READING THE TURKISH LANDSCAPE
However different we may be, we share our humanity and a common destiny on earth as we continue to shape and be shaped by our environment. As human beings, we appreciate that essentially all our experiences take place in the landscape which at once enables and reflects all of life, both memorable and quotidian. Landscape, like music, is a universal language. The sensitive traveler will no doubt grasp the beauty of the whole; but what does it all mean to the unaccustomed or the untrained eye? To the native person, the landscape is life itself. It is familiar and taken for granted until endangered or lost. Knowledge of it is intimate and intertwined with strong feelings. Others may have to begin by an analytic tour de force before developing a taste for the intricacies. Ultimately, the traveler can catch glimpses in the slices of life represented by places that make up the landscape, and then feel the richness of the meanings associated with them. Our aim here is to whet your appetite by giving you a head start on your journey in reading the Turkish landscape.
First, let us be analytical. What is the landscape made up of anyway? That depends on your perspective. Landscape is nature encompassing all those resources and landforms that a geographer or a naturalist would see. It is also history and culture reflected in the settlement pattern of cities and villages, the architecture and cultural artifacts marking the passage of time and important events. Then there is the idea of the working landscape which is the life support and habitat of some sixty million people. Finally, it is also a mirror of ideology, fashion and impending change, foreshadowing the future and the problems it may pose. These different layers make up an elementary shell of the Turkish landscape. In Turkey you will experience an incredible diversity in nature, culture, history, beliefs and ideas. This in itself may not be a challenge for the seasoned traveler. After all, diversity is the most prized feature of favorite destinations. In Turkey this diversity is high enough to challenge even the most experienced eye because it is packed in spaces with abrupt changes in scenery. This is why people sometimes describe the Turkish landscape as a “symphony of sounds, smells and people in the most unlikely combinations of appearance and action”. The traveler may need some assistance to make some sense of our otherwise entirely logical and beautiful landscape, and to perceive its unity and harmony just like a familiar face with all its different moods and expressions.
THE NATURAL LANDSCAPE
The landscape of Turkey is a magnificent, but threadbare Turkish carpet, hundreds of years old, displaying patterns which had evolved to perfection over the centuries.
The Turkish landscape encompasses a vast variety of geographic zones. If you take a cross section along the east-west axis, you will encounter rugged, snow-capped mountains where winters are long and cold; the highlands where the spring season with its rich wildflowers and rushing creeks extends into long, cool summers; the dry steppes with rolling hills, endless stretches of wheat fields and barren bedrock that take on the most incredible shades of gold, violet and cool and warm greys as the sun travels the sky; the magical land of fairy chimneys and cavernous hillsides; and eventually the warm, fertile valleys between cultivated mountainsides, reaching the lacelike shores of the Aegean where nature is friendly and life has always been easy.
A north-south cross-section begins with the lush, temperate zone of the Black Sea coast, well protected by a chain of high mountain ranges, cultivated with hazelnuts, corn and the tender tea (which will soon become a part of the daily ritual during your stay here). High passes and winding roads offer breathtaking views of the Black Sea, leading to highlands and steppes with orchards tucked into the foothills of lesser mountains; then on to the vast Konya plain, and up the Toros (Taurus) Mountains into coniferous forests, which eventually transform into a scrubby maquis fragrant with bay leaves and oregano as the Mediterranean coast approaches. If you take a turn east on this route, passing by banana plantations and cotton fields, you will come to the most desert-like part of Turkey. Just north of Syria the earth displays all the textures and shades of brown which a civilization can mould it into without dominating it. In short, for every two to four hours of driving you find yourself in a different zone with all the accompanying changes in scenery, temperature, altitude, humidity, vegetation and weather conditions.
This landscape has the combined characteristics of the three old continents of the world; Europe, Africa, and Asia. It has an ecological diversity surpassing any other place along the N40th latitude. This diversity is reflected in the intermingling of all sorts of animals, whose habitats are now dispersed in these continents, before the land masses separated in geological history. Now it is possible to observe the yearly ebb-and-flow of nature as the birds continue on their migratory routes twice a year. The flocks of storks and birds of prey convey a magnificent spectacle that you can watch from the hills of Camlica in Istanbul every fall. The flamingos nest in the river valleys of the Aegean and the Mediterranean and spend the winter in the salt water lakes of the inland. If you happen to be visiting Dalyan (or any one of the 17 beaches along the Mediterranean) on a warm spring night in May you are sharing the sand dunes with one of the most delightful and shy creatures of the world, the sea turtle, which lays its eggs at this time of year.
In addition to the richness of the flora, Turkey is the home of a number of ornamental flowers, the most notable being the tulip. In fact the word “tulip” comes from a Turkish word which means turban. Bulbs brought to Vienna from Istanbul in the 1500s started the craze for tulips in England and the Netherlands. By 1634 this interest in tulips had become so intense that in Holland it was called “tulipomania” with individuals investing money in tulips as they do now in high-tech stocks. This period of elegance and amusement in 17th century Turkey is symbolized by this flower being known as the ‘Tulip Age’
Many familiar fruits such as cherries, apricots, almonds and figs all originated in Turkey. Our common ancestors are said to have evolved in different parts of the world. Nevertheless, the depiction of Adam and Eve wearing fig leaves confirms a long-standing view of Turkey, with its abundance of figs, as an unspoiled Eden.
HISTORIC AND CULTURAL LANDSCAPE
Turkey’s humanized landscape is inseparable from its culture. Nevertheless, to the outsider, Turkey gives a new meaning to wilderness, because even in the most inaccessible or isolated parts (such as the high mountain tops or the secret places in the valleys) the visitor remains with the feeling that sometime in history this place, now wild and untended, has been the home to civilizations with settled villages and city life for nine thousand years.
These were people of different origin, coming in waves and mingling with those already settled, each time creating a new synthesis. Between 2000 B.C. to 1500 A.D., this landscape was the center of world civilization. Interpretation of the world scene today is predicated upon our understanding of what took place on this landscape during the last four millennia, and which is now manifested in the ruins and monuments which adorn the landscape.
Up until the advent of modernity (which in Turkey is associated with the comprehensive highway program of the 1950’s) the landscape had remained as it was through millennia. When you see a replica of one of the first agrarian villages in the world, dating back to almost 7,000 B.C. years ago, in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, you cannot miss the similarity between this prototype and all those others that you become what we call the vernacular. When you have got something that works, why change it?
In Anatolia, the settlement pattern is more or less how it was during the time of the ancient civilizations. There is a good chance that the road you are traveling on is the same one on which great warriors of the east and the west trod and colorful caravans passed along, and couriers of mail or secret treaties galloped. Perhaps it is the same road traveled by St. Paul and his disciples or by Sufis spreading divine knowledge.
Graceful aqueducts built by the Romans made urban concentrations possible. Bridges built by Sinan and other Ottoman architects dot the countryside and are still used for the safe passage of goods and services. Caravanserais dating back to the Seljuk Empire of the 11th century offered sanctuary and relief to weary travelers. You can even stay in a caravanserai, for several have been restored into luxury hotels.
In addition to the historic edifices proudly displayed at the main archaeological sites such as Troy, Pergamon, Ephesus, Miletus, Priene, Dydima, Aphrodisias, Heraclia, Caunos, Perge, and Aspendos, many coastal villages and towns are blessed with their very own Anatolian ruins on the outskirts. This is usually an ancient theater commanding a spectacular view of the beach where, the villagers will tell you, Cleopatra often have swam. You don’t have to look far for the agora either. It is probably where it has always been – right at the market place! Several villages are also privileged to have ”sunken cities” or ruins under the sea, which you can see if you look down into the crystal clear, turquoise waters as you swim.
The Anatolian hinterland will show you glimpses of other ancient civilizations: the Hattis, the Hittites, the Phyrigians the Urartians and the Lydians. From these civilizations come many familiar legends: the wealth of the Lydian King Croesus, King Midas with the golden touch, and the Knot of Gordion that young Alexander was able to undo with the strike of his sword.
Then there are the lesser places, both sacred and ordinary, but with profound meaning: monasteries, tombs of local saints, heroes, artists or poets, mosques, churches, walls, fortresses, palaces, fountains, and cemeteries. The hillsides are covered with broken pieces of ancient pottery, contemporary walls often have corner stones which may date back to antiquity. Children play and sheep graze amidst fragile remains. Until very recently God’s Caves in Cappadocia were used by villagers as cold storage or wine cellars.
The very richness of the landscape poses grave challenges for historic preservation in Turkey. Good progress has been made in safeguarding the integrity of the most important sites, and work is ongoing to excavate, catalogue and preserve the country’s tremendous legacy. Strict laws prevent the export of antiquities.
THE BIG CITIES IN TURKEY
Turkey’s focal points are its three largest cities, Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir which have become major urban centers by historical providence as well as by design.
Following the foundation of the Turkish Republic after World War I, these cities became the focus for social and business life. Industry and business clustered in the established commercial centers of Istanbul and Izmir while the apparatus of the government built itself a new capital inland, Ankara. These cities contain the country’s most respected universities, conservatories, theaters, and concert halls. Jewish and Christian communities, and immigrants from different parts of the Ottoman Empire add diversity to the cities contributing to the human mosaic which is characteristic of Anatolia.
Artists, actors, poets and journalists hang out in pubs and taverns. Present day Young Turks plot alternative futures for the country in coffee houses and reading rooms. Young urbanites consume the fruits of modernity in glittering shopping malls and discos. The typical Turkish intellectual urbanite men and women have many things in common with their kind elsewhere in the world and they can be easygoing, fun loving companions on your expeditions. They are well-traveled, bilingual, and have a high degree of tolerance, yet are ready to voice their opinions on weighty issues and also believe in famines in dealing with other human beings, hospitality, compassion and respect for tradition.
For visitors the big city offers an abundance of museums and famous historical sites, night clubs, taverns, and bazaars filled with silver and copper objects, carpets, and gold jewelry. Istanbul, of course, is in a category of its own. A separate introduction to its own unique landscape is necessary.
The big cities also allow ample opportunity to sample Turkish cuisine at good, well-established restaurants. Eating is not taken lightly in Turkey. Dinner in a good restaurant may take four, five hours in the company of friends and family, sipping drinks and savoring the endless procession of hot and cold dishes while engaging in conversations that begin with light-hearted humor, and often turn into recitations of mystic poetry, and reminiscences of the past. Turkish cuisine is next only to French and Chinese in its variety, healthiness and exquisiteness.
Most visitors want to experience the old city. According to tradition each alley or courtyard of the bazaar specialized in a craft or trade corresponding to the old guilds. From Belgrade to Damascus the cities of the Ottoman Empire were organized in communities formed along religious lines. These were integrated with the rest of the city and the larger society via networks of locally controlled services such as fire protection, security and schools. The old city center with its places of worship, government, trade, and entertainment, was where the citizens mingled, enjoying the benefits of the security and bounty of the State while maintaining their culture and way of life. The churches, the synagogues, and mosques, the medrese and the mission schools are still found side by side in the old city center.
The new city center revolves around high rise international style office buildings, luxury hotels, well appointed restaurants and bars, and fashionable shopping districts. Modernization brought apartment life into the cities, replacing the traditional fabric which consisted of one to three storey houses overlooking cobblestone streets and cool courtyards.
Neighborhood and neighborliness are of great importance in the Turkish way of life. The introduction of apartment buildings, where a dozen or so families have joint ownership of the property, presented city dwellers with new challenges and shifted the focus of their control over the environment from the neighborhood to the apartment building with its practical issues such as heating and maintenance. In three decades, a highly complex and uniquely Turkish management pattern evolved with an administrative structure, laws and regulations. Apartment life, which has been the subject of numerous skits and humorous television series, is the hub of neighborly interaction. The old Turkish adage,” Don’t buy a house, buy a neighbor” is more true now than ever.
Almost all neighborhoods have weekly farmers’ markets in addition to small grocery stores, fruit and vegetable stands, butchers, charcuteries, bakeries and florists. If you happen to see a farmer’s market, stop, explore and taste some of the fruits and vegetables. This is how they were meant to taste before civilization came up with genetic engineering!
Settlements on the outskirts of the big cities are the first stop for recent immigrants from the countryside. Migration from rural to urban areas has been a fact of life in Turkey since the 1960s. These settlements, often referred to as “gecekondus” (that is, “thrown up overnight”) house working class, extended families. Although these communities lack some city services, most have electricity, and almost all roof tops are adorned with TV antennas.
Turkish cities, despite their size, are remarkably safe. The low crime rate makes it safe to be out after dark and many neighborhoods are alive well into the night.
An experiment is going on along the Turkish coastline. New developments of all shapes and sizes are popping up. The building boom has not yet reached the proportions found along the Western Mediterranean, and there is less pollution and crowding. Complexes of summer homes nestle alongside beautiful beaches. Many of these are available for rent. Holiday villages line the coast in the popular Kemer – Antalya region. Pensions and modest hotels operate in almost all the small towns and villages along the coast. Many of the wonderful coves and bays are accessible only by boat. A good selection of charter gulets, motor yachts and sailboats are available for week tours, while wooden boats can be rented for day trips.
These options offer enough variety to satisfy every taste. Sheiks and princes, European sophisticates, seniors, amateur archaeologists, yachtsmen, mountain trekkers, young families with toddlers, yuppies looking for something different –Turkey has something for everyone. Environmentalists especially, will appreciate the sensitive approach taken to preserve (and yet be able to enjoy) the friendliest nature ever found.
ANCIENT TURKISH CITIES
The traditional Turkish city is typically situated along historical trade routes, notably the silk and spice routes. Built on lands unfavorable for cultivation, traditional Turkish cities display unique vernacular architectural styles reflecting regional conditions and an urbane and sophisticated building tradition. Although each has a distinctive character of its own, all have a citadel; one or more grand mosque complexes containing religious colleges and welfare establishments; a traditional square corresponding to the western plaza; a number of old bath houses; traditional guild alleys jutting away from the bazaar area; and distinct neighborhoods where you are likely to find fine examples of traditional Turkish houses, often arranged around a courtyard.
Turks are wild about soccer. Budding players will be kicking the ball around in the streets at all hours. In shady squares the tables of coffee houses are occupied by townsmen, sipping coffee or tea, playing backgammon and discussing the issues of the day with their friends and neighbors. It is said that coffee and the coffee house are among the many contributions made by Turks to the good life. The sacks of coffee abandoned at the gates of Vienna by the retreating Ottoman army in the 16th century introduced the addictive brew to the west and made the cafes of Vienna world famous.
It is in these cities that both the high style and the vernacular culture evolved side by side, giving us the best examples of Turkish architecture as well as the best of folklore, traditional arts and crafts, customs and food. These cities were home to folk heroes such as Koroglu and the poet Sufi Yunus Emre whose simple verses offer profound meaning to humanity, and Nasreddin Hodja, the personification of folk wisdom in his humorous anecdotes which are still widely quoted and appreciated.
The popular theater tradition, with its comedians, storytellers and marionette and shadow puppeteers evolved in the provincial cities. Performances were given in public squares, at national and religious festivals, at weddings and fairs, at the inns, coffee houses and private residences. All shows, including wrestling matches, were accompanied by music, with conjurors performing to the sound of the tambourine. Performances were often interspersed with songs and dances or both. The dramatic instinct of the Turkish people and the role it played in daily affairs can be found in the Turkish commedia dell’arte, “orta oyunu”, and the shadow puppet theater, “Karagoz”, which dates from the 15th century. Players performed humorous impromptu productions wherever there was an audience, impersonating watchmen, tax collectors, treasure hunters, the intellectual elite encountering the common folk, and the idiosyncrasies of ethnic groups, and so contributed, in their own way, to the continuation of an amicable coexistence.
Provincial Turkish cities still celebrate the religious holidays, or bayrams, in the traditional manner. Town elders, following the holiday greetings, participate in folk dances to the music of traditional folk instruments. “Greased wrestling” matches are accompanied by drum and pipe music. Karagoz puppet shows are often performed during the holidays and for family celebrations such as the circumcision ceremony.
Many interesting provincial cities are on the way to popular holiday destinations and ancient sites. Make a small detour to see the traditional character of Balikesir, Canakkale, Amasya, Safranbolu, Tokat, Nevsehir, Diyarbakir, Sanli Urfa or Mardin.
The silhouette of villages, accentuated by slim minarets, dot the hillsides alongside the highways. Villages reflect the climate and character of the region. Mediterranean villages on the coast are made from stone that takes on the color of the sky when the sun is low on the horizon; timber starts to be integrated as you reach higher altitudes. Wood frame and log construction in the temperate zone gives way to wattle and daub and eventually sun-dried brick in the southeast. You may notice interesting structures such as earth ovens, round outhouses, or dome-shaped cisterns.
Houses in the mountain villages close to the Black Sea are scattered. Villagers communicate by sing-song yells and yodels which echo in the valleys. The Toros (Taurus) Mountains in the south were the traditional habitat of nomadic Turks who, in search of moderate temperatures, spent the summer in the mountains, the spring on the plateau, and the winter down on the delta plain.
A real treat for the history buff is a visit to one of the villages just outside Bursa, such as Cumalikizik, handed down almost intact from the 13th century. Here one can see the origins of the typical Turkish house with its window overhangs, functional spaces relating to the courtyard and the arrangement of rooms on the second storeys, as well as the settlement layout overall with its intricate pattern of narrow streets.
Typical villages are built around a central square with the mosque, the school, the general store, and, of course, the center of male life, the coffee house. The coffee house is the men’s domain where important issues such as politics and crop prices are discussed and local gossip exchanged. The village fountain, inner courtyards and doorways are the woman’s domain. Exchanging information about goods and items related to health, child rearing, and daily sustenance happens there. You will also see villagers on their way to and from the fields or orchards on donkeys and tractors.
Villages preserve the traditional dances, customs, weaving, puppet shows and plays in their original forms. The folk dramas and dances, which are still performed, carry traces of the shamanistic rituals of the Ural-Altaic region, Anatolian festivals honoring gods such as Dionysus and mythical mortals like Adonis.
Every region in Turkey, in fact every village, has its own folkdances. There is a total variety of more than 1500. Dramatizing the exaltation of nature, animals, everyday life, courtship and combat, folkdances continue to occupy an important role in village life. Their exquisite choreography and universal meaning contain a vast resource of artistic energy.
THE WORKING LANDSCAPE
Beyond the sun, sea and ancient ruins lies the working landscape. Along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, industrial, residential and recreational land use compete with agriculture, pushing the orchards, fields and farmland further inland.
The bucolic rural scenery radiates with honesty and health and enhances the travelers’ experience. As the native land of wheat the taste of ordinary Turkish bread surpasses any other when eaten fresh-baked. The orchards, vineyards, and vegetable fields grow delicate and vibrant crops, and the cows and sheep cared for by shepherds, who play the pipe and talk their language, are as happy in their pastures as free-ranging chickens. In addition to grains, rice, cotton, sugar beets, tobacco and potatoes are among the staple crops. This diversity and abundance of food products have contributed to the richness of the cuisine. Reforestation is an ongoing process throughout the country. Although many of the highway signs look like billboards they actually display slogans on the benefits and sanctity of forests.
The high pace of industrialization is evident in the factories along the highways. Active government participation encouraged industrial modernization during the early decades of the Republic. All the main industries including mining, manufacturing and textiles, as well as the majority of financial institutions, were state owned and operated.
IDEOLOGY, FASHION AND THE WINDS OF CHANGE
Efforts to modernize the state and society started during the 19th century. Initially reforms targeted limited institutions, such as the Armed Forces. One of the first things to go was the traditional marching band of the Ottoman army (Mehter Takimi), the first of its kind in Europe, to be replaced by a modern, western one. Western forms of art and literature penetrated the culture and continued to flourish alongside classical and folk art, music, and literature.
The parliamentary system was introduced more than a century ago. Following the Turkish Revolution at the end of World War I, reforms to achieve fundamental and broad-based social and institutional change were initiated by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the revolutionary leader and the first president of the Republic of Turkey. Secularism and the protection of the democratic rights and responsibilities of all citizens by law are perhaps the most important of these reforms.
One of the proudest achievements of the Republic was the establishment of women’s rights in the new social order. The Turkish woman has been exalted symbolically throughout history as the mother figure and pillar of the family. Since Ataturk’s reforms women’s role in social, political and economic life has expanded dramatically. Since the early days of the Republic, well educated women, particularly in the cities, have taken on active roles in the professions, government, and business.
Every social and institutional change eventually leaves its mark on the landscape. The reforms of the first half of the 20th century put Turkey on a course of accelerated modernization. Careful measures ensured that culture and traditions continue to live and evolve. Although the changes in the landscape were well orchestrated and significant, they were not of the magnitude of the changes that are occurring today.
Starting with the highway program of the 1950’s and culminating with the free market reforms of the 1980’s, unbridled transformation of the landscape has taken place. The country is electrified with the vitality of a young population ready to participate in a booming economy with endless possibilities in the new world order. The generation of farmers and soldiers who used to refer to the government as the “Father” (Devlet Baba), has been replaced by a “can-do” generation of entrepreneurs. The possibility of breaking all ties with both the past and the landscape, which the future depends on, has never been as real as it is today. For example, the ongoing process of agricultural industrialization is taking away the apricots, cherries and the rest of the Anatolian natives, along with the happy chickens, sheep and the cows, all marching in a parade which will eventually transform them into tasteless uniformity and miserable existence.
Our hopes lie with the wise Turkish woman, who knows better and listens to her palate, searching out vegetables raised without hormones at the local market. But will she be able to pass this wisdom on to her ambitious daughter who prefers wearing Levi’s?
The Turkish people are known for their ingenuity, quick wit and ability to adapt. In the current climate of democracy and local involvement it is more than likely that the Turkish landscape will continue to reflect a harmonious and sustainable relationship with its people.
PARTICIPATING IN THE TURKISH LANDSCAPE
Each landscape in Turkey is a backdrop and a context for people and events in the play of life. Perhaps the most thrilling aspect of travel is to become an active participant in this landscape.
As in all human interaction, the basic rule is equal partnership, given the roles of host and guest. This rule defines mutual respect and a shared sense of responsibility as the guiding principle in an adventure where the parties involved are, by definition, different in their understandings and ways of life. When Turks entered the tourism arena not so long ago they were armed with a tradition of hospitality rather than sophisticated facilities or a service mentality. Although Turkey now has an excellent tourism infrastructure, the motivation of most Turks remains one of sincerity and courtesy.
The desire of Turks to be understood and liked, to communicate and learn about people from other lands, and be on equal terms with them as citizens of the world is a much more important motivation. Interpret their enthusiasm to interact with you with this perspective in mind. They would rather make long term acquaintances, hang-out together, exchange cards, letters and gifts than receive “fair payment” or large tips for help rendered. This attitude may change as the tourism industry develops more in the coming decades and much depends on the visitors. But, for now, the sweetness of the Turkish people is unspoiled.
Here are some tips about social graces and conduct, which may be useful in interpreting the goings on around you and help you to enjoy your participation in this landscape even more.
Starting at the beginning: greetings involving welcomes, hand shakes, hugging and kissing on both cheeks, followed by a “How are you? How is the family? How is your health? How is business?….” are important rituals. It is expected that everyone will inquire about the health and well being of everyone else present before anything else. During religious holidays greeting are even more important. The young visit and kiss the hands of the elderly family members. Every friend and family is visited to renew bonds and kinship. The children receive pocket money and gifts, and social charity obligations are met. Like elsewhere, these are joyous occasions. However, celebrations emphasize traditional social and spiritual aspects, and a certain amount of decorum in action and appearance is expected from everyone.
In social gatherings, even though everyone might be sitting in the same room, it is common for women to start their interaction mostly with other women and similarly, men with men. Parties where people stand around and “mingle” are not among the common forms of socialization except among the urbanized elite. During a typical after dinner gathering coffee, tea, candy, cookies, pastries and fruit are served.
A dinner invitation to someone’s home is a special honor. At the dinner table it is customary for the hostess to offer additional servings many times and with great insistence. The guest is expected to oblige after several such offers. Dinners are leisurely affairs, to be savored slowly along with the delicious home-cooked food. Sometimes guests bring flowers or sweets to such occasions.
In business relationships the whole affair is conducted as a social occasion, complete with greetings, sharing coffee, tea, or food and drinks, depending on the extent of the transaction. Even in ordinary shopping a lot of personal information is exchanged between the vendor and the customer, setting the stage for everyone to fulfill their responsibilities in the transaction. Bargaining is not a simple game of negotiation between adversarial parties but part of socialization and friendly chit-chat to confirm the non-adversarial nature of the activity.
There are a few subjects which need to be treated with care. These include the flag, the army, the country, and religion. Even though people take great pleasure in explaining and answering questions about these, criticism or disrespect, even in jest, is not taken lightly. On the other hand, politics is fair game. There are few people who love talking politics as much as the Turks do.
To sum up, a guest might commit social faux-pas, but what matters is the underlying intention. If there is the presence of equality and respect, which the Turkish people will be quick to detect, all will be well. Enjoy your stay!
THE TURKISH LANGUAGE
Turkish originates from the Ural-Altaic languages and is structured like Hungarian and Finnish; root syllables have another root syllable attached to them. At the same time as the other reforms in Turkey, the Arabic alphabet was replaced by the Latin alphabet (1st Nov.1928). Since 1932 language reform has been in progress introducing Turkish words in lieu of their Arab, Persian and French synonyms. Turkish has been written in a phonetic, Latin alphabet of twenty-nine letters.
With only few variation, the pronunciation is like English. However, each letter represents only one sound. The vowel soundsare the a of father; the e of edit;the i (without point), of the unaccented e of the;the i, the ee of feet; the o of so,the ö, of the German word schön; the u,the u of pool ; and the ü the Germangrün. Consonants that differ are the c pronounced as the j of Jack, the ç as ch, theg with a small line above it which is silent g and usually lengthens the previous vowel, the j as the gof gendarme and the s(with point) as sh. Syllables within a word are only lightly accented, if at all. All letters are pronounced. Thus Side (a port on the Mediterranean) has two syllable.
Because of Turkey’s geographical conditions, one can not speak about a general overall climate. In Istanbul and around the sea of Marmara the climate is moderate ( winter 4 deg.C and summer 27 deg.C); in winter the temperature can drop below zero. In Western Anatolia there is a mild Mediterranean climate with average temperatures of 9 deg.C in winter and 29 deg.C in summer. On the southern coast of Anatolia the same climate can be found. The climate of the Anatolian plateau is a steppe climate (there is a great temperature difference between day and night). Rainfall is low and there is more snow. The average temperature is 23 deg.C in summer and -2deg.C in winter. The climate in the Black Sea area is wet, warm and humid (summer 23 deg.C, winter 7 deg.C). In Eastern Anatolia there is a long hard winter, where year after year snow lies on the ground from November until the end of April (the average temperature in winter is -13 deg.C and in summer 17 deg.C).
CULTURAL HERITAGE IS FRAGILE
The world’s cultural heritage is like a big puzzle. Each monument, each object, is an irreplaceable part of the overall Picture which gives us insight into our origins, our development and our lives today. It helps us to understand and appreciate other cultures. Each discovery, each new interpretation adds to the puzzle and makes the picture clearer. We must ensure the protection of every single piece today, so that future generations may have the opportunities to enjoy the puzzle.
Many people are not aware that our cultural heritage is under stress from natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods, and from slower acting processes such as pollution or human actions. Even the most innocent gestures such as collecting ancient pieces of pottery or mosaics es souvenirs have a, destructive impact if repeated by thousands. Touching an object of stone, metal or textile leäves traces of grease, acid or sweat on its surtace. Climbing a monument wears down the structure underneath and can dismantle it. Writing or engraving names inflicts permanent damage.
Strolling around narrow crowded places with bulky bags or backpacks might knock over an object or scratch a mural painting and ruin it. There are countless ways in which one can unknowingly contribute to the destruction of cultural heritage.
In 2020 there will be 1.6 billion visitors per year worldwide. Let us raise awareness of this issue so that we may join together to protect and enjoy the diversity and richness of our cultural heritage. International Organization for Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ICCROM)