Turkey (Anatolia) has been called "the cradle of civilisation" and by travelling through this historic land, you will discover exactly what is meant by this phrase. The heir to numerous civilisations such as the Hittites, Phrygians, Urartias, Lycians, Lydians, Ionians, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs. Seljuks, and Ottomans There are a multitude of ancient sites & ruins scattered throughout the country, and they offer us a window into the pages of Middle-Eastern History.
All of ‘Asia minor’ (Roman for Anatolia) witnessed epic battles & great conflict as different societies fought for control of important east-west trade routes and access to the Black Sea. The city of Troy (modern Hissarlik) was the setting for the Greek writer Homer's epic Iliad. The Lydian empire, King Croesus is credited with inventing coin money, was located in Western Turkey (Fethiye, Kas). Later, the Persians used Sardis (modern Sart) as their base of operations in their wars against the Greeks. Alexander the Great won his first battle against the Persian King Darius III at ‘Granicus’ (modern Biga).
Centuries later, The Roman Emperor ‘Constantine the Great’ moved the capital from Rome to ‘Byzantium’ due to waves of attacks by Germanic tribes. He founded Constantinople in 330 A.D. a city that was a Greek Colony ‘Byzantium’ for a millennia. The city straddled the strategic Sea of Marmara, where Asia and Europe meet. His city stood as the capital of the Byzantine Empire for a thousand years, and became the Spiritual & Religious centre of the Greek Orthodox Church.
The Empire of the Byzantine Roman’s at the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
Contrary to conventional History written by Orientalist’s, the Byzantine Empire thrived and expanded to its largest extent in the generation before our beloved Prophet. Emperor Justinian I, who assumed the throne in 527, oversaw a great period of Byzantine expansion into former Roman territories. He built the largest Church in the World the ‘Hagia Sophia’ (Holy wisdom in Greek) from the wealth of his conquests.
Constantinople was the seat of the Emperor ‘Heracles’ when he received an official letter to embrace Islam from our beloved Prophet. He was the first Roman emperor to change the official Administration & Court language from Roman Latin to Greek.
The Muslims under Caliph ‘Umar ibn Khattab’ were firmly in control of Syria & the Levant, and sent frequent Armies deep into Anatolia, and between 674 and 678 laid siege to Constantinople itself. The Arab fleet was finally repulsed through the use of Greek fire, and a thirty-year' truce was signed between the Byzantine Empire and the Umayyad Caliphate in Damascus.
In the 11th century, the ‘Seljuks’ a Turkish tribe from Central Asia poured into Iraq and took over Baghdad in 1055. Initially fighting the Muslim’s from the inception of the ‘Umayyad State’ and devastating many cities they realised their futility and embraced Islam after four centuries.
In 1071 this Seljuk force entered Anatolia & engaged the armies of the Byzantine Romans at Manzikert north of Lake Van, defeated them decisively, and captured Emperor ‘Romanus IV Diogenes’. With no Byzantine force to stop them, the Seljuk Turks flooded into Anatolia, taking control of most of Eastern and Central Anatolia. They established their capital at ‘Konya’ around 1150 and ruled what would be known as the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum.
The Turkish conquest of Anatolia was completed by the ‘Ottoman’s’ in 1453 with the conquest of Constantinople (modern Istanbul). ‘Mohammad-II’ commonly known as ‘Mehmet-II’ led the army that our beloved Messenger said was ‘Blessed’ to conquer & enter it, up to that point the largest impregnable fortress-city in the history of Humanity.
At the height of its power (16th–17th century), it spanned three continents, controlling much of South-eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, stretching from the Atlantic coast of Morocco to the Caspian sea bordering Iran.
Ottoman State Boundaries- circa 1683 A.D
Turkey’s inhabitants espoused many Religious Beliefs. In particular, many Jews sought refuge from Spain and Portugal, after the expulsion of Jews and Muslims during the 1492 French & Castilian ‘Reconquista’ of Andalucia.
The Ottoman state remained multi-ethnic until the early 20th century. Its inhabitants were of varied ethnicities, including Turks (Turkmens), Armenians, Kurds, Greeks, and Italians (particularly from Genoa and Venice). The First World War coupled with ethnic tensions devastated Anatolia, it brought about the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and ushered in an era of ‘Turkish Secular Nationalism’ under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who abolished the Caliphate abolished on 3rd March 1923 and replaced the official language of Arabic with Latin-Turkish script.