Image by Ibrahim Anouti
Away from the political chaos and civil-war ridden borders of Syria and Iraq, Turkey is a magnificent destination for newlyweds. A richly historical land, steeped in a diverse history that spans 10,000 years, Turkey has many sites of archaeological and historical interest. Whether you surround yourself with the magnificent mosaics and ancient Roman cities or unwind in one of Turkey’s infamous spas, there is plenty to see and do in this Mediterranean gem.
5 Places to Stay
1. Casa dell’Arte Residence
A lesson in refined luxury, Casa dell’Arte Residence, with its dripping chandeliers and whiter-than-white linen is located along the coast of Torba Bay. Gaze out into the Mediterranean sea from one of the luxury residence’s zodiac-inspired rooms. Although all rooms are unique on their own, the Libra (a decadent Dome Suite) has plenty to please the eye: a starlight dome hovers above the large custom-made bed wrapped in fine Turkish linen; a marble floor and pastel pottery adds to the vibrancy to the room. There’s something for the boys too: the hotel has three glittering reminders of the hotel owner’s success in the automotive industry – a banana-yellow ’73 Corvette, a sleek white ’67 Mustang Convertible and a liquorice black ’61 Mercedes with bright white tyres – all for guests to hire.
Image by Casa dell’Arte Residence
2. The House Hotel Nisantasi
At the heart of Nisantasi, this elegant hotel has impeccable taste. The building is designed to arouse your senses; bookshelves bulge with coffee-table tome, sofas are plumped with cushions and monochrome prints are from a local photographer. The Superior King Rooms are a design dream with soft brown suede bedroom chairs, mirrors that partially panel the walls and caramel carpet that makes the room extra cozy. The smart grey-and white marble bathroom is the definition of luxury that yields a stash of fragrant L’Occitane treats.
Image by The House Hotel Nisantasi
3. Ajia Hotel
Set on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus, Ajia Hotel is a slick conversion of a 19th century yali – the palatial summer mansions of the Ottoman elite. Although the location is a little off the beaten track, it is the ideal escape from the heat and urban chaos of the old city. Behind an original façade of dazzling white neo-classical pillars and pediments, the interior of Ajia is a geometry of dark wood and creamy marble. The hotel is a blend of stylish modernism with crisp clean lines. The vast lobby is almost bare but for arum lilies, white orchids, off-white chairs and sunlight. Dine in the romantic restaurant right on the waterfront or enjoy the endless procession of fishing boats and ferries from the privacy of your own luxurious room – Ajia will leave you with wonderful memories of luxury Turkey.
Image by Ajia Hotel
4. Macakizi Hotel
Hidden within the enclosed bay to Turkbuku is Macakizi Hotel, a series of cottages spilling down the hillside amidst a rainbow of pink bougainvillea and red hibiscus. A stylish seaside mini-resort in what some have called Turkey’s St. Tropez, Macakizi features a series of double storey-cottages in a white, airy and contemporary style. The larger suites have glorious views over the bay from the balcony. Lounge on the plump ottoman cushions by the sea, take a boat trip in a traditional gullet or charter a boat for a day and visit the Greek islands.
Image by Macakizi Hotel
5. Sumahan on the Water
A derelict alcohol factory restored to its former glory by Turkish-American architects, Sumahan on the Water has found a new lease of life as a glamorous waterfront hotel. Part salvaged original and part modern extension, the hotel features exposed stonework, bare brick and mezzanine floors to celebrate the building’s past. All 24 rooms have warm wood or carpet floors with cool contemporary furniture with views of the glittering Bosphorus and its’ endless procession of gin palaces, container ships and ferries.
Image by Sumahan on the Water
5 Places to Visit
1. Blue Lagoon
One of the most popular beach destinations in Turkey, Blue Lagoon boasts some of the most beautiful sceneries in the world with crystal clear water. Take to the skies and paraglide across the lagoon for an unforgettable and stunning coastal view, or simply spend an afternoon frolicking in the crystal clear water.
Image by Graham Currey
2. The Library of Celsus, Ephesus
Spend a morning exploring one of the largest libraries of the ancient world. The Library of Celsus housed between 12,000 and 15,000 scrolls back in its heyday. The ancient Roman ruin was remarkable not only for its size and beauty, but also for its clever and efficient design. Join the Bosphorus Cruise and visit early in the morning and watch the soft glow of morning sun light up the library and its four statues: Sophia (wisdom), Arete (virtue), Ennoia (thought) and Episteme (knowledge).
Image by Bosphorus Cruise
3. Hagia Sophia
Dominating the skyline with its red walls and minarets is the Hagia Sophia, a Christian church originally built in 360AD that was turned into a mosque in 1453 after a violent siege. Today, it is a museum that embodies Turkey’s blend of Eastern and Western influence. Immerse yourself in the enormous dome that is one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture.
Image via Eric Lopez Contini
4. Sultan Ahmet Mosque (The Blue Mosque)
On the other side of Sultan Ahmet Park, the red of the Hagia Sophia is juxtaposed with the blue of the Sultan Ahmet Mosque. Both iconic landmarks look across the crowded square at each other with memories of a violent past. More commonly known as the Blue Mosque because of the colour of its interior tiles, the enormous structure was completed in 1616, long after the Hagia Sophia fell into Islamic hands. Through the ebb and flow of history, visitors of different faith visit to admire the magnificent domes and mosaic tiles that tells of Turkey’s heritage. The Blue Mosque is still an active place of worship and tourists must be respectful of its worshippers.
Image by Dennis Jarvis
5. Pamukkale, Denizli (Cotton Castle)
For a truly magical experience to top off that marital bliss, a trip to the Cotton Castle is a must during your visit to Turkey. The surreal, brilliant white travertine terraces and warm, limpid pools of Pamukkale hang like the petrified cascade of a mighty waterfall. Spectacular in its own right, the geological phenomenon is a set of bizarre but picturesque formation of calcium cliff and bathing pools. Combine your visit with a detour to the nearby site of the remarkably well-preserved ruins of the Greek-Roman city of Hierapolis.
Image by Tour Maker Turkey
5 Things to do
1. Take a Guided Tour at the Topkapi Palace
Surround yourself in Ottoman decadence at the Topkapi Palace, where libidinous sultans, ambitious courtiers, beautiful concubines and scheming eunuchs lived and worked between 15th and 19th centuries. The palace features opulent pavilions, a jewel-filled Treasury and sprawling Harem that gives a fascinating glimpse into their lives.
Image via Topkapi Palace Museum
2. Stroll the Spice Markets of the Grand Bazaar
Built in the 15th century, the Grand Bazaar is the oldest covered market in the world. It’s a maze of 56 interconnecting vaulted passages housing over 4,000 shops. Every street in the bazaar was dedicated to a profession. Today, most of these professions have disappeared but their memories live on through the names of the streets. Although many may refer to the Grand Bazaar as a tourist trap, if you’re up for a bit of fun, try to bargain like a local and see if you can make excellent deals for authentic leather items, carpets, gold and silver. Or simply enjoy the hustle and bustle of an ancient market where import and export businesses flourish.
3. See the stone head statues of Mount Nemrut
Turkey is steeped in rich history and ancient myths, and high on the summit of Mount Nemrut is a huge but little visited necropolis, home to the beheaded gods of the past. Although it sounds macabre, these beheaded statues were once complete statues of Greek and Persian gods. The sheer size and magnitude of the statues were truly magnificent. Take a sunrise or sunset tour to experience the golden sunlight bathing the statues for a truly spectacular experience.
Image by Felipe Alcoceba via UNESCO
4. Take a hot air balloon over Cappadocia
View the natural rocky landscape of Cappadocia from every corner of your eyes from a hot air balloon. Although the hot air balloon rides don’t come cheap, it is sure to be a magical experience. After a safety briefing by the experienced staff of Kapadokya Balloons, take off on your hot air balloon and fly gracefully above beautiful valleys and spectacular fairy chimneys. Enjoy a traditional ceremony after landing, drink a champagne cocktail or simply chat with the pilots. The experience is worth waking up early!
Image by Kapadokya Balloons
5. Experience the Whirling Dervishes
A trip to Turkey will not be complete without experiencing the spectacle of colour and spirituality that is the Whirling Dervishes. Although it may be hard to grasp the purpose behind sema – a Sufi ceremony aiming at a mystical union with God and religious purification – you will certainly be hypnotised with the whirling fabric, communal recitation, controlled ecstasy and spiritual fervor that is part of the rite.
Ms Chinoiserie Says: With its air of mystique and mystery, Turkey is a country rich in appeal; the mosaics and architecture alone are inspiring!