Turkey…the land of the oldest civilizations in the world. An impressive country through history, culture and landscapes.
As geographical and historical division Turkey can be divided in Anatolia (the Asian part) and East Thrace (the European part). The 2 regions are separated by the Marmara Sea through Bosphorous strait.
One of the oldest settlements found in the world is in Sanliurfa district, at Gobekli Tepe, a settlement that is supposed to be founded in 10 000 BC, recently declared UNESCO heritage site.
Beside Gobekli Tepe, in Konya district there were also important discoveries at Çatalhöyük, a settlement dating from 7500 BC.
The earliest inhabitants civilizations recorded in Anatolia were the Hattians and Hurrians who were settled in central and eastern Anatolia around 2300 BC. This 2 civilizations were later absorbed by Hittites that also formed the first major empire in this area.
Following the history, around 1200 BC, also Greek civilizations had an important role to play as Ephesus, Izmir and even Byzantium (current city of Istanbul) were cities founded by this colonists.
Persians also had a world to say as they conquered all of what we call Turkey around 600 BC. Still, Alexander the Great took this territory from Persian starting a period of hellenization in the area.
Alexander the Great had also an important role to play in Hatay’s history as Antioch ( today’s Antakya) was founded by one of Alexander’s generals and also Alexandretta ( today’s Iskenderun) was named after Alexander the Great.
During the Roman Empire domination, Byzantium became Constantinople and was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. Even though the Roman Empire began to fall during the 5th century AD and had to divide itself the Eastern Roman Empire also called Byzantine Empire manage to survive and became the most stable Christian territory during Middle ages.
Starting with 11th century AD, Seljuk Turks started to conquer regions from Anatolia, spreading Islam and Turkish language in the Byzantine Empire and even though they didn’t managed to finish the Roman Empire domination in Turkey the division that had placed after Seljuk period gave birth to the Ottoman Empire.
After Seljuk period, Anatolia was divided into independent Turkish regions known as beyliks. One of this beyliks was lead by the Turkish tribal leader Osman I, from whom the name Ottoman is derived and also the founder of the Ottoman Empire.
Osman and his army slowly started to conquer Byzantine cities and so the Ottoman Empire started to rise. The empire started with Anatolia, Balkans, Thessaloniki, Kosovo and so on until conquering Constantinople became a major objective of the Empire.
In 1453 the Ottoman Empire took Constantinople domination still allowing the Ortodox Church to maintain its autonomy as long as they would accept Ottoman authority.
In the 600 years of conquers the Ottoman Empire was at its best during 1683 when it was ruling from Hungary to Azerbaijan to the Red Sea and until Algeria. It was an Empire of 2 million sq meters which had a very good position by connecting Europe to Middle East. Then, it easy started to decline and just after World War I, Istanbul and Izmir were occupied by allies.
This is when, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha the Turkish independence war started.
In 1922 the Sultanate was abolished finishing the era of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey became a Republic.
Mustafa Kemal Pasha was given the honorific surname of “Ataturk” which means “Father Turk”
Following a short review of Turkish history we hope we made you curious about all the culture and history of this country and we hope to see you in one of our tours.