All About Türkiye

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  • Flying to Türkiye takes approximately 3 hours only from Europe
  • Türkiye is the only secular Moslem country of the world, founded by M.Kemal ATATURK with public parliament in 1923
  • Women received equal rights and the right to vote in 1934
  • The Turkish cuisine is one of the richest in the world along with the French and Chinese cuisine; that you can find more than 200 recipes only for an eggplant dish
  • Wine was produced as early as 4000 BC to worship the God Dionysus.
  • According to the legend, Noah’s Ark landed on Agri Dagi “Mount Ararat” in Eastern Türkiye
  • The last meal on Noah’s Ark, a pudding contains 40 ingredients, is still served during the “Noah’s pudding month” throughout Türkiye
  • Turks introduced coffee to Europe
  • Türkiye is one of the most popular destinations with its’ variety of conference and meeting facilities
  • Türkiye provides wide choices of historic and modern venues used for social and cultural programs
  • Turks gave the Dutch their famous tulips
  • According to a Turkish tradition, a stranger at one’s door step is considered “a guest of God” and is most welcomed
  • Türkiye has the oldest and the largest covered shopping mall “Grand Bazaar” of the world, with 64 streets, over 4000 shops and 22 entrances
  • The Turquoise color originates from the crystal clear seas surrounding Türkiye
  • Troy flourished in splendor long with two of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Temple of Artemis, Artemission, and the Mausoleum of Mausolos
  • The famous Trojan wars took place in western Türkiye, around the Gallipoli
  • The oldest known human settlement, dates back to 7500 B.C., as well as the earliest landscape painting, dating from 6200 B.C. is in Catalhoyuk
  • Türkiye hosts children from all over the world on every 23rd of April to celebrate the only “Children Day” of the world which was gifted by Turkish national hero ATATURK
  • Anatolia is the birth place of historic legends such as; Homer “the poet”, King Midas “who turned everything into gold”, Herodotus “father of history” and the Apostles St. Paul and St. Peter
  • Türkiye has been the homeland of historical relics pertaining to three of the world's major religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
  • Prophet Abraham was born in Urfa in the South East of Türkiye
  • The site of the oldest temple is located in Urfa, dated between 8500-9000 BC.
  • The first known Human Rights Declaration was witnessed in 1463, 485 years before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • The Blessed Virgin is said to lived and have died in Ephesus to where she traveled with St. John
  • St Peter's Grotto is the first ever built church located in Antioch, where the word “Christian” was uttered for the first time in history
  • Alexander the Great cut the Gordion Knot
  • First ever beauty contest held in Anatolia judged by Paris, among Aphrodite, Hera  and Athena
  • St. Nicholas, the original Santa Claus, lived and created a world-wide legend of generosity in Demre, Antalya
  • Mardin, one of the few places remaining where you can still hear the native language of Jesus Christ - Aramaic
  • The first recorded international treaty “Kadesh” was signed between Hittite and Egypt in 1284 BC

Highlights of Türkiye

The Geography of Turkiye

The lands of Türkiye are located at a point where the three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe make up the old world. Because of its geographical location, the mainland of Anatolia has always found favor throughout history, and is the birthplace of many great civilizations. It has also been prominent as a centre of commerce because of its land connections to three continents and the seas surrounding it on three sides.

Boundaries
Türkiye has two European and six Asian countries for neighbors along its land borders. The land border to the northeast is with the Commonwealth of Independent States, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Türkiye's borders on the European continent consist of Greece and Bulgaria.

Geographical Regions 
Türkiye is divided into seven regions;
The Black Sea region uneven north Anatolian terrain running along the Black Sea resembles a narrow but long belt. The land of this region is approximately 1/6 of Türkiye's total land area.
The Marmara region covers the area encircling the sea of Marmara and includes the entire European part of Türkiye, as well as the northwest of the Anatolian plain.
The Aegean region extends from the Aegean coast to the inner parts of western Anatolia.
The Mediterranean region, located in the south of Türkiye, the western and central Taurus Mountains suddenly rise up behind the coastline. The Amanos mountain range is also here.
The Central Anatolian region is exactly in the middle of Türkiye and gives the appearance of being less mountainous than the other regions.
The Eastern Anatolia region is Türkiye's largest and highest region. About three fourths of it is at an altitude of 1,500-2,000 meters.
The Southeast Anatolia region is notable for the uniformity of its landscape.

Coastlines
Türkiye is surrounded by sea on three sides, the Black Sea in the north, the Mediterranean Sea in the south and the Aegean Sea in the west. In the northwest there is also an important internal sea, the Sea of Marmara, between the straits of the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus, important waterways that connect the Black Sea with the rest of the world.

Rivers
Most of the rivers of Türkiye flow into the seas surrounding the country. The Firat (Euphrates) and Dicle (Tigris) join together in Iraq and flow into the Persian Gulf. Türkiye's longest rivers, the Kizilirmak, Yesilirmak and Sakarya, flow into the Black Sea. The Susurluk, Biga and Gonen pour into the Sea of Marmara, while the Gediz, Kucuk Menderes, Buyuk Menderes and Meric flow into the Aegean, and the Seyhan, Ceyhan and Goksu into the Mediterranean

Lakes
It is little known that Türkiye is a land of many lakes. In terms of numbers of lakes, the Eastern Anatolian region is the richest. It contains Türkiye's largest, Lake Van (3.713 square kilometres), and the lakes of Ercek, Cildir and Hazar. There are also many lakes in the Taurus Mountains area: the Beysehir and Egirdir lakes, and the lakes that contain bitter waters like the Burdur and Acigoller. Around the Sea of Marmara are the lakes of Sapanca, Iznik, Ulubat, Manyas, Terkos, Kucukcekmece and Buyukcekmece. In Central Anatolia are the Aksehir and Eber lakes and the second largest lake in Türkiye is Tuzgolu. The waters of this lake are shallow and very salty.

Climate
Although Türkiye's climatic conditions are quite temperate, the diverse nature of the landscape and the existence, in particular, of the mountains that run parallel to the coasts, result in significant differences in climatic conditions from one region to the other. While the coastal areas enjoy milder climates, the inland Anatolian plateau experiences extremes of hot summers and cold winters with limited rainfall.
xtremes of hot summers and cold winters with limited rainfall.

History in Brief

  • 10500 BC -- 7000 BC : First dwellings at KARAIN cave. Primitive stone implements and weapons.
  • 700 BC : First settlement at HACILAR. Earliest evidence of agriculture in Anatolia/Asia Minor.
  • 6500 BC -- 5500 BC : CATALHOYUK becomes first cultural center. Earliest known religious shrines.
  • Pottery, frescoes and sculpture in Anatolia (Asia Minor).
  • 5500 BC : Sophisticated painted pottery and figurines at CATALHOYUK and HACILAR.
  • 3000 BC : First settlement at TROY.
  • 1950 BC : Assyrian Merchant Colony flourished at KANESH (KULTEPE).
  • 1600 BC : Founding of HATTUSA by the HITTITES.
  • 1600 BC -- 1200 BC : Old Hittite Kingdom.
  • 1275 BC : Fall of TROY.
  • 1100 BC -- 1000 BC : Greek colonists arrive on the Aegean cost of Anatolia.
  • 900 BC -- 800 BC : The Phrygian, Lydian, Carian and Lycians cultures arrive in Anatolia.
  • 700 BC : Homer born at Smyrna.
  • 650 BC : Establishment of BYZANTIUM by Byzas of MEGARA.
  • 640 BC : First use of COINAGE.
  • 546 BC : Cyrus of Persia defeats Croesus and Ionia (Greece) comes under Persian rule.
  • Birth of ALEXANDER the GREAT.
  • Alexander crosses into Anatolia and defeats Persians at the GRANICUS River.
  • Alexander dies at Babylon in June at the age of 32.
  • Foundation of Antioch.
  • Celts invade Anatolia and are defeated by ANTIOCHUS.
  • Rise of the Attalia kings of Pergamum.
  • Roman province of Asia established.
  • Kommagene Kingdom founded.
  • Anthony and Cleopatra meet in TARSUS.
  • Anthony and Cleopatra married at ANTIOCH.
  • Suicide of Anthony and Cleopatra. Octavius makes a triumphant visit to ANTIOCH.
  • GALEN born at Pergamum.
  • First Ecumenical Council of NICEA (Iznik) condemns Aryanism.
  • Constantine chooses Byzantium to be his capital.
  • Paganism outlawed by Theodosius the Great.
  • Roman Empire divided.
  • The Ecumenical Council of Ephesus condemns Nestorianism.
  • First Iconoclastic period.
  • Schism between Greek and Roman Churches.
  • The SELCUKS, a nomadic Turkish people, defeat the Byzantines at Malazgirt and overrun most of Anatolia.
  • OTTOMAN State founded.
  • Ottoman defeats the Serbs at Kosovo.
  • Beyazit I vanquishes a crusader army at Nicepolis on the Danube.
  • Turks crush a Crusader army at Varna.
  • The Ottoman Turks capture Constantinople under Mehmet II.
  • Selim I capture Cairo and assume the title of Caliph.
  • Reign of Suleyman the Magnificent. The Zenith of Ottoman power.
  • Turks conquer Cyprus.
  • The Rule of the Women: ineffective Sultans give up control of their power to their Women & Grand Viziers.
  • Greek War of Independence begins.
  • Balkan Wars. Turks loose Macedonia and Part of Thrace.
  • Türkiye enters World War I as the ally of Germany.
  • Turkish Army under the command of MUSTAFA KEMAL repels the allied forces landings in GALLIPOLI.
  • Turks surrender to the Allies.
  • MUSTAFA KEMAL ATATURK leads Turkish nationalists in the struggle for National sovereignty.
  • Turks defeat the Greeks and drive them out of Anatolia. The Sultanate is abolished.
  • Establishment of the Turkish Republic with ATATURK as first President and Ankara as its Capital.
  • The Caliphate abolished.
  • Women receive the right to vote and to hold official office.

Turkish Language

The Turkish language is spread over a large geographical area in Europe and Asia; recent studies show that this language dates back 5500 years, and perhaps even as much as 8500. At the same time, it is, in fact, the sixth most widely spoken tongue in the world today. It is spoken in the Azeri, the Turkmen, and the Tartar, the Uzbek, the Baskurti, the Nogay, the Kyrgyz, the Kazakh, the Yakuti, the Cuvas and other dialects. Turkish belongs to the Altaic branch of the Ural-Altaic family of languages, and is closely related to Mongolian, Manchu-Tungus, Korean and perhaps Japanese.

Turkish is a very ancient language, with a flawless phonetic, morphological and syntactic structure, and at the same time possesses a wealth of vocabulary. The fundamental features which distinguish the Ural-Altaic languages from the Indo-European are as follows:

  • Vowel harmony, a feature of all Ural-Altaic tongues
  • The absence of gender
  • Agglutination
  • Adjectives precede nouns
  • Verbs come at the end of the sentence

  1. Written Turkish

    The oldest written records are found upon stone monuments in Central Asia, in the Orhon, Yenisey and Talas regions within the boundaries of present-day Mongolia. These were erected to Bilge Kagan (735), Kültigin (732), and the vizier Tonyukuk (724-726). Apart from these, there are one hundred inscriptions of various sizes mentioned by the Swedish army officer Johan von Strahlenberg. The perfection of the language used in these records, which document the social and political life of the Gokturk Dynasty, proves that Turkish, as a language of letters, has been in use from very ancient times. With the emergence of the Cagatay Dynasty, which came about when the Empire of Genghis Khan was divided among his sons, a new wave of Turkish literature was born and grew under the influence of Persian literature. It reached its pinnacle with the works of Ali Sir Navai in the 15th century. The Turkish of Türkiye that developed in Anatolia and across the Bosphorus in the times of the Selcuks and Ottomans was used in several valuable literary works prior to the 13th century. The men of letters of the time were, notably, Sultan Veled, the son of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi, Ahmed Fakih, Seyyad Hamza, Yunus Emre, a prominent thinker of the time, and the famed poet, Gulsehri.
  2. The Republican Era and Language Reform

    With the proclamation of the Republic in 1923 and after the process of national integration in the 1923-1928 periods, the subject of adopting a new alphabet became an issue of utmost importance. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk had the Latin alphabet adapted to the Turkish vowel system, believing that to reach the level of contemporary civilization, it was essential to benefit from western culture. The creation of the Turkish Language Society in 1932 was another milestone in the effort to reform the language. The studies of the society later renamed the Turkish Linguistic Association, concentrated on making use again of authentic Turkish words discovered in linguistic surveys and research and bore fruitful results. At present, in conformity with the relevant provision of the 1982 Constitution, the Turkish Language Association continues to function within the organizational framework of the Atatürk High Institution of Culture, Language and History. The essential outcome of the developments of the last 50-60 years is that whereas before 1932 the use of authentic Turkish words in written texts was 35-40 percent, this figure has risen to 75-80 percent in recent years. This is concrete proof that Atatürk's language revolution gained the full support of the public.

Turkish Cuisine

The richness of variety Turkish cuisine possesses is due to several factors: the variety of products offered by the lands of Asia and Anatolia, interaction with numerous different cultures over a long historical process and the new tastes developed in the palace kitchens of the Seljuk and Ottoman empires. These have all played a part in shaping the new character of our culinary culture.
Turkish Cuisine, which in general consists of sauced dishes prepared with grains, various vegetables and some meat, soups, cold dishes cooked with olive oil, pastry dishes and dishes made from wild vegetation has also produced a series of health foods such as pekmez, yogurt, bulgur etc. The eating habits which reflect the tastes changing from one location to the next, gains a new meaning and near-sacredness on special occasions, When people think of Turkish cuisine, one often visualizes the roast lamb over blazing fires or the sis kebab, small pieces of lamb on iron skewers. Tourists can be found returning to their country with a dozen such skewers from the bazaars of Istanbul.
But Turks are also great vegetarians. The cuisine's delicate flavoring of many dishes with herbs is well-known. One can say with some assurance that Turkish cooking is at its best when a bouquet of herbs is used with great care. Meat is used sparingly with a variety of vegetables to make the most flavorful and tasty dish called 'dolma', meaning stuffed. Not only vegetables that can be hollowed such as tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants, potatoes, artichokes and celery are stuffed; but the mixture of ground meat, uncooked rice, chopped onions and two or three kinds of herbs can be rolled in grape leaves, cabbage leaves and other leaves large enough that have been slightly boiled tender.

Turkish cuisine ought also to be well-known for its cold vegetable dishes known also as 'dolma' when the same vegetables are stuffed without meat. The filling is made up of rice, again with a good amount of chopped onions (fresh or dried), two or three kinds of chopped herbs and additionally flavored with black pepper and cinnamon. Pine nuts and currants are a must. Olive oil is added to this filling and it is stuffed or rolled with the vegetable and simmered over a low fire until the rice is well-cooked and the added water is all gone. These types of stuffed vegetables or vegetable rolls are always served at room temperature, never hot and never too cold.
Then, there are the pastry, 'borek,' type main dishes which are the pride and joy of any good cook. Some of them call for ground meat but the majority of such pastry dishes are vegetarian, requiring as filling a variety of chopped leaves mixed with raw eggs and soft white cheese. Sometimes fillings are made up of pureed grains such as lentils, chic peas and/or potatoes.
Another group of Turkish dishes that are the mainstay of many homes are 'meze' or starters, vegetable dishes that are cooked in olive oil and served at room temperature. Both dried and fresh vegetables are cooked with lots of chopped onions, chopped tomatoes and are garnished with fresh chopped parsley and/or dill.
And, what would the meal be without a sweet finale? Baklava, the queen of Turkish desserts, deserves praise for its nutritious nut varieties. One can always choose to delight the palate with baklava that is richly filled with ground walnuts, pistachio nuts or hazel nuts. Turkish custards are another common choice and are topped as well with a variety of finely ground nuts such as almonds or pistachios.

Meals
Until late Ottoman times there were generally two meals in the day, one in late morning and dinner. Today the main meals are breakfast, lunch and dinner. In some regions, one more meal, known as “yatsilik, uykuluk or yat-geber yemegi,” is added to these, especially in the long winter nights. Another meal is sometimes eaten in the late afternoon, especially on neighborhood visits. At breakfast, generally cheese, olives, bread, eggs and jam are served. Where the main beverage is tea, different types of cheese, sausage, tomato, cucumber, pepper and other regional foods may be eaten. The tradition of eating soup, honey, molasses and clotted cream still continues in some villages. Lunches consist of stews, soup, salads etc. Desserts, meat and food which take a long time to prepare are not eaten. At dinner, soup, a main course, salad and dessert are commonly eaten. Since dinner is the meal at which family members can sit around a table together, it is the richest and most carefully prepared meal of the day. In the last meal of the day, called “yatsilik,” appetizers, fruits and nuts are eaten. Although it has largely been replaced by the tea, the drinking of boza (a beverage made of slightly fermented millet) and eating of dried fruit pulps still continue in some regions.

Religions of Turkiye Throughout The History

History has been incredibly generous to Türkiye and, has been vital in the history of the three major religions  Islam, Christianity and Judaism . Türkiye is one of only few countries where all three religions have co-existed peacefully for centuries. There are many important sites in Türkiye of interest to people of all faiths.

  1. Islam

    Visitors to Türkiye are often touched by the call to prayer from lofty minarets. The call is heard five times each day, inviting the faithful to face toward Mecca and pray from the Koran. Although Türkiye is a secular democracy which guarantees freedom of religion for all people, Islam is the country's predominant religion. People of all faiths may visit Türkiye's mosques. Islam's roots in Türkiye date to the 10th Century. In the ensuing centuries, Seljuk and Ottoman Turks constructed impressive mosques with elegant interior decorations and imposing domes and minarets. Virtually every Turkish city has a mosque of historical or architectural significance. Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul stands as perhaps the most impressive. Built between 1609 and 1616 in the classic Ottoman style, the building is more familiarly known as the Blue Mosque because of its magnificent interior paneling of blue and white Iznik tiles. The Suleymaniye Mosque is the largest in Istanbul. It was built between 1550 and 1557 by Suleyman the Magnificent, the greatest sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Other cities also have impressive Islamic architecture. The Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque) with its 20 domes and Yesil Cami (Green Mosque) in Bursa were constructed between 1419 and 1420. The mosque derives its name from the exquisite green and turquoise tiles in its interior. Haci Bayram Mosque in Ankara was built in the early 15th century in the Seljuk style and was subsequently restored by the master Ottoman architect, Sinan, in the 16th century. Selimiye Mosque in Edirne reflects the classical Ottoman style and Sinan's lasting genius. Konya ranks as one of the great cultural centers of Türkiye. As the capital of the Seljuk Turks from the 12th to the 13th centuries, Konya was a center of cultural, political and religious growth. During this period, the mystic Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi founded a Sufi Order known in the West as the Whirling Dervishes. Mevlana's striking green-tiled mausoleum is Konya's most famous attraction. Attached to the mausoleum, the former dervish seminary now serves as a museum housing manuscripts of Mevlana's works and various artifacts related to the mystic sect.
  2. Christianity

    More and more people are discovering the important role of Türkiye played in the history of Christianity. Travelers can discover many magnificent churches, some nearly as old as Christianity itself, and can retrace the footsteps of Saints Peter and Paul from the Biblical city of Antioch to the underground churches of Cappadocia. Many of the most important events in Christian history occurred in Türkiye. Born in Tarsus, the Apostle Paul spread the word of Jesus Christ across Anatolia, expanding Christianity's reach from a predominantly Jewish base to Gentile communities. Not far from Tarsus on Türkiye's Eastern Mediterranean coast is Antakya, known in biblical times as Antioch. This ancient city was founded around 300 B.C. and was home to the first important Christian community, founded in 42 AD by St. Paul. Jesus' followers were first called "Christians" in Antioch and from here Christianity spread to the world. St. Paul departed from Antioch on his three missionary journeys. The city holds the Church of St. Peter, a cave-church where the apostles Peter and Paul are believed to have preached. In 1963, the Vatican designated the site a place of pilgrimage and recognized it as the world's first cathedral. The "Seven Churches of Asia Minor," a series of communities located near the Aegean coast, is where St. Paul visited, preached and built the early church. Their ancient names - Ephesus (Efes), Smyrna (Izmir), Thyatira (Akhisar), Sardis (Sart), Philadelphia (Alasehir), Laodicea (Eskihisar) and Pergamon (Bergama) are familiar from the New Testament's Book of Revelation. Ephesus, perhaps the most prominent of the Seven Churches, is where St. Paul wrote his letters to the Ephesians, and where St. John the Evangelist brought the Virgin Mary to spend her last years. The Vatican recognizes the Virgin Mary's house, located in the hills near Ephesus, as a shrine. Just outside Ephesus, in Selcuk, is the Basilica of St. John where he preached and is believed to be buried. Many other regions in Türkiye offer a wealth of attractions to the Christian traveler. St. Nicholas was born and lived in Demre on the Mediterranean coast. A church dedicated to the original Santa Claus still stands. Visitors to the biblical area of Cappadocia, located in central Anatolia, can explore more than 200 carved rock churches beautifully decorated with frescoes depicting early Christian motifs, and a seven-story underground city where Christians took refuge from their persecutors. The stunning Monastery of the Virgin Mary located near the Black Sea in Trabzon is a well-known monastic center dating to the 4th century. Built on the edge of a 1200 foot cliff and accessible only by foot, it housed some of the Orthodox Church's greatest thinkers. Istanbul became the center of Christianity in 330 AD and it was here that the largest church in Christendom at the time, Hagia Sophia or the Church of the Divine Wisdom, was dedicated by Emperor Justinian in 536 AD. The Chora Museum, a Greek Orthodox Church from the 11th and 14th centuries, is famous for its incomparable Byzantine frescoes and mosaics.
  3. Judaism

    On the midnight of August 2 nd 1492, when Columbus embarked on what would become his most famous expedition to the New World, his fleet departed from the relatively unknown seaport of Palos because the shipping lanes of Cadiz and Seville were clogged with Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain by the Edict of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain. The Jews were forced either to convert to Christianity or to "leave" the country under menace "they dare not return... not so much as to take a step on them not trespass upon them in any manner whatsoever" left their land, their property, their belongings all that was theirs and familiar to them rather than abandon their beliefs, their traditions, their heritage. In the faraway Ottoman Empire , one ruler extended an immediate welcome to the persecuted Jews of Spain, the Sephardim. He was the Sultan Bayazid II. This humanitarianism demonstrated at that time, was consistent with the beneficence and goodwill traditionally displayed by the Turkish government and people towards those of different creeds, cultures and backgrounds. Indeed, Türkiye could serve as a model to be emulated by any nation which finds refugees from any of the four corners of the world standing at its doors. In 1992, Turkish Jewry celebrated not only the anniversary of this gracious welcome, but also the remarkable spirit of tolerance and acceptance which has characterized the whole Jewish experience in Türkiye . The events being planned - symposiums, conferences, concerts, exhibitions, films and books, restoration of ancient Synagogues etc - commemorated the longevity and prosperity of the Jewish community. As a whole, the celebration aimed to demonstrate the richness and security of life Jews have found in the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic over seven centuries, and showed that indeed it is not impossible for people of different creeds to live together peacefully under one flag. A History Predating 1492 The history of the Jews in Anatolia started many centuries before the migration of Sephardic Jews. Remnants of Jewish settlements from the 4 th century B.C. have been uncovered in the Aegean region. The historian Josephus Flavius relates that Aristotle "met Jewish people with whom he had an exchange of views during his trip across Asia Minor ." Ancient synagogue ruins have been discovered in Sardis , Miletus , Priene , Phocee , etc. dating from 220 B.C. and traces of other Jewish settlements have been discovered near Bursa , in the southeast and along the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts. A bronze column found in Ankara confirms the rights the Emperor Augustus accorded the Jews of Asia Minor. In Sardis , near Izmir , the remains of the largest ancient synagogue in existence date back to the 3 rd century C.E. There is some evidence that Jews had settled in Sardis as early as 547 B.C.E. Some authorities believe that Sardis , Sfard in Lydian, may be the city of the Sepharad who are mentioned in Obadiah 20. Jewish communities in Anatolia flourished and continued to prosper through the Turkish conquest. When the Ottomans captured Bursa in 1326 and made it their capital, they found a Jewish community oppressed under Byzantine rule. The Jews welcomed the Ottomans as saviors. Sultan Orhan gave them permission to build the Etz ha-Hayyim (Tree of Life) synagogue which remained in service until nineteen forties. Early in the 14th century, when the Ottomans had established their capital at Edirne , Jews from Europe , including Karaites, migrated there. Similarly, Jews expelled from Hungary in 1376, from France by Charles VI in September 1394, and from Sicily early in the 15th century found refuge in the Ottoman Empire . In the 1420s, Jews from Thessalonica, then under Venetian control, fled to Edirne . Ottoman rule was much kinder than Byzantine rule had been. In fact, from the early 15th century on, the Ottomans actively encouraged Jewish immigration. A letter sent by Rabbi Yitzhak Sarfati (from Edirne ) to Jewish communities in Europe in the first part of the century "invited his co-religionists to leave the torments they were enduring in Christendom and to seek safety and prosperity in Türkiye ". When Mehmet II "the Conqueror" took Constantinople in 1453, he encountered an oppressed Romaniot (Byzantine) Jewish community which welcomed him with enthusiasm. Sultan Mehmet II issued a proclamation to all Jews "... to ascend the site of the Imperial Throne, to dwell in the best of the land, each beneath his Dine and his fig tree, with silver and with gold, with wealth and with cattle...". In 1470, Jews expelled from Bavaria by Ludvig X found refuge in the Ottoman Empire . A Heaven for Sephardic Jews Sultan Bayazid II's offer of refuge gave new hope to the persecuted Sephardim. In 1492, the Sultan ordered the governors of the provinces of the Ottoman Empire "not to refuse the Jews entry or cause them difficulties, but to receive them cordially "; According to Bernard Lewis, " the Jews were not just permitted to settle in the Ottoman lands, but were encouraged, assisted and sometimes even compelled ". Over the centuries an increasing number of European Jews, escaping persecution in their native countries, settled in the Ottoman Empire . In 1537 the Jews expelled from Apulia ( Italy ) after the city fell under Papal control, in 1542 those expelled from Bohemia by King Ferdinand found a safe haven in the Ottoman Empire . In March of 1556, Sultan Suleyman "the Magnificent" wrote a letter to Pope Paul IV asking for the immediate release of the Ancona Marranos, which he declared to be Ottoman citizens. The Pope had no other alternative than to release them, the Ottoman Empire being the "Super Power" of those days. By 1477, Jewish households in Istanbul numbered 1647 or 11% of the total. Half a century later, 8070 Jewish houses were listed in the city. During the tragic days of World War II, Türkiye managed to maintain its neutrality. As early as 1933 Atatürk invited numbers of prominent German Jewish professors to flee Nazi Germany and settle in Türkiye. Before and during the war years, these scholars contributed a great deal to the development of the Turkish university system. During World War II Türkiye served as a safe passage for many Jews fleeing the horrors of the Nazism. While the Jewish communities of Greece were wiped out almost completely by Hitler, the Turkish Jews remained secure. Several Turkish diplomats, Ambassadors Behiç Erkin and Numan Menemencioğlu ; Consul-Generals Fikret Şefik Özdoğancı, Bedii Arbel, Selahattin Ülkümen ; Consuls Namık Kemal Yolga and Necdet Kent , just to name only few, made every effort to save the Turkish Jews in the Nazi occupied countries, from the Holocaust. They succeeded. Mr. Selahattin Ülkümen , Consul General at Rhodes in 1943-1944, was recognized by the Yad Vashem as a Righteous Gentile " Hassid Umot ha'Olam " in June 1990. Türkiye continues to be a shelter, a haven for all those who have to flee the dogmatism, intolerance and persecution. The present size of Jewish Community is estimated at around 25.000. The vast majority live in Istanbul, with a community of about 2.500 in Izmir and other smaller groups located in Adana, Ankara, Antakya, Bursa, Çanakkale, Kırklareli etc. Sephardim make up 96% of the Community, with Ashkenazim accounting for the rest. There are about 100 Karaites, an independent group who does not accept the authority of the Chief Rabbi.