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Turkish Culture


Turkey is awash with history, almost every town and village along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, as well as the reaches of southern Anatolia have some of the richest and most extensive historical backgrounds that you could imagine. For thousands of years Turkey has been a hub of culture, style and power with a remaining landscape of beauty and brilliance truly reflecting in every part of the country. From the unique and unforgettable cuisine to the culture and heritage that remains and is acknowledged by the world Turkey is an outstanding example of the best of the ancient world in multiple forms preserved and lovingly cared for so that we can continue to enjoy it for many generations more.



Turkey is all about hospitality, and there's nothing quite like a hearty plate of food to make you feel welcomed. You'll find that in many Turkish resorts restaurants make up some of the main attractions and are a key to fully experiencing the spirit of the country's culture. With such a flavoursome pallet of cuisine on offer you won't want to miss out on trying some. 


Turkish cuisine is full of varied and quality ingredients that have grown into the delicious dishes they are today through centuries of practice. Lamb is an especially popular meat in Turkey, and one of its best known uses is in the Shish Kebab, a food recognised around the world where pieces of lamb are skewered and then rotated over charcoal. 


For those aubergine lovers out there you'll be happy to know that the vegetable is a popular choice for a diverse range of dishes such as the Karniyarik, or for vegetarians a delicious and refreshing eggplant salad known as Patlican Salatasi. Borek are pies made with a delicate layer of pastry holding a variety of stuffing's such as cheese, meat, spinach and potatoes. Soup is also very popular among the Turkish, with Lentil in particular being a favourite. 


You'll find that quite a few hotels even provide a late night soup snack service for guests, although this dish is best served as a starter to a meal. While on the topic of starters, the Mezes are a delicious and much loved choice, made up of a variety of appetizers including fried aubergines with yogurt, humus, pressed beef, Gozleme (pastry filled with various ingredients, though most often cheese), and much more. These are designed to wet the diner's appetite, though are wonderful in excess if eating out sociably with a group of friends, or just looking to have some snacks with drinks! 


If you find you've still got room for desert then there are plenty of sinfully delicious options, including the sugary sweet Helva, often infused beautifully with ingredients such as pine nuts. 


Two of the most popular pudding choices are Kadayif, which has an addictive taste driven texture to it, with shredded pastry for a topping, and then there is Baklava, which consists of a syrupy and often pistachio tinted taste. Lastly, why not finish off your meal with some traditional Turkish coffee? Brewed to be thick and dark this is an intense but vibrant tasting drink that can usually be ordered with a preference to sweetness, with the following options: Sah-de (unsweetened), Ortah (moderately sweet) and Shekerli (very sweet). If after eating you want to hit some bars and have a few drinks then the Raki comes highly recommended, with a strong aniseed flavour (it's not for the faint hearted!)


Turkish Language 

Even though a large number of Turkish people are taught English at school, much like we often learn French or Spanish, their knowledge might be quite limited (as our French or Spanish might be). So to make it easier for you with basic requests and enquiries, why not learn a few simple Turkish words and phrases?



English - Turkish - Pronunciation

Hello - Merhaba - MEHR-ha-bah

What is your name - Adiniz ne - Ah-duh-nuz neh

My name is - Adim - Ah-dum How are you - Nasilsiniz - Nah-suhl-suh-nuz

I'm fine thank you - Iyiyim tesekkur ederim - ee-yee-yim tesh-ek-kewr eh-der-eem

Yes - Evet - Eh-vet

No - Hayir - Hay-yur

Please - L?tfen - Loot-fen Thanks - Mersi - Mer-see

Where is the/a - nerede - neh-red-eh

Bus Station - Otogar - Oh-toh-gar

Toilet - Tuvalet - Too-vah-let

Airport - havaalani - Hav-ah-ah-lah-nuh

Water - Su - Soo

Left - Sol - Soul

Right - sag - Saah

Straight ahead - dogru - Doh-roo



Whilst visiting Turkey you'll find that there are plenty of Bazaars to explore. These will sell items such as hand crafted souvenirs, carpets and antiques. Around here haggling is a traditional way of buying, and so it might be an idea to brush up on your bargaining skills so that you can make sure you manage to get the best deals on your desired items. 

Although to some this may seem a hassle it's truly a fun and sociable way to spend a day shopping, getting involved with the Turkish culture and feeling proud when you walk away with some great items for savvy prices. Some tips for haggling would be to firstly check out the competition, and get to know the general market prices. Also, never feel pressured to buy anything you don't want. Haggling should be an enjoyable experience, not a pressured one. 



Tipping is mostly optional in Turkey, though is expected for certain services. It is of course preferable to tip in the Turkish lira currency. In most restaurants a 5-10% tip should be fine, though in a more expensive restaurant a 10-15% is usually better. If trying out a Turkish Bath then a 15% tip is the standard. Taxi fares are often rounded up to a whole amount by customers, though the drivers do not expect any tip.


Traditional Sports in Turkey 

Oil Wrestling 

Oil wrestling is a Turkish national sport and dates back to the Persian era beginning in 1065 BC however it wasn't established as a sport until much later during the Ottoman period. Legend has it that the Sultan saw two men wrestling for fun after a campaign to capture Thrace, and decided that they would continue their match during the annual Spring Festival where they wrestled all day and eventually both died of exhaustion. After their burial several springs appeared at the site and oil wrestling tournaments became a tradition in the province. The city of Edirne, the capital of the Ottoman Empire for over 90 years is now the location of an annual oil wresting tournament called the Edirne Kirkpinar, established in 1362.


Because of the long tradition of oil wrestling in Turkey, the wrestling season lasts for eight months of the year, and professionals can earn a large amount of money for winning, and often train apprentices who continue their work when they retire. The wrestlers (known as pehlivan) are easily identifiable for their traditional leather trousers that fall just below the knee, which are made of either water buffalo hide or calfskin. Oil wrestling is the oldest running sanctioned sport in the world and is also now popular in the Netherlands and Japan. 


Turkish Javelin 

Turkish Javelin is another ancient sport that has been played for centuries. Initially played as an Ottoman war game, Turkish javelin (or Jereed) was played during ceremonies and is considered the oldest Turkish equestrian sport. As it was previously a very dangerous sport, it was banned in 1826 but its popularity persevered, but has been limited in modern times to Anatolia where it is played during weddings and festivals. In a Jereed game there are two teams of 6-12 players who start on opposite ends of a field and throw their javelins whilst chasing and retreating from opposing players in a fast paced game. Points are gained for out-riding or hitting an opponent as well as catching an opposing javelin. 



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