The Urban Legends of Turkey
The Urban Legends of Turkey
History and culture in Turkey’s tales of legend and fable…
Every country has mysterious urban legends that are passed down from the lips of one generation to another and Turkey is no exception. The urban legends of Turkey exist in every city and town and region, including Antalya, and they are repeated daily to visitors and foreigners who are eager to learn more about the culture of Antalya, and Turkey in general. Let’s take a look at some of Turkey’s most famous urban legends.
Cleopatra’s Island (main picture)
This urban legend tells of the romantic love story that exists between two of history’s most prolific characters, Marc Anthony and Cleopatra. It is said that Marc Anthony loved Cleopatra with so much passion that he shipped sand over from Egypt and scattered it on a small island off the Mediterranean coast.
The name of the island is Cleopatra’s island. No one knows if this urban legend is true, however, scientists have reported that the grains of sand on this island are different from other beaches in the area. We like to believe that it is true as we never scoff at a romantic tale of heroism and a leading lady!
The African Queen and Dalyan
One of the most popular movies to ever hit the big screen was the African Queen. Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn played two characters that attacked the enemy in World War One from their small and ancient riverboat.
People will tell you that the film was produced in Dalyan on the famous river that leads to the Lycian tombs. However this urban legend is only half true as it was just the reed-filled riverbank scene that was filmed in Turkey. The rest of the film was made in Africa and a studio in the UK.
Santa Claus was Turkish.
Many people are surprised when they learn that the beloved and jolly character of Santa Claus was Turkish. The origins of Santa Claus have been traced back to a bishop that was living in the Myra region of Antalya in the fourth century AD. He was called St Nicholas (possibly not in his own time) and it was not until the 16th century that his character started to appear with a red suit, red nosed reindeers and black boots.
There is a small minor detail that leads people to believe that Santa Claus was not Turkish and that is because the Republic of Turkey was not formed until the year of 1923 (or the existence of Turks in that area started after 12th. Century). In the time that St Nicholas lived, the area was under the Greek rule of the Romans. If you find yourself on the Mediterranean coast line, take time out to visit Demre, which was the place of his birth.
The Red Sand at Jesus Beach
Near the coastal resort of Marmaris, there is a small bay with a streak of red sand running through the water. Urban legends tell the tale of a tragic love story between a fisherman and a princess, which enraged the king to such anger that he screamed it, would never happen under his reign.
The red sand is the blood of the princess who was killed accidentally by her father’s soldiers when she went to meet her lover. Locals will tell you this story however scientists insist on a perfectly natural explanation for the difference in the color of sand.
The tales of Nasreddin Hodja exist in every Turkish household as children listen to them with glee and laughter. Nasreddin Hodja is a colourful character who often told stories that always had hidden meanings or a proverb at the end. Parents repeat his stories as a life learning tool for their children.
Even though not much is known about Nasreddin Hodja, it is said that he was born in 1208 in a small village. In his adult years, he showed great wit and villagers would often approach him with their problems as he always seemed to have the perfect answer. His reputation spread and the urban legend of Nasreddin Hodja was born.
Whether or not urban legends are true, they always add a colourful touch to your visit. When you visit Turkey, take some time to speak to the locals and discover the many delightful urban legends that exist locally and countrywide.
Main image: Patxi
Whether or not urban legends are true, they always add a colourful touch to your visit
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