NEMRUT DAĞI: The Upper Euphrates region is dominated, physically and emotionally, by Mount Nimrod, or Nemrut Dagi. The outline of the Commagene King Antiochus’s tumulus can be seen from nearly 150km (100 miles) in every direction. This is a star sight of the eastern region; time is required to access the steep ascent and absorb the enormity of the huge basalt figures.
MARDIN: Mardin is a city in southeastern Turkey. The capital of Mardin Province, it is known for its Arab-style architecture, and for its strategic location on a rocky mountain overlooking the plains of northern Syria. As a melting pot of Kurdish, Yezidi, Christian and Syrian cultures, it also has a fascinating cultural mix. Minarets emerge from a baked brown labyrinth of meandering lanes, a castle dominates the old city, and stone houses cascade down the hillside above the Mesopotamian plains. With regular flights from İstanbul, Izmir and Ankara, you’ll see lots of local visitors in summer. Mardin’s honey-coloured collage of old buildings and markets is worth seeing not to forget Dara or Savur attractions.
ŞANLIURFA: About 75km (50 miles) south of the lake formed by damming the Euphrates River lies lovely Sanliurfa. Known as the birthplace of Abraham, visitors can explore the mosque complex surrounding Abraham’s Cave (Ibrahim Halilullah Dergâhi) and visit the pools of holy carp. The city was once known as Edessa, and it remained an important garrison town well into Roman times.
GAZİANTEP: This city is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world. Today, it is the eastern region’s economic powerhouse, a bustling modern city brimming with history and civic pride; it has also been the recipient of much European Union ‘revival’ finance. Its shining star is the Archaeological Museum. The Zeugma mosaics excavated from the nearby dig at Nizip are unbelievable, and many visitors come specifically to see these.
Ani: The skeleton of the medieval metropolis of Ani, an 11th-century Armenian city sprawled across the meadows of the plateau, is one of the most impressive sights of the eastern region.
Lake Van: Lake Van (Van Gölü) is Turkey’s largest inland body of water, a saline and soda lake, 1,650m (5,450ft) above sea level. Tatvan is the easiest place from which to reach some of the smaller towns on the north shore of the lake, such as Ahlat, which is well worth a visit. The primary reason for any visit to Lake Van is to see the 10th-century Armenian Church of the Holy Cross (Akdamar Kilisesi) on Akdamar Island.