19 Favourite Photos From the Southeast of Turkey

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 same.

The only thing to do was to start exploring the east. I started doing this in June by heading to the northeast region to see Trabzon, Kars, Macahel and Artvin. The trip was exactly the kick up the arse that I needed.

I found what I was looking for; different culinary experiences, varied traditions and an introduction to the cultures of Laz and Hemsin people of Turkey.

The history was different and even listening to the regional dialects of the language was an eye opener. My passion had been restored and I was eager to follow it up with another visit.

This time, I focused on the southeast and three cities in particular; Gaziantep, Urfa and Mardin. None of them disappointed and all of them surprised me.

I found in these destinations a mixture of three cultures ; Turkish, Arabic and Kurdish.

I took over 1000 pictures of the food, people and places. I narrowed them down to 19 which I think portray my experiences of something new and different. I hope you like the photos too.

Photos from the Southeast of Turkey

Ayn-I-Zeliha Lake in Urfa. Surrounded by tea gardens, it is a calm and peaceful place in a busy city

Ayn-i-Zeliha lake

Not sure if it is traditional but I loved this decor in my hotel in Urfa

Decor in Urfa

A house in Midyat that is often used by television companies to film Turkish soap operas

House in Midyat

The gate keeper of the Kasimiye Medresesi – A 500 year old Islamic school that is now being turned into a museum

kasimiye medresesi

A mosque in Gaziantep

Mosque in Gaziantep

The pool of Abraham, known in Turkish as Balikli Gol. Filled with carp fishes that are said to be sacred because of the pools connection to Abraham

Pool of Abraham

Mevlid – i  – Halil Magarasi – Inside is the cave which is said to be the birthplace of Abraham

Mosque and Cave of Abraham

Cotton picking time in the Southeast

Cotton picking in the fields

Harran Beehive Houses

Harran beehive houses

Hasankeyf which will soon disappear as the government has plans to flood it for a reservoir


A local shoe sewer in Gaziantep

Shoe sewer gaziantep

Sunset in Urfa

sunset urfa

A teashop in Gaziantep

tea shop gaziantep

A view of Urfa

View of Urfa

A cave cafe in Gaziantep

Cave cafe in Gaziantep

Gaziantep castle

Gaziantep castle

Deyrulzafaran Monastery near Mardin used by Syriac orthodoxs

Deyrulzafaran Monastery

View of Mardin


A tobacco seller in Gazinatep

tobacco seller gaziantep

Readers question : Which photo is your favourite?


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Hi. My name is Natalie Sayin and I am the author of The Turkish Travel Blog. I am an Internet addict with a passion for history. Read my story here or leave a comment below to join the discussions.
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  1. says

    Lovely photos absolutely love the decor in the hotel, Not what I would have expected.

  2. phil + Di marina gateway says

    fantastic pic’s Natalie

  3. sharyn minehan says

    oh Natalie,,these are fantastic..i have 2 choose the pool of Abraham and the other one, but really like them all..could sit here all day viewing them. many thanks. sharynxx.

  4. says

    The view from Mardin onto the Syrian plain is just gorgrous. I really miss the south-east! Hope you had an amazing trip.

    • says

      It was amazing thanks Liam – I loved every minute of it. Glad you like the photos

  5. tracey arpaci says

    Lake in Antep surrounded by tea gardens….where else in a busy city would you see that
    If you took over 1000 pics Nat please add more, 19 is not enough :)

  6. says

    I find the idea of a cave cafe fascinating…so that was my favorite photo.

    I have a very well traveled friend who had some negative travel experiences in the South East of Turkey…do you feel that it is safe to travel there for westerners?

    I am not normally an alarmist about a place, but when I know someone who had negative experiences, I like to try to get the real scoop.
    Shanna Schultz wrote about..Our Visit to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam

  7. says

    Fantastic photos! I’ve just returned from Istanbul, which left me wanting to explore more of Turkey. And now these photos only add to that – thank you!

    • says

      Glad you liked Nicole and you have some good photos yourself on your blog

  8. says

    I love the photo of the cotton fields! Looks so lovely and peaceful there.

    • says

      One of my favourite as well Jennifer. would love to spend a day cotton picking with them

  9. says

    Wow, I only explored the north of Turkey in the month I was there and loved it. But this is stunning. Would love to go back and see the cotton fields (do you know what season they are in bloom in?)

    The decor of the your hotel in Urfa and the picture of Hasankeyf are beautiful. I’m aching to go to Turkey now. Sharing this post :)
    Shivya wrote about..Ask Me Anything!

  10. says

    I love the hotel decor and the photo of the shoe sewer because he looks like he makes shoes that might fit my oversized feet! But it was hard to decide as so many of the images are so evocative.
    Maggie Dodson wrote about..HISTORY OF LOVE

  11. says

    Do you know the significance of underground cafes? If I remember it was a cultural tradition to get out of the heat during mid day, merchants retiring to the cool caves below the surface.

    I might not be remember it right.

  12. says

    Love these photos, Natalie – looks like you had a MUCH more enjoyable experience in Gaziantep than I had. The cave cafe looks pretty cool, and Sanliurfa looks soooo pretty – I was umming and aahing on whether or not to go there, but decided against it ultimately.

    Any more plans to explore the south? Malatya was by far my favourite city in Turkey, and I’d planned to go to Diyarbakir before I got crazy sick.
    Tom @ Waegook Tom wrote about..Malaysia’s Big Breakfast – The Nasi Lemak

    • says

      Thanks Tom. Got two sponsored trips near Ankara at the moment and then will head to the west to rest for the winter. So looking at getting back to the south east next summer. I wanted to go to Diyarbakir but they were all rioting so had to postpone. Hopefully next year
      Natalie wrote about..Eight Things to Do on Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul

    • says

      I was thinking of you when I went to Harran Lisa because it was on your blog that I first found out about those houses

  13. says

    Absolutely gorgeous! Too many great pictures to pick a favorite! Every time I read your site, I long to go back to Turkey. It’s such an amazing country, just from the little I saw in April, and I’d love to explore other parts of the country. Thanks for showing us areas that aren’t so famous.

  14. Nauman says

    Amazing photography. It shows all the colors & rich culture that Turkey has to offer. Since you are based in Turkey now have you travelled to Edirne I heard its a great place for a holiday.

    • says

      The two old men were quite colourful characters as well Jan

  15. says

    I believe places have a power to surprise us. Even when we think we know a place well, it can always show a different face. Glad to see you choose to discover a new place. Your photos are amazing. I am sure you will always find nw and different places in Turkey.
    Ruth wrote about..Discovery of the Week: Rocamadour, France

  16. Alex Anderson says

    Its a shame about Hasankeyf, I was there last in 2009. I wish I could go again when I come next week, but it will have to wait for another time. I’m bringing my girlfriend with me and this will be her first time to beautiful Turkey.

    • Nat says

      My next post is about Hasankeyf Alex so keep watching

  17. Chris says

    So glad to stumble upon your blog. Thinking about spending some time in Turkey for the first time next year, and I think Eastern Turkey (as well as Istanbul of course) is where I might enjoy my time the most. Keep up the good work.

    • says

      Can recommend the North-east as well Chris. Stunning landscapes

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