The Eastern Anatolia Region is located in the easternmost part of Turkey. It is bounded by Turkey’s Central Anatolia Region to the west, the Black Sea Region to the north, the Southeast Anatolia Region and Iraq to the south, and Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia to the east.
Rugged and wild, the mountainous landscape of eastern Turkey is very rewarding for the more adventurous traveller to explore. As way stations on the historic caravan routes eastwards, the region’s cities have some interesting architecture and the huge tracts of empty countryside in between are dotted with some amazing archaeological sites. Poor and relatively undeveloped when compared with western Turkey, this part of the country has bitterly cold winters, although the summers are cool thanks to the altitude.
The area’s largest city, Erzurum has some fine Islamic architecture, such as the Mongol Yakutiye seminary (pictured right) and the Ulu Cami, or Great Mosque, built by the Selcuk Turks. The bustling market district is also fun to explore. On the edge of town is Palandoken, one of the country’s ski resorts.
Kars has the distinction of being Turkey’s coldest town with temperatures dropping below -30° in winter. Invaded by the Russians during the First World War, the town has a few attractive Belle Epoch buildings, though most visitors come to Kars to visit the desolate ruins of Ani, a medieval Armenian city squeezed up against the modern-day border with Armenia.
Dogubeyazit is a small frontier town on the main highway into Iran. It is overlooked by eastern Anatolia’s most famous attraction, the Isak Pasha Sarayi, an evocative 17th century palace built on a dramatic rocky terrace. Nearby, there are also the remains of what some claim to be the remains of Noah’s Ark. Dogubeyazit is also the base for climbers attempting Turkey’s highest mountain, Mount Ararat.
Lake Van is a large lake ringed by high, barren mountains. Formed by a volcanic eruption, the lake water is highly alkaline, though still good for swimming. An Armenian church decorated with intricate carving sits on the island of Akdamar, and the remains of Old Van, an ancient Urartian settlement are on the outskirts of the provincial town of Van.
Fly to Van, Erzurum or Kars from Istanbul or Ankara. Catch the daily train from Istanbul to Erzurum and Kars, though it takes close to 40 hours!
There are buses from across the country to Eastern Anatolia