THE TURKISH LANDSCAPE


However different we may be, we share our humanity and a common destiny on earth as we continue to shape and be shaped by our environment. As human beings, we appreciate that essentially all our experiences take place in the landscape which at once enables and reflects all of life, both memorable and quotidian. Landscape, like music, is a universal language. The sensitive traveller will no doubt grasp the beauty of the whole; but what does it all mean to the unaccustomed or the untrained eye? To the native person, the landscape is life itself. It is familiar and taken for granted until endangered or lost. Knowledge of it is intimate and intertwined with strong feelings. Others may have to begin by an analytic tour de force before developing a taste for the intricacies. Ultimately, the traveler can catch glimpses in the slices of life represented by places that make up the landscape, and then feel the richness of the meanings associated with them. Our aim here is to whet your appetite by giving you a head start on your journey in reading the Turkish landscape. First, let us be analytical. What is the landscape made up of anyway?

That depends on your perspective. Landscape is nature encompassing all those resources and landforms that a geographer or a naturalist would see. It is also history and culture reflected in the settlement pattern of cities and villages, the architecture and cultural artifacts marking the passage of time and important events. Then there is the idea of the working landscape which is the life support and habitat of some sixty million people. Finally, it is also a mirror of ideology, fashion and impending change, foreshadowing the future and the problems it may pose. These different layers make up an elementary shell of the Turkish landscape. In Turkey you will experience an incredible diversity in nature, culture, history, beliefs and ideas. This in itself may not be a challenge for the seasoned traveller. After all, diversity is the most prized feature of favorite destinations. In Turkey this diversity is high enough to challenge even the most experienced eye because it is packed in spaces with abrupt changes in scenery. This is why people sometimes describe the Turkish landscape as a "symphony of sounds, smells and people in the most unlikely combinations of appearance and action". The traveller may need some assistance to make some sense of our otherwise entirely logical and beautiful landscape, and to perceive its unity and harmony just like a familiar face with all its different moods and expressions.



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