Turkey is a popular tourist destination known for its Mediterranean coastline, impressive mosques, and stunning natural scenery.
But there’s also a lot that travelers probably don’t know, just some of the most interesting, and surprising facts about Turkey are given below. There are also a few fun facts to keep the little ones entertained.
There are Excellent Ski Slopes in Turkey
Tourists may associate Turkey with beaches and warm summer days, however, Turkey is also a great winter skiing destination. Turkey offers an interesting alternative to the more well-known Alps or Pyrenees.
There are around a dozen ski resorts in Turkey boasting stunning snow-covered mountain ranges during the winter months. The highest peak in Turkey is Palandoken in the eastern region of Erzurum. Palandoken is 3,125m high and has the longest and steepest runs in the country.
Other popular Turkish ski resorts include:
- Saklikent Ski Resort, Antalya
- Uludag Ski Resort, Bursa
- Ilgaz Mountain Resort, Kastamonu
- Davraz Ski Centre, Isparta
- Erciyes Ski Resort, Kayseri
Istanbul is Spread across Two Continents
Despite being the largest city in the country, and the most visited, Istanbul is not the Turkish capital. In fact, many people are surprised to learn that Ankara, and not Istanbul, is the capital of Turkey.
Although not the capital, Istanbul is a fascinating city featuring impressive mosques and medieval architecture.
One thing that makes Istanbul unique is that it is the only city in the world to span Asia and Europe geographically. Istanbul is divided by the Bosphorus River: the west bank lies in Europe and the east back in Asia.
The Galata Bridge connects the 2 sides, tourists in Istanbul can walk across starting in one continent and ending in another. Around 3% of Turkey is in Europe.
Turkey Made Tulips Popular
People commonly associate the flower with the Netherlands yet it is really thanks to Turkey that the tulip became popular around the world.
The Flemish Ambassador to the 16th-century court of Suleiman the Magnificent returned to Amsterdam with tulip bulbs, introducing the plant to Holland.
Turkey Is the World’s Largest Producer of Hazelnuts
There are a number of products synonymous with Turkey, most famously Turkish delight and coffee. What people may not realize is that Turkey produces the largest proportion of the world’s hazelnuts.
In total, Turkey grows around 73% of all hazelnuts which are exported around the globe to make treats such as praline and chocolate and hazelnut spreads.
Turkey’s National Sport is Oil Wrestling
Oil wrestling, also known as grease wrestling, is Turkey’s national sport. Participants coat their bodies with olive oil as they try to pin their opponent to the ground or lift them into the air.
Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival, in the Turkish city of Edirne, holds the Guinness Book of Records title for the longest consecutively held sporting events. It started back in the mid-1300s and continues to take place each June, spread across 7 days. Food, dancing, and music accompany the contests.
Fun Facts about Turkey for Kids
Young travelers may be particularly interested to hear the following fun facts about Turkey. They might also provide some inspiration for child-friendly activities for family vacations in Turkey.
Turkey is Santa’s real birthplace
Santa Claus does not come from the North Pole. In fact, Saint Nicolaus was born in Patara, on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, later moving to nearby Demre.
Tourists may enjoy visiting the Santa Claus Museum, an 11th-century church in Demre, to find out more about his story.
You can see one of the world’s oldest shipwrecks in Turkey
Children with an interest in boats and the sea might like to find out more about the Uluburun shipwreck discovered off the shore of Kas in 1982. It is believed that the ship dates back to the late 14th century BC, making it one of the oldest in the world.
The ship is on display at the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology in Turkey. Kids will enjoy imagining the Bronze Age sailors that once navigated this ancient vessel.
In Turkey, they serve chicken for dessert
Although it might not sound as tempting as ice cream, tavuk göğsü, a milk pudding made with shredded chicken, is a popular dessert in Turkey.
Boiled chicken meat is mixed with milk and sugar and sprinkled with cinnamon to create a pudding similar to blancmange. Tavuk göğsü was once served to the Ottoman Sultans and is now considered one of Turkey’s signature dishes.
Foreigners planning a trip to this fascinating country should be sure to check the Turkey visa requirements and arrange all the necessary documents for their visit.