Turkish people love using TransferGo, especially during Ramadan. In fact, the amount of money Turkish people transferred during Ramadan doubled last year. Not bad, considering we were in the midst of a pandemic.
But what of Turkey itself? A uniquely situated country with an incredible history, here are some things you didn’t know about Turkey—from the fascinating to the downright bizarre.
Turkey is in Europe AND Asia
Actually, a whopping 97% of Turkey is in Asia. This is where you’ll find the cosmopolitan capital Ankara, known for its performing arts. While Istanbul, one of the most visited destinations in the world, is split across two continents. Take a westerly walk along the bridge over the Bosphorus River and you’ll enter Europe.
And speaking of water, you’ve got it on three sides in Turkey. The Black Sea is in the north; the Mediterranean in the south; and between Greece and Turkey on the west is the Aegean. That’s 7000 km of coastline! It’s not surprising then that you can find some pretty beautiful beaches along the way.
Santa was born in Turkey
That’s right, Santa Claus hails from Turkey. Saint Nicholas, as he was known, was born in Patara on the southwest coast in around 300 AD. As you’d imagine, he was pretty generous in his time. Brave too—he’d save sailors from sinking ships, and so was made one of the patron saints of sailors. The least they could do, really.
Patara is still a coastal beach town today with the longest beach in the country (12km) and some fab ancient ruins.
There are over 80,000 mosques
Turkey might be the birthplace of Santa, although the main religion is Islam. 99% of the population is Muslim, and they’re not short of mosques in which to worship. Square mosques, triangular mosques, circular mosques—you name it. They can get pretty big, too. The recently completed Grand Çamlıca Mosque can accommodate some 63,000 people. Wowsers.
One of the most visited is the Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul, commonly known as the Blue Mosque because of its beautiful blue tiles on the interior walls.
The national sport is oil wrestling
Yep, wrestling—but not as we know it. Turkey’s national sport began way back in the 14th Century, and it’s still going strong. Apparently, it started when wrestlers covered themselves in oil to ward off mosquitoes. And they’ve been doing it ever since.
You might think trying to wrestle someone covered in oil sounds a bit tricky, and you’d be right. The winner is the wrestler who manages to get their opponent’s belly button facing the sky—sometimes this would take hours, or even days! Since 1975, however, matches have had a 40-minute time limit. Phew.
It’s the place for tulip fans
Perhaps you don’t immediately associate tulips with Turkey, but this is where they originated in the 16th Century. At that time, the Dutch ambassador to Turkey’s Süleyman the Magnificent (humble bloke) brought some tulip bulbs back to the Netherlands and they became a hit.
They’re still a big deal in Turkey, too. Their national flower is celebrated in April’s week-long festival in Istanbul, with concerts, art exhibitions and competitions all over the city.
Your next hazelnut is probably from Turkey
There’s a 75% chance, in fact. The Mediterranean basin provides the perfect climate for them to grow, with Greece, Italy and Spain also big producers. No wonder nuts are so common in Turkish desserts.
You might be more surprised to learn that chicken features in a traditional Turkish dessert, too. Tavuk göğsü—a milk pudding made with shredded chicken breast—was a delicacy served to Ottoman sultans. It’s a signature dish to this day.
Turkey has two of the Seven Wonders
Turkey is steeped in history and boasts not one, but two of the original Seven Wonders of the World (almost greedy, really). The remains of the Temple of Artemis and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus are both in Aegean Turkey, and there are no fewer than 17 UNESCO historical sites across the country.
These include Pamukkale, or ‘Cotton Castle’, a series of calcium pool terraces that give off a brilliant white colour. Neighbouring the well-preserved ancient city of Hierapolis, it’s no surprise that this is the most popular tourist hotspot, attracting some two million visitors a year.