Well, I didn’t really ‘conquer’ anything except the typical ‘tourist trail’ of Turkey and a lot of meat kebabs. But Julius Caesar certainly did a mere two thousand years ago after the battle of Zela, in what is now Northern Turkey, where he declared these famous words.
This country is chock full of amazing historical sites and ancient wonders. One of our first stops was the important Gallipoli Peninsula. The Dardanelles Strait has always been a strategic point in historical battles for Turkey. The most infamous, of course, were the battles of WWI.
Britain’s Winston Churchill organized a naval attack at Gallipoli in hopes of capturing the Ottoman capitol of Istanbul and further access to Eastern Europe. The Turkish military was totally underestimated and, during a series of battles that lasted about nine months, more than half a million soldiers were killed—the majority of which were Turkish and those from the British Empire—England, Australia, and New Zealand. Despite the awful carnage, records show that some Turkish and British soldiers managed to become friends and here the war has become known as the “Gentleman’s War.”
Turkey is home to more ancient Roman and Greek ruins and preserved sites than almost any other country in world. In fact, this historically rich and diverse country has 33,000 ancient sites scattered all over its vast countryside. Names like Hittites, Mycenaean, Byzantines, Trojans, all distant memories of ‘World History 101,’ are thrown around daily here. On our journey we visited a handful of these sites and tried to imagine life from more than three thousand years ago—a very hard thing to do.
In Pergamum, Troy, and Ephesus, we shuffled down marble-paved ancient lanes past ancient baths, libraries, and even toilets. Every town boasted an impressive amphitheater, from the nearly perfect best preserved theater in the ancient world at Aspendos to some that just looked like a heap of rocks.
Some are still used today—in fact the 25,000-seat ‘Great Theatre’ at Ephesus, the best preserved classical city in the Eastern Mediterranean, has hosted concerts of the likes of Madonna, Sting, and even New Jersey’s own, Bon Jovi. Friends, Romans, Headbangers, lend me your ears!
The amazing intact library façade at Ephesus took my breath away. It was constructed in 114 AD and once house 12,000 scrolls.
The ancient city of Troy is not as well preserved as Ephesus, but it’s a must see for anyone familiar with Homer’s Illiad and the famous Trojan Wars. Plus, where would we be with safe sex today without “Trojan” condoms—apparently the condom of ancient warriors. Even though the ruins of Troy show that this ancient civilization definitely did exist, it is well-known that Homer’s tale is more myth than fact and many believe the town was eventually destroyed by an earthquake. We still got to see two “Trojan” horses anyway—one replica built by the Ministry of Tourism and the second was the ‘movie’ horse that graced the screen in the Brad Pitt movie, Troy.
The site at Troy is a bit confusing because it’s literally nine ancient cities layered on top of each other, the oldest dating all the way back to the Bronze Age of 3000BC. That long ago is very hard to fathom, especially considering I can’t often remember what happened last week!
One of the most fascinating sights we saw during our tour? Not the ancient sites themselves, but rather, all the scantily-clad Russian ‘models-to-be’ that draped themselves sexily on any ancient relic they could find. It was actually quite comical and was probably the most common thing we saw all over Turkey.
Some were beautiful and some not-so-much, but these ladies seem to have a penchant for straddling ancient columns or arching their backs against centuries old arches. It seems every Russian tourist gal is out to make her own sexy calendar (Svetlana’s Sexy Turkey Tour) or maybe just add more photos to her already popular ‘sexy Russian lady’ website: