I would be biased to say that Turkey is one of the most diverse and attractive countries in the world, but those who’ve visited the country would probably agree. Of the countless times I’d traveled to Turkey, I’d been blown away by its extremities: modern vs ancient, east vs west and concrete urbanity vs raw rural nature. Traveling from the hip metropolis of Istanbul to the traditional villages in Cappadocia to the vibrant beachfront city of Antalya, Turkey constantly sprang one surprise after another. I was deeply drawn to its intriguing whirlpool of culture, history and traditions.
But there was one man in particular who piqued my interest in Turkey. Wherever I went in the country, I saw portraits of him. A man who seemed to possess all the wisdom in the world and all the power in the country. He was Mustafa Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey – the most worshipped figure in the country. Known for his intelligence, resilience and generosity, Atatürk was, and still is, deeply loved by his countrymen. Having fought the World War I as a military officer, he led the country towards independence and modernization after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. .
Without Atatürk, Turkey wouldn’t be where it is today: a global country that strikes a perfect balance between modern development and old cultural traditions. While keeping up with 21st-century development, Turkey has not forgotten its roots – it retains much of its rich history, which can be seen in various corners of the country. Impressive Roman ruins found in the ancient city of Esphesus and Aphrodisia show evidence of the country’s glorious days as an important centre of the Roman Empire; while Antalya‘s Fluted Minaret and Hidirlik Tower reveal a city that was once the capital of the Carabisiani Byzantine Empire. In Istanbul, its Ottoman history is on fully display through the majestic Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia.
But Turkey is very much of this century – major cities like Ankara, Izmir and Istanbul transport you straight to the present, where progressive vibes and up-to-date fashion remind you of Western European powerhouses. Stroll along the wide shopping boulevards, dine on stylish, rooftop restaurants or just hang out in one of the numerous chic cafés, you’ll be surprised to find how multi-faceted Turkey really is.
Photo | Alaskan Dude