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EASTERN TURKEY

Thanks to the Internet, travel to Eastern Turkey is becoming more popular, sought after by people who crave more than sandy beaches and home comforts. Eastern Turkey offers a completely distinctive experience, steeped in culture and tradition; it is a lifestyle incomparable with Western values and trends. It is more conservative than the West coast of Turkey and ancient values are very much existent in everyday life. Some notable places to visit include…

The ruins of Ani in Kars

Situated on the outskirts of the city of Kars and near the border with Armenia, the ruins of Ani are a large collection of ancient churches. Built inside the walls of an ancient Armenian kingdom, their nickname is the “city of 1001 churches.” First mentioned in the 5th century AD, excavation and restoration took place in the last century to rebuild a number of notable structures including the Church of the Holy Redeemer, Tigran Honents and the cathedral.

Lake Van

The largest lake in Turkey, Van is also the highest point and ideal times to visit are in summer because winter weather elements are harsh with temperatures often plunging into the minuses. Many civilizations have ruled over the area in the past including the Armenians, Byzantines and Seljuks. As a result, not only is a place of natural beauty but there is plenty of historical attractions to visit including the castle, Church of the Holy Cross and ancient Armenian monasteries.

Mardin

Mardin is a contender for the UNESCO World Heritage Site list because of its ancient buildings with Arabic architecture trends. The narrow cobbled streets leading down the hillside often feature in most publications about the southeast of Turkey. Nearby sites to see include the ruins of Dara, an old Roman city, the old town of Midyat and Deyrulzafaran monastery belonging to the Syriac Orthodox religion.

Urfa

Neighbouring the province of Mardin is Sanliurfa, often shortened to Urfa. The old part of the city has strong connection to Abraham who features in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Balikli Gol, the place where Nimrod is suspected to have thrown Abraham into the fire, is the main reason people visit the city but there is also the castle to see and traditional Urfa cuisine to try, including their kebabs and hot peppers. On the outskirts, recommended sites to see include the beehive houses of Harran and the oldest settlement of Gobeklitepe.

Gaziantep

Known as the city of pistachios nuts and sweet Turkish baklava ( Pastry covered with sweet syrup and filled with nuts), Gaziantep also has a cultural route to follow so visitors are introduced to local traditions including the old copper bazaar, coffee houses and whirling dervish lodge. Formally called Antep, popular attractions are the castle and the Zeugma mosaic museum, which covers a massive 1700 metres displaying marvellously intact mosaics from the ancient city of Zeugma that used to sit on the Euphrates River.

Further Reading

See our complete tour packages covering the whole of Turkey
Read about places to visit within the country

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