The ancient beauty of Turkey’s archaeological ruins and pristine landscape have been recognized as among the best in the world this summer with two new historic sites added to the respected UNESCO World Heritage list, and 53 new beaches added to the exclusive “Blue Flag” eco-label.
The ancient city of Ephesus, Diyarbakır Fortress and the Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for their outstanding universal value and cultural and natural significance. With 15 sites now on the list, Turkey will host UNESCO’s 2016 World Heritage Committee meeting.
The quality of Turkish beaches, meanwhile, has propelled the country ahead of Greece to rank second in the world for the number of beaches certified “Blue Wave” by the Foundation for Environmental Education for water quality, environmental management and safety. Turkey now has 436 “Blue Flag” beaches, placing it behind only Spain (395) in the top 50 countries on the exclusive list.
Turkey brings together the best of the world’s heritage and nature with rare sites that have archaeological ruins alongside the sands of Mediterranean and Aegean beaches, such as the ancient city of Phaselis near Antalya, or the world’s oldest lighthouse on Patara Beach.
Coupled with new ways to fly to Turkey and new places to stay once in the country, the ancient beauty and natural landscapes make summer an inimitable time to join the 41 million travelers visiting the 6th ranked tourism destination in the world.
Below are some more new developments in Turkey this summer:
Archaeology, History and Heritage
- Priceless treasures of Troy that are scattered around Europewill return to Turkey following the completion of a new $25 million museum in Tevfikiye, in the country’s northwest. Trojan Treasures were smuggled abroad in the 1870s following the site’s discovery and are now dispersed around 44 countries.
- The world’s first “pictograph” depicting a human head in the wing of a vulture, and a headless human body, may have been discovered in Göbeklitepe, a 12,000-year-old site in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa. The scene, “burial in the sky” was found on an obelisk during recent excavations in Göbeklitepe. Many of the artifacts being unearthed during the excavations in the Neolithic-era field are considered the first of their kind.
Getting There – Airlift Update
- Turkish Airlines recently announced the launch of service between Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport and Istanbul Atatürk Airport. The new daily nonstop service between Atlanta and Istanbul will launch on May 16, 2016 and will be operated using the airline’s Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Atlanta will be the carrier’s second gateway in the southeastern United States, following its nonstop service set to launch in late October from Miami International Airport.
- Europe’s first airport on artificial land was officially opened in late May. Located off the coast of Turkey’s Black Sea provinces, Ordu and Giresun, the new airport is currently serving Istanbul and Ankara with plans to expand to 42 destinations.
Staying There – Hotel News
- Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, owner of Peninsula hotels, will spend $164 million to develop a hotel in Istanbul. To be built in the historic Karaköy area’s Salıpazarı Port, the property will overlook the Bosphorus Strait separating Europe and Asia. The project will entail an estimated total investment of $328 million and will be equally owned by Peninsula Istanbul Holdings and SLI, a joint venture between Turkish groups Doğuş Holdings and private equity fund BLG.
- Viceroy Bodrum will make its debut in the Turkish Riviera in 2017. Stretching over 32 acres above the beaches of Koyunbaba Bay, the hotel will offer 84 guest rooms and 166 residences, a private beach club, a signature spa and several dining venues featuring Turkish and international fare.
- Leading travel magazine Travel + Leisure recently named Istanbul as one of Europe’s top five cities. Luxury hotels the Four Seasons at Sultanahmet and the Four Seasons at the Bosphorus were also recognized as two of the world’s best 100 hotels, and Çırağan Palace Kempinski and the Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul were both named two of the best hotels in Europe. Travel + Leisure published these results as part of its World’s Best Awards, which breaks down the top scoring cities and hotels after compiling scores from its affluent and well-traveled readers.
- DoubleTree by Hilton, a subsidiary of the Hilton hospitality group, has opened its latest hotel in Istanbul. Located on one of the eastern-most points of the city on the Anatolian peninsula, DoubleTree by Hilton – Istanbul Tuzla features more than 73 guest rooms, including 11 suites, and falls within Istanbul’s İçmeler Thermal Tourism District, home to more than 753,474 square feet of thermal springs, renowned for their healing properties.
- Hotel Okura Co., Ltd announced that it will open Okura Spa & Resort Cappadocia in 2017, its first property to be built in Turkey and also the first hotel in Turkey operated by a Japanese hospitality company. Through a joint venture with Turkey-based companies Saraylı Turizm A.Ş. and MSIC Gayrimenkul Yatırım Ve Danışmanlık Ticaret Ltd. Şti., Hotel Okura plans to open multiples properties in Turkey, including Ankara and Istanbul, which ranked first on the list of TripAdvisor’s 2014 Travelers’ Choice awards for destinations.
- On July 1, Caresse, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa opened in Bodrum, Turkey, one of the country’s most prestigious resort destinations. Featuring 84 contemporary rooms, suites and residences with panoramic views of the bay, Caresse Resort & Spa offers the ultimate in lavish luxury. The resort’s white sand beach and overwater deck are ideal for intimate celebrations as well as sophisticated events for up to 500 guests, while the two meeting and board rooms are perfectly suited for business presentations.
- The House Hotel Cappadocia launched earlier this month in the town of Ortahisar in Cappadocia. Slightly removed from the heart of the area’s tourist zone, the hotel aims to offer a local experience, integrating guests into the village. The property occupies a series of renovated stone houses and ancient caves, which now serve as luxurious rooms and suites, as well as a lobby, bar and lounge. Architect Şekibe Aslan designed the hotel, which holds 29 rooms and an indoor-outdoor Turkish restaurant. By January, the room count will increase to 45, with the addition of an outdoor pool.
- The group Carlson Rezidor is set to increase its presence in Istanbul through its brand Park Inn by Radisson with two new hotels expected by 2016. The Park Inn by Radisson Istanbul Ataşehir will be located in the center of the future Istanbul, International Finance Center (IIFC), which will open in 2017. The Park Inn by Radisson Hotel & Residence Istanbul Odayeri will be located near the city’s future airport, opening in October 2017. Both properties will contain at least 80 rooms, a restaurant, fitness center and meeting rooms.
- Starwood Hotels & Resorts is opening five new hotels in Turkey in 2015. Among the openings is the St. Regis brand launch in Turkey with the luxurious St. Regis Istanbul and the Four Points by Sheraton brand with two Four Points by Sheraton hotels in Batişehir and in Dudullu, two of Istanbul’s most promising districts. The iconic Sheraton brand will open a hotel in Ataşehir, on the Asian side of Istanbul after having recently entered the emerging coastal city of Samsun.