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Monday Night Travel: Turkey Favorites (with Lale Surmen Aran) 24:33

Created by Rick Steves' Europe Staff

Published by: Gabe (Rick Steves' Europe)

Turkey — with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia — is one of Rick's favorite destinations. He's joined by co-host (and Istanbul guidebook co-author) Lale Surmen Aran for a virtual tour of Turkish delights. In Istanbul, peeling back the layers of a fascinating city, we visit Topkapi Palace, drop in on a prayer leader singing in a minaret, and suck on a hookah. Then we head deeper into Turkey: its urban capital, Ankara (with Ataturk’s grandiose mausoleum); the ancient Roman ruins of Aphrodisias; and the unshaven eastern Turkish village of Güzelyurt where Rick plays backgammon and befriends an Imam.

Refer to the "Notes to Viewers" below for a list of comprehension questions, discussion prompts, and project ideas to guide you through the playlist and further your learning.

Watch this playlist along with Rick and hear his behind-the-scenes commentary HERE.

Notes to Viewers
1. What was a haram? What was its purpose? How did it function?
2. Why is Istanbul geographically unique? Describe the layout of the city.
3. How is Istanbul’s Sultan Ahmed Mosque—also known as the Blue Mosque—decorated? What type of art do Muslims traditionally excel at and why?
4. What is being in a mosque like? What are the rules and practices? 
5. What does Lale means when she says that Turkey is a secular country? What do you think are examples of other countries that are secular? What are examples of countries that aren’t secular?
6. Who is Atatürk? What does the name “Atatürk” mean, and how did he earn this title?
7. What is Aphrodisias? Why is it important? What can its ruins tell us about the people that lived there?
8. How does Güzelyurt compare to Istanbul and Ankara? Which place would you prefer to live in?
9. How do the people of Güzelyurt show hospitality? How is this similar or different to the way that people in your community show hospitality?
10. What does “imam” mean? What role does an imam fulfill in Turkish society?
11. Who is the prophet Muhammad? How does he compare to the prophets from the Christian tradition?
12. What is a theocracy? According to the Turkish constitution, what is supposed to happen if Turkey becomes one?
13. What does Rick mean when he says that “fundamentalism is on the rise” in the Islamic world? What is a fundamentalist? Are there fundamentalists in other religions? Are there fundamentalists in your community? What are they like?
14. What does the imam in Güzelyurt tell Rick he wants Americans to know about Islam? Why does he feel this is an important message to send? How do you see Muslims depicted in American media today? Has this depiction changed throughout your lifetime? How has this media representation affected your view of Muslim people and the Islamic faith?
15. In this playlist, Rick discusses the importance of secularism in Turkish culture. How can a country have both a largely religious population and still maintain a secular society? How does secularism impact personal freedom? Does it serve the common good? How secular are your region or country? What clashes between religion and secular society do you see in your region or country? How do you feel these clashes should be resolved?
16. The Turkish people invested a lot of thought and resources into the Atatürk Mausoleum honoring the father of modern Turkey. Imagine that you have been commissioned to create a structure honoring an important person in your community. Choose someone to honor, create an initial sketch for the structure, and label the key features. Finally, write a paragraph explaining who you chose to honor, why you chose to honor them, why you designed the structure the way you did, and how you think people in your community will react to the project.
17. Imagine that you grew up in Güzelyurt, Turkey and have just moved to Ankara to study at the university there. Write a journal entry describing your first week in Ankara. Include thoughts on the things that you notice about the city, how it compares to your hometown, what excites you, and what scares you.
18. Imagine that you work for the Turkish tourism board’s North American marketing team. Your goal is to get as many North Americans as possible to come and explore the wonders of Turkey. Create a brochure to accomplish this goal. Consider what insecurities North Americans may have about traveling to Turkey and what messages will appeal to your audience. 
19. Watch Rick’s special on Iran. How does religion in Iran function similarly to or differently from religion in Turkey? Is Iran a secular state or a religious one? How do you know? Which country would you rather visit? Why?
WA SOCIAL STUDIES LEARNING STANDARDS: SSS3.9-12.1, C4.9-10.2, G1.9-10.1, H2.9-10.1