Istanbul was named as a runner up in the categories of ‘Best Cultural City’ and ‘Greatest Cultural Destination’ at the recent award ceremony held in London for the Telegraph Awards. These awards for the 50 Greatest Cultural Destinations, held in association with Page and Moy, were voted for by a panel of judges led by the author Anthony Horowitz, as well as by the Telegraph’s readers. The Director of the Turkish Culture and Tourism Office in London, Tolga Tuyluoglu, said how proud he was to accept the awards. He said: ‘I am delighted that Istanbul’s status as a top cultural destination has been recognised in this way. These awards undoubtedly celebrate the achievements of Istanbul as a European City of Culture in 2010. They also underline the importance of Turkey’s cultural attractions to the UK market.’

These awards were followed closely by the announcement that a new Turkish site has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex in the former Ottoman capital of Edirne joins the nine sites already on the list. The famous architect, Sinan, himself considered this to be his best work.

Research carried out by Mintel on behalf of the Turkish Culture and Tourism Office in the UK earlier this year showed the importance of Turkey’s history and culture for the UK market. It showed that after the weather, culture and/ or history are the second biggest draw for those who have been to Turkey or would consider visiting in the future.

It is often supposed that British visitors to Turkey are mostly interested in sun, sea and sand, however, as part of this same research British visitors who had been to Turkey were asked whether they had visited a museum or historic site during their stay – a staggering 71% had done so.