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Honeymoon in Turkey

Your wedding, blessing or honeymoon in Turkey

Turkey's spectacular coastlines, magnificent landscapes and exotic cities make it the perfect backdrop for your special occasion, whether it's a wedding, blessing or honeymoon.

The breathtaking scenery and warm climate, coupled with a rapidly improving infrastructure and tourism centers means organizing a wedding in Turkey is no longer the difficulty it once was. Even so, organizing a wedding abroad can still be quite daunting, especially if you're not familiar with the language, culture and the local bureaucracy. That's why we recommend that you choose one of the many tour operators that now specialize in weddings to Turkey, making the process simple and stress-free - some companies will even tailor your weddings to suit your personal preferences and budgets.

Whether it's a fairy-tale wedding in the enchanting and exotic Istanbul, a honeymoon aboard a traditional sailing boat or a blissfully tranquil blessing in one of Turkey's many secluded coves or castles, Turkey offers endless ideas for a truly unforgettable wedding experience.

Locations

Istanbul

Relive history in this unique and exotic city.

Magical, mystical, exotic and enchanting, Istanbul is undoubtedly one of the most romantic cities in the world. Spanning two continents, Istanbul displays a fascinating blend of east and west, as well as ancient and modern. Wander through the meandering streets of Istanbul, and you will find there is something to surprise you at every turn. Whether it's impressive historical sites such as the Blue Mosque or Topkapi Palace, the spectacular scenery of the Bosphorus, or the tantalizing colours and aromas of the Bazaars and markets, Istanbul is an enchanting fusion of romance and adventure that makes it an ideal venue for weddings, honeymoons and blessings.

Istanbul offers a stunning array of venues for blessings and ceremonies for the renewal of vows, for all denominations of faith, including Christian, Islamic and Jewish. Christian couples may choose from a wide selection of ancient churches, whilst for Muslims, the option exists for a ceremony in the spectacular Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque). For a unique Jewish ceremony, synagogues such as the Ahrida, one of the oldest and most significant in Istanbul's long history, offer a magical setting for a blessing.

With a delightful abundance of both unique historical sites and sophisticated hotels, you will be spoilt for choice regarding venues for your special occasion. Here we list a small sample of what's on offer. For a more comprehensive selection and full list of the hotel venues and Ottoman style mansions, please contact one of the specialist wedding operators to Turkey.

The Maiden's Tower (Leander's Tower): set on an islet in the Bosphorus, this recently restored tower houses a superb restaurant and enviably unique views of Istanbul's stunning skyline. The tower has a long history steeped in romantic myths and has been an inspiration to writers, poet and artists, while its most recent claim to fame is for featuring in the recent Bond film 'The World is Not Enough.

The Yerebatan Sarayi (Underground Cistern): Another location from an earlier Bond film, 'From Russia with Love,' this sixth century underground cistern contains more than three hundred massive illuminated Corinthian columns that rise spectacularly from the water, whilst classical music plays in the background.

Princes' Islands: Why not retreat to one of the delightfully serene Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara, just a short ferry ride from mainland Istanbul? Peace and calm can be found here, where the only form of transport is the horse-drawn carriage - a perfectly idyllic spot for both weddings and honeymoons.

Cappadocia

For the perfect fairy-tale wedding setting, there is nowhere on earth quite like Cappadocia and its astonishing lunar-like landscape. Over millions of years, the soft volcanic rock, once lava created by the eruptions of now long-extinct volcanoes, has been eroded by the elements to create the most unusual and spectacular rock formations, or 'fairy chimneys' as they are affectionately known.

It is a very spiritual place and there are said to be more than a thousand churches and chapels here as entire cities were created in hollowed out caves by Christians fleeing from Roman persecution thousands of years ago. Now, you too can experience the magic of Cappadocia with a wedding in one of the incredible ancient cave churches, or why not exchange your vows in a hot air balloon flying over the breathtaking landscape at sunset? The choice is yours for a truly unforgettable ceremony.

Aegean and Mediterranean Coastlines

Turkey's coastlines offer miles and miles of spectacular scenery and breathtaking views, with much of it still blissfully untouched: sleepy fishing villages, quiet coves, tranquil bays, historical ruins and deserted islands all provide the perfect setting for an idyllic wedding or honeymoon. The coastline is also interspersed with an array of larger holiday resorts, which also offer superb sun-drenched beaches, crystal-clear seas, thermal spas and lively nightlife, meaning your options for a warm wedding by the sea are limitless. Here we present a sample of what's on offer, and again would encourage you to contact one of the specialist operators for a more comprehensive list.

Ölü Deniz

This stunning bay with its much-photographed blue lagoon, surrounded by fragrant, pine-clad mountains is undoubtedly a romantic and idyllic wedding location. With a choice of top quality hotels within easy reach, honeymoon possibilities are endless: from a 5-star holiday villages to intimate and exclusive boutique hotels.

Pammukale (Cotton Castle)

This is a sight to behold. A natural wonder formed from a series of glistening white terraces cascading down a hillside, each filled with a glistening pool of blue water, has been created over the centuries from the flow of the calcium-rich thermal spring above. This could be the perfect setting for a unique moonlit reception or honeymoon.

Bodrum

One of Turkey's most loved and cosmopolitan holiday resorts, this beautiful town of traditional white-washed houses, cobbled streets and the site of ancient Halicarnassus and the Temple of Mausolus, the second of the 'Seven Wonders,' offers countless stunning wedding locations. Whether a wedding fit for a Queen and King at the striking 15th century fortress, Saint Peter's Castle, which overlooks the bay, or a honeymoon in one of the luxury beachside hotels in the area, you are spoilt for choice in this region of beautiful bays and breathtaking scenery.

Kalkan

A delightful town of winding streets and sophisticated bars and restaurants Kalkan is the perfect spot for a romantic honeymoon. With its luxurious hotels overlooking the sea, and easy access to nearby historical wonders of Olympos, Termessos, Phaselis, Myra and Perge, as well as some of the most beautiful beaches in Turkey including the bay of Kaputas and Patara, this is the ideal escape for a ceremony or honeymoon in the historical heartland of Turkey that's surrounded by sumptuous natural landscape and turquoise blue seas.

Gulet Sailing

Another utterly unique way to celebrate your union is upon a traditional Turkish wooden sailing boat. The Mediterranean is the ideal place for sailing as many bays can only be reached by boat and certain treasures can only be seen by the sea, such as the amazing sunken city in Kekova. Arrange your dream wedding on a beautiful deserted bay, or even aboard a boat. Or, why not enjoy a wonderfully relaxing honeymoon gently cruising the warm Turkish waters, either alone, or make a party of it and take your wedding guests along with you too!

Legal Guidelines

The following information is to be used as a guideline only, as legal requirements and rules are subject to change. For full and up-to-date legal advice, please contact either the Turkish Consulate or one of the tour operators specializing in weddings to Turkey (listed above). Also, please note that the information below pertains to the marriage of two British nationals. Holders of any other passports need to obtain further legal advice from one of the above organizations.

Finally, it is essential that you obtain full and up-to-date legal advice before travelling to Turkey, in order to ensure that you are in possession of all the required documentation.

Requirement guidelines

A full ten-year passport with a minimum validity of six months. There is a 10.00 sterling visa charge payable at the port of entry.

A Certificate of No Impediment from the local Registrar of Marriages. Please allow one month for issue; however, it must be issued not more than three months before the wedding day.

Full Birth Certificate and Passport
If under 18 years of age, written consent of parent or guardian.
Eight recent color passport photographs of each person (Take to resort).
For further details and advice as to the currently applicable legal requirements, as well as all relevant fees, please check with one of the tour operators listed below or alternatively, contact the Turkish Tourist Office or Turkish Consulate. The British Embassy also has a useful website.

Art, culture and entertainment

Istanbul is an international art and cultural center. The International Arts and Cultural Festival is held each year in June and July with famous artists coming from all over the world. These performances are held mostly at the Ataturk Cultural Center. The Istanbul Science Center (Bilim Merkezi), founded by the Science Center Foundation and located on the campus of Istanbul Technical University, has hands-on experimental and theoretical opportunities for adults and children of various educational levels. In March and April you can take in the International Film Festival. Those who enjoy classical music can hear it at the Cemal Resit Rey Hall. Operas, operettas, ballets, films, concerts, exhibitions and conferences all contribute to the cultural palette of the city.

Istanbul also has a rich program of light entertainment. Nightclubs provide splendid entertainment throughout dinner, ranging from a selection of Turkish songs to belly-dancing. Alongside these are modem discos, cabarets, and jazz clubs in the Taksim - Harbiye district. In Sultanahmet, there are a number of restaurants in restored Byzantine and Ottoman buildings which offer a unique setting for an evening out.

Kumkapi, with its many taverns, bars and fish restaurants, is another attractive district. People have been meeting for years at Cicek Pasaji in the district of Beyoglu for snacks and seafood specialties. Also in the area near Cicek Pasaji is the narrow Nevizade street, which is the best place in Istanbul for eating Turkish specialties and drinking raki.

On the Bosphorus, Ortakoy is the best place for nightlife in Istanbul, with its nightclubs, jazz clubs, fine seafood restaurants and bars.

At Eminonu don't miss an opportunity to see fishermen dressed in traditional Ottoman clothes and their Ottoman-style boats which you may board to sample their delicious fried fish.

You may also want to visit Tatilya Cumhuriyeti, a large amusement park in Beylikduzu past Haramidere on the road to the Ataturk International Airport.

Shopping

One could visit Istanbul for the shopping alone. The Kapali Carsi, or Covered Bazaar, in the old city is the logical place to start. This labyrinth of streets and passages houses more than 4,000 shops. The names recall the days when each trade had its own quarter: the goldsmiths' street, the carpet sellers' street, the street of the skullcap makers. Still the commercial center of the old city, the bazaar is the original shopping mall with something to suit every taste and pocket.

Charming souvenirs and gifts can be selected from among Turkish crafts, the world renowned carpets, brilliant handpainted ceramics, copperware, brassware, and meerschaum pipes. The gold jewelry in brilliantly lit cases dazzles passersby. Leather and suede goods of excellent quality make a relatively inexpensive purchase. In the heart of the bazaar, the Old Bedesten offers a curious assortment of antiques. It is worth poking through the clutter of decades in the hope of finding a treasure.

The Misir Carsisi or Spice Bazaar, next to the Yeni Mosque at Eminonu, transports you to fantasies from the mystical East. The enticing aromas of cinnamon, caraway, saffron, mint, thyme and every other conceivable herb and spice fill the air. Sultanahmet has become another shopping mecca in the old city. The Istanbul Sanatlari Carsisi (Bazaar of Istanbul Arts) in the 18th century Mehmet Efendi Medresesi, and the nearby 16th- century Caferaga Medrese, built by Sinan, offer you the chance to see craftsmen at work and to purchase their wares. In the Arasta (old bazaar) of the Sultanahmet Mosque, a thriving shopping arcade makes both shopping and sightseeing very convenient.

The sophisticated shops of the Taksim - Nisantasi districts contrast with the chaos of the bazaars. On Istiklal Avenue, Cumhuriyet Avenue and Rumeli Avenue, you can browse peacefully in the most fashionable shops selling elegant fashions made from Turkey's high quality textiles. Exquisite jewelry as well as finely designed handbags and shoes can also be found. The Atakoy Galleria Mall in Atakoy and the Akmerkez Mall in Etiler have branches of Istanbul's most elegant shops. In Bakirkoy, the Carousel Mall is worth a visit, as is the Atlas Passage in Beyoglu. Bahariye Avenue, Bagdat Avenue, and Capitol Mall on the Asian side, offer the same shopping opportunities.

In Istanbul's busy flea markets you can find an astonishing assortment of goods, both old and new. Every day offers a new opportunity to poke about the Sahaflar Carsisi and Cinaralti in the Beyazit district. On Sundays, in a flea market between the Sahaflar and the Covered Bazaar, vendors uncover their wares on carts and blankets. The Horhor Carsisi is a collection of shops that sell furniture of varying age and quality. Flea markets are open daily in the Topkapi district, on Cukurcuma Sokak in Cihangir, on Buyuk Hamam Sokak in Uskudar, in the Kadikoy Carsi Duragi area, and between Eminonu and Tahtakale. After a Sunday drive up the Bosphorus, stop between Buyukdere and Sariyer to wander through another lively market.

Religious Places

Across from Hagia Sophia stands the supremely elegant Imperial Sultanahmet Mosque with six minarets. Built between 1609 and 1616 by the architect Mehmet, the building is more familiarly known as the Blue Mosque because of its magnificent interior paneling of blue and white Iznik tiles. During the summer months an evening light and sound show both entertain and inform visitors.

The cascading domes and four slender minarets of the Imperial Suleymaniye Mosque dominate the skyline on the Golden Horn's west bank. Considered the most beautiful of all imperial mosques in Istanbul, it was built between 1550 and 1557 by Sinan, the renowned architect of the Ottoman Empire's golden age. Erected on the crest of a hill, the building is conspicuous for its great size, emphasized by the four minarets that rise from each comer of the courtyard. Inside are the mihrab (prayer niche showing the direction to Mecca) and the mimber (pulpit) made of finely carved white marble and exquisite stained-glass windows coloring the incoming streams of light. It was in the gardens of this complex that Suleyman and his wife, Hurrem Sultan (Roxelane), had their mausolea built, and near here also Sinan built his own tomb. The mosque complex also includes four medreses, or theological schools, a school of medicine, a caravanserai, a Turkish bath, and a kitchen and hospice for the poor.

The Rustem Pasa Mosque, another skillful accomplishment of the architect Sinan, was built in 1561 by order of Rustem Pasa Grand Vizier and son-in-law of Suleyman the Magnificent. Exquisite Iznik tiles panel the small and superbly proportioned interior.

The Imperial Fatih Mosque, constructed between 1463 and 1470, bears the name of the Ottoman conqueror of Istanbul, Fatih Sultan Mehmet, and is the site of his mausoleum. Standing atop another of Istanbul's hills, its vast size and great complex of religious buildings - medreses, hospices, baths, a hospital, a caravanserai and a library make it well worth a visit.

The great Mosque of Eyup lies outside the city walls, near the Golden Horn, at the traditional site where Eyup the standard bearer of the Prophet Mohammed, died in the Islamic assault on Constantinople in A.D. 670. The first mosque built after the Ottoman conquest of the city, this greatly venerated shrine attracts many pilgrims.

Built between 1597 and 1663, the Yeni (New) Mosque looms over the harbor at Eminonu, greeting the incoming ferryboats and welcoming tourists to the old city. Today its graceful domes and arches shelter hundreds of pigeons who make this area their home. Marvelous Iznik tiles decorate what was once the sultan's balcony.


Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), Istanbul

The 16th-century Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Mosque built on an awkwardly shaped plot on a steeply sloping hill near Sultanahmet, is one of the most beautiful examples of classical Turkish architecture and another masterpiece of the architect Sinan. Inside, breathtaking blues, greens, purples and reds color the elegant designs of the Iznik tiles.

Walls of glass fill the four immense arches that support the central dome at the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque inside the Edirne gate of the old city walls. One hundred and sixty-one windows illuminate this mosque, built in 1555 by Sinan for Mihrimah Sultana, the daughter of Suleyman the Magnificent.

The province of Bilecik lies southeast of Iznik in the verdant and fertile Sakarya River Valley and houses the Orhan Gazi Mosque.

On the shore of Lake Iznik stands the Roman Senate, where the first Council of Nicea took place in 325. In the center of the town is the Church of St. Sophia, used by other councils. One of the more important councils was in 745 over iconoclasm, the role of icons in worship. The "Baptisteriurn" has a cupola over the baptistry. The Ottomans converted this church into the Orhan Mosque. Among the important

Islamic buildings in town, be sure to visit the turquoise tiled Yesil Mosque. The Yesil Mosque of 1424 reflects the new Ottoman, as opposed to Seljuk, aesthetic.Going uphill, to the east, you pass by the Emir Sultan Mosque in its delightful setting, and after walking through a district of old houses you reach the Yildirim Beyazit Mosque (1391). On one side of the Koza Park stands one of Bursa's oldest religious buildings, the Orhan Gazi Mosque, built in 1413. Nearby is the large Ulu Mosque, constructed in the Seljuk style. A finely carved walnut mimber (speaker's platform) and impressive calligraphic panels decorate the mosque. At the Yildiz Park Tea Gardens in the Muradiye quarter, you get a superb view of the Muradiye Complex. The compound, in a tranquil park-like setting, contains the Mosque of Sultan Murat II (1426) built in the style of the Yesil Mosque. The most important architectural monument in Tekirdag is the Rustem Pasa Mosque, designed by Sinan and built in 1554 by the Grand Vizier of Suleyman the Magnificent. Edirne is famous for its mosques. The Selimiye Mosque is the city's focal point occupying the top of a hill. Sinan's design reflects the classical Ottoman style. Built on the orders of Sultan Selim. 11, (1569-1575) it attests to the technological abilities of the day and the genius of the master Ottoman architect. The Eski Mosque is the oldest Ottoman structure in Edirne built between 1403 and 1414 by Mehmet 1. The white marble of its portal contrasts with the building's cut stone and brick masonry. Calligraphic inscriptions of Koranic verses decorate the interior. The Uc Serefeli Mosque, built between 1438 and 1447 by Murat 1, presages the great period of mosque architecture under Sinan and embodies a new freedom from restraint as well as advances in engineering. The northwest minaret has three galleries, giving the mosque its name. It was the highest minaret until those of the Selimiye Mosque in Istanbul eclipsed it.

The Sokollu Mosque in Luleburgaz, on the Edirne-Istanbul road, is an exquisite work of Sinan that dates from 1570. The neighboring town of Babaeski also boasts a Sinan building in the Cedi Ali Pasa Mosque.

Turkish cuisine

"Do not dismiss the dish saying that it is just food. The blessed thing is an entire civilization in itself!"

Abdulhak Sinasi

For those who travel to engage in culinary pursuits, the Turkish cuisine is worthy of exploration. The variety of dishes that make up the cuisine, the ways they all come together in feast-like meals, and the evident intricacy of each technique involved offer enough material for life-long study and enjoyment. It is not easy to discern a basic element or a single dominant feature, like the Italian pasta or the French sauce. Whether in a humble home, at a famous restaurant, or at dinner in a Bey's mansion, familiar patterns of this rich and diverse cuisine are always present. It is a rare art which satisfies the senses while reconfirming the higher order of society, community and culture. A practically-minded child watching Mother cook "cabbage dolma" on a lazy, grey winter day is bound to mather: "Who on earth discovered this peculiar combination of sauteed rice, pinenuts, currants, spices, and herbs all tightly wrapped in translucent leaves of cabbage, each roll exactly half an inch thick and stacked up on an oval, serving plate decorated with lemon wedges? How was it possible to transform this humble vegetable to such heights of fashion and delicacy with so few additional ingredients? And, how can such a yummy dish also possibly be good for you?"

The modern mind, in a moment of contemplation, has similar thoughts upon entering a modest sweets shop where "baklava" is the generic cousin of a dozen or so sophisticated sweet pastries with names like twisted turban, sultan, saray (palace), lady's navel, or nightingale's nest. The same experience awaits you at a "muhallebici" (pudding shop) with a dozen different types of milk puddings.

One can only conclude that the evolution of this glorious cuisine was not an accident, but rather-as with the other grand cuisines of the world. it was a result of the combination of three key elements, a nurturing environment, the imperial kitchen, and a long social tradition.

That nurturing environment is paramount. Turkey is known for an abundance and diversity of foodstuffs due to its rich flora, fauna and regional differentiation.

Secondly, the legacy of an imperial kitchen is inescapable. Hundreds of cooks, all specializing in different types of dishes, and all eager to please the royal palate, no doubt had their influence in perfecting the cuisine as we know it today. The palace kitchen, supported by a complex social organization, a vibrant urban life, specialization of labor, worldwide trade, and total control of the Spice Road, all reflected the culmination of the wealth and the flourishing culture in the capital of a mighty empire.

Finally, the longevity of social organization should not be taken lightly either. The Turkish State of Anatolia is a millennium old and so, naturally, is its cuisine. Time is of the essence, as Ibn'i HaIdun wrote, "The religion of the king, in time, becomes that of the people," which also holds true for the king's food. Thus, the 600-year reign of the Ottoman Dynasty and a seamless cultural transition into the present day of modern Turkey led to the evolution of a grand cuisine through differentiation, the refinement and perfection of dishes, and the sequence and combination of the meals in which they are found.

It is quite rare when all three of the above conditions are met which as they are in French, Chinese and Turkish cuisine, has the added privilege of being at the crossroads of the Far East and the Mediterranean. The geographical positioning has resulted in a long and complex history of Turkish migration from the steppes of Central Asia (where they mingled with the Chinese) to Europe (where their influence was felt all the way to Vienna).

Such unique characteristics and extensive history have bestowed upon Turkish cuisine a rich selection of dishes, all of which can be prepared and combined with others to create meals of almost infinite variety. But always in a non-arbitrary way. This led to a cuisine that is open to improvisation through development of regional styles, while retaining its basic structure, as all great works of art do. The cuisine is also an integral aspect of the culture. It is a part of the ritual of everyday life, reflecting spirituality, in forms that are specific to it, through symbolism and practice.

Anyone who visits Turkey or has a meal in a Turkish home, regardless of the prowess of the particular cook, is sure to notice the uniqueness of the cuisine. Our intention here is to help the uninitiated enjoy Turkish food, to detail the repertoire of dishes and their related cultural practices as well as their spiritual meaning.

Via: Big Love Turkey

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