Southeastern Anatolia Region is one of Turkey’s seven census-defined geographical regions . It is bordered by the Mediterranean Region to the west, the Eastern Anatolia Region to the north, Syria to the south, and Iraq to the southeast.
Turkey’s south-east is known for its sweltering summers and spicy food. As part of Mesopotamia, one of the “Cradles of Civilisation”, it has a rich historical legacy dating back more than 10,000 years. More recently the region has been at the centre of the Kurdish uprising. Thankfully things are peaceful now, allowing tourists to rediscover it’s fascinating archaeological sites and historic cities.
One of the region’s biggest draws are the mystical mountain-top statues of Nemrut Dagi (pictured right), built by a medieval tyrant.
The bustling bazaars of Sanliurfa, mythical birth-place of Abraham, are fun to explore, then relax in a café beside the city’s sacred carp ponds.
Squeezed against the Syrian boder, Hatay’s large Arabic speaking community give it a distinctly Middle Eastern flavour. The mosaic museum in Antakya, Hatay’s main city, has amazing Roman mosaics, excavated from nearby Daphne, while St Peter himself is said to have preached in a cave church overlooking the town.
The hilltop town of Mardin has some beautiful architecture and the nearby monastery of Deyrul Zafaran, is still operational after more than 1,200 years. Further east, the Turabdin is dotted with more Syrian Orthodox monasteries and churches, or you can visit the ruins of Hasankeyf, a scenic medieval city on the banks of the Tigris river.
Fly to Adana, Diyabakir, Gaziantep or Sanliurfa from Istanbul or Ankara
Catch a train to Gaziantep. There are buses from across the country to the South-east