The Eastern Turkey

The eastern part of Turkey is away from hordes of tourists. However, it includes still very interesting sites. The region has some prehistoric rock carvings and cave paintings in Hakkari and Van counties.

Van castle was called Tushpa in early Iron Age, which was the capital of Urartu kingdom. Urartu inscriptions are still visible on the castle walls. Urartu civilization was established around Lake Van and ruled the region between 9th and 6th centuries B.C... Van is the biggest lake of Turkey and it is a soda water lake. It is large and deep so just like early times local people still call it ‘‘sea.’’ There is a tiny island in the middle of Lake Van. It has a small but tremendous medieval Armenian church from 10th century A.D. Akhtamar has striking relief and frescoes. There is a town called Ahlat on the northwestern shore of the lake. It was the capital of Turkish princedom in the region. The medieval cemetery there has a lot of tombs and huge gravestones. There is a fairy tale like castle called Hosab in the southeast of Van. That means the Beautiful Water because of the passing by stream.

Mount Ararat, which is believed to be where Noah’s Ark landed, is in the Turkish side of the borders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran. 18th century Ishakpasa Palace is on the outskirts of the Mount Ararat. 5137 m. high mountain and a palace on 2000 m. altitude create immense imaginations.

Ani, the capital of one of the medieval Armenian kingdoms is just by the Armenian border in Kars County. Ani has also the earliest Turkish mosque in Turkey from 11th century.

Town centers of Erzurum and Sivas have some medieval Turkish and Mongolian period medrese (religious school) that are museums today. Divrigi Grand Mosque and Sifahane (Hospital) from 13th century in Sivas County is a masterpiece of medieval stone carving.

There are wide Kurdish minority in the region. Kurdish can be heard in the streets along with Turkish widely. There are still working Assyrian Christian monasteries in Mardin County. Deyrul Zaferan is the most well known.

Antakya, Urfa, Mardin and Diyarbakir old towns are interesting to stroll around. Stone carved houses and traditional arts’ workshops create an illusion of medieval period. The region also entertains the visitors with its cuisine. Kebabs have some differences according to the town but they are all delicious especially if you like it hot!
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