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Istanbul & Surroundings Travel Adventures
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"If, like me, you are a bit tired of the ethnocentric social commentary that seems to come with certain well known guidebooks then you could do worse than try this one. Simple to use, well written and accurate, I found it invaluable and couldn't fault any
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Istanbul & Its Surroundings Travel Adventures

Samantha Lafferty


Ulysses Travel Publications

4176 Saint-Denis, Montréal, Québec

Canada H2W 2M5

tel. 514-843-9882, ext. 2232; fax 514-843-9448

Roundhouse Group


Limers Lane

, Northam

Devon, EX39 2RG England

tel. 01237-474474; fax 01237-474774

©  Hunter Publishing, Inc.

This and other Hunter travel guides are also available as

e-books through, and other

digital partners. For information, e-mail us at

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher.

This guide focuses on recreational activities. As all such activities contain elements of risk, the publisher, author, affiliated individuals and companies disclaim responsibility for any injury, harm, or illness that may occur to anyone through, or by use of, the information in this book. Every effort was made to insure the accuracy of information in this book, but the publisher and author do not assume, and hereby disclaim, liability for any loss or damage caused by errors, omissions, misleading information or potential travel problems caused by this guide, even if such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident or any other cause.


I wish to thank everyone who plied me with steaming tea during the bitter winter in the Central and Eastern regions; the children who made me laugh by constantly asking for their photos to be taken; everyone who put me up and fed me, who kept me amused with their stories and led me around the places that many travelers don't know exist.

In particular, I want to say Çok sagol to Bülent and Hasan, who became my friends as we shared a great adventure. Thank you both for the evenings of raki and endless conversation and, most of all, for your insight and energy.

I want to thank Hakan and his schoolchildren who sang and played music for me at their one-room school in Hasankeyf; Ibrahim, Süleyman and everyone else who made me part of their family in Ayvali and encouraged me to break the rules of the male-only tea house, and Murat for that great mountain drive.

Also, I wish to thank to Özlem for looking after me in Safranbolu and Ankara; Gülsen, for opening her beautiful house in Kastamonu; the Cosendere hotel in Maçka, which opened its doors even though I was the only guest; Sena, for sharing her mansion with me in Datça; Mustafa, for the race to the lighthouse so we could watch the sunset over the sea; Susanne, for the walk around the meadows near her ranch in Antalya; Yahya, for his exhaustive knowledge of the Eastern Black Sea region; Sharon, for kindly giving me the keys to her house; Deniz and Berna, for the moonlit evening at their secret cove in Bozcaada; Sedef, for showing me the ancient hamam ; and to Adem, for the clifftop walk and stories about the Russian outposts in Sinop. Finally, I wish to thank Atil and Karem for the hike along the

Lycian Way

, and Phil and Alison for making me feel at home in Ka s and for that killer bike ride. And to Joanna Marsh and the Turkish Tourist Board for all of their help.

Author Biography

For Samantha Lafferty, Turkey is like a love affair. It evokes powerful emotions and a yearning to get back to it. Her fascination with the country was triggered by photographs she saw of the Blue Mosque and the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul as a child. And it took just one look at the city - the view across the Bosphorus from Topkapi Palace - for it to become cemented as her favorite.

Samantha Lafferty has spent eight years working as a journalist in London. Her writing has appeared in magazines and newspapers, including Bloomberg , The Guardian , The Sunday Times and the International Herald Tribune . So far, her wanderlust has taken her to the US and Canada, Australia, Fiji, Hong Kong and throughout Europe.



The Land

Geographic Regions

Rivers & Lakes




People & Culture




Military Service


Customs & Traditions

Travel Information

The Facts

Required Documents


Business Hours

Public & Religious Holidays

Travel Insurance



Time Zone

Taxes & Tipping

Water Supply

Electrical Supply

Planning Your Trip

When to Visit

Pack Your Bags

Getting Here

Getting Around

Money Matters


Banks, ATMs & Exchange Offices

Travelers' Checks

Credit Cards

Post Offices

Staying Safe

Special Concerns



Bird Flu

Disabled Travelers


Doctors & Dentists

Pharmacies & Medication





Food & Drink


Accommodation Options


Useful Websites


Getting Here & Getting Around

Travel Around Town




Topkapi Palace

Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia)

The Blue Mosque

Calligraphy Museum

The Grand Bazaar

The Golden Horn


Eyup Camii



Beyoglu to Taksim Square


Taksim Square

Along the Bosphorus

Asian Istanbul


Beylerbeyi Palace

Excursions From Istanbul

The Princes' Islands

Sile & Agva

Children's Istanbul

Spectator Sports


Adventures on Wheels

Driving Tours

Cycling Tours

Bike Hire

Motorbike Tours

Adventures on Water

Sailing on the Bosphorus



Adventures on Foot

City Walking Tours

Hiking & Trekking


Adventures on Horseback

Adventures in the Air

Cultural Adventures

Music & Dance



Cookery Schools

Adventures for the Body & Soul

Turkish Baths



Markets & Bazaars

Sports Stores


Food Shopping

Pastry Shops


Olive Oils, Nuts & Natural Products



Bars with Views


Taverns (Meyhane)

Where to Stay


Five Star

Four Star

Historic Hotels



Where to Eat





Recommended Tour Companies

Turkish Tour Operators

Information Sources









Traveling by Car



Common Signs


It is almost impossible to fit together the pieces of Turkey. It is an uneasy puzzle that refuses to lie side by side.  In the west, mountains and pine forests frame a staggeringly beautiful coastline. The cosmopolitan capital of Ankara and the ethereal beauty of Cappadocia sit amid the harsh central steppes. In the east, there are biblical rivers, a fabled mountain and haunting cities and palaces. Then, there is the magnetism of Istanbul, a city with a constant beat and a stubbornness to be anything other than what it wants to be.

Turkey's location, straddling Asia and Europe, has left it with a battle-weary history and much political upheaval. The three great empires that ruled the country for thousands of years left a legacy of enchanting cultures and more ancient sites than even Italy or Greece can boast.

The landscape is full of relics that beg to be discovered, whether independently or with a group, on foot or by bicycle. Hospitality is ingrained in Turkish culture and you will be greeted with warmth wherever your adventures take you.

Turkey is as old as history itself and yet it remains youthful. Its music, film and design industries are gaining prominence and its bid to become part of the European Union has placed it in the throes of an exciting revolution.

The BosphorusRiver, separating Europe and Asia, seen from space


The fact that Turkey is a Muslim country bordering Iran, Iraq and Syria causes concern among some travelers. Breathe easy. Turkey has a low crime rate and is incredibly safe to travel around. Indeed, few places are more welcoming to visitors.                                                 


The Cradle of Civilization

Anatolia has been a force in the development of civilization since biblical times. The Old Testament is littered with references to its mountains and rivers, and the people who lived there. Edessa, modern day Ôanliurfa, was the home of Abraham, father of the Jewish nation. Mount Ararat, in the far east of the country, is said to have been the final resting place of Noah's Ark. Farther south lies ancient Mesopotamia. The great biblical rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, both run through the country.

The first evidence of settlement in Anatolia goes back even longer. The land has been continuously inhabited since the first steps of primitive mankind. Archaeologists excavating a cave in Yarimburgaz, south of Istanbul, unearthed human remains believed to be the oldest found to date outside Africa. They are estimated to be about one million years old. Separate studies of caves at Karain, Belbasi and Beldibi near Antalya have unearthed well-preserved paintings and carvings on walls.

The Neolithic Age

During the Neolithic Age, man moved away from hunting and foraging to harvesting crops. They became skilled farmers and often produced a surplus, freeing them to trade grain. By cultivating the land, people were able to remain in one place all year. They moved out of caves and into dwellings, which they constructed themselves.

Jericho is considered the oldest settlement in the world, originally dated at 9,500BC. However, recent excavations at Nevali Cori on the banks of the Euphrates, near Ôanliurfa, suggest this date should be moved back. The research revealed clues that the Neolithic Age started between 12,000BC and 10,000BC.

The best-known Neolithic settlement lies on the yellow plains of Anatolia at Çatalhoyuk, south of Konya. Çatalhoyuk was settled in about 6800BC. Its farming community lived in mud brick and plaster dwellings tightly packed into a small area with no streets. Bizarrely, the houses did not have doors and the residents accessed the rooms through a hatch in the roof. The first irrigation system for crops was developed at Çatalhoyuk.

By 5000BC, a more sophisticated town had been built at Hacilar Hoyuk near Burdur, west of Çatalhoyuk. The town had streets and the houses had doors. Finds at both sites show Anatolian man had developed the ability to make utensils and figurines. Among the most striking artifacts are figurines believed to be shrines to the Mother Goddess. Good examples of these sculptures are exhibited at Ankara's Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.

The Bronze Age

Man had discovered metal in the Stone Age, but he had not been able to use it in daily life because of problems refining it. It was not until the Bronze Age that he truly benefitted from finding copper, tin, silver and gold. The early Bronze Age was evident in Anatolia around 3000BC and 2000BC. The use of metals and, in particular the ability to blend metals together to create alloys, accelerated the advancement of Anatolian civilization.

Innovations changed the way people lived together and communicated with one another. The introduction of the plough aided agriculture, and ships increased communication and trade. A growing demand for raw materials and manufactured metal goods stimulated mining and trade routes were established to connect mines with refining centers, ports and markets.

Local princely families controlled trade and their wealth grew dramatically during this period. To safeguard their riches, they built well- ordered cities guarded by fortified walls. Their administrative and temple buildings were often built on a hill in the center of the city and were flanked by the thick walls of a citadel.

Hoyuk in Turkish means mound and the most famous of these mounds was Troy. The first layers of Troy were built around 3000BC. It was a sophisticated community of large houses guarded by mighty walls. Archaeological digs at Troy unearthed hoards of treasure that bore testament to the affluence of the ruler King Priam.

Excavations of sites around Alacahoyuk and others near Ankara and Tokat in Central Anatolia, and Amasya and Samsun on the Black SeaCoast also revealed incredible artifacts, including gold crowns, jugs, sun discs, buckles, jewelry and ornaments. Many of these belonged to the Hatti tribe, the name given to the indigenous people of Anatolia.


Assyrian Traders

Trade flourished during the 19th and 18th centuries BC. Assyrian traders, who wanted to acquire silver, gold, copper and precious stones, opened up a trade route that ran from Assur in Mesopotamia to the Central Anatolian plain. They procured the natural resources they desired by trading their own tin, perfume and fabrics. The Assyrians established trading colonies in several cities ruled by the Hattians, including the most famous at Kanesh/Nesha. They were advanced in their dealings and were the first people to introduce writing to Anatolia.

At the end of the 18th century BC, Mitanni, a powerful kingdom in the eastern Anatolian mountains, severed Assyrian trade with the central regions of Anatolia. This greatly weakened Assyria and it was later incorporated into Babylonia.

The Hittite Civilization

In the final days of the Assyrian colonial period, there was frequent strife in Central Anatolia between the Hatti tribe and the immigrant Indo-European Hattites, who were keen to consolidate their power. The city of Hattush on the Central Anatolian steppes was burned. A Hittite ruler, King Anitta, was not satisfied with destroying the city; he also inflicted a curse on it. The curse decreed that should any king occupy the land after Anitta he would be struck down by the Weather God. Anitta chose the city of Kanesh/Nesha as his capital.

The region to the east of Ankara was not populated during the Neolithic Age because of its high steppes and woodland. It was not until the discovery of minerals that settlement developed here. Alacahoyuk (shown below) soon became a thriving Hattian city, followed by nearby Hattush, which was located in one of the few areas of central Asia Minor where water was plentiful. Unlike the area today, which is barren scrubland with barely a tree in sight, the mountains were then covered with forests and the Kizil IrmakRiver provided a good source of water. By the mid-17th century BC, the resources in Hattush had attracted a Hittite king who made the city his capital, ignoring the curse of Anitta. Hattian Hattush had now become Hittite Hattusha.

Origins in the Caucasus

Little is known about the origins of the Hittite civilization. Their language is Indo-European and it is believed that they moved into Central Anatolia in small groups through the Caucasus during the second half of the third millennium BC. The Hittites at first mingled with the