At CORE Languages we are continuously surrounded by different languages and cultures, and part of our task is to help build bridges between them. As a way to share about the history and culture of these different countries, we designed the Country Spotlight, featured in our monthly newsletter “Compass“
There are many reasons why Turkey is one of the 10 most visited countries in the world, some of which are obvious: Its rich history and heritage, its beautiful beaches and landscapes, and its culinary wisdom draw millions of people to Turkey every year. Turkey borders 8 other countries: Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichivan. The country’s official language is Turkish, but Kurmanji, or Kurdish, Arabic and Zazaki, an Indo-European language, are widely spoken as well.
The history of Turkey and its region, dating back to the Old Stone Age, is so vast that one small article would never do it justice. Previously known as Anatolia, the country has witnessed the rise and fall of several empires, including the Byzantine Empire, with its capital city of Constantinople (modern day Istanbul), named after the roman Emperor Constantine I, and the Ottoman Empire, which fell less than a hundred years ago. Through the means of modern art, we have been able to highlight some small pieces of its history, such as the battle of Troy, known to many as the story of the giant wooden horse, built by the Greeks in an attempt to seize the ancient city of Troy, located in North-Eastern Turkey. Turkey is also the birthplace of one of the most recognized figures the world: Santa Claus, or rather, Saint Nicholas of Myra, who was an early Christian bishop, known for his generosity and travels. The country of Turkey that we know today, however, was only founded as a republic in 1923, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Attatürk (Attatürk means: father of the Turks), ending the Ottoman empire, and moving the capital to the city of Ankara.
Istanbul is Turkey’s (and Europe’s) most populated city, with over 15 Million people, and is the commercial and cultural center of the country. By some, it is regarded as the gateway to the world, as its airports are major traveling hubs, connecting millions of travelers every year. Istanbul is the only major city in the world that is geographically located on two continents: Asia and Europe. It is home to over 2,500 active mosques, the world’s third oldest subway, and dozens of historical landmarks, including the Hagia Sophia, former Greek Orthodox Christian cathedral built over 1400 years ago.
One of the most distinctive features about the city of Istanbul is, that it is such a diverse cultural melting pot. Shaped by the various empires over the course of the millennia , one can find Christian Orthodox churches in between mosques, and while going from one to the other, one can walk side by side with women dressed in hijabs or burkas and women dressed in shorts and a T-shirt. Historic landmarks, dating back hundreds (and thousands) of years ago, are surrounded by modern architecture. “Old” and “New” coexist peacefully side by side. One can sense a cultural openness and welcoming spirit, while simultaneously experiencing deep-rooted tradition, custom, wisdom and folklore.