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Eastern and South-Eastern Anatolia

Eastern and South-Eastern Anatolia
This region of Anatolia is steeped in history, has high mountain ranges, remote plateaus and rivers full of colour and has some of the best Turkish architecture anywhere in the region. Cities in this area are Sivas , Divrigi , Erzurum , Battalgazi, Harput and Ahlat which were all important centres for Seljuk art. Cities in Eastern Anatolia are Agri , Bingol , Bitlis , Elazig , Erzincan , Erzurum , Hakkari , Kars , Malatya , Mus , Tunceli , Van , Ardahan and Igdir and the larger south-eastern cities Adiyaman , Diyarbakir , Gaziantep , Mardin , Siirt , Sanliurfa , Batman , Sirnak and Kilis. It can be quite a challenge to travel around the east as there are great distances between towns, climate extremes and few facilities but the remote, pristine and natural beauty found here along with the hospitality of the people certainly makes the trip worthwhile.

Erzurum city is at an altitude of 1,950m and located on a vast plain that has many religious schools, tombs and mosques from both Seljuk and Ottoman times. In the far northeast is Kars which is famous for its castle and nearby is the historical city of Ocaklı (Anı) rich in architecture dating from the 10th and 11th centuries. The towering peaks of Mount Ararat (Agri Dağ) standing 5,165m high is important to various religious beliefs such as after the Biblical Flood, in which all humanity was destroyed, and where Noah’s Ark came to rest when the waters receded. Noah’s extended family went on to settle in the plains of Igdir, and as the family grew they spread out along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and into other areas of Anatolia; Igdir is viewed as the centre from which the 2nd generation of humanity grew and spread throughout the world. The stunning Ishak Pasa Palace complex that overlooks Dogubeyazit, was built by an Ottoman Governor of the same name in the late 17th century, and this magnificent castle’s location comprises of a kitchen unit, a mosque with separate men and women quarters. One of the highlights in all Turkey is Lake Van and a full tour of which is highly recommended to take in its full range of beautiful mountain silhouettes, bays, beaches, islands, Turkish art and cultural centres. Southeast of the lake is the city of Van which was once the capital of the Urartu Empire and Van Castle constructed in 1,000 BC that is an excellent example from that time.

Edremit City is south of Van and is a very popular holiday resort offering beaches, campsites and restaurants. Akdamar Island houses a museum that was originally a 10th century church. The rivers of Tigris and Euphrates stream to the plains of Mesopotamia and pass through important regions of Anatolia that contain the cities Diyarbakir , Mardin , Adiyaman , Sanliurfa and Gaziantep , which is the oldest cultural settlement centre in Anatolia. Çayonu, north of Diyarbakir, is the most Neolithic settlement in this area. Diyarbakir has basalt walls that are more than 5km long and are the longest city walls in Turkey.   Mardin has managed to retain its traditional aesthetic architecture and is unique due to its unusual position on top of a hill.

The father of three different religions, the Prophet Abraham, is believed to have lived in Şanlıurfa and Harran both of which are now considered sacred places. The Ataturk Dam, constructed in nearby Bozova, is the largest in Turkey and fourth largest in the world, and the Harran area is fast becoming one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country. Important for its industry and agriculture, Gaziantep , on the south-east of Anatolia, is famous for its special varieties of kebab, lahmucun (very thin Turkish type pizza), baklava and Antep pistachio nuts. At the top of Mount Nemrut ( Nemrut Dağ), northeast of Adiyaman, is the mausoleum of Commagene King Antiochus I where rituals on the terraces either side of the grave were carried out and where there are huge statues of gods; the best time to visit here is at sunrise or sunset. Malatya , on the lower part of the Euphrates, is also an important region for agriculture and industry and famed for its apricots and has the 13th century Ulu Camii mosque with beautiful glazed tiles which is located in Battalgazi.

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