Turkey might be the world’s most contested country. Its landscape is dotted with battlegrounds, ruined castles and the palaces of great empires. This is the land where Alexander the Great slashed the Gordion Knot, where Achilles battled the Trojans in Homer’s Iliad, and where the Ottoman Empire fought battles that would shape the world. History buffs can immerse themselves in marvels and mementos stretching back to the dawn of civilisation.
Then again, if you want to simply unwind, spend an afternoon being pampered at a hamam, or let the warm waters off the Mediterranean coast lap at your toes. Adventure lovers can head east to Nemrut Dagi National Park. Bon vivants need look no further than Istanbul, where the markets and bars are among the most stylish and atmospheric, and the mod Ottoman cuisine rates as the tastiest, in the world.
The country’s tumultuous history has left a deep legacy. People who’ve never had to suffer for an idea or fight for a patch of land can be overwhelmed by the passion of ordinary Turks for their country. But for ordinary Turks that passion finds its outlet, not in martial ardour, but in simple pleasures: family, food, music, football, and friendship. Turks have an inspiring ability to keep things in perspective, to get on with everyday life and to have a bloody good time in the process. Sharing their joy in the simple things is a highlight for every visitor.
Treat Turkey as that most quintessential of Turkish dishes, the meze, a table piled high with scrumptious treats. Throw away the menu, order a plate of everything and feast till you can’t go on. Afiyet olsun!