Turkey

Turkey served a strategic point in the Silk Road as the crossroads between Europe and Asia. Historically known as Asia Minor or Anatolia, Turkey has always been a link between civilizations over history, so it is understandable why Turkey became the Western end of the Silk Road. The country’s position means that trade has been flourishing since ancient times, and Anatolia has always had a good network of roads and highways running across it, making it attractive and easy for caravans to traverse the country. Under the Seljuk rule in the 13th century, the value of the Silk Road was noted and a network of caravanserais was built across Turkey within a day’s trek. 200 of these caravanserais still survive to this day, and some are still used by modern Silk Road travelers. Turkey shares land borders with Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

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Cities

Ankara is Turkey’s current capital city, and might not have Istanbul’s grandeur, but it’s a young city that has shown progress over the decades. Now its full of sidewalk cafés and a young student population. Istanbul has seen a rich history and a variety of cultures pass into its streets. Straddling two continents, Istanbul is an exciting city filled with rich museums and impressive city monuments. Once the Byzantine capital of the region and then the seat of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul captures the melting pot ethos of the Silk Road cities. Antalya on Turkey’s southern coast became the seaport hub for the Silk Road goods being shipped further west into Europe, like the ports in Italy. Now it’s the Turkish Riviera and sees an influx of tourists annually. Konya used to be a Silk Road junction and one functioned as the Seljuk capital and trading center. It still houses a number of caravanserais from the Seljuk and Ottoman era. Trabzon is a port city on the Black Sea coast towards the Georgian border. It is an ancient trading center and a key port for Black Sea trade.

Eat & drink

Imam Bayildi is a vegetarian dish made from eggplants and tomatoes. It’s a fragrant dish accented with cilantro and spices. Meze is the name of a collective platter of small dishes. This can consist of yogurt sauces, stuffed vine leaves, salads, olives, hummus and meatballs. Dolmas or Sarma are stuffed vine leaf packages often filled up with rice and spices, sometimes meat. Güveç is a stew, often made with lamb that is made with vegetables aromatic spices and served either with rice or spongy bread. Turkish coffee is a small coffee with sediment left in the bottom that is often brewed with sugar. This coffee is served black and really packs a punch.

Do

Cappadocia is a network of natural rock chimneys with cave churches, houses carved into the rock and underground cities, dating back to the Hittite Empire and the Bronze Age. Nevshehir was an old Silk Road junction that served as the gateway to Cappadocia. You’ll find Caravanserais and Byzantine monasteries in the region. Ani is an ancient Armenian city, now abandoned on an eerie plane overlooking the modern Armenians border. Once a vast city and a hub of the Silk Road, Ani’s scale can still be seen today. Ephesus is one of Turkey’s most impressive Classical cities on the Western Coast. Rich in Greek and Roman architecture.

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