; on the south coast and in many inland villages (e.g. in Cappadocia) it is either Turkish, which is written in Greek characters, or a Greco-Turkish jargon. In and near Smyrna there are large colonies of Hellenes. Armenians are most numerous in the eastern districts, where they have been settled since the great migration that preceded and followed the Seljuk invasion. There are, however, Armenians in every large town. In central. and western Asia Minor they are the descendants of colonists from Persia and Armenia (see Armenia). (c) The Jews live chiefly on the Bosporus; and in Smyrna, Rhodes, Brusa and other western towns. Gypsies - some Moslem, some Christian - are also numerous, especially in the south.


Asia Minor owes the peculiar interest of its history to its geographical position. "Planted like a bridge between Asia and Europe," it has been from the earliest period a battleground between the East and the West. The central plateau (2500 to 4500 ft.), with no navigable river and few natural approaches, with its monotonous scenery and severe climate, is a continuation of central Asia. The west coast, with its alternation of sea and promontory, of rugged mountains and fertile valleys, its bright and varied scenery, and its fine climate, is almost a part of Europe. These conditions are unfavourable to permanence, and the history of Asia Minor is that of the march of hostile armies, and rise and fall of small states, rather than that of a united state under an independent sovereign. At a very early period Asia Minor appears to have been occupied by non-Aryan tribes or races which differed little from each other in religion, language and social system. During the past generation much light has been thrown upon one of these races - the "Hittites" or "Syro-Cappadocians," who, after their rule had passed away, were known to Herodotus as "White Syrians," and whose descendants can still be recognized in the villages of Cappadocia.' The centre of their power is supposed to have been Boghaz Keui (see Pteria), east of the Halys, whence roads radiated to harbours on the Aegean, to Sinope, to northern Syria and to the Cilician plain. Their strange sculptures and inscriptions have been found at Pteria, Euyuk, Fraktin, Kiz Hissar (Tyana), Ivriz, Bulgar, Muden and other places between Smyrna and the 1 The people, Moslem and Christian, are physically one and appear to be closely related to the modern Armenians. This relationship is noticeable in other districts, and the whole original population of Asia Minor has been characterized as Proto-Armenian or Armenoid.

Euphrates (see Hittites). When the great Aryan immigration from Europe commenced is unknown, but it was dying out in the 11th and 10th centuries B.C. In Phrygia the Aryans founded a kingdom, of which traces remain in various rock tombs, forts and towns, and in legends preserved by the Greeks. The Phrygian power was broken in the 9th or 8th century B.C. by the Cimmerii, who entered Asia Minor through Armenia; and on its decline rose the kingdom of Lydia, with its centre at Sardis. A second Cimmerian invasion almost destroyed the rising kingdom, but the invaders were expelled at last by Alyattes, 617 B.C. (see Scythia). The last king, Croesus (? 560-546 B.C.) carried the boundaries of Lydia to the Halys, and subdued the Greek colonies on the coast. The date of the foundation of these colonies cannot be fixed; but at an early period they formed a chain of settlements from Trebizond to Rhodes, and by the 8th century B.C. some of them rivalled the splendour of Tyre and Sidon. Too jealous of each other to combine, and too demoralized by luxury to resist, they fell an easy prey to Lydia; and when the Lydian kingdom ended with the capture of Sardis by Cyrus, 546 B.C. they passed, almost without resistance, to Persia. Under Persian rule Asia Minor was divided into four satrapies, but the Greek cities were governed by Greeks, and several of the tribes in the interior retained their native princes and priest-dynasts. An attempt of the Greeks to regain their freedom was crushed, 500-494 B.C., but later the tide turned and the cities were combined with European Greeks into a league for defence against the Persians. The weakness of Persian rule was disclosed by the expedition of Cyrus and the Ten Thousand Greeks, 402 B.C.; and in the following century Asia Minor was invaded by Alexander the Great, 334 B.C. (See Greece; Persia; Ionia.) The wars which followed the death of Alexander eventually gave Asia Minor to Seleucus, but none of the Seleucid kings was able to establish his rule over the whole peninsula. Rhodes became a great maritime republic, and much of the south and west coast belonged at one time or another to the Ptolemies of Egypt. An independent kingdom was founded at Pergamum, 283 B.C., which lasted until Attalus III., 133 B.C., made the Romans his heirs. Bithynia became an independent monarchy, and Cappadocia and Paphlagonia tributary provinces under native princes. In southern Asia Minor the Seleucids founded Antioch, Apamea, Attalia, the La.odiceas and Seleuceias, and other cities as centres of commerce, some of which afterwards played an important part in the Hellenization (see Hellenism) of the country, and in the spread of Christianity. During the 3rd century, 278-277 B.C., certain Gallic tribes crossed the Bosporus and Hellespont, and established a Celtic power in central Asia Minor. They were confined by the victories of Attalus I. of Pergamum, c. 232 B.C., to a district on the Sangarius and Halys to which the name Galatia was applied; and after their defeat by Manlius, 189 B.C., they were subjected to the suzerainty of Pergamum (see Galatia).

The defeat of Antiochus the Great at Magnesia, 190 B.C., placed Asia Minor at the mercy of Rome; but it was not until 133 that the first Roman province, Asia, was formed to include only western Anatolia, without Bithynia. Errors in policy and in government facilitated the rise of Pontus into a formidable power under Mithradates, who was finally driven out of the country by Pompey, and died 63 B.C. Under the settlement of Asia Minor by Pompey, Bithynia-Pontus and Cilicia became provinces, whilst Galatia and Cappadocia were allowed to retain nominal independence for over half a century more under native kings, and Lycia continued an autonomous League. A long period of tranquillity followed, during which the Roman dominion grew, and all Asia Minor was divided into two provinces. The boundaries were often changed; and about A.D. 297, in Diocletian's reorganization of the empire, the power of the great military commands was broken, and the provinces were made smaller and united in groups called dioceses. A great change followed the introduction of Christianity, which spread first along the main roads that ran north and west from the Cilician Gates, and especially along the great trade route to Ephesus. In some districts it spread rapidly, in others slowly. With its advance the native languages and old religions gradually disappeared, and at last the whole country was thoroughly Hellenized, and the people united by identity of language and religion.

At the close of the 6th century Asia Minor had become wealthy and prosperous; but centuries of peace and over-centralization had affected the moral of the people and weakened the central government. During the 7th century the provincial system broke down, and the country was divided into themes or military districts. From 616 to 626 Persian armies swept unimpeded over the land, and Chosroes (Khosrau) II. pitched his camp on the shore of the Bosporus. The victories of Heraclius forced Chosroes to retire; but the Persians were followed by the Arabs, who, advancing with equal ease, laid siege to Constantinople, A.D. 668. It almost appeared as if Asia Minor would be annexed to the dominion of the Caliph. But the tide of conquest was stemmed by the iconoclast emperors, and the Arab expeditions, excepting those of Harun al-Rashid, 781 and 806, and of elMotasim, 838, became simply predatory raids. In the 10th century the Arabs were expelled. They never held more than the districts along the main roads, and in the intervals of peace the country rapidly recovered itself. But a more dangerous enemy was soon to appear on the eastern border.

In 1067 the Seljuk Turks ravaged Cappadocia and Cilicia; in 1071 they defeated and captured the emperor Romanus Diogenes, and in 1080 they took Nicaea. One branch of the Seljuks founded the empire of Rum, with its capital first at Nicaea and then at Iconium. The empire, which at one time included nearly the whole of Asia Minor, with portions of Armenia and Syria, passed to the Mongols when they defeated the sultan of Rum in 1243, and the sultans became vassals of the Great Khan. The Seljuk sultans were liberal patrons of art, literature and science, and the remains of their public buildings and tombs are amongst the most beautiful and most interesting in the country. The marches of the Crusaders across Asia Minor left no permanent impression. But the support given by the Latin princes to the Armenians in Cilicia facilitated the growth of the small warlike state of Lesser Armenia, which fell in 1375 with the defeat and capture of Leo VI. by the Mameluke sultan of Egypt. The Mongols were too weak to govern the country they had conquered, and the vassalage of the last sultan of Rum, who died in 1307, was only nominal. On his death the Turkoman governors of his western provinces drove out the Mongols and asserted their independence. A contest for supremacy followed, which eventually ended in favour of the Osmanli Turks of Brusa. In 1400 Sultan Bayezid I. held all Asia Minor west of the Euphrates; but in 1402 he was defeated and made prisoner by Timur, who swept through the country to the shores of the Aegean. On the death of Timur Osmanli supremacy was re-established after a prolonged struggle, which ended with the annexation by Mahommed II. (1451-1481) of Karamania and Trebizond, and the abandonment of the last of the Italian trading settlements which had studded the coast during the 13th and 14th centuries. The later history of Asia Minor is that of the Turkish empire. The most important event was the advance (1832-1833) of an Egyptian army, under Ibrahim Pasha, through the Cilician Gates to Konia and Kutaiah.

The defeat of the emperor Romanus (1071) initiated a change in the condition of Asia Minor which was to be complete and lasting. A long succession of nomad Turkish tribes, pressing forward from central Asia, wandered over the rich country in search of fresh pastures for their flocks and herds. They did not plunder or ill-treat the people, but they cared nothing for town life or for agricultural pursuits, and as they passed onward they left the country bare. Large districts passed out of cultivation and were abandoned to the nomads, who replaced wheeled traffic by the pack horse and the camel. The peasants either became nomads themselves or took refuge in the towns or the mountains. The Mongols, as they advanced, sacked towns and laid waste the agricultural lands. Timur conducted his campaigns with a ruthless disregard of life and property. Entire Christian communities were massacred, flourishing towns were English Miles 20 100 1 0 o onstai.

Rhodes,?' Rhodes rryo L Bay s of Adalia M'ED I ' ' T Anean Reference to Vilayets &c.

Anatolia 1 Archipelago, 2 Bigha, 3 Brusa, 4 Aidin (Smyrna) 5 Ismid, 6 Kastamuni, 7 Angora. 8 Konia, 9 Trebizond, 10 Sivas, 11 Adana. Armenia 12 Erzerum, 13 Kharput (Mamuret-elAziz),14 Bitlis. 15 Diarbekr. Syria 16 Aleppo, 17 Beirut, 18 Syria.


A Zs° Samothrace D C 36 38 F Longitude East. 3 4 ° of Greenwich F G completely destroyed, and all Asia Minor was ravaged. From these disasters the country never recovered, and the last traces of Western civilization disappeared with the enforced use of the Turkish language and the wholesale conversions to Islam under the earliest Osmanli sultans. The recent large increase of the Greek population in the western districts, the construction of railways, and the growing interests of Germany and Russia on the plateau seem, however, to indicate that the tide is again turning in favour of the West.

Bibliograpity. - I. General Authorities: - C. Texier, Asie Mineure (1843); P. Tchihatcheff, Asie Mineure (1853-1860); C. Ritter, Erdkunde, vols. xviii. xix. (1858-1859); W. J. Hamilton, Researches in Asia Minor (1843); E. Reclus, Nouv. Geog. Univ. vol. ix. (1884); V. Cuinet, La Turquie d'Asie (1890); W. M. Ramsay, Hist. Geog. of A. M. (1890); Murray's Handbook for A. M. &c., ed. by Sir C. Wilson (1895). For Geology see Tchihatcheff, Asie Mineure, Geologic (Paris, 1867-1869); Schaffer, Cilicia, Peterm. Mitt. Ergeinzungsheft, 141 (1903); Philippson, Sitz. k. preuss. Akad. Wiss. (1903), pp. 112-124; English, Quart. Journ. Geol. Soc. (London, 1904), PP. 2 43295; see also Suess, Das Antlitz der Erde, vol. iii. pp. 402-412, and the accompanying references.

2. A. Western Asia Minor. - J. Spon and G. Wheler, Voyage du Levant (1679); P. de Tournefort, Voyage du Levant (1718); F. Beaufort, Ionian Antiquities (1811); R. Chandler, Travels (1817); W. M. Leake, Journal of a Tour in A. M. (1820); F. V. J. Arundell, Visit to the Seven Churches (1828), and Discoveries, &c. (1834) C. Fellows, Excursion in A. M. (1839); C. T. Newton, Travels (1867), and Discoveries at Halicarnassus, &c. (1863); Dilettanti Society, Ionian Antiquities (1769-1840); J. R. S. Sterrett, Epigr. Journey and Wolfe Exped. (Papers, Amer. Arch. Inst. ii. iii.) (1888); J. H. Skene, Anadol (1853); G. Radet, Lydie (1893) O. Rayet and A. Thomas, Milet et le Golfe Latmique (1872); K. Buresch, Aus Lydien (1898); W. M. Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia (1895), and Impressions of Turkey (1898).

B. Eastern Asia Minor

W. F. Ainsworth, Travels in A. M. (1842); G. Perrot and E. Guillaume, Expl. arch. de la Galatie (1862-1872); E. J. Davis, Anatolica (1874); H. F. Tozer, Turkish Armenia (1881); H. J. v. Lennep, Travels (1870); D. G. Hogarth, Wandering Scholar (1896); Lord Warkworth, Notes of a Diary, &c. (1898); E. Sarre, Reise (1896); D. G. Hogarth and J. A. R. Munro, Mod. and Anc. Roads (R.G.S. Supp. Papers iii.) (1893); H. C. Barkley, A Ride through A. M. and Armenia (1891); M. Sykes, Dar ul-Islam (1904); E. Chantre, Mission en Cappadocie (1898).

C. Southern Asia Minor

F. Beaufort, Karamania (1817) C. Fellows, Discoveries in Lycia (1841); T. A. B. Spratt and E. Forbes, Travels in Lycia (1847); V. Langlois, Voy. dans la Cilicie (1861); E. J. Davis, Life in Asiatic Turkey (1879); O. Benndorf and E. Niemann, Lykien (1884); C. Lanckoronski, Villes de la Pamphylie et de la Pisidie (1890); F. v. Luschan, Reisen in S.W. Kleinasien 1888); E. Petersen and F. v. Luschan, Lykien (1889); K. Humann and O. Puchstein, Reisen in Kleinasien and Nordsyrien (1890).

D. Northern Asia Minor

J. M. Kinneir, Journey through A. M. (1818); J. G. C. Anderson and F. Cumont, Studia Pontica (1903); E. Naumann, Vom Goldenen Horn, &c. (1893).

See also G. Perrot and C. Chipiez, Hist. de l'art dans l'antiquite, vols. iv. v. (1886-1890); J. Strzygowski, Kleinasien, &c. (1903). Also numerous articles in all leading archaeological periodicals, the Geographical Journal, Deutsche Rundschau, Petermann's Geog. Mitteilungen, &c. &c.

3. MAPS. - H. Kiepert, Nouv. carte gen. des pron. asiat. de l'Emp. ottoman (1894), and Spezialkarte v. Westkleinasien (1890); W. von Diest, Karte des Nordwestkleinasien (1901); R. Kiepert, Karte von Kleinasien (1901); E. Friederich, Handelsand Produktenkarte von Kleinasien (1898); J. G. C. Anderson, Asia Minor (Murray's Handy Class. Maps) (1903). (C. W. W.; D. G. H.)

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Asia Minor


Asia Minor

  1. A large peninsula, mostly coterminous with Anatolia, between the Mediterranean Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea; it makes up the Asian part of Turkey



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The peninsular mass that the Asiatic continent projects westward of an imaginary line running from the Gulf of Alexandretta (Issus) on the Mediterranean to the vicinity of Trebizond (Trapezus) on the Black Sea. It is washed by three great seas, the Euxine (Black Sea) on the north, the Mediterranean on the south, and the Ægean on the west. It is located between 36°-42° north latitude and 26°-40° east longitude. The extreme length is about 720 miles and the extreme breadth about 420, though the average is 650 and 300 miles respectivelly. At its extreme western limit it almost touches the European mainland, from which it is separated for several miles by the narrow straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles (Hellespont) and by the small Sea of Marmora (Propontis) through which connecting waters the Mediterranean and the Black Sea are brought into mutual contact.



In remote antiquity it had no common designation, being known variously after the races or kingdoms that it included. The term "Asia" was soon popularized by the Romans for whom it meant only the populous and cultivated western sea-board, organized by them into a province, together with neighbouring territory (Mysia, Lydia, Caria, Phrygia) more or less civilized after the Græco-Roman ideas. The first writer to use the term Asia Minor is the Christian Orosius (Hist., I, 2, 10), about the year 400. The early Byzantine writers often refer to it as ‘e mikrà ’Asía, "Little Asia". In Byzantine administration it came soon to be known under the somewhat elastic name of ’Anatolé or "rising sun", i.e. "the East". It was, politically speaking, "the Anatolic theme", one of the twenty-nine provinces of the Byzantine empire from the seventh century to the eleventh century, when it became a Turkish land. Since then it has become officially known as Anatolia (Anadoli, Natolia, Nadolia), and as such constitutes an important part of Asiatic Turkey, is in fact the chief political and religious mainstay of the present Moslem constitution as far as it is based on Constantinople. Asia Minor is also known as "the Levant", a Western (Italian and French) equivalent for Anatolia. This term, however, applies chiefly to the commercail and industrial centres of the southern and western coasts, though in ecclesiastical language and history it often includes both Egypt and the Holy Land. It was only gradually, and in response to divers influences and agencies, that under the name of Asia Minor were included the remote semi-Oriental territories of Cappadocia and Pontus, Cilicia and Lesser Armenia. Outside of Roman law and administration, their only element of earnest unity was in the Christian religion, and it is not at all insignificant that the first expression of a sense of close and solid relationship should come from a Christian philosopher historian, and precisely at the moment when the new religion had finally borne down in town and country all forms of opposition and apathy, and filled with a new spirit the exhausted races and now lifeless culture of past ages.


It is an elevated plateau, ranging in its surfaces from two to five thousand feet above the sea level, from which rise great mountain chains that run east and west with a certain regularity, while minor groups of mountains and isolated peaks of savage grandeur are widely scattered over the immense table-land. In extent Asia Minor covers about 270,000 square miles and is about the size of France, while in its main physical features it has often been compared with Spain. The mountains of the northern coast, or Pontic range, rise abruptly from the sea for a long distance, are broken by no good harbours, and fall gradually away towards the Bosphorus. Those of the southern or Taurus range run in an irregular line not far from the Mediterranean and form a natural barrier between the central highlands and the southern sea, broken only by the coastal plains of Pamphylia and Cilicia. Inland, the Anti-Taurus range and isolated peaks lift their huge walls from seven to ten thousand feet and render difficult the intercommunication of the inhabitants. Some of these peaks, like Mt. Argæus in Cappadocia (13,100) are of volcanic origin, and smaller cones with well-preserved craters are numerous. There are but few passes, usually at a great height, the most notable of them being the famous Gates of Cilicia (Pylæ Ciliciæ) at the easternmost extremity, a narrow gorge (3,300) between two lofty mountains, the only entrance from the plains of Syria, and therefore at all times the road followed by the Eastern conquerors of Asia Minor. At the extreme west the mountains descend gradually to the sea which they pierce with numberless headlands and projections that give rise to the system of bays and inlets in which Asia Minor has at all times found its chief resources and its most attractive charm.

Asia Minor is a rich field for the geologist. The immense central mass of Mt. Argæus in Cappadocia is largely cretaceous limestone, and elsewhere, south and west, calcareous rocks abound. The rivers carry off enormous quantities of this material which, as it hardens to travertine, forces them to shift their beds, petrifies vegetation, and sterilizes the surroundings. Igneous rocks are frequent, and there is still abundance of the Proconnesian and Phrygian marbles that once tempted the sculptors and builders of Pergamus and Rhodes. The mineral wealth is very great, but much neglected. The rivers are numerous and fall mostly into the Black Sea or the Mediterranean. But they are all sinuous and narrow, and as a rule very shallow. Moreover, falling from great interior heights, they become regularly torrential floods that carry away vast masses of alluvial matter, which they deposit in the sea, thereby filling up good harbours, converting into lakes ports once open, and pushing their deltas so far seaward that they become a menace to navigation. The lack of navigable rivers reaching well into the interior has always been a source of political and economic weakness for Asia Minor, and is perhaps the chief reason why in antiquity it never took on the character of a great united state. In later times this was much more deplorable, owing to the ruin of the once excellent system of Roman roads, the suspicions and unprogressive attitude of the Turkish authorities, and the decay of all the land-improvements made by the original native races, the Greeks of the coast and coastal valleys, the Romans of the imperial period, and the Byzantine population. The interior plateau has an average altitude of 3,500 feet, and stretches north-east by south-west a distance of 250 miles in length by 160 in breadth. Much of it is a treeless and barren waste covered with salt lakes or brackish pools, and with a stunted growth of saline brush, wormwood, sage, and fern. Yet it supports many nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes of Turcomans and Yuruks, who wander at will over these lonely wastes and undulating downs in search of pasturage and water for their vast flocks of sheep and goats, though in the hot summer months they seek the higher levels for purer air and the welfare of their flocks.

There are twenty-six lakes on this great plateau, some of which compare favourably with the great lakes of Switzerland, both for size and beauty. Hot medicinal springs are very numerous and form one of the distinctive features of the land. In general the climate is colder than that of the European peninsula within the same degrees of latitude, and is subject to greater extremes of temperature. One cause of the great extremes of cold and heat is the general lack of moisture; that of the clouds is intercepted by the tall mountains, north and south, while the discharge of all the rivers is only about one-third of the united volume of the rivers of France. The northern coast, between Constantinople and Sinope, is exposed to the cold blasts of unimpeded polar winds and to sultry summer heats; on the other hand, to the north-east the lofty peaks of the Caucasus intercept the cold winds from the steppes of Russia and permit the growth of magnificent forests and of wild fruit-trees in abundance. The western coast has a temperature somewhat lower than that of Greece, owing to the atmospheric currents developed by the countless headlands and inlets of the Ionian coast. The southern coast, sheltered from the north winds by the Taurus range, enjoys a warm and genial climate comparable to that of southern France, though its summer is very dry. On the central plateau the climate is affected by the elevation and aspect of the land, but chiefly by the scanty rainfall; in some places the blue sky remains for six or seven months unflecked by a single cloud. As a rule, the summer is exceedingly hot and the winter equally cold. Even on the coast malaria is endemic, owing to the stagnant pools, swamps, and marshy tracts formed by the shifting of river beds, inundations, and the formation of deltas. Moreover, the deforestation of the interior permits the contaminated air of the low-lying pestilential plains to be wafted freely over the central plateau. In respect to climate Asia Minor has greatly deteriorated since Roman antiquity, owing chiefly to the low-grade civilization of its Turkish population and its inefficiency of the civil administration.

The flora of Asia Minor is very varied, apart from the scanty vegetation of the inland plateau. The oak is found there in fifty-two varieties, half of which occur nowhere else. On the northern slopes of the central plateau grow the walnut, box, beech, ash, and other trees; the great forest of Ajakh-Dagh (Sea of Trees) is 120 miles long by 40 broad, and its trees exhibit generally a much larger growth than those of other lands under the same latitude. There are also great forests on all the northern slopes of the Black Sea ranges. On the southern slope of the Taurus, to an altitude of 6,000 feet, noble cedar groves grow and tower above the pines, firs, and junipers, while below them, gradually dropping to the sea, are broad belts of palm groves and aloes and other sub-tropical growths. In the eastern Pontic region and elsewhere the apple, pear, plum, and cherry grow wild; indeed, Asia Minor is said to be the native home of these fruit-trees, usually looked on as of Western origin. Oriental plane and cypress, quasi-sacred symbols of domestic comfort and of human sorrow, are found everywhere. In the sheltered southern valleys the vine, fig, orange, lemon, and citron grow amid the rich aromatic shrubbery, and lend to the landscape the aspect of Sicily or the more favoured districts of southern France.

Several animal species, once indigenous to Asia Minor, have disappeared with the destruction of the inland forests. It is thought that like our domestic varieties of fruit trees, the sheep and the goat are also a gift of Asia Minor. The Angora goat, famous for its silky hair of which the mohair or so-called "cashmere" shawls are woven, is a Turkish importation of the eleventh or twelfth century (Tchihatcheff) and seems to have been unknown to the ancients. It is limited to the district of that name in Galatia, and the flocks, 400,000 to 500,000 head, are very difficult to acclimatize elsewhere than on these high plateaux; at any other place the quality of the fleece quickly deteriorates. The horses for which Asia Minor, particularly Cappadocia, was once famous have either disappeared or given way to another race, graceful, active,and hardy, but inferior to the present stock of Syria or Arabia; there are no longer any large cattle of fine breed. The one-humped camel is the chief means of transportation, especially on the uplands and in the remote eastern districts. Here he associates peaceably with the horse, and can bear with ease and security a pack of 250 pounds over the passes and rocky terraces. The introduction of the camel probably dates from the twelfth century and symbolizes the thorough substitution of Oriental life for the civilization of the West. A small debased breed of asses abounds, quite inferior to the fine donkeys of Syria or Egypt. Mules are also numerous, as pack-animals and means of transportation; according to an Homeric tradition the peninsula is the original home of the mule. [For a fuller account of the geography of Asia Minor see the classic work of Vivien de Saint Martin, quoted below, and Reclus-Keane, The Earth and its Inhabitants (New York, 1895), Asia Minor (Anatolia), IV, 241-343.]


From time immemorial Asia Minor has been the highway of nations crossing from east to west, and occasionally reversing their course. At the dawn of history, dimly seen Chalybes are working the iron ores of the Caucasus on the Black Sea, and close by are Iberians, Colchians and other tribes. At the other extremity Thracian tribes are flowing backward to their original haunts in Phrygia and Bithynia, while Semitic peoples begin the historical life of Cappadocia. From 1500 to 1000 B. C. the Hittites overran the land as far as the Halys and even as far as Smyrna and Ephesus; sculptures and rock-sanctuaries (Boghaz-Keuï in Cappadocia) still attest their presence. Before them Turanian peoples may have been long settled on the land. Inscribed and sculptured rock-surfaces and tombs in Lydia still puzzle the archæologist, historian, and philologist. From all such data it is impracticable to reconstruct, except in the broadest outline, "the periods of formation through which Asia Minor must have passed before it stands out in the full light of history with its division into numerous more or less independent states, its mixed population, its complicated combination of religions and cultures as different ast he races which originated them" (Ragozin). The fable of the Amazon state in the Thermodon valley seems to have originated in the female priesthood of the Hittite nature-goddess, Mâ, that the Greeks of the western coast eventually changed into Artemis (Diana of Ephesus). The modern discoveries of Schliemann and Dörpfeld at Hissarlik, on the site of ancient Troy, go far to confirm the reality of the main incidents in Homer and the traditional date (1200-1100 B. C.) of the siege and capture of the city of Priam. But it was not the Argives of Agamemnon who were destined to conquer Asia Minor for the ideas of Hellas. About the year 1100 B. C., numerous Greeks, fleeing before the Dorian invasion from the uplands of Epirus and Thessaly, began to move southward. Driven by these rude warlike invaders, they soon took to the open sea, and so eventually settled in the islands of the Archipelago and along the southern coast of Asia Minor wherever the river-mouths or the plains offered tempting sites for trade and enterprise. They found before them the kingdoms of Lydia and Caria with whose history Herodotus (I, 7-14) begins his account of the wars of the Greeks and Persians; for Asia, he says, with all the barbarian tribes that inhabit it, is regarded by the Persians as their own (ibid., I, 4). Thenceforth, from the ninth to the sixth century B. C., it is a long procession of Greeks (Ionians, Æolians, Dorians) who descend regularly on the shores of Asia Minor as traders, colonists, adventurers; above all, men of Ionian race. They build their city and sanctuary of Miletus near the shrine of the Lydian sun-god; they adopt other local deities, intermarry with the natives and establish soon an over-sea Greece whose development is the first great chapter in the history of the Western mind. (Sayce, The Ancient Empires of the East, London, 1884; Grote, History of Greece.) The earliest known coins (square-punched, electron) are of Lydian origin, belong to the seventh century B. C., and are perhaps a result of the mercantile intercourse of Greeks and natives. The oracle of Delphi now attracted the Lydian kings, "the first of the barbarians", says Herodotus, "to send presents to that Greek temple", and so along the lines of a common religion there sprang up an ever closer intercourse of both races.

About the middle of the sixth century B. C., a certain hegemony over most of the peninsula was established by Crœsus, King of Lydia, but this petted child of antique fortune was soon overthrown (548-546 B. C.) by the Persian Cyrus, after which for two centuries the entire land was an outlying province of Persia. In those days the exactions of the "Great King" fitted in with the ambition and patriotism of the Greeks of the mainland to bring about sympathetic wars in defence of the Asiatic Greeks and then in defence of the Hellenic fatherland (500-449 B. C.). These immortal efforts of the Greeks arrested forever the repeated overflow of Oriental arrogance and oppression, and made ready the way for the career of Alexander the Great who was destined to revenge on the Orient all the wrongs, supposed or real, of the Greeks of Asia Minor, and to open the career of European grandeur and progress. An uneasy and disturbed period followed, during which the Seleucid successors of Alexander pretended to dominate from Antioch the rich and easy prey of Asia Minor that had fallen to Alexander after the battles of the Granicus and of Issus (334-333 B. C.), fought respectively at either end of the peninsula. In this time arose the new kingdoms of Pontus, Bithynia, Cappadocia, Pergamus, and Cilicia partly Greek and partly native, also the interesting Celtic kingdom of Galatia founded (280 B. C.) by warlike adventurers from Gaul, and so organized by them that for the next six or seven centuries it bore the stamp of many peculiar Celtic institutions of their distant fatherland. Greek art, that had already flourished admirably in the Ionian islands and mainland centres of the south and south-west, now took on a fresh development forever connected with the little mountainous kingdom of Pergamus and its Greek rulers known as the Attalids, from Attalus, a favourite name of its kings. Then came the wars with republican Rome (190-63 B. C.), ending in the latter year with the defeat and death of the great Mithradates VI, "the Oriental defender of Greek liberties", whereby Pontus and Bithynia, i.e. the shores of the Black Sea, were for a long time freed from the peril of Oriental domination. In general the first three centuries of Roman imperial administration were a period of peace and progress for Asia Minor. From the fourth to the seventh century the last long conflict of Eastern Rome with Persia went on, the vicissitudes of which were of no little importance to the great province across which the imperial armies and the warriors of Persia moved to and fro. The annihilation of Persian ambition by Emperor Heraclius (A. D. 610-641) only shifted the source of danger; henceforth the Arab and his successor, the Turk, take up the continuous challenge of the Orient, and finally make it good. Predatory Arab invasions from 672 to 717 were repelled with vigour from Constantinople, after which for over three centuries the land remained subject to the hereditary Byzantine rule, though during this period almost endless conflict with the Arab dynasties made the Christian buffer-state of Armenia a scene of unutterable woe, and even Asia Minor was constantly menaced by the children of the Prophet. In the end the bravery and military skill of the Macedonian emperors (867-1057) availed not against the continuous pressure of fresh hordes from the far East, and the middle of the eleventh century saw two fatal events, almost contemporaneous and intimately connected, the final separation of the Greek and Latin churches (1040), and the conquest of Asia Minor by Malek Shah and his Seljuk Turks (1058-71). After the death of Malek (1092) his children disputed and divided the splendid inheritance left by him. But Asia Minor, henceforth Rûm (i.e. Rome, the Turkish name of all Byzantine territory), did not pass from their control; they set up their thrones at Nicæa, Nicomedia, and eventually (1097) at Iconium (Koniah). The crusaders of the twelfth century usually took the great highway over Asia Minor, either entirely into Syria, or partly, to embark at ports on the southern coast. Here and there they set up a temporary rule, but could not sustain it against the inexhaustible multitude of the Turkish hordes and the treachery of the Greek emperors. For more than a century the Seljuks ruled Asia Minor, until the appearance of the Mongol hordes (1235). The over-lordship of the latter lasted for some sixty years, until about 1294, when the rule of the Ottoman Turk was inaugurated by the victories of Othman I, and the successful reigns of his three sons, Urkhan, Murad I, and Bajazet I. A ray of hope shone for the Christian Byzantines during the thirteenth century when the Empire of Nicæa (1204-1330) held Bithynia, Lydia, a part of Phrygia and the islands of the Archipelago, i. e. the western region of Asia Minor, and again in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries when the Empire of Trebizond (1204-1461) on the Black Sea nourished feebly the hopes of Greek Christians for a return of independence under the cross. But Nicæa fell and became an outpost of Ottoman conquest, and Trebizond scarcely survived the fall of Constantinople (1453). Both weak states had arisen as a protest against the Latin conquest of Constantinople (1204), and though they made the coast line Christian for three centuries, they were unable to loosen the grip of the Turkish hordes of "the Black Sheep" and others on the table-land of the interior. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the Genoese and Venetians established a commercial supremacy along the coasts of Asia Minor and in many of the islands. They left permanent memorials in military architecture (since then the Turks call ruins indiscriminately "Djenovessi kalessi" or Genoese castles), and especially in the commercial and maritime law, in business relations and methods, and in the class known henceforth as "Levantines". But the mutual jealousies and rivalries of the Italian commercial republics, and their predominating secular aims, prevented any serious attempt to oust the Seljuk Turk from the high table-lands and eastern border. Ottoman rule and life spread rapidly, threatened only for a brief while by a new Mongol invasion under Tamerlane (1386-1402), and by the disastrous battle of Angora in the latter year (Creasy, History of the Ottoman Empire, new ed., London, 1882). In the end, however, Turkish fortune and courage prevailed, and permanent dominion over the peninsula was secured to the Osmanli by the capture of Constantinople in 1453, since which time save for a partial occupation by the Egyptian Mohammed Ali (1831-39) the Turk has held in peace this richest jewel of Mediterranean empire. As a rule, the inland Turk has cared only for fresh pasturage for his flocks. Ever moving from place to place with his countless sheep and goats, he has despised agriculture and the life of towns. Heedless of the future he has ruined all cultivation of the land, allowed its once perfect development to decay completely, and driven the Christian peasant of the Byzantine age to the mountains or the sea, when he has not induced him to adopt, with the normal life, the law of the Koran. It is the low-grade civilization of the steppes of Turkestan made permanent on the former site of supreme Hellenic refinement of life and of Christian sublimity of teaching and virtue. And it is universally admitted that only a recolonization from Europe can restore its original felicitous conditions. (Vivien de Saint Martin, "Déscription historique et géographique de l'Asie Mineure", Paris, 1852; Heyd, "Geschichte des Levantenhandels", Stuttgart, 1879, tr. into French by Reynaud, Paris, 1880-86).

     The Roman Province.–Under the Roman rule, republican and early imperial, the numerous political entities that had sprung up in Asia Minor after the death of Alexander the Great disappeared rapidly and made way for a unity and efficiency of administration, a peace and prosperity, hitherto unknown. The little Greek kingdoms of Pergamus and Bithynia were left to Rome by the wills of their last kings; Cilicia, freed by Pompey from the pirates that infested its waters, was only too grateful for imperial protection; Pontus alone was won from Mithradates VI in a memorable war during which the Celts of Galatia sided with victorious Rome and reaped the reward of their good fortune in governmental favour. With their kings Deiotadrus and Amyntas, the line of Celtic rulers of Asia Minor closed; after the death of Amyntas (25 B. C.) Galatia became a Roman province. The last king of Cappadocia died in the reign of Tiberius, and the land was forthwith annexed. In this way a practical uniformity of government was introduced over the entire peninsula. Without doing violence to local customs or traditions, the imperial government assured to the provincials an administration at once responsible and equitable, of swift and thorough justice, of continuous peace, easy communication, protection to life and property and the fruits of honest industry. The wool-grower and the weaver of Ancyra, the gold-embroiderer of Attalia, and the sculptor of Diana statuettes in Ephesus were henceforth assured of permanent prosperity, and with them all the other callings and occupations of the most highly civilized part of the Mediterranean world. Manufactures and industries increased, and before the end of the second century Asia Minor had touched the scene of temporal felicity. Taxation, as everywhere in the empire, was close and minute, but not intolerable. Occasionally the taxes were remitted and in periods of public calamity (earthquakes, inundations) the public treasury came to aid the unhappy provincials. The revenues of the peninsula, deeply impaired by republican misgovernment, the Mithradatic wars, and the campaigns against the pirates, increased with rapidity; the fertile islands of the archipelago together with Crete and Cyprus, centuries ago hellenized in polity, tongue and civilized institutions, were bee-hives of industry. Rhodes, e.g., was the great workshop of Greek sculptors who continued, though in a decadent way, the glorious traditions of the Ionian and Pergamene ages. Every available piece of ground on the coast was intensely cultivated, as the pitiful wreckage of agricultural engineering yet shows, while in the interior the plains of Galatia were covered with goats and sheep, and those of Cappadocia with the finest breed of horses known to the ancients. That all the industrial virtues were highly cultivated is shown by a list of occupations drawn from Christian inscriptions of the fifth century (Cumont). They exhibit among other callings oil-dealers, scribes, greengrocers, potters, coppersmiths, skinners, mariners, money-changers, and goldsmiths. In the imperial period few new cities were added to the five hundred busy urban hives of the western coast, but Greek civilization went hand in hand with Roman law through the interior and was welcomed, e.g. in the mountains of uncouth Cappadocia and of rugged warlike Issauria where the Attalids and Seleucids had never been able to acclimatize it. For the better administration of justice the land was divided into a certain number of judicial districts (conventus juridici) and assizes were regularly held in the chief towns of the same.

A certain unity of religion was reached in the worship of Rome and Augustus, i.e. of the dead and later of the living emperors, to whom temples were built in the metropolitan cities (Augusteum, Cæsareum), and in the celebration of whose festivals the Asiatic provincial proclaimed his gratitude, exercised his new Roman patriotism, and felt himself drawn nearer, if not to his fellow-Asiatics, at least to the marvellous darling of fortune enthroned upon the distant Tiber. The man of Asia Minor had long been subject to Persia without revolt, and then to the children of the brilliant marshals of Alexander; submission was natural to him, and this time it brought in its train all that was needed to make life perfect in so favoured a land, i.e. peace and prosperity. As high-priest of the provincial department of the imperial religion of Rome and Augustus his influence over all religious matters was great. The office seems at times to have been closely identified with that of the president of the emperor's festival, and was the formal source of much of the persecution directed against the Christians of the province, especially during the annual festival, when the deputies of the provincial cities met at the metropolis and manifested their patriotism, among other ways, by denouncing the followers of Jesus for refusing to adore the divinity (numen, genius) of the emperor. An ideal picture of the office, affected, however, by Christian institutions and experience, is given by Julian the Apostate in his famous letter to the Galatarch (Ep., xlix; cf. Eus., Hist. Eccl., VIII, xiv, 9). With the honour of president of the annual festival of the emperor went other distinctions, a special title (Asiarch, Bithyniarch, Galatarch), in addition to various marks of honour. Only the rich could pretend to merit it, for the office carried with it the right and the duty to defray the expense of such festivals. But there were many to claim it, for provincial pride was strong in Asia Minor, and the rivalry of the metropolitan cities was very keen. The new worship of Rome and Augustus was not unlike a religion established by law, though it never interfered with the other forms of Greek or Oriental worship, or the numerous miraculous asylums, or even such individual careers as those of Apollonius of Tyana or Alexander of Abonoteichos. To the cities was left their ancient liberty of internal administration, the repartition of imperial assessments, and the preservation of local order. Only the wealthy could vote for the magistrates, and the time was yet far off when their descendants would try in vain to rid themselves of an hereditary dignity that in the end carried with it the heaviest of financial burdens. Occasionally the imperial government looked into the municipal book-keeping and even controlled the municipal decrees; more frequently it exercised a certain surveillance over the nomination of the chief of police (eirenarch). The public safety was assured in the early imperial times by a small army of 5,000 auxiliary troops in Galatia, and by the Black Sea fleet of forty ships stationed at Trebizond. In the time of Vespasian two legions were quartered in Cappadocia and along the upper waters of the Euphrates. A few soldiers scattererd here and there through the provinces served the Roman magistrates as messengers, sheriffs, bailiffs, and the like. Asia Minor, in which both the senate and the emperor exercised, in theory at least, a co-ordinate jurisdiction until the end of the third century, was too contented and loyal to call for other troops than were necessary for protection from the foreign enemy, or to repress brigandage. The latter was, unhappily, never quite suppressed in a land well fitted for the flight and concealment of the lawless. Up to the time of Justinian certain parts of Isauria and Cilicia were the home of bold freebooters, despite the ever tightening military cordons, the increase of civilization, and the growing influence of Christian principles. There were often in municipal life lack of integrity, corruption, and waste, coupled with intrigues, rivalries, and factions, but this is no more than might be expected amid such unexampled prosperity, in a land where no large political life existed, and where climate and the narrow municipal horizon conspired to diminish energy and magnify local and temporary interests. "The calm sea" says Mommsen, "easily becomes a swamp, and the lack of the great pulsation of general interest is clearly discernible also in Asia Minor".

A complete description of the cities of Asia Minor in the best days of the empire, their splendour and magnificence, partly inherited and partly to the credit of Rome, sounds to modern ears like exaggeration. Their ruins, however, are convincingly eloquent. Marble and granite, exquisitely and solidly worked, were the building materials of the countless temples, baths, assembly-rooms, gymnasia, deep-pillared porticoes and colonnades that graced even the smallest of its cities, and were very often the gifts of private individuals, who exhibited thus in their little "fatherland" (as the Christian Bishop Abercius calls his native city Hierapolis), a power of self-sacrifice and affection for the public weal for which no larger stage was open. Countless art-works in marble and bronze often replicas of incomparable Greek originals carried away in the republican period, decorated the public buildings and the open squares; even these copies seem at last to have been confiscated by Constantine for his new city by the Golden Horn. Aqueducts and reservoirs, embankments and levees, saved and controlled the useful waters that are now the ruin of the land. Terraces built with skill and art multiplied the productive power of the fertile soil. From the city gates there radiated numerous long lines of sculptured tombs, whose broken inscriptions now throw light on the rich and varied life of the antique world. In the fine arts the correct sense of the Greeks was the guide, but in commercial and industrial life the Roman seems to have been dominant. Latin mercantile words are often transliterated into Greek, and there are numerous other evidences of close commercial intercourse with Italy. Famous Greek teachers and physicians frequented the Italian cities (Tac., Ann., XII, 61, 67) somewhat as the Byzantine humanists frequented those of Northern Italy. The great municipal families and those well established on the vast estates of the central table-land seem to have clung to the ancestral soil with more fidelity than was shown elsewhere in the Orient. Education of the purely literary type was universal, and to some extent provided for by the cities and even by the imperial government. We read of principals and inspectors of schools, of teachers of writing and music, of masters of boxing, archery, and spear-throwing, of special privileges for teachers of rhetoric and grammar; in a word the ideal education of the Greek mainland as crystallized in the classic writers and in the still vigorous school of Athens, was in a large measure reproduced in Asia Minor. Homer and the Greek classics were the school books. The chief result of it all was a race of remarkable public orators known as sophists or rhetoricians, wandering academic lecturers on the glories of the past or on commonplaces of philosophy, poetry, and history. Often bilingual, they were admired by the provincials, whose favour they held by flattery and sympathy, and by careful attention to the mise en scene–voice, gesture, dress, attitude. Some of them, like Dio Chrysostom, exhibit genuine native patriotism, but in all of them there echoes a hollow declamatory note, the best evidence of the hopeless character of Greek paganism, of which they were now the chief theologians and philosophers. Their literary influence was deep and lasting, and though they were inimical to the Christian religion, this influence may yet be traced in not a few of the Greek Christian writers of their own and later times. Apart from this class the pagan society of Asia Minor seems to have contributed but a few great names to the annals of science and literature. Two of them come from Bithynia, the above-mentioned rhetorician Dio Chrysostom, moralist and philosopher, and Arrian of Nicomedia, historian of Alexander the Great and popularizer of Epictetus. Pergamus boasts the name of the learned physician Galen, like his earlier fellow-Asiatic, Xenophon of Cos, a man of scientific attainments in his own department, and also of general philosophic culture, but a stern enemy of the Christian religion. Nevertheless, just as Roman Asia Minor boasts of no first-class cities like Alexandria or Antioch, but only of a great many second and third class centres of population, so in literature the great names are wanting, while general literary culture and refinement, both of speech and taste, are widespread, and, in the near western section, universal. The cosmopolitan character of imperial administration, the diffusion of education, the facility of travel, and the free use of the two great civilized tongues, made the man of Asia Minor, in a certain sense, a citizen of the world and fitted him peculiarly to play an important part from the fourth century on in the spread of Christianity and the adaptation of its ideas to Græco-Roman society. Indeed, without some knowledge of the civilization that moulded their youth, the Basils and the Gregorys [of Nyssa and Nazianzus -- Ed.] lose half their interest for us. (Mommsen, The Provinces of the Roman Empire, New York, 1887, II, 345-97; Ramsay, The Historical Geography of the Roman Empire, London, 1890.)

Spread of Christianity in Asia Minor

As everywhere in the Roman empire, so in Asia Minor it was the numerous Jewries in which the Christian religion found its first aderents. In the last three pre-Christian centuries the Seleucid kings of Syria had transplanted from Palestine to Asia Minor thousands of Jewish families whose descendants were soon scattered along all the coasts and throughout a great part of the interior. On Pentecost day at Jerusalem (Acts, ii, 5, 9, 10) there were present among the disciples "Jews, dovout men out of every nation under heaven", also representatives of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. On his several missionary journeys, St. Paul visited many parts of Asia Minor and established there the first Christian churches; in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of Acts there is a vivid and circumstantial description of all the chief phases of his Apostolic activity. His conversion of the Galatians, in particular, has a perennial interest for Western Christians, since at least a large portion of that province was composed of descendants of those Celts of Gaul who had settled there in the third century B. C. and in St. Paul's time, and for centuries afterwards, still retained their Celtic speech and many Celtic institutions (Lightfoot, Commentary on Galatians, London, 1896, 1-15; Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire before A. D. 170, New York, 1893, 97-111; Idem, St. Paul, the Traveller and Roman Citizen, New York, 1898, 130-151). Asia Minor was the principal scene of the labours of St. John; he wrote his Apocalypse on the desolate island of Patmos, and his Gospel probably at Ephesus. He established firmly in the latter city a famous centre of Christian life, and an ancient tradition, as old as the Council of Ephesus (431), says that the Blessed Virgin spent her last years in the vicinity of Ephesus, and passed thence to her reward. From Ephesus St. John travelled much throughout Asia Minor and has always been credited with the first establishment of many of its episcopal sees; the story of the re-conversion of the young robber, touchingly told in the "Quis Dives" of Clement of Alexandria exhibits the popular concept of St. John in the mind of the average Christian of Asia Minor about the year 200. In the "Acts of Thecla" it is now recognized that we have a fragment of a life of St. Paul in Asia Minor, written about the middle of the second century, though without ecclesiastical approval, which throws no little light on several phases of the great Apostle's career but slightly touched on in the Acts and the Pauline Epistles. St. Peter, too, preached the Christian Faith in Asia Minor. His First Epistle, written from Rome (v, 13), is addressed "to the strangers dispersed through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia", i.e. in northern, western, and central Asia Minor. That the new religion spread rapidly is proved by the famous passage in the letter of Pliny (Ep. x, 97), Roman governor of Bithynia, addressed to the Emperor Trajan about 112, in which he says that the whole province is overrun with the contagion of Christianity, the temples are abandoned and the meat of the victims unsaleable, persons of every age, rank, and condition are joining the new religion. At this period also the Church History of Eusebius shows us the admirable figure of St. Ignatius of Antioch, of whose seven letters five are addressed to Christian churches of Asia Minor (Philadelphia, Ephesus, Smyrna, Tralles, Magnesia) and reveal an advanced stage of Christian growth. It was at this time that St. Polycarp of Smyrna and St. Irenæus of Lyons were born in Asia Minor, both prominent Christian figures of the second century, the latter being the foremost ecclesiastical writer of his period.

It is in Asia Minor that synods, or frequent assemblies of Christian bishops, first meet us as a working ecclesiastical institution; even in remote and uncouth Cappadocia they were not infrequent in the third century. It was therefore fitting that when the first general council of the Catholic Church was held (525) it should be called together at Nicæa (Isnik) in western Asia Minor, amid a population long stanchly Christian. Of the (traditional) 318 bishops who attended that council about one hundred were from Asia Minor; the semi-barbarous Isauria sent fourteen city bishops and four rural bishops (chorepiscopi), while remote Cilicia sent nine city bishops and one rural bishop. Indeed, the episcopal system of Asia Minor seems to have been almost completed by this time. (Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Asia Minor, in Histor. Geogr. of Asia Minor, London, 1890, 104-426.) In any case, there were in that territory in the fifth century some 450 Catholic episcopal sees. The institution of rural bishops (chorepiscopi) appears first in Asia Minor (Council of Ancyra, 314) and seems to be the origin of the later parochial system. It is in Asia Minor that arose, or were fought out, nearly all the great ecclesiastical conflicts of the early Christian period. The Church History of Eusebius, first published before 325, exhibits the Christian bishops of Asia Minor during the second and third centuries in conflict with semi-Oriental philosophic heresies like Gnosticism, that developed under the leadership of keen critical rationalists like Marcion of Sinope on the Black Sea, while the germs of the great christological heresies, e.g. Sabellianism, were first nourished on the same soil. Here, too, met the famous councils that overthrew these heresies (Nicæa in 325, Ephesus in 431, and Chalcedon in 451). Internal reform of the Christian Church was first undertaken from Asia Minor, where Montanus, a native of Phrygia, began the rigorist movement known as Montanism, and denounced the growing laxity of Christian life and the moral apathy of the religious chiefs of the society. He claimed for himself and certain female disciples the survival of the early Christian prophetic gifts, or personal religious inspiration, which seems to have been more frequent and to have survived longer in Asia Minor than elsewhere (Harnack, Mission und Ausbreitung, 287, 402). The immediate cause of the last great persecution, that of Diocletian (284-305), seems to have been the rapid growth of Christianity in all Asia Minor, particularly in the imperial capital, then located at Nicomedia (Ismid). Maximus Daza,a the sympathetic colleague in Egypt of the persecuting Galerius (305-311), admitted (Euseb., Hist. Eccl., IX, ix) that nearly all the Orient had become Christian, and in this he was merely the echo of the dying words of the contemporary Christian scholar and martyr, Lucian of Antioch, who asserted (Rufin., Hist. Eccl., IX, vi) that in his time the greater part of the Roman world had become Christian, even entire cities. Such a Christian city of Phrygia, Eusebius tells us (Hist. Eccl., VIII, xi, 1), was given to the flames by the pagans in the persecution of Diocletian; the inhabitants perished to a man with the name of Christ upon their lips. Apropos of this, Harnack recalls (op. cit., p. 466) the fact that eighty years earlier Thyatira in the same province was an entirely Christian city, though intensely Montanist in religious temper. The city of Apaneia in the same province seems to have become quite Christian before 250. The work of Cumont (Inscriptions Chrétiennes de l'Asie Mineure, Rome, 1895) exhibits undeniable epigraphic evidence that Phrygia was widely Christianized long before the conversion of Constantine (312). The words of Renan (Origines du Christianisme, III, 363, 364) are therefore eminently true: "Thenceforward (from A. D. 112) for three hundred years Phrygia was essentially a Christian land. There began the public profession of Christianity; there are found, from the third century, on monuments exposed to the public gaze, the terms Chrestianos or Christianos; there the formulas of epitaphs convey veiled references to Christian dogmas; there, from the days of Septimus Severus, great cities adopt biblical symbols for their coins, or rather adapt their old traditions to biblical narrations. A great number of the Christians of Ephesus and Rome came from Phrygia. The names most frequently met with on the monuments of Phrygia are the antique Christian names (Trophimus, Tychicus, Tryphenus, Papias, etc.), the names special to the apostolic times, and of which the martylrologies are full". The Acts of the Christian Bishop, Pionius of Smyrna, a martyr of the time of Decius (249-251), portray that city as largely Christian, and (with exception of the Jews) entirely devoted to its rhetorician-bishop. In the fourth century Gregory of Nyssa relates, apropos of Gregory of Cæsarea (c. 213-275), that during the thirty-five or forty years of his episcopal activity he had Christianized nearly all Pontus. It is an unfair exaggeration (Harnack, 475-476) to attribute his success to toleration of heathen customs, amusements, etc. So good a Christian theologian as Gregory of Nyssa could relate this condescension of the Wonder-worker without perceiving any real sacrifice of Christian principles in faith or morals; some concessions there must always be when it is question of conversions in bulk. His "Epistola Canonica" (P. G., X, 1019-48), one of the earliest and most venerable documents of diocesan legislation, presupposes many well-established Christian communities, whose captive ecclesiastics and citizens (c. 260) spread the first germs of Christianity among the piratical Goths of the Black Sea. Asia Minor was certainly the first part of the Roman world to accept as a whole the principles and the spirit of the Christian religion, and it was not unnatural that the warmth of its conviction should eventually fire the neighbouring Armenia and make it, early in the fourth century, the first of the ancient states formally to accept the religion of Christ (Euseb., Hist. Eccl., IX, viii, 2). The causes of the rapid conversion of Asia Minor are not, in general, dissimilar to those which elsewhere favoured the spread of Christianity. It may be accepted, with Harnack, that the ground was already prepared for the new religion, inasmuch as Jewish monotheism was acclimatized, had won many disciples, and discredited polytheism, while on the other hand Christianity was confronted by no State religion deeply and immemorially entrenched in the hearts of a united and homogeneous people (the imperial worship being a late innvoation and offering only a factitious unity). But much of this is true of other parts of the Roman empire, and it remains certain that the local opposition to the Christian religion was nowhere stronger than in the cities of Asia Minor where Antoninus Pius (138-161) had to check the illegal violence of the multitude (Euseb., Hist. Eccl., IV, xxxiii); even if we do not accept as genuine his rescript "Ad commune Asiæ" (ibid., IV, xix), it is of ancient origin and exhibits an enduring Christian sense of intolerable injustice, already foreshadowed in I Peter, iv, 3-5, 13-19. The literary opposition to Christianity was particularly strong, as already said, among the rhetoricians and grammarians, i.e. among the public teachers and the philosophers, not to speak of the pagan imperial priesthood, nowhere so well organized and favoured as in every province of Asia Minor. Lactantius tells us that the last known anti-Christian pamphleteers were both from Bithynia in Asia Minor (Inst. V, 2), Hierocles, the governor of the province, and another whose name he withholds. The principal theologians of Asia Minor (Irenæus, Gregory the Wonder-worker, Methodius of Olympus, Basil of Neocæsarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa) do not differ notably in their concepts of the Christian religion from those of Syria or Egypt or the West. It seems therefore quite incorrect to describe with Harnack the original conversion of Asia Minor as a gradual and rather peaceful transformation of the native heathenism and no real extirpation (keine Ausrottung, sondern eine Umformung, op. cit., 463). If this were so, it must always remain a great mystery how the Christianity of Asia Minor could present, on the eve of its political triumph, so remarkable a front of unity in sound doctrine and elevated morals when its alleged original pagan sources were so numerous and conflicting, so gross and impure.

Of the ecclesiastical administration of Asia Minor, after the triumph of the Christian religion, but little need be said. Like the rest of the Roman empire the land was divided into two administrative territories, known as "dioceses" (Gr. dioikéseis, districts to be supervised). They were Pontus and Asia, respectively an eastern and a western territory. In the first were twelve civil provinces, to which corresponded the ecclesiastical provinces of Cappadocia, Lesser Armenia, Pontus, Polemonium, Helenopontus, Galatia, Bithynia, Honorias, and Paphlagonia. The diocese of Asia included the provinces of Asia (proper), Hellespont, Phrygia, Lydia, Caria, Lycia, Pamphylia, Pisidia, Lycaonia, and the Cyclades or islands of the Ægean. By the end of the fourth century these eighteen provinces were subject to the patriarch of Constantinople, while on the south-eastern coast, Isauria and Cilicia, with the island of Cyprus, were subject to the patriarchate of Antioch, Cyprus in a restless and discontented way. All were more easily reached from the mouth of the Orontes; yet other reasons, historical, national, and temperamental, co-operated with the ambition of the clergy of Constantinople to draw this line of demarcation between the two great ecclesiastical spheres of influence in the central Orient, whereby Armenia was drawn within the radius of Syro-Antiochene influence, to the great detriment, later on, of Catholic unity. (Duchesne, Histoire ancienne de l'église, Paris, 1906, I, 433 sqq.) The ambition of the clergy of Constantinople, their jealousy of old Rome, and imperial favour, had won this pre-eminence for the royal city. It had never evangelized Asia Minor; that was done from Antioch, and in the third century the two ecclesiastical exarchates of Asia Minor, Cæsarea in Cappadocia and Ephesus in Asia proper, were subject to the patriarch of the great Syrian city. In the latter half of the third century, long before the founding of Constantinople (330), the bishops of Asia Minor were wont to attend the synods of Antioch and in turn that patriarch occasionally presided over the synods held in Asia Minor. It was from Antioch that the churches of Asia Minor got their liturgy; from them it radiated to Constantinople itself and eventually throughout the greater part of the Greek Church (Duchesne, Origins of Christian Worship, London, 1903, 71). Once established, however, the jurisdiction of Constantinople over most of the churches of Asia Minor remained unchallenged, especially after the Arab conquest of Syria (636) when the ancient influence of Antioch on eastern Asia Minor disappeared. Nevertheless, the ecclsiastical organization of Asia Minor was too solidly rooted in popular life to disappear except very slowly. If we had complete lists of the subscriptions to the Greek councils of the eighth and ninthx centuries, we should know more about the survival of the episcopal system and its various modifications under Byzantine rule. As it is, not a little light is thrown on the medieval hierarchy of Asia Minor by a certain number of catalogues or lists of the patriarchates with their metropolitan and autocephalous archbishops, also of the suffragans of the metropolitans, whicn are extant under the Latin name of "Notitiæ Episcopatuum" (ed. Parthey, Berlin, 1866). These catalogues were originally known as Taktiká, some of them dating back to the seventh or eighth century (Pakaià Taktiká), while others underwent frequent correction, more or less scientific and thorough, even as late as the thirteenth century (Krumbacher, Gesch. der byzant. Litteratur, 2d ed., Munich, 1897, 415, 416; Ramsay, Hist. Geogr. of Asia Minor, 89, 427). Together with the geographies of Ptolemy and Strabo (the latter a native of Asia Minor and praised by Ramsay for his accurate and lucid work), the famous "Tabula Peutingeriana" (a fourth-century map of the imperial road-system radiating from Constantinople), and the "Synecdemos"of Hierocles, a sixth-century account of the sixty-four Byzantine provinces and their more than 900 cities, these episcopal lists enable us to follow the continuity of Christian public life in Asia Minor throughout the troubled cneturies of political and economic decay that finally ended in the blank horror of Islamitic shepherdism. Krumbacher notes in these lists the strict adherence to ancient system and the recurrence of original diocesan names, long after they had ceased to correspond with the reality of things, somewhat as the Roman Church yet continues to use the titles of extinct sees located in countries now subject to non-Christian political control. The same author treats (op. cit., passim) in detail of the Byzantine writers of Asia Minor during the medieval period.


In the absence of a reliable census the population of Asia Minor is variously given. Larousse (1898) puts it at 9,235,000, of whom 7,179,000 are Moslems and 1,548,000 Christians. This does not include the small Greek Christian principality of Samos (45,000) nor the island of Cyprus (210,000) nor that of Crete (360,000), all three being frequently counted as parts of Asia Minor. Neher (Kirchenlex., VII, 775) puts the total population at 10,750,000. It is mostly composed of Ottoman Turks who still reproduce the primitive type, especially in the interior, where nomadic tribes, like the Turcomans and Yuruks, exhibit the characteristics of the original Ottoman conquerors. In general the term "Turk" is applied to all sedentary Mohammedans in Asia Minor, whatever be their origin; it is also applied to the officials, descendants of Georgian or Circassian captive women, to the numerous immigrants from Bosnia and Bulgaria (Slavs in blood, but Moslems in faith), and to the Albanian soldiers settled in Asia Minor. Similarly, the term applies to Moslem descendants of Arab and negro slaves. Some of the nomadic tribes (Yuruks) are Mohammedan only in name, though of ancient Turkish descent. They are generally known as Turcomans and live with their flocks in their own tent-encampments, primitive clans with no cohesion; they spend their lives in transit from the plains to the mountains, and vice versa, in search of pasturage, water, and pure air. With them may be classed the Chingani or gypsies, wandering tinkers, and horse dealers. There are also other small remnants of the original Turkish immigration that still affect the ways of their fierce ancestry, the Afshars and the Zeibeks, from whose ranks the government draws its most fanatical soldiers. The Mohammedan Kurds of Asia Minor, both sedentary and nomad, differ so much in features and social habits from the Turks that they are not classed with the latter; they resemble much their brethren of the Armenian highlands, are evidently of Medic origin, and speak dialects of Persian with some Syriac and Armenian words. Around the seaboard, in the numerous islands of the archipelago and in the large inland cities of Cappadocia and Pontus, the Greeks are numerous; on the southern coast and in the islands they are in the vast majority and, except politically, are the dominant race as of old, being the commercial and industrial element. Not a few of the sedentary Turks are of Greek origin, descendants of voluntary or compulsory apostates; on the other hand, not a few Greeks isolated in the interior yet speak Turkish, a stigma of hated subjection that Greek patriotism aims at effacing. There are many Armenians in Asia Minor, sometimes gathered in distinct settlements, and again scattered through the Turkish villages; the taxes are usually farmed out to them, for which reason they are bitterly hated by the Turkish peasant who complains of their rapacity. They retain usually their native tongue. On the Persian frontier of Asia Minor, in some secluded valleys, are found yet a few Nestorians, descendants of those Syrian Christians who fled in remote times to these fastnesses either to avoid the oppression of their Moslem masters in Mesopotamia or before the encroachments of nomad tribes.


Asia Minor proper is divided into fifteen "vilayets" or administrative territories, two separate sanjaks (districts), and one principality (Samos). At the head of each is a "vali" or provincial governor, in whose council a seat is given to the spiritual head of each of the non-Moslem communities. Each vilayet is divided into sanjaks or districts, and these are again subdivided into communal groups and communes, presided over respectively by officers known as mutessarifs, kaimakams, mudirs, and mukhtars. The code is the common law of Islam, known as Nizam, and there is an appeal to the High Court at Constantinople from the civil, criminal, and commercial courts in each province. It is to be noted that in the conquered Roman provinces the Arabs first, and then the Turks, retained much of the Roman (Byzantine) Law, especially as regarded their Christian subjects, and in so far as it did not conflict with the Koran (Amos, History of the Civil Law of Rome, London, 1883). The chief cities of Asia Minor are Smyrna (300,000), Trebizond, Iskanderûn (Issus, Scanderoon), Adana, Angora (Ancyra), Sivas (Sebasteia), Sinope, Samsûn (Amisus), Komiah (Iconium), Kaisariyeh (Cæsarea in Cappadocia). Adalia is the largest seaport on the southern coast; Broussa (Prusa), magnificently situated at the foot of Mt. Olympus in Bithynia, is the seat of silk industries, and holds the tombs of the early Ottoman sultans. Kaisariyeh at the foot of Mt. Argeus, with its memories of St. Basil the Great, is one of the world's oldest trade-centres, recognized as such from the dawn of history under its Semitic name Mazaca; it is even now the most important commercial town in eastern Asia Minor. Sivas in the valley of the Kizil-Irmak (Halys) is a wheat centre. Trebizond on the Black Sea justifies even yet the foresight of its early Greek founders. Erzerûm in Lesser Armenia is an important mountain fortress.


There are no roads in the sense of our modern civilization; pack animals, including horses, have always been used by the Turks, both sedentary and nomad, for transportation, both of persons and goods. Recently carts have come somewhat into use. There are relays of horses at intervals on the main lines of communication and in the larger towns. A trans-Syrian railroad from Constantinople to Bagdad on the Persian Gulf has long been projected. It has reached Koniah and on its way passes Ismid (Nicomedia) and Eskeshir (Dorylæum). In all there are about 220 miles of railway in the vast peninsula. One of the principal Moslem schools is at Amasia in Galatia. The Greek communities in Asia Minor cherish no public duty more than that of education, and make many sacrifices in order to provide for their children, in primary and secondary schools, a high grade of the education they admire. It is in reality a genuine Hellenism based on the study of the ancient classic writers, the history of their ancestors both peninsular and continental, antipathy to Islam, a strong sense of mutual relationship, and a civil hope that they will again be called to the direction of public life throughout the peninsula. There is, however, a manifold opposition to this modern Greek ideal. If it were possible to bring about the re-union of the long separated Churches the ideal could be notably furthered.


Asia Minor is yet largely an agricultural and pastoral land. On the high plateaux immense flocks of sheep and goats are raised, whose wool is used for domestic purposes, for export, or for the manufacture of Turkish rugs and carpets. The silk manufactures of Broussa, in the sixteenth century a staple of Asia Minor, have greatly decreased. Viticulture, once the pride of Asia Minor, has almost perished. The use of wine is forbidden by the Koran; hence the grape is cultivated by the Turks only for the making of confections, and by the Greeks chiefly for personal use. The wines of Chios and Lesbos and Smyrna, famous in antiquity, are no longer made; their place is taken by dried raisins that form a principal article of export. Boxwood, salt-fish, barley, millet, wheat, oil, opium, rags, wool, and cotton, hides, galls, wax, tobacco, soap, liquorice paste, figure on the table of exports, but not at all in the proportions becoming the natural advantages of the land. It has already been stated that a few mines and marble quarries are worked, but in a feeble and intermittent way. The popular genius is foreign to all progress, the government is based on corruption and oppression, and the national religion is eminently suspicious and repressive. The inland Turk has the reputation of honesty, kindliness, hospitality, but he has no bent for the active and energetic Western life, loves dearly his "kief" or somnolent vegetative repose, and is hopelessly in the grasp of two rapacious enemies, the usurer and the tax-gatherer. The Greek and the Armenian are the dominant commercial factors, and are in several ways equipped to wrest from the Turk everything but political control of the country.


Leaving aside the great islands of Crete and Cyprus, no longer under immediate Turkish control, it may be noted that those of the Archipelago form a special administrative district. Their number is legion; some of them are very fertile, others are mere peaks and ridges of rock. They export fruit, some wine, raisins, olive oil, and mastic, and their sponge fisheries are very valuable. Among the islands famous in antiquity are Tenedos near the mouth of the Dardanelles, Lemnos between the Dardanelles and Mt. Athos, Lesbos, the native place of Alcæus and Sappho, between the Dardanelles and Smyrna. The island of Icaria recalls the legend of Icarus, and Patmos the sojourn of St. John and the composition of his Apocalypse. Cos awakens memories of the great healer Hippocrates, and the island of Rhodes has a history second to none of the small insular states of the world. Its strong fleets made it respected in Greek antiquity, and its maritime code was taken over by the Roman Law. Its bronze Colossus, astride the mouth of its harbour, was one of the seven wonders of the world. For nearly four hundred years it was the home of the Knights of St. John and its famous siege and capture by Suleiman I (1522) filled all Western Christendom with equal sorrow and admiration. Since 1832 the island of Samos is a quasi-independent principality, and forms a special sanjak by itself. In the full flood of ancient Ionian luxury, art, and science, Samos was foremost of the Hellenic colonies along the coast of Asia Minor. There Pythagoras was born, and Antony and Cleopatra once resided at Samos. In ancient times it was a favourite resort for those wearied of the agitated life of Rome.


In 1818 the Vicariate Apostolic of Asia Minor, founded in the seventeenth century, was confided by Pius VI to the Archbishop of Smyrna as Administrator Apostolic. Since then the Archbishop of Smyrna exercises jurisdiction over the Latin Catholics of the greater part of Asia Minor, a few places excepted. Smyrna itself is the chief centre of Catholicism in the peninsula. It was founded as a Latin see by Clement VI in 1346, became extinct in the seventeenth century, was restored and elevated (1818) to the archiepiscopal dignity by Pius VII. For about a century and a half, from 1618 to the latter part of the eighteenth century, the Jesuits exercised with success the pastoral ministry at Smyrna, for many centuries the chief resort of the once numerous Latin Christians (chiefly Italian and French) known as "Levantines". They were the traders, merchants, travellers, agents of all kinds in business at the various centres of commerce in the islands and along the coast of Asia Minor, which are known as "Scale" to the Italians and "Echelles" to the French. Here the famous "lingua franca", or jargon of a few hundred uninflected Provençal, Spanish, and French words, with some Greek and Turkish, was the principal medium of commercial communication. When the Jesuits first entered Smyrna they found there some 30,000 well disposed Christians and 7,000 to 8,000 Armenians. Lazarists and Capuchins were also active at Smyrna during this period. The Latin Catholics of Smyrna and vicinity are variously estimated from 15,400 to 18,000. There are in the city proper 8 churches and 8 chapels. The parishes are 3 in number and the clergy 61 (19 secular priests and 42 religious, Franciscans, Capuchins, Dominicans, Lazarists, Mechitarists). There are 15 schools (8 for boys, 7 for girls), with 3 boarding-schools or academies for girls, conducted respectively by the "Dames de Sion", the Sisters of Charity, and the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. The orphan asylums number 4, with about 290 orphans. There is also a hospital. Since 1839 the Sisters of Charity (87) and since 1840 the Christian Brothers have been active at Smyrna in works of charity and education; the latter had in their college (1901) 155 pupils. The Lazarists conduct a college known as the College of Propaganda, founded in 1841; it has about 100 pupils. The present Archbishop of Smyrna and Administrator Apostolic of Asia Minor is Monsignor Rafaele Francesco Marengo, a Dominican, from 1871 to 1904 parish priest of Galata (Constantinople), and since 1904 Ordinary of Smyrna. He has one suffragan, the Bishop of Candia, or Crete. Outside of Smyrna, there are very few Latin Catholics in Asia Minor. The "Missiones Catholicæ" for 1901 gives the names of 16 scattered missions. Since 1886 the Assumptionist Fathers of Constantinople and the Oblate Sisters of the same congregation have devoted themselves to missionary work along the line of the railway from Broussa to Koniah (Iconium). They have opened 8 schools for boys and 7 for girls, in which they care for about 1,200 children. Their services are mostly in demand for the Latin Catholics engaged business or in the construction of the railway. Moslem fanaticism and Greek jealousy are sources of opposition. In 1900 there were engaged in charitable and educational work on these temporary missions 100 Assumptionist Sisters. The few Catholic (Uniat) Greeks on the mainland have no special organization of their own but are subject to the Latin Archbishop of Smyrna as Administrator of the Vicariate Apostolic of Asia Minor. Formerly all Catholics in the Archipelago (Latin and Greek) were under the jurisdiction of Smyrna, but since 14 December, 1907, there has been a prefecture Apostolic for the island of Rhodes, including eleven other islands. In this prefecture the Catholics number about 360 in a population of 36,000, and are attended by 2 Franciscan missionaries. They have 6 churches and chapels, a college, with 60 pupils directed by the Christian Brothers, and an academy for girls (130) directed by Franciscan Tertiaries. The Catholic (Uniat) Armenians scattered through the peninsula have their own ecclesiastical organization dependent on Constantinople, where the Porte now recognizes the Catholic Armenian Patriarch of Cilicia, since 1867 officially resident in the Turkish capital. He is the successor of the Armenian archbishop-primate created at Constantinople in 1830 by the Holy See for the benefit of the Uniat Armenians, but ignored by the Porte until 1867, when Pius IX secured the recognition of the settlement just mentioned. There are episcopal sees for the Catholic Armenians of Asia Minor at Adana (3,000), Angora (7,000), Broussa (3,000), Kaisariyeh or Cæsarea (1,500), Melitene (4,000), Erzerûm (10,000), Trebizond (5,000), and Sivas (3,000). In all these places the Catholic Armenians are far outnumbered by their schismatic countrymen. The Mechitarist Fathers (Armenian monks) have stations at Broussa, Angora, and Smyrna, also at Aidin, the ancient Tralles in the valley of the Mæander, where there are about 3,000 Armenian Catholics in a population of 40,000 or 50,000. The Armenian Catholic patriarch at Constantinople has a jurisdiction over his people (16,000 in Constantinople), both civil and ecclesiastical, analogous to that of the Greek Orthodox patriarch and his own schismatic fellow-patriarch. The Catholic Armenian clergy of Constantinople numbered (1901) 85; of these 26 were Mechitarists (10 from Vienna, 16 from Venice), and 9 were Antonian monks. There were 5 schools for boys and 3 for girls, with 300 pupils, 2 colleges and 1 lyceum, 1 hospital, 1 asylum for the insane and 1 asylum for invalids. Their churches and chapels number 16, and the parishes 13. The present patriarch is Monsignor Sabbaghian (Peter Paul XII). Since 1869 the law of celibacy, that until then had not been observed by all the Armenian Catholic clergy, has been made obligatory. The "Missiones Catholicæ" for 1901 indicates the following Latin missionaries in Armenian centres of Asia Minor: Jesuits, Capuchins, Lazarists, and Trappists (in all about thirty) at Adana, Erzerûm, Sivas, Trebizond, and Kaiseriyeh.


The great majority of the Christians of Asia Minor belong to the so-called Greek-Orthodox or schismatic patriarchate of Constantinople. In ecclesiastical and ecclesiastico-civil matters they are subject to the patriarch according to the arrangement made on the fall of Constantinople (1453), variously modified since then, and known as the "Capitulations" (Baron d'Avril, La protection des Chrétiens dans le Levant, Paris, 1901). The power of the patriarch, both ecclesiastical and civil, regulated by and divided with the National Assembly and the Great Synod at Constantinople, is extensive. Of the twelve metropolitans who now compose his council three are from western Asia Minor (Cyzicus, Nicomedia, and Chalcedon) and are habitually resident in the capital, while the other nine are elective at fixed periods. These three, together with the metropolitan of Heraclea in Thrace, hold the patriarchal seal that is divided into four parts. The Greek-Orthodox population, scattered through the islands of the Archipelago and along the whole coast-line of Asia Minor, is said to number about one million; in recent times it tends to increase and is now commercially dominant in the greater part of Asia Minor. There are several Greek (Basilian) monasteries in the peninsula, six on the coast of the Black Sea, near Samsun and near Trebizond. There is also one (Lembos) near Smyrna. In the islands the number is larger; there are 3 on Chios, 87 on Samos, 2 on Patmos, and several in the Princes Islands near Constantinople. Cyprus has 4 and Crete 50 (Silbernagl, 58, 59; Vering, "Lehrbuch des kathol. orient. und prot. Kirchenrechts", Freiburg, 1893, 3d ed., 623-630; Petit, "Règlements généraux des églises orthodoxes en Turquie", in Revue de l'orient chrétien, Paris, 1898; Neale, "The Holy Eastern Church", I, London, 1850; Pitzipios, "L'Eglise orientale", Rome, 1855). Non-uniat, or schismatic, Armenians have settled in large numbers in various parts of Asia Minor, sometimes in the cities and sometimes in their own villages, in some places among the Turkish populations. Since 1307 they have had a bishop resident at Constantinople, and since 1461 there has been in that capital a patriarch of the nation on the same political level as the Greek patriarch, recognized as the civil head of his people and their agent in all matters affecting their religion and in many civil matters. Until 1830 this schismatic patriarch was recognized by the Porte as the civil representative also of the Catholic Armenians. As stated above, it was only in 1867 that the latter obtained recognition of their own patriarch in the person of Monsignor, afterwards Cardinal, Anton Hassoun. There are about 40,000 Armenians resident in Constantinople, and in Asia Minor, as already stated, their number is quite large; of the 120 lay members who make up the National Assembly representative of the Armenians at Constantinople, one-third must be chosen from Asia Minor. They have the following metropolitan sees in the peninsula (most of them provided with suffragans); Kaisariyeh, Nicomedia, Broussa, Smyrna, Amasia, Sivas, Erzerûm, and Trebizond. The bishops of the schismatic Armenians usually reside in monasteries of their own nationality, which are thus centres both of national and ecclesiastical life. (Silbernagl-Schnitzer, Verfassung und gegenwärtiger Bestand sämtlicher Kirchen des Orients, 2d ed., Munich, 1904, 229-231.) See PERSECUTIONS, EARLY CHRISTIAN . For details of Moslem education, see TURKEY. For efforts of Protestant missionaries, and their influence on education, see CONSTANTINOPLE; TURKEY. For details of Greek-Orthodox ecclesiastical life and organization, see CONSTANTINOPLE, PATRIARCHATE OF; and GREEK CHURCH.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.

Simple English

Asia Minor is a peninsula. It is also called Anatolia. A large part of the Asian part of Turkey is Asia Minor. The people there speak Turkish. The seas surrounding Asia Minor are the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Because Asia Minor is between Christian Europe and Asia, many different cultures have lived there. Remnants (small parts) of these cultures are there today.

File:Anatolia composite
This is a satellite picture of Asia minor

Many great historical people, like the Hittites, Greeks, Persians, Armenians, Romans, Goths, Byzantines, Kurds and Turks, have lived in or occupied Asia Minor.The Roman Empire had a province called Asia, which was in Asia Minor. Later people started to call the entire continent Asia, so the peninsula Asia was called Asia Minor (little Asia).


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