The Turquoise Coast is just as spectacular as its name advocates. Radiant blue waves in
that stunning colour ('turquoise' originally comes from the French word for 'Turkish)
caress secluded coves and some of the country's most iconic and world renowned beaches –
such as Patara and Ölüdeniz.
In the west is the Datça Peninsula, a Mediterranean landscape of rolling hills and olive
trees looking out on a sea dotted with Greek islands. East of Bodrum, a more-touristy
town, you'll find the Lycian coast with its rich mix of ruins and camera-ready beaches.
Each Lycian coast destination has a distinct feel: Such as Ölüdeniz, a little crowded
but with a lovely lagoon; Göcek, laid back with beautiful beach clubs; low-key Patara
with 18km of sandy beach; upscale Kalkan, once visited, always returned to; lively Kaş
with a huge selection of restaurants bars and shops.
It's not all about beaches, bars and restaurants though. There are many other things to
do during your stay; boat tours, riding, water skiing, jet skiing, paragliding, sailing,
snorkelling, scuba-diving, cycling, and fishing. We guarantee that if you're the active
type you won't be disappointed with Turkey!
On the other hand, some of us prefer our holidays to be quiet, peaceful and calming. The
Turquoise Coast is a paradise of calm. There are long, empty stretches of sand to walk
along, endless mountain trails, sunsets to take your breath away, and welcoming little
cafes dotted around where you can while away a few hours with a coffee and a good book.
Alternatively, why not just chill out by the pool at your luxury villa!
To enjoy what this special place has to offer, you want to stay in a special villa, and
that's what we have. Staying in a private villa is a wonderful experience - relaxing by
the pool, throwing a fish on the barbeque, no concerns, and no disturbances. A villa
holiday can also be remarkably cheap: our prices are for the villa complete, so divide
the cost by the number of people in your party and it can be very economical compared to
staying in a hotel.
All of our villas are located along the south coast of Turkey, Aegean and Mediterranean,
so that's the climate we'll mention here. The summers along this coastline are hot and
dry and can reach temperatures of around 35C (95F) during the day. Winters are usually
warm throughout the day but can get quite cool at night, sometimes below 10C (50F). The
most popular time to visit is between middle of April and end of October, although it
depends what you want to do. For instance, it's much better to visit the ancient sites
in winter as there are much fewer tourists and the weather is much more conducive to
walking, climbing, and hiking around.
With more than 200 million people speaking Turkish, it is 7th in the world as the most
widely spoken language. Today's Turkish belongs to the Ural-Altaic group of languages,
which stems from 11th century dialects and has relatives in Japanese, Korean and
Finnish. It is a relatively easy language to learn being based on the Latin script and
alphabet (although there are 6 additional characters to normal English) and it is
entirely phonetic - a word is said as it is spelled, vowels don't change sounds as they
do in English. If you can produce a few words of Turkish while visiting the country, you
are guaranteed to delight your Turkish listener.
Being the only secular Islamic country in the world where religion has no power in the
running of the country, there is in fact no official state religion. While most of
Turkey's population is Muslim, religion in the country is firmly a private matter. The
weekly holiday is Sunday, the same throughout Europe, and there is no strict dress code
(except when entering a mosque). However, five times a day the call to prayer can be
heard emanating from the many mosques, and there are also two Islamic festivals (Seker
Bayrami at the end of Ramadan, and Kurban Bayrami) in addition to the country's secular
national holidays. Turkey also has Christian and Jewish minorities with 236 churches and
Those that have already visited Turkey will tell you that hospitality in the country is
outstanding, and comes as second nature for the Turks. Visitors are often surprised at
just how friendly the people are and how much effort they will put in to chatting and
assisting with any problems. It is certainly not unusual for newly made Turkish friends
to invite you for dinner, often in their homes with their family. This hospitality can
be said to stem from Turkey's past presence on the silk trade road between west and
east, the arrival of travellers needing somewhere to sleep and food became a normal part
of the culture. It is usual for Turks, of both sexes, to greet one another with a kiss
on both cheeks.
There is an incredibly wide variety of Turkish food, with each region having its own
specialities, and as such Turkey is renowned as one of the foremost cuisines of the
world. The trade route which passed through the country had a profound effect as the
Anatolians were continually being presented with new foods, herbs and spices - new
dishes were always being thought up. The historic and present fertility of Turkey's land
has allowed for the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables to create delicious dishes.
To generalise, with their proximity to the Middle East, the foods of the eastern regions
are more spicy and centred around meat, while further into the west you will find more
seafood, olive oil and vegetable dishes. Healthy freshly prepared food is available
wherever you go, even in the less upmarket shops and restaurants.
Carpet weaving has been an important part of the Turkish culture for thousands of years.
The origin of the Turks is nomadic therefore producing carpets and flatweaves to furnish
their tents was a necessary part of life. Every carpet produced would be unique,
traditionally made by women, and reflect both the place she was from and her character.
The style, pattern, and colours of carpets vary from region to region. In modern times
chemical dyes are more prevalent with carpets being made from cotton, wool, and silk.
The quality of each carpet is determined by the density of knots - more hard-wearing
carpets have more knots per centimetre. Should you decide to buy a carpet, the majority
of merchants will be delighted to sit and explain its history and the meaning of its
many symbols - commonly over a glass of tea. To preserve the tradition and art of carpet
making, 'carpet schools' have opened in recent years and you can visit and watch carpets
It was in the 11th century that the Selcuk Turks began development of tile and ceramic
art, which reached a high point in the Ottoman Empire days. In the 15th century the
centre of production for tiles was established in Iznik, wholly due to the huge demand
to decorate mosques and palaces in the new Ottoman capital Istanbul. There were at least
300 specialist tile-making workshops. Tiles were produced in Iznik for two hundred years
and increased in sophistication, colour, and design throughout that period. There was
also an active export trade for tiles around the world via the Greek island of
The Blue Mosque in Istanbul is an excellent place to see Iznik tiles; a legend says that
shortly after decorating the Blue Mosque, tile production declined as the artists of
Iznik were so exhausted. You can also see original tiles at the Rustem Pasha Mosque in
Eminonu, along with the Eyup Mosque in the Golden Horn. There are specialist shops
throughout Turkey where you can buy Iznik tiles.
Turkish baths (hamam) are public bath houses and have existed since medieval times, not
only used as a place to get clean, but also to relax and socialise. During the Ottoman
times this tradition reached its pinnacle, being the social focus for women. Many of
these women used it as a rare chance to get away from the home to see their friends, and
check out potential daughters-in-law. The baths were segregated, with there being a
separate section for men - even today, many still have this separation - or in the case
where a town had only one hamam, men and women would enter at different times of the day
or week. It is only in the tourist beach resorts that it common to have mixed bathing
and even to be massaged by a member of the opposite gender - something that would never
happen in a traditional hamam.
The most popular historical hamams for visitors to Istanbul are the Cemberlitas (near
Sultanahmet), Cagaoglu and the Galatasaray (near Taksim Square).
What to do in a hamam: On entering the hamam, there will be a locker for you to leave
your clothes in and a towel (called a pestemel) for you to wrap yourself, wooden
slippers are also provided. In the main bath house there are taps along the walls where
you fill a bowl and wash by tipping water over yourself from the bowl. Eventually it
will be your turn to lie on the marble slab (gobek tasi) in the centre of the room where
you will be scrubbed with a coarse cloth (kese) and then covered in soap suds and
massaged. These treatments normally have an extra charge.
The nargile (hookah) is a traditional Turkish tobacco pipe where the smoke is passed
through a bulb-shaped bottle filled with water. It was very popular during the Ottoman
times and recently has experienced a comeback, particularly among young people. There
are many cafes in Turkey where you can enjoy a game of backgammon (tavla), puff on a
nargile - which is available in many different fruit and spice flavours - and watch the
world pass by.
Everywhere in Turkey you will see the evil eye charm (nazar boncuk), to protect from the
'evil eye'. The nazar boncuk is normally made from turquoise blue glass with an eye
motif in the centre and comes in many sizes. These are for sale on bracelets, as
pendants or pins, in fact anything that the design can be put on, such as pottery and
tiles. You will see them attached to doorways, hanging in cars and buses and many other
places. The evil eye is a widespread symbol all over the Middle East and dates back
thousands of years. It is customarily thought to defend against negative energy from
other people which can produce bad luck.
Turkey has a wealth of musical tradition with many different and sometimes contrasting
styles. From the sophisticated Ottoman court music to the folk music which comes from
the plains of Asia; from the loud military music of the mehter takimi to the mystical
and evocative sound of the reed pipe (ney) which is played as the Whirling Dervishes
Classical Turkish music is monophonic, which means all the instruments basically produce
the same melody. The commonly heard instrument are the kemence (violin), kanun (like a
zither), ud, (lute), zurna (like an oboe) and zil (cymbal).
Polyphonic music began to develop with the formation of the Turkish Republic and Turkey
has many successful classical composers. There is also a booming pop music industry
promoted by TV channels playing MTV style programmes with non-stop music videos. There
are several notable music festivals in Turkey such as the Aspendos Opera and Ballet
Festival along with Istanbul's famous Music and Jazz Festivals.
There is a deep tradition of folk dancing in Turkey. These dances are always performed at
social events such as weddings, military service farewell parties, local, national and
religious festivals. Dances vary from region to region reflecting the cultural life. The
most famous dances in Turkey include the halay (from the East and South East), the bar
(from Erzurum), the hora (in Thrace), the horon (from the Black Sea) and the spoon
dances (around Konya). Modernisation of Turkish folk dance has led to the creation of
River Dance style troupes displaying contemporary varieties of the original dances in
intricate and spectacular stage productions, as the Fire of Anatolia.
Mevlana - Whirling Dervishes
The Whirling Dervishes, or to use their proper name, the order of Mevlevi, were founded
in the 13th century by the Sufimystic, Celaleddin Rumi (also called Mevlana). Mevlana
was a poet who believed that a religious state of ecstasy could be produced by music and
dance allowing the discovery of divine love. His philosophy, or religion, was formed
based on tolerance. His widely know poem voices the core beliefs of Sufism:
Come, come, whoever you are, come!
Heathen, fire-worshipper or idolator, come!
Come even if you have broken your penitence a hundred times,
Ours is the door of hope, come as you are.
Thousands of people travel to Konya every year to watch the hypnotic Whirling Dervishes
in their annual December event commemorating the Mevlana at their spiritual home. The
sema ceremony is essential to the philosophy and climaxes with the whirling dance. The
ceremony is performed in traditional dress of white robes, which represents a shroud,
and conical hat (sikke) whic symbolises the tombstone of their ego. With his left hand
pointed downward toward earth and his right hand pointed upward toward God, the dervish
whirls to the accompaniment of the reed pipe (ney).
Karag ö z Shadow Puppets
Karagöz is a traditionally designed shadow puppet play, where the puppets are made
stretched and painted camel skin. Like a kind of Turkish Punch & Judy, there are two
main characters, Karagöz and Hacivat. Karagöz is the sensible one who usually
himself in disagreement with Hacivat, who is well versed in Islamic theology but in the
end unreliable. The plays are amusing, using double entendres, mimicry and caricatures.
Satire is prevalent throughout the shows, which was used in Ottoman times to allow for
humorous critique of those in authority. Karagöz used to be performed at festivals
feasts and was one of the most important types of entertainment during this period.
Nasreddin was a popular 13th century philosopher and wise man, famous throughout Turkey
for his humorous tales and anecdotes usually conveying a serious message. He features in
thousands of stories; however, his now mythical status has made it difficult to
differentiate fact from fiction within the anecdotes credited to him and the stories
surrounding him. His tales are of everyday situations of the common Anatolian people,
with his wisdom, humour, and logic opposing the more strict basics of Islamic law. His
donkey is featured in many of his stories, itself a representation of suffering, which
was a common factor of village life.
The Van Cats
The area around Lake Van is home to these fascinating cats, which unfortunately are
becoming rarer. These unique felines typically have one blue and one amber eye (but can
have both eyes the same) and are pure white in colour. Perhaps even more unusual for
these animals is that they are the only species of feline that loves swimming and
playing in water.