Turkey beyond the tourist brochures: 5 places to travel beyond the cliche

Unlike Western Europeans and Americans, who imagine camels and deserts when they hear about Turkey, we Bulgarians believe that we know our neighbor well.

We know how to greet them in Turkish, we are familiar with their cuisine and as long as we listen, we may catch some words from their language that are also present in our native vocabulary. However, this does not mean that the majority of Bulgarians know Turkey outside of tourist brochures.

Because while Western Europeans are being marketed to 1001 Nights experiences, we often see one-size-fits-all destinations where you’re more likely to run into a relative from the countryside than a one-of-a-kind country location.

There is no doubt that Antalya, Kusadasi, Marmaris and Izmir will always be attractive to tourists who love the sea and food on their stomachs.

No one is disputing that Istanbul overflows with history or that Cappadocia and Pamukkale look remarkable in Instagram photos, but if you’re one of those people who are drawn to travel beyond the cliché, few places in Turkey may intrigue you more than the usual travel agency offerings :

The city of the Ottoman princes Amasya

This small city, whose history dates back to 6500 BC, is located in the Northern part of Turkey and was once the center of various civilizations, the most ancient of which was the Hittite.


Photo: iStock

Legends say that the city was founded by Amazonian warrior women, and its first ruler was Queen Amasis. However, according to the official chronology, Amasia was the birthplace of the Sultans Murad I and Selim I, who created the tradition of sending the princes and princes they were about to rule to the city to gain experience and familiarize themselves with Turkish history.

Therefore, in Amasya you can see mosques, museums and rock tombs that represent a concise retelling of the development of Turkey from its formation as a state to its heyday.

The sinking city

Halfeti, or the Sinking City, is rarely on tourist itineraries because it is hardly talked about outside of Turkey. However, the place offers incredible views for the more adventurous travelers who don’t mind taking pictures in the middle of a semi-apocalyptic panorama.

Why semi-apocalyptic? Because Halfeti’s nickname – the “sinking city” is not a metaphor, but a reality. Parts of the area are indeed half submerged due to the construction of the Birecik Dam, which did not go according to plan and flooded a number of houses and the mosque.


Photo: iStock

But what remains of the once 3,000-year-old city is worth seeing – a jutting minaret, roofs of stone buildings and architecture testifying to the bygone wealth of the people of Halfeti.

Butterfly Valley

Unlike the beaches in Antalya, Marmaris and Kusadasi, which are crowded with tourists and hotel complexes abound at the expense of nature, Butterfly Valley, located in the Fethiye region, is far from this noise.

The name of the area comes from the 100 different species of butterflies that can be seen in spring, summer and autumn, among them the tiger butterfly in white, orange and black. In addition to a walk in the forest, in Butterfly Valley you can also go to a beach that is not overflowing with people, umbrellas and bars.


Photo: iStock

The catch is that the area is not easily accessible. One option is to go to Oludeniz and hire a boat from there, and the other option is to walk down the steep cliffs from the lagoon.

People who talk to each other in bird language

If you visit the Turkish village of Kuşköy, you will encounter one of the oldest and now disappearing means of communication – bird language. Although now the number of people who can whistle to each other is decreasing, you can still see the elders of the village going out on the terraces of their homes and exchanging information in the form of bird sounds.

It is not known when this atypical speech appeared, but it is assumed that it was invented because of the great distances between the village and the paths of the Pontic mountains in the region. Because of the nice echo and the high decibel of the sound, it is believed that the Turks learned to communicate like birds, so that they could warn each other of dangers in the mountains or seek help when they needed it.


Photo: iStock

Pistachio City

If culinary tourism is high on your list of priorities when you travel, Gaziantep should beat Istanbul, Cappadocia and all the other Instagram destinations because the city offers the combination of food and fun, every foodie’s dream.

Baklavas here are eaten until fainting, not only because they are delicious, but also because they are sold in an abundance of types. You’re constantly left with the impression that you haven’t eaten enough given the rampant pastry production in this place.

Gaziantep is also known as the capital of the pistachio because of the wealth of recipes with which it is served – baked, sweet, spicy, salty.

Here you can try the so-called katmer – cream with sugar, fine crusts and pistachios, mengich – coffee with pistachios, and chushleme – hot meatballs with minced chicken.

Turks like to say about themselves that they are a multicultural country that, thanks to its ruling past, can offer tourists more than beaches and mosques. It just depends on the curiosity of the visitors. How far you are willing to travel and how deep you can dive into Turkish culture.

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