Both geographically and culturally, Turkey straddles the continents of Europe and Asia. The country sits at the junction of the primary land and sea trading routes between East and West. Because of this strategic location, Turkey has been conquered or controlled over the centuries by the Greeks, the Persians, the Romans (who evolved into the Byzantines), and the Turks.
Turkey was once the main seat of Christianity. The "seven churches that are in Asia" mentioned in the first century book of Revelation (1.4) were in present-day Turkey, including a major church at Ephesus that served as the Apostle Paul's base. Some also believe that the Virgin Mary lived out her later years and died in Ephesus. In the fourth century, Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) became the center of Christianity under Emperor Constantine and the later Byzantine emperors. In the tenth century, however, Seljuk Turks began migrating from their ancestral homelands north of the Caspian and Aral Seas into eastern Anatolia. Over succeeding centuries, one branch of the Turks under Osman I evolved into the Ottoman empire, which eventually captured Constantinople in 1453, ending the city's role as a Christian center. Islam became the dominant religion throughout what is now Turkey. Although the vast majority of today's 71.2 million population is Muslim, the country has strived to maintain a secular government as established by Kemal Atatürk, who in 1923 founded the modern Turkish Republic.
I have visited Turkey twice. In May 1998 I visited for a week as a short side trip on my way to Africa. I spent several days in Istanbul, the largest city and the main commercial center of Turkey, then flew to Izmir to see the ancient ruins of Ephesus and Pergamon. I visited again in May 2005, this time spending a solid week in Istanbul, a city I have come to like very much. Despite these two visits, the country remains high on "my list" for a return. I would like to see the interior of the country (especially the Cappadocia region) and visit the spectacular coastlines, which are reported to offer some of the best sailing in the world.
The photos above offer some highlights from the places I visited. For more photos and information about specific places, check out the pages listed in the menu above or the drop-down list below.