South East Turkey

The Southeast of Turkey is an amazing region with strong cultures, traditions and historical importance. There are many things to do and places to go. I have so far focused mainly on the cities of Gaziantep, Urfa and Mardin and you can find my articles below. Please leave a comment on them if you have anything to add or questions about traveling in Turkey.

Gobekli Tepe: The Ancient Religious Temple that Threw the History World into Chaos

Gobeklitepe - Birth of Religion

Turkey covers an enormous amount of land, 783,562 km² to be exact. Many empires throughout history have existed within the boundaries, so obviously, thousands of historical sites have been uncovered and it seems every month; a new and exciting discovery sends international and domestic history experts into a joyful frenzy. As the central hub between East and West, Turkey is a playground for … [Read more...]

Visiting the Cave of the Prophet Ibrahim and the Mevlid-I Halil Mosque

Cave of the Prophet Ibrahim and the Mevlid-I Halil Mosque

Coming from a Christian background, but living in a Muslim country, has enabled me to learn of many similarities between the two religions. One such example is the prophet Ibrahim, known in the Bible as Abraham. He was born in Mesopotamia, in an area called Edessa that is current day Sanliurfa, although the Bible lists the same region as “Ur.” He is mentioned frequently in the book of Islam, but … [Read more...]

Ayn-i Zeliha Lake : Myth or Legend?

Ayn-i Zeliha

In the centre of old Urfa, next to the historical pool of Abraham is the Ayn-I Zeliha Lake. Popular with locals at the weekend, they gather to drink tea in the gardens surrounding it. It is nothing spectacular and my main interest was purchasing food to feed the large fish swimming around in it. There was also the option for a romantic boat ride with hubby but judging from the size of the so … [Read more...]

Gaziantep War Museum and the Siege of Antep

Old picture from the Gaziantep war museum

“The city of museums” is a fitting description for the South Eastern, bustling hub of Gaziantep. There are endless amounts of informative exhibitions and galleries on every topic from glass blowing to mosaics to Turkish kitchens. Any museum buff would no doubt be in their element, and normally I would count myself as one of those people however, I have to admit that after a four-day stay in … [Read more...]

View Over Mesopotamian Plains From Mardin

View of Mesopotamia

Mardin in the south-east of Turkey is on the edge of an ancient region called Mesopotamia. When I booked into my hotel, the receptionist said they were not busy and had given me the room with the best view of the Mesopotamian plains.  I don't care much for hotel room views, preferring to spend most of my time outdoors and only using the hotel as somewhere to sleep. So I shrugged my shoulders in a … [Read more...]

A Panoramic View from Sanliurfa Castle

View from Sanliurfa Castle

I was looking forward to touring Sanliurfa castle. Believed to have been constructed in 814 AD, I could see it from my hotel room standing majestically at the top of the hill. The week before, I had thoroughly enjoyed visiting the exhibitions of Gaziantep castle and expected the same. Unfortunately, I was severely disappointed. About Sanliurfa Castle It was a steep climb uphill and for a hard … [Read more...]

Hasankeyf : An Ancient City in Batman, Turkey

Hasankeyf An Ancient City in Batman Turkey

The drive to Hasankeyf was short yet memorable. We had left Mardin and were in the countryside, sometimes passing nomadic tribesman herding their sheep. The sky was dark grey and threatening to pour with rain. In a way, it reflected the gloomly mood hanging over Hasankeyf. The Ancient City of Hasankeyf The town is scheduled to be flooded as part of the Gap project to provide Turkey with more … [Read more...]

The Coppersmith Bazaar of Gaziantep

Gaziantep Coppersmith Bazaar

While the West of Turkey makes every effort to keep up to date with international trends and practices, the same cannot be said of the south east. Now this is not necessary a bad thing because in the big and bustling city of Gaziantep, selected areas dedicate themselves to traditional trades. The local bazaar is one of them and it was the first time I saw a coppersmith at work. Gaziantep … [Read more...]

Deyrulzafaran Monastery in Mardin : A Travel Challenge

Deyrulzafaran courtyard

Deyrulzafaran monastery is seldom mentioned in mainstream tourism for Turkey but it is a must see while in the Mardin region. Built in 493AD for Syriac Orthodox (Assyrian) Christians, it is also called Mor Hananyo or Saffron monastery and was the patriarch seat for the church until 1932. I was eager to visit it, so after looking at a map, discovered the monastery was on the outskirts of Mardin … [Read more...]

The Gaziantep Mevlevi Museum

Mevlevi Lodge Museum

We walked up and down the street three times, and after realising we were lost, asked a passer-by where the Gaziantep Mevlevi Lodge Foundation Museum was.  Located in the Sahinbey area of the city, it is one of many museums in Gaziantep but we simply could not find it. The passer-by smirked and pointed behind us. We were in the right place all the time but guide books had neglected to mention the … [Read more...]

Gaziantep Culinary Museum : Southeast Cuisine of Turkey

Old Gaziantep Kitchen

The Gaziantep Culinary Museum is set in an old house down a cobbled side street.  I entered a small courtyard and looked around at the two storey building. First impressions were not to expect too much yet it was the most comprehensive museum I have ever visited. Perhaps it was so interesting because of my lack of cooking skills and knowledge of Turkish food. Without any doubt, I differ so … [Read more...]

Kasimiye Medresesi in Mardin : An Old Islamic School

Medresesi

Kasimiye Medresesi stands on the outskirts of old Mardin. Overlooking the flat Mesopotamia plains, it was completed in 1502 and considering its age, is in remarkable condition. It was a short walk downhill to reach it. No traffic passed and the large wooden door was locked when we arrived. We waited for the key holder to arrive. He was an old man, who I estimated to be in his 80s. His age … [Read more...]

The Beehive Houses of Harran

Beehive houses of Harran

I had always assumed the beehive houses of Harran were small and lacking in comfort but when I saw them, I realized I was wrong. The beehive domes are connected by arched passageways to form one big house around a courtyard. Luxury is not a word to describe them, but they are not meant to be a poor man’s house either. Made from bricks and mud, they were also cleverly designed to be cool in … [Read more...]

The Pool of Abraham : Balikli Göl in Sanliurfa

Pool of Abraham

Sanliurfa is one of my favorite cities in Turkey, even though I originally went there for one reason only. That was to see the pool of Abraham, known as Balikli Göl in Turkish.  As a major landmark of the region, it is visited by many Turks as well as foreign tourists. What is the Pool of Abraham aka Balikli Göl? This pool is believed by Muslims to be the place where Abraham was thrown into … [Read more...]

Life in the Coffee Houses of Gaziantep

Menengic dibek kahvesi

I love caffeine. I adore it. I think it is a wonderful substance and often drink more than six cups of Nescafe in a day. I can also top that off with a can of Redbull and on odd occasions, have to lie down because my over indulgence has bought on a caffeine headache. The last time I tried to detox from my addiction to caffeine, I could not function. Two hours into the day and I gave up. … [Read more...]

Gaziantep Castle : Remembering the Veterans

Turkey Travel Pictures

I have always had a love of castles but it is nothing to do with fairytale princesses. They just remind me of my childhood. I grew up in the UK city of Nottingham and spent many weekends at the castle acting out stories about Robin Hood and the wicked sheriff. Therefore, it was no surprise that when I arrived in Gaziantep, the first place I wanted to see was the castle. Located in the … [Read more...]

Mesopotamian Ruins of Dara Near the Syrian Border

Dara - south east Turkey

The ancient ruins of Dara do not often appear in tourism brochures of Turkey despite their importance in the historical world. The city was a strong fortress for the Romans and one of the most populated areas in ancient Mesopotamia. In recent times, the blame for non recognition is probably because it is near the Syrian / Turkish border. We were staying in Mardin and locals said a drive from … [Read more...]

Sanliurfa (Urfa) : The City of Abraham in Turkey

Arabic decor

We drove into Urfa on a small and crowded public bus. Every seat was occupied and people were squashed together while standing in the aisle. Everyone was chatting, staring straight ahead or at this foreigner sitting in their presence. I ignored the stares because I could not make any more of an effort to blend in. I stood out and had to accept it. Instead, I focused on the sights that whizzed … [Read more...]

People Watching In Sanliurfa (Urfa) : Purple Headscarf and Regional Dress Codes

Urfa

 I love people watching. Sitting in the airport or a restaurant and watching everyone is my favourite hobby.  I cannot remember though, ever being more fascinated by people then when I was in Urfa. What intrigued me most was the local dress. Living in the West of Turkey, I can see that any regional and traditional dress seems to have been replaced by the brand name of Levi. Even if I look at the … [Read more...]

Midyat Old City : Churches and Culture in the Mardin Region

Doorway

It was an hour’s drive from Mardin to the town of Midyat. The small bus drove past the bustling streets of New Midyat and dropped us off on the outskirts of the old city. Perfect because that is what I had traveled to see. I had wanted to stay the night in the old town but hubby did not. He insisted there was nothing to do there, having driven through it three years earlier. He compared it with … [Read more...]

19 Favourite Photos From the Southeast of Turkey

Hasankeyf

In 2012, I started to regret my decision to focus on one country for my travel writing. The buzz of learning about new aspects of Turkey had started to wear off. New experiences were harder to find because after ten years as an expat in Turkey, I was used to daily life. I had based myself on the west coast and apart from the landscapes; it was guaranteed that each area was more or less the … [Read more...]

Traditional Food from the Southeast of Turkey : Grilled Lambs Spleen and Sheep’s head

Kebab seller

I do not normally focus on food while traveling. I have a love / hate relationship with it and mostly eat more out of necessity rather than desire. At other times, I have heavily criticized Turkish cuisine in favour of other international food. My stay in the south east of Turkey changed that though. When comparing the region to the west, I recognized a huge difference in culture, traditions, and … [Read more...]

Hasankeyf

Hasankeyf

Hasankeyf is a touristic area in the province of Batman.  Yes, there is a town in Turkey called Batman, ( Don’t laugh!). The reason I am writing about Hasankeyf, is because I have been going over family photographs and found pictures of Hasankeyf from last year. What can I tell you about Hasankeyf? Not a lot because the pictures are from another traveler, my husband! I am quite sure he won’t mind … [Read more...]