The Southeastern Turkey

The southeastern part of Turkey is less touristy comparing to western Turkey but still promises cultural and archeological attractions. Nemrud and Gobeklitepe are just breath taking.

Between Malatya and Adiyaman, Nemrud is an eye-flashing site. It is a 50 m. high tumulus on over 2000 m. altitude. There are colossal statues and orthostats on the top of this manmade hill. It is a dreamlike experience to have a sunrise view there. The tumulus was heaped up in 1st century B.C. for Kommagene king Antiochus. He claimed that he had ancestral link to Persian and Macedonian royalties. This mixture was the dream of Alexander to rule the world. However, this Hellenistic kingdom was just a tampon state between Roman Empire and Parthian Kingdom of Persia.

Diyarbakir, that is called ‘‘Paris of the East’’ by some locals, has the longest city defense wall in the world. It is a pleasure to have a view of Tigris River from the city defense wall. Diyarbakir Grand Mosque is the oldest Muslim temple in Turkey.

Urfa is called the city of prophets. The citadel and fish pond are related to Abraham. Harran in south of Urfa, in Syrian border is interesting especially for those who have interest in architecture. The local houses are cone shaped structures. Harran is mentioned in Hebrew Scriptures.

Eastern Turkey has series of dams on River Euphrates and lakes formatted by the dams. Today’s tourist can have a boat ride from the half-sunken town of Halfeti to Rumkale medieval castle. It was the seat of the Armenian Catholicos in 12th and 13th centuries. Antep and Antakya museums have the best preserved Roman mosaics excavated from the Roman villas in Daphne near Antioch and Zeugma on Euphrates.

There are wide Kurdish and Arabic minorities in the region. Those tongues 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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