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Taking a virtual tour of Turkey

by Leyla Yvonne Ergil

Taking a virtual tour of Turkey from the comfort of your couch

Built between 1843 and 1856 on the European coast of the Bosporus, Dolmabahçe Palace has been a touristic favorite for years

As the days go by, there have been a number of new websites and programming adapted to accommodate the coronavirus crisis and thus there are now lots of ways to while away the day as we wait for the time in self-isolation to pass. From websites offering virtual tours of sights from all over the country to catching up on those films on your watchlist or watching performances by Turkey’s up-and-coming musicians, check out these great online resources to make sure your life and discovery of Turkey continue to thrive.

Touring Turkey’s virtual museums

Established by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism at the end of March to enable the opportunity to tour these cultural heritage sites while the nation self-isolates, Sanal Muze is a government website that offers a 3D experience of some of the most well-known state-run archaeology and ethnographic museums, including the site of Göbeklitepe in Şanlıurfa, the Ephesus Museum in Izmir, the Troya Museum in Çanakkale and the Gaziantep Archaeology Museum to name a few. There are online tours of 16 museums available at the moment to peruse online, giving viewers the opportunity to experience what the museums’ architecture, format and exhibitions are like. A wonderful opportunity to check out these excellent museums you may not have yet visited – as they are located throughout Turkey – there are some that are admittedly more thorough than others and even offer descriptions of exhibitions, albeit in Turkish. Visit the website www.sanalmuze.gov.tr to take a tour for yourself. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism website itself, www.ktb.gov.tr, also offers a wealth of information on the country and its culture and traditions with English and Turkish language options and also operates virtual tours of a number of historical sites and museums such as the Sumela Monastery, Topkapı Palace, Dolmabahçe and the Gallipoli peninsula not yet included in the aforementioned “virtual museums website.”

See beautiful ancient mosaics like this one depicting gods Oceanus and Tethys at the Zeugma Museum in Gaziantep.

Get inspired to travel in Turkey

Go Turkey, which is the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s branch promoting tourism in Turkey, recently launched “liveTurkey,” a website which offers a variety of options to experience Turkey through live broadcasts and videos. The website contains a variety of videos on topics such as culture and arts, extreme sports, gastronomy, meditative and even Turkish soap operas. Some of the highlights of the website include historical tours led by Saffet Emre Tonguç with English subtitles, traditional and innovative recipes of Turkish culinary favorites presented by well-known chefs and interviews with adventure sports and tour experts. Dubbed “Turkey’s Travel Muse,” you can visit the website at www.liveturkey.com to check out all the country has to offer and to make your own travel bucket list for when the coronavirus era is over. For even more travel inspiration, visit the Go Turkey website itself at www.goturkey.com as it has a wealth of information on traditions and destinations in the country.

Istanbul’s famed Topkapı Palace, the court of the Ottoman sultans, is available for a virtual tour.

Watch the Istanbul Film Festival online

While unfortunately the Istanbul Film Festival, organized by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) during the dates of April 10 to 21, had to be postponed due to the preventative measures in place to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, there is still an opportunity for film-lovers to watch a selection of the most highly acclaimed films that have been screened over the past decade. MUBI, which is an online platform that screens carefully curated films for one month is offering a special promotional free trial and has selected 12 of the festival’s favorites from countries all over the world that will continue to be accessible for the next fortnight.

Sustainable living films online

The Sustainable Living Film Festival (Sürdürülebilir Yaşam Film Festivali), which has been held for well over a decade annually and in different cities throughout Turkey, has an online television channel from where you can watch dozens of films from Turkey and beyond in their original language with subtitles on a wide variety of topics. The plethora of short and feature-length films are divided into dozens of categories ranging from climate change, zero-waste, tourism, urban renewal, nature conservation and so much more and are accessible free of charge on www.surdurulebiliryasam.tv.

Children’s Film Festival online

Turkey’s Cinema and Audiovisual Cultural Foundation (Türsak Vakfı) kicked off their annual Children’s Film Festival online on National Children’s Day and will continue to screen children’s films weekly from their YouTube Channel, such as the upcoming screening of the 2013 Turkish film Arkadaşım Max, which is a family comedy centered on a young boy and his dog.

Attending concerts on the couch

There are a wide variety of ways to be inspired and enriched during our days in quarantine, especially when it comes to listening to quality music from the comforts of home. Luckily, the live music programs of Akustikhane, Zorlu PSM and İşSanat are offering a wide variety of music and performance arts programming to help you pass the time. Akustikhane holds live radio-like programs with guest musicians commenting and performing, İşSanat has been presenting performances from their archives, while Zorlu PSM has been putting up a variety of programming, such as podcasts and musical and theatrical performances accessible from their social media accounts and geared to adults and children. The Zorlu PSM YouTube channel also hosts the Late Night show “İbrahim Selim ile Bu Gece,” which for the past few weeks has been broadcasted with guest stars appearing from their homes.

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