Surprising Facts About Turkish Culture

Turkey’s history, culture, customs, setting, and way of life draw in millions of tourists, retirees, and investors worldwide. The depth of Turkish culture will amaze you when you visit. In addition, Turkish people are renowned for their hospitality and generosity. Visitors to Turkey are permanently moved by the Turkish people’s warmth and how much they enjoy connecting with new people and building relationships with them.

At API Investment, we pride ourselves on having excellent local knowledge wherever we do business. Fortunately, we’ve compiled some information on Turkish culture to help you learn more about this stunning country and decide whether Turkey is the perfect choice for your next international trip or investment venture. Here are some tips and insights into Turkish culture’s nuances to help you enjoy your experience in Turkey even more.

Everyone is part of the Family

One of the most endearing aspects of Turkish culture is how everyone can be considered part of the family. There are a few simple rules regarding how to address people in Turkey. In almost all situations, you can stick to addressing someone with a familial term, even if you are not related to them. This is socially acceptable and preferable if you want to show your care and respect for another person. For example, if you see an older lady or gentleman, you can call them Teyze (aunt) or Amca (uncle). Similarly, if you see someone close to your age, or just a little older, you can call them big brother ‘Abi’ or big sister ‘Abla.’ This custom is handy, as you don’t need to worry about remembering names that may sound quite alien or are challenging to get your tongue around.

There is one exception to this rule of familiar titles. Suppose you are in a formal situation like a bank meeting or property viewing. In that case, you should address the other person by using either ‘Bey’ for a man or ‘Hanım’ for a woman. You would use this word after the person’s name, such as Ali Bey for a man or Elif Hanım for a woman.


Leave your Shoes at the Door

Turks are very houseproud and love to keep their homes spotless.  In Turkey, it is polite to take off your shoes before going into a friend’s or family member’s home so that you don’t track in dirt. If you want to impress a Turkish host, be ready to get your shoes off at their door. The fact that most Turkish homes have different sizes of guest slippers and indoor sandals right by the door is another sign of how thoughtful Turkish people are. If you are invited to a Turkish home, be sure to arrive with a small gift for your hosts, as this is a tradition in Turkish culture.


Respecting your Elders

In Turkish culture, it is important to treat older people with respect. How do you do this? Take the hand of the older person, whether they are male or female, and touch the back of their hand with your lips or chin, then bring it briefly to your forehead. Hand-kissing is a common way to say hello or goodbye, as well as on religious holidays and at special events like weddings.

What to Expect from Turkish Culture

Live on Turkish Time

It wouldn’t be hyperbole to suggest that the concept doesn’t exist in Turkish culture. Turks have a very positive outlook on life and often use the word ‘hallederiz,’ which means ‘we’ll handle it.’ This attitude is definitely applied to timekeeping. Generally, if you ever make plans with a Turk, be prepared to wait for them to arrive later than expected. More often than not, if the other person is Turkish, you will be the one waiting. Even though being a little late to an event is typically not seen as disrespectful, it is always preferable for foreigners to arrive on time. Applying this in business or interview scenarios is not a good idea because being on time reflects well on your professionalism.


Listen out for Car Horns

Turkish culture is not all about being respectful; there is excitement too. Sometimes there is a spontaneous chorus of cars honking, which is very loud and surprising. If you’ve lived in Turkey for a while, you’ll be familiar with this sound as a ritual that means a big event is happening. It could be someone getting married, a young boy getting circumcised, or a young man leaving soon for military service. 


If you invite, you pay

In keeping with Turkish hospitality, an unspoken rule in social situations is that if you invite someone to join you for a drink or a meal, you foot the bill. Since you are hosting the get-together, the expectation is that you can pay for the people who join you.

Surprising Events in Turkish Culture

Oil Wrestling

Believe it or not, the national sport of Turkey is oil wrestling. It has been practiced as a sport in Turkey for over 650 years. The Turks are believed to have started playing this sport after moving from Anatolia to Rumelia. Every year in June, the Edirne Sarayiçi area hosts the Kırkpınar oil wrestling festival to honor the forty Turkish troops who fought in the Rumelian conflict. Competitors wear black shorts made from leather and are generously covered in olive oil (another staple of Turkey) before trying to bring their opponent to the ground. This makes for excellent watching, as the tricky (and slippery) task of getting the other guy down on his back seems near impossible!


Get more Turkish Culture Knowledge with API Investment


Are you prepared to travel to, reside in, or invest in this stunning country now that you have learned a little about Turkish culture? Every time you have a new experience in Turkey, it will surprise you and make you fall in love with it all over again. Our passion is connecting international investors to safe and long-term investment opportunities at API Investment. We are a real estate agency with property development projects in central global locations, including Turkey and Montenegro. Contact our team of international property experts today for inquiries about how you can start a new journey of discovering Turkish culture with an API investment.

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