Turkey has seen some of the earliest human civilizations; indeed, Herodotus, the "father of history," was from Halicarnassus (modern Bodrum).  All of Asia minor has been the site of great conflict as different societies fought for control of important east-west trade routes and access to the Black Sea.  Troy (modern Hissarlik) was the setting of Homer's Iliad.

The Lydian empire, whose King Croesus is crediting with inventing coin money,  was centered in Western Turkey.  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, Constantine the Great founded Constantinople right on the 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 center of the Greek Orthodox Church.  When it fell to the Ottomans in 1453, the name was changed to Istanbul. Since then, Istanbul has extended to both side of the sea, making it the only city in the world to occupy two continents.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Greeks tried to recapture the Eastern Aegean coast under Eleftherios Venizelos' "Great Idea," but the Turks held on.  Turkey is no longer the world power that it was, but it will remain a strategic location.  There are few places in the world where one can see so many relics from so many different cultures.