Things you might not know about Turkey

18th July 2014

Istanbul Location

Istanbul is the only city in the world that sits across two continents; part of the city is situated in Asia, the other in Europe. Visitors to the city have described an interesting blend of culture as a result. The European side is often described as having a more Oriental feel whereas the Asian side has been said to look more European.

The city has seen a blend of different rule, religion and culture throughout history; this has left an interesting architectural footprint throughout.

Santa Claus lived in Turkey

Okay I’ll admit the title on this one is slightly misleading, what we mean to say is that Saint Nicholas, the basis for the Santa Claus legend, lived in Patara, Turkey.

Records say he was a very rich man after his parents died in an epidemic, leaving him a considerable sum of money. As the story goes there was a poor man with three daughters, custom dictated he pay a dowry to a potential suitor. The man could not afford to pay so his daughters remained unmarried. During the night Nicholas dropped gold down the chimney where it was caught in a stocking that had been hung out to dry (kick starting the well known Christmas tradition).

His image was revived in Western civilizations, in the 16th century as a figure bringing gifts to children. His image was particularly popular with artists in the Victorian era thereby cementing the iconography.


The use of official surnames only came into law in 1934 with the introduction of the Law of Family Names. The law came into effect as part of a wider movement on reforms conducted under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Up until this point most Muslim Turks did not have a surname. Before that a naming tradition was to use their fathers name in a “son of” context. Upon the introduction of the law the elderly members of the family could choose any Turkish word for use as a surname.

Surnames now generally follow the Western convention in the sense that upon marriage the woman takes the male surname, which is then passed down, to the children.

Wonders of the World

Turkey is host to two of the seven ancient wonders of the world, The Temple of Artemis and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

In approximately 550BC the temple of Artemis at Ephesus (located at what is now the modern town of Selcųk) was built by Croesus, the King of Lydia. The temple was subsequently destroyed and rebuilt three times before it’s final destruction in approximately 401AD. Each time the temple was rebuilt it grew larger than it’s previous incarnation.

The second Great Wonder is located at what is now Bodrum, Turkey. During 4th Century BC Mausolous, a sartrap in the Persian Empire, redesigned the city of Halicarnassus to be both magnificent and safe from all forms of attack. Mausolous died in 353BC, his wife (and sister) Artemisia built the Mausoleum as a tribute to his life. Designed by well known and respected Greek architects Satyros and Pythius of Priene the structure stood 148 feet in height and was adorned by works from various sculptors. The structure was eventually destroyed by a series of earthquakes throughout the 12th to the 15th century.

How to can call Turkey from 2.5p/min

With Planet Numbers you can make ultra-cheap calls to Turkey – from 2.5p a minute when calling from your landline, and just 4p from your mobile. If you’d like to make a cheap call to Turkey just follow this link for instructions.