1. Donair & Shish Kebab!
Both donair and shish kebab are Turkish food items.
The word “donair” (döner) in Turkish literally means ‘turning’, since the meat turns on its stand as it cooks.
Similarly, in Turkish the word “Shish” (Şiş) means “stick”, or “skewer”, so in other words “kebab on a stick”! :)
Bonus: Have you seen “Tavuk” or “Taook” donair or shish? Well, “tavuk” means “chicken” in Turkish indicating that the kebab is made with chicken meat instead of the more common beef.
2. Santa Claus!
So we all know that Santa was a Saint named St. Nicholas. And he lives in the North Pole, right? WRONG. He was actually born in 270 AD in Lycia (Roman Empire) which is now Turkey, and lived there his entire life. St. Nick’s original church is still there and is being restored. *whoa*
Yes, the city of Troy is actually located in western Turkey (and it does not resemble a desert like the movie ‘Troy’ portrayed, it’s actually very lush).
(The Trojan Horse in the photo is obviously not the real one, but you can actually go inside of it!!—-of course, the real one is long gone..)
4. Dr. Oz
The famous doctor / TV personality Dr. Oz is of Turkish descent. He was born in the USA to Turkish immigrants, is bilingual in Turkish & English, and holds a dual US/Turkey citizenship. Oh and his full name? Dr. Mehmet Cengiz Öz.
5. Noah’s Ark
According to some claims, Noah’s Ark is resting on top of Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey. Although no evidence has really been found, there seems to be a structure that resembles the ark. Interestingly, this is the exact same location the Bible describes as the resting place of the ark.
Yes, yogurt was invented in the region that is now Turkey! Some of the first referrals to yogurt in ancient texts is by Turks.
The word ‘yogurt’ comes from the Turkish word “yogurmak”, meaning “to be curdled” or “thickened”. How many of us knew that, right?!!
And Turkish yogurt is much thicker in consistency than the standard yogurt you find in North America.
7. 2 of the ‘7 Wonders of the Ancient World’
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus built in 351 BC (top 2 images), and The Temple of Artemis, originally built around 550 BC, are both in southwest Turkey!
8. 1 of the ‘7 Wonders of the Medieval World’
Hagia Sophia (St. Sophia) was originally built in 537 AD as a church, and it was later used as a mosque by the Ottoman Empire by adding ‘minarets’ to the original structure. Today it is a museum.
The famous dessert baklava also originated in Turkey (well, it was the Ottoman Empire at that time). The word “baklava” means “diamond-shape”, referring to the shape of the dessert.
10. Virgin Mary’s House
Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, actually spent her last years near the city of Ephesus, which is now Turkey.
Catholic pilgrims visit the House of the Virgin Mary (or “Meryem Ana Evi” ) based on the belief that Mary was taken to this stone house by St. John and she lived there until her Assumption.
11. The Evil Eye Bead
The “Evil Eye Bead”, or “Nazar” bead, is a Turkish good luck charm. It’s believed that the eye wards off evil, hence the name.
The belief goes that if the eye bead that you’re wearing breaks (they are traditionally made of glass), you should actually be happy because it means that something bad was going to happen to you but the bead caught it, which is why it broke.
You can now find jewelry made with these beads in many accessory stores across North America.
12. The Only City on Two Continents!
Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and the only city in the world that is built on 2 continents; Europe and Asia.
The city is divided by the Bosphorus Straits and there are 2 bridges that connect the two sides.
Does this mean you can cross 2 continents off your bucket list by visiting Istanbul!? Let’s start packing! :)