Situated in the middle of Europe and Asia, the diversity of heritage in this country gives it a vast difference in culture and traditions from the west to east side. With a very rich history, this country had been under the rule of many different empires and their traditions and culture are still reflected in modern day Turkey. No matter where you are, exploring Turkey will still be an eye-opening experience for you.
My Turkish experience
I wasn’t quite planning to visit Turkey but I chanced upon Affordable Flight Deals to Turkey and well, decided why not. I had visited a few Middle-Eastern countries before and didn’t expect anything too different. Suffice it to say, I was pleasantly surprised to see just how diverse the ethnic heritage is here.
The common language here is Turkish, spoken by at least 90% of the population. After that, there are a few minority languages like Kurdish, Arabic, Circassian and even Greek among a few others. I suppose the lack of English can cause serious language barriers so either learn some common phrases beforehand or get one of those handy translating apps.
The most dominating religion here is Islam and you will see many mosques around each city, despite the state claiming to be secular. The rules of Islam are commonly practiced among Turks. Even though Friday is a holy day in Islam, Turkey doesn’t take part in it. Individual Muslims are free to pray in accordance with the Friday prayer if they wish. Due to the state being secular, there are other religions here as well giving the people freedom in religious matters.
3. Social traditions
Being social and making friends is a part of Turkish culture. In fact, Turkish people love to meet new people so much that if you’re in a chatty mood they’ll have no problem talking to you, putting their own work aside. And if you’re a tourist then don’t worry if you forget the greeting phrase. The overall friendly atmosphere not only makes you feel great but it makes Turkey a great family holiday destination.
4. Women rights
This one depends on where you visit. However, in most places the dress code for women is relaxed and they can wear whatever they wish but in the more Eastern part or places that aren’t commonly visited by outsiders, the dress code is quite strict. Other than this, women can go wherever they wish except for tea houses. As a woman, you should go to tea gardens or places where families are more common.
5. Visiting a home Turks tend to invite anyone and everyone to their home and if you find yourself with an invitation, then keep in mind to be polite. The common response to “welcome” there is Hos bulduk, and usually, it is rude to take your shoes in the house so best to take them off and wear the house slippers they provide you. One thing to be wary of is that you should go on an empty stomach as dish after dish will be served to make a meal grand which will then be followed by fruits, nuts, tea or coffee. Believe me, Turkish folks don’t take no for an answer when it comes to food and it’s considered rude to not eat anything when you visit someone.
Contrary to common belief, the national drink in Turkey isn’t Turkish coffee. While it is popular, the national drink is Turkish tea. Traditionally, it is served in tulip-shaped small glasses and sweetened according to the drinker’s preference. This tea is such a big part of the Turkish culture that there are proper tea houses, where men gather for tea and games. Basically, a great place to socialize if you’re a male. And if you’re a female then you can head to tea gardens that are quite crowded on weekends.
Arts and culture
7. Rugs and carpets It’s a bit of a traditional thing here so if you visit any home, you’ll see beautiful rugs and carpets with intricate colorful designs sitting proudly on the floor. Due to their popularity, these handmade rugs make for a great souvenir. This tradition stems back from the nomadic tribes' era. Just be wary that a merchant isn’t scamming you by selling normal carpets at a high price saying they’re authentic handmade ones.
8. The evil eye
You’ll see this common talisman everywhere. It’s colored a dark blue with a blue eye on it. This talisman is called a Nazar and is believed to ward off evil. It’s contrary to Islamic beliefs but it is so common here that you’ll see it everywhere you go, hence it makes for a popular souvenir.
Some people argue that the urbanization of Turkey is ruining the traditional art but I would have to disagree. The age-old traditions are also preserved nicely and the Turks tend to be quite patriotic so they’re very proud of the diversity of their culture. One of the most interesting art styles is Ebru Painting. This creative art style dates back to the Ottoman Empire. In the west, it’s more commonly known as Paper Marbling and is done by dropping paints slowly on the surface of a think liquid and then swirled around to make designs. Then a paper is gently placed on top which absorbs this design. In theory, this may sound easy but it takes a lot of practice.
Or commonly known as Turkish baths. This tradition comes from the Roman public bathhouses later modified by the Ottomans. It’s up to you to either enter the sauna-like bath wither in a swimsuit or naked. There are ladies only days as well. A relaxing massage afterward is optional as well.
11. Sufi culture
A famous Sufi poet, Rumi, who resided in Konya once said “Love cannot be described. It must be tasted”. Even though he said these words at least 700 years ago, people still respect them. In fact, Konya is known for the Dervish culture. Lots of religious ceremonies take place there and the most iconic part are the Whirling Dervishes. They spin around on their left foot with a somber expression and arms slightly raised high. Plus their white billowy gown makes the whole ceremony quite mystical. For anyone interested in learning about spiritualism then Konya in Turkey is the place to be.