* Istanbul is the only city in the world located on two continents, Europe and Asia. In its thousands of years of history, it has been the capital of three great empires – Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman.
* The oldest known human settlement in the world is located in Catalhöyük, Turkey, dating back to 6500 B.C. The earliest landscape painting in history was found on the wall of a Catalhöyük house, illustrating the volcanic eruption of nearby Hasandag.
* Two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World stood in Turkey – the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus in Bodrum.
* The Turks introduced coffee to Europe.
* All over the world it is consumed and known as “yogurt,” which is a word of Turkish origin.About a thousand years ago, Turks were the first to make Yogurt.
* The first coins ever minted were done so at Sardis, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lycia, at the end of the seventh century B.C.
* The word “turquoise” comes from “Turk” meaning Turkish, and was derived from the beautiful colour of the Mediterranean Sea on the southern Turkish coast.
* The Turks first gave the Dutch their famous tulips that started the craze for the flower in England and the Netherlands. Bulbs brought to Vienna from Istanbul in the 1500s were so intensely popular that by 1634 in Holland it was called “tulipmania”. People invested money in tulips as they do in stocks today. This period of elegance and amusement in 17th century Turkey is referred to as “The Tulip Age.”
* The most valuable silk carpet in the world is in the Mevlana Museum in Konya, Turkey. Marco Polo’s journeys in the thirteenth centuries took him here, and he remarked that the “best and handsomest of rugs” were to be found in Turkey.
* Many important events surrounding the birth of Christianity occurred in Turkey. St John, St Paul and St Peter all lived and prayed in southern Anatolia. Tradition has it that St John bought Virgin Mary to Ephesus after the Crucifixion, where she spent her last days in a small stone house (Meryemana Evi) on what is now Bülbüldağı (Mount Koressos). It remains a popular pilgrimage site for Christians to this day.
* Many archaeologists and biblical scholars believe Noah’s Ark landed on Ağrı Dağı (Mount Ararat) in eastern Turkey.
* The seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation are all found in Turkey: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.
* A cave known today as the Grotto of St Peter, or Church of St Peter, is believed to be where the apostle Peter preaches when he visited Antioch (Antakya, in southern Turkey). It is widely considered to be one of the earliest Christian houses of worship. In 1963, the papacy designated the site as a place of pilgrimage and recognised it as the world’s first cathedral. Every year on June 29, a special service held at the church, is attended by Christians from around the world.
* Anatolia is the birthplace of many historic figures and legends such as the poet Homer, King Midas, Herodotus (the father of history) and St Paul the Apostle.
* St Nicholas known as Santa Claus today, was born and lived in Demre (Myra) on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. The village contains the famous Church of St Nicholas with the sarcophagus believed to be his tomb.
* The first man ever to fly was Turkish. Using two wings, Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi flew from the Galata Tower over the Bosphorus to land in Usküdar in the 17th century.