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Mediterranean Turkey

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Europe : Turkey : Mediterranean Turkey
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The lighthouse on the Cape Taşlık (Gelidonia), which juts out towards the Mediterranean south of Antalya

Mediterranean Turkey (Akdeniz Bölgesi) is a region in Turkey. It occupies entire southern coast of Turkey and some places more inland.

Regions

  • Antalya Province — the shining gem of the Turquoise Riviera with some of the clearest waters and most beautiful coast along the Mediterranean
  • Cilician Plains (Çukurova, Adana and Osmaniye Provinces) — the largest lowland of the country with some rocky hills topped by Crusader citadels
  • Hatay Province — the southeastern part of the region which extends towards Syria. Annexed to Turkey in 1939, almost two decades after the Republic was found, this province still maintains its Mideast-influenced culture and great cuisine.
  • Lakes District (Göller Yöresi, Isparta and Burdur Provinces) — with many lakes little and big, this inland region is substantially different from coastal Mediterranean
  • Mersin Province — with hundreds of kilometers of coastline lying in front of pine covered mountains dotted with ancient citadels, this province is a less-traveled alternative rich in history to Antalya Province
  • Western Lycia (southern half of Muğla Province) — centred around large touristy towns of Marmaris and Fethiye, the region is rugged and wooded, with many coves heavily indendating towards the land; this is the "blue voyage" country with Lycian ruins here and there

Cities

  • Antalya — the largest city in southern Turkey and the unquestioned capital of the Turkish Riviera
  • Adana — one of the biggest cities in the country, a riverside city with some industry
  • Alanya — town east of Antalya with some history to see and beaches to swim
  • Antakya (also known as Antioch) — Great food and history near the Syrian border
  • Fethiye — nestled on the tip of a gulf perfect for yachting, this town and its vicinity offers sports like paragliding or hiking (the Lycian Way)
  • Kaş — an unspoiled resort town with traditional architecture in the southwest of the region
  • Marmaris — a nice town, albeit touristy, and the gateway for "Blue Voyage"
  • Mersin — a large city with some huge palm trees on the coastal promenade
  • Taşucu — a pleasant town with cobbled streets and frequent ferries to Northern Cyprus

Other destinations

  • Anemurium — ruins of a Roman city on the southernmost point of Turkey
  • Butterfly Valley — an isolated canyon with waterfalls and a large colony of butterflies
  • Heaven and Hell — a geological curiosity, two large chasms next to each other located 4 km inland from sea shore
  • Kayaköy — ghost town with plenty of hiking opportunities in the surrounding area
  • Manavgat Waterfalls — waterfalls near Antalya
  • Ölüdeniz — the "Blue Lagoon", picture of which is perhaps the most used image on travel brochures about Turkey
  • Olympos — backpacker destination with tree-houses in the forest near a pebble beach and Roman ruins, also featuring a rich nightlife
  • Xanthos and Letoon — ruins of the capital city of ancient Lycia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Understand

Mediterranean coast of Turkey is mostly a narrow strip of land squeezed in between pine-covered Taurus Mountains (Toros) and the Mediterranean Sea. Having speared from pollution thanks to the lack of heavy industry, besides lying under one of the sunniest skies of Europe in addition to the rich art and history makes the region top tourism destination in the country.

History

Home to a number of ancient civilizations, namely Lycia, Pamphylia, and Cilicia west to east, Mediterranean Turkey was captured by the Romans about a century before the birth of Christ. After a brief occupation by the Crusaders on their way to Jerusalem, as evidenced by a number of Crusader-built or -expanded citadels mainly on the eastern sections of the region, and a number of Crusader-backed Armenian kingdoms, Turkic Seljuqs seized the region. It was during this era when the ancestors of most of the region's locals poured in from Central Asia as nomadic tribes. Some still keep the tradition to this day, wintering on the warm coast and heading for heights of Taurus Mountains or plateaus of Central Anatolia more inland to the north when summer approaches with their goat and camel caravans. Seljuqs were later replaced by Ottomans in around 1400s.

Climate

As expected, Mediterranean Turkey enjoys the typical Mediterranean climate: the temperature can go above 40°C in rainless—and even cloudless—summers, while the rest of the year is quite rainy, although winter lows rarely go below +5°C and snowfall is virtually unknown in the region (except the tops of the quite high mountains close to the coastal strip, of course). The season with the highest amount of rainfall is winter (more or less limited to late October through early April in this region) and can be accompanied by strong winds, to the point of storms, in the localities close to the shore, especially around Antalya.

Water temperature of the Mediterranean Sea is around 28°C during summer, i.e. May through October.

Talk

The region is home to a plethora of Turkish dialects, from Muğla şivesi, some of which is totally incomprehensible for non-local Turks spoken in Western Lycia to the dialect of Mersin Province, which is essentially a mainland "extension" of Cypriot Turkish. Syrian dialect of Arabic is also prevalent around Antakya.

However, thanks to heavy tourism, English will likely be enough to communicate during your trip, especially in the western parts of the region (i.e. Antalya Province and Western Lycia) and especially if you don't intend to go off the beaten path. German, Russian, and Scandinavian languages may also be helpful, especially when you visit one of the resort towns mainly frequented by those nations.

Get in

  • By plane — major airports in the region open for international flights are located in Dalaman, Antalya, and Adana.
  • By trainAdana has daily direct passenger train services from both Istanbul and Ankara (and a number of other cities on the way, such as Konya), while Isparta and Burdur has services from Izmir. There is also a once-weekly connection between Mersin, and Adana and Aleppo in Syria.
  • By bus — All cities and a good number of towns, especially those with touristical importance, have direct bus connections from all big cities of the country.
  • By car — The region is connected to the northern parts of the country by a number of highways, though passes that the roads have to go through when running over Taurus Mountains mean that the roads may have more windings and be narrower than usual motorways. However, O-21 north of Adana/Mersin, is an exception as it is a wide motorway with separated directions.
  • By boat — There are ferries from Northern Cyprus to a number of coastal towns. See also Ferries in the Mediterranean.

Get around

By car

The highway D400, which closely follows the shoreline of Turkish Mediterranean from one end to another, is the main road of the region. While most of it is very wide (at least 2 lanes per direction) and in a very good condition, some sections are very winding and narrow such as the section between Alanya and Silifke. There are other roads, such as D650, which connects more inland regions (Lakes District) with the D400, thus the coastline.

See

  • Ruins — The region is dotted by many ancient city ruins. Most date back to indigenous civilizations of the region, which were expanded or rebuilt by Romans later.
  • Citadels — Being on the strategic main route between Europe and Middle East, there are also lots of citadels in the region, either surrounding the cities or in a valley or on a rocky hill to defend the nearby roads from unwanted guests. Many, especially those in the eastern portions of the region, are either built by Crusaders from scratch or heavily fortified.

Itineraries

Do

Cruising at the Bay of Göcek
  • Yachting. One of the top cruising areas in the Mediterranean basin, southwestern reaches of Mediterranean Turkey (coasts of Western Lycia and western Antalya Province) offers abundant yachting options. In the much famed and hardly overestimated Blue Cruise (a.k.a. Blue Voyage; Mavi Yolculuk), started by a group of Turkish intellectuals in 1940s and usually compared to cruising in Caribbean, you take a chartered gulet type yacht (two-masted wooden boats) for a pre-specified amount of time (usually 15 days), and cruise from cove to cove with turquoise waters surrounded by pine-covered mountains suddenly rising at the edge of the sea, calling at coastal towns and fishing villages on the way. Marmaris, Fethiye, Kaş, and Bodrum and Kuşadası (the last two of which are in Southern Aegean) are usual starting points of a Blue Cruise, although voyages extending all the way from Izmir to Antalya are not unheard of.

Eat

Drink

A great way to reduce your bottled water costs in this hot region is to use free cold water dispensers, locally called sebil (pronounced say-beel), which can usually be found on the sides of the streets and mosque courtyards in less-touristed towns and neighbourhoods in the region. They look like small, white refrigators and usually have two faucets: red one delivers warm (or mildly hot depending on the weather) water, while the blue one offers comfortably cold water. Though the water coming out of the faucets is not from a commercially-bottled jar, and likely from the city water network, it's harmless and causes no stomach upsets. A way to reduce the risk may be allowing yourself a week after arrival in the region to get accustomed to local microflora and -fauna that may be present in the water and then taking full advantage of sebils.

Stay safe

Get out

  • Aegean Region to the north/northwest has a lot in common with Mediterranean Turkey (especially the climate, landscape, and flora), yet has unique aspects that make it a separate region.
  • Northern Cyprus is a short ferry hop away to the south.
  • Most travellers intending to get deep into Middle East to the southeast of region cross to Syria from one of the border gates around Antakya.
  • If the Seljuq sites in Alanya and Antalya aroused your interest, head north to Central Anatolia for a lot more.



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