With its high mountain ranges, plateaus, plains and lakes, its creek and river beds splashed with hues of purple, brown, gray, yellow and red, and some of the best Turkish architecture anywhere, this region of Anatolia is like a historical documentary on ancient life. Sivas, Divrigi, Erzurum, Battalgazi, Harput, and Ahlat, all cities situated in this region, were important centers of Selçuk art.
In Eastern Anatolia are the cities of Agri, Bingol, Bitlis, Elazig, Erzincan, Erzurum, Hakkari, Kars, Malatya, Mus, Tunceli, Van, Ardahan and Igdir, while in Southeastern Anatolia the larger cities are Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Mardin, Siirt, Sanliurfa, Batman, Sirnak and Kilis.
Erzurum is located on a large plain at an altitude of 1950 meters. In the city, there are many religious schools, tombs and mosques from both the Selçuk and Ottoman period which are well-worth seeing. The city of Kars in the northeast is famous for its castle and nearby Ocakli (Ani) is a historical city with rich architecture from the 10th and 11th centuries.
Mount Ararat (Agri Dagi), whose peak soars up 5165 meters is important for a number of different faiths. It is believed that after the Flood, in which all humanity was destroyed, the ark of Noah came to rest on Mount Ararat and as the waters receded Noah and his family settled on the nearby Plain of Igdir. As their numbers increased, they eventually spread along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to other parts of Anatolia. Accordingly, Igdir is seen as the center from which the second generation of humanity multiplied and again spread over the world. The magnificent palace complex of Ishak Pasa, which looks down upon Dogubeyazit, was built in the later part of the 17th century by the Ottoman governor, Ishak Pasa. The site of the castle is superb and it is made up of a kitchen unit, a mosque and separate womens and mens quarters.
Lake Van is Anatolia’s beauty center. In order to see all of this beauty, it is absolutely essential that a tour of the entire lake be made, during which time the beautiful mountain silhouettes, bays, beaches, islands and important Turkish cultural and art centers may be seen. The city of Van, which lies on the southeastern shores of the lake, was the capital city of the Urartu empire. The Van Castle, which was built by the Urartus around 1000 BC, is a dynamic example of the age in which it was built and is definitely worth seeing.
South of Van, the city of Edremit is a poplar vacation getaway famous for its beaches, camping spots and restaurants. On the island of Akdamar is located the Akdamar Museum, which was originally a 10th century church.
As the Tigris and Euphrates flow towards the plains of Mesopotamia, they pass through an important region of Anatolia. Some of the bigger cities in this region are Diyarbakir, Mardin, Adiyaman, Sanli Urfa and Gazi Antep. The region is the oldest cultural settlement center in Anatolia. North of Diyarbakir is Cayonu, the most important neolithic settlement of the area. The basalt walls of Diyarbakir, which are more than 5 kilometers in length, have the distinction of being the longest city walls in the country.
Mardin is one of the few cities in the country which has actually preserved its traditional aesthetic architecture. It is a unique site not only because of its well-maintained state but also because of its unusual location on top of a hill.
The prophet Abraham, who is the father of 3 different faiths, is believed to have lived in Sanli Urfa and Harran and so they are considered holy places. The Ataturk Dam, built in the town of Bozova near Sanli Urfa is the biggest in Turkey and 4th largest in the world. The lake is surrounded with beautiful scenic sites. The Plain of Harran with its vast farmland will be the most productive agricultural region of the country. Gazi Antep is the most important industrial and agricultural area in southeastern Anatolia. We doubt that any visitor who has come all the way to Gazi Antep will leave without first having tasted the famous local varieties of kebap, lahmacun and baklava or without buying a few packages of Antep pistachios for friends and relatives.
To the northeast of Adiyaman, on top of Mount Nemrut (Nemrut Dagi) is the mausoleum made for the Commagene King, Antiochus I. On the east and west of the memorial grave site are ritual terraces and on these terraces are gigantic statues of the gods. The best time to see Mount Nemrut is at sunset.
Malatya is an important industrial and agricultural region on the lower Euphrates. It is famous for its apricots and the 13th century Ulu Cami mosque in Battalgazi with its beautiful glazed tiles.