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    The Southeast of Anatolia: a destination worthy of travel

    Anatolian Agency
    10.07.2009 - 00:00 | Son Güncelleme:

    ANKARA - The Southeast of Anatolia, where different faiths, languages and cultures have intermingled with each other over time, waits for tourists to discover. Diyarbakır is surrounded by high city walls of basalt. Visitors come across historical buildings while walking around narrow streets of Mardin. Giant statues on top of Mount Nemrut bring tourists to Adıyaman. Şanlıurfa, where Prophet Abraham was born, is one of the oldest cities in the world.

    It takes at least three days to tour around Diyarbakır, which has been home to some 33 civilizations throughout its history. One of the major sights is the Great Mosque (Ulucami). As the first-built mosque in Asia Minor, it reflects the characteristics of many periods and civilizations.

    Visitors can also see the Prophet Solomon-Nasiriye Mosque, the Mesudiye Madrasah Ğ which was one of the first schools of medicine in Anatolia Ğ and churches, mansions and historical streets. The city is also home to prominent poet Cahit Sıtkı Tarancı's house.

    Diyarbakır is surrounded by an intact set of basalt-made high city walls. Though it is not known when exactly the walls were first built, they were restored and extended by Roman Emperor Constantine II in 349 A.C.

    In Sur hamlet, which was described as the old Diyarbakır, people can visit: the Sheikh Matar Mosque Ğ which was built in the 15th century; several churches and the 16th century synagogue; an Ottoman-era public bath and Yenikapi Street, where church bells and Muslim calls to prayer (azan) blend into one another.

    The village of Çayönü, near the town of Ergani, 60 km from Diyarbakır, carries traces of the Neolithic Age, in which the development of human technology began. The approximately 10,000-year-old Çayönü Hill sheds light not only on the history of the region, but also on the history of world civilization. The Hilar caves near Ergani are also well worth a visit.

    In the Atatürk Mansion, visitors can see some of the personal items belonging to the founder of the Republic of Turkey. Bought by the Diyarbakır municipality in 1937, the mansion was given to the great founder as a present.

    Visitors come across all sorts of historical buildings while walking through the narrow streets of Mardin. The 600-year-old kirklar Church and 13th century Latifiye Mosque are among the highlights in the city. Visitors might also want to buy silver filigree jewelry as souvenirs. There are remains of the world's first known dam in Dara, 30 km from the city Mardin’s city center.

    The Mor Gabriel Deyrulumur Monastery, 23 km southeast of the town of Midyat, is known as the third biggest monastery in the world.

    Hasankeyf, on the bank of the Dicle River, 35 km from the city center of Batman, is one of the biggest pulls in the entire region. As a center of science and culture in its heyday, Hasankeyf is home to a castle built by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century A.C. Visitors should also definitely try the local trout before leaving this ancient city.

    There are several shrines worth visiting in the Cizre town of Sirnak: in Siirt, the Veysel Karani Shrine and Ibrahim Hakkı Shrine are two major sights. Before leaving this city, visitors should taste the special meat dish called "büryan".

    Waiting for Turkish and foreign tourists in Kilis, with its history dating back to 3500-3000 B.C. The city, home to many civilizations through its ancient history, is also considered one of the most important centers of cultural and religious tourism in Turkey. The major sights in the city include a number of Ottoman-era mosques and stone houses complete with courtyards.Giant statues on top of Mount Nemrut bring both Turkish and foreign tourists to Adıyaman.

    Besides Mount Nemrut, which tourists climb to watch the sunset and rise, castles, the ancient city of Perre, the Great Mosque (Ulu Cami), churches and historical bazaars are some of the sights not to be missed in this city. Adiyaman is also a paradise for food lovers with its local flavors and desserts.

    Şanlıurfa, where Abraham is said to have been born in a cave, is one of the oldest centers in the world, and one of the most important historical and cultural cities in Turkey.

    Here visitors can see the hermit ibis population centred near the small town of Birecik. These birds disappeared from Europe over 300 years ago, and now face the threat of extinction. From here it is not far to the historic town of Halfeti, which was partly remained under waters of the Birecik Dam.

    Before arriving in the city center, visitors should visit the legendary Pool of Sacred Fish (Balıklıgöl), where Abraham who defended the idea of a single God was thrown into the fire by cruel ruler Nimrod. But God commanded the fire to spare him (The Holy Koran, Enbiya, Verse 69), upon which the fire turned to water and the firewood to fish. The fish here are considered sacred and not eaten. The pool is in the courtyard of the mosque of Halil-ur-Rahman, built by the Ayyubids in 1211.

    Şanlıurfa Museum has one of the biggest collections in Turkey. Göbeklitepe, 18 km from the city center where the oldest known stone temples are found and the Atatürk Dam are the other sights in the city. The town of Harran, with its peculiar architecture and the remains of the first Islamic university should also be seen.

    Home of ice cream

    Kahramanmaraş, one of the oldest cities in Anatolia, is also one of Turkey’s secret paradises with its natural, historical and cultural assets. Kahramanmaras is the only city in the world that was decorated with a medal for its meritorious success in the War of Independence. It is also known as the city of ice cream.

    Nature-lovers should definitely visit Baskonuş pasture, which is known for its deer that wander the meadow surrounded by cedar and fir trees.

    Health tourism has also gained momentum in the city recently. Spas in the hamlet of Ilica became favorite destinations for many people. The tourism season begins in the hamlet in April and lasts until mid-November.

    The springs in Ekinözü town are among the ten biggest springs in Turkey. Their waters are reported to successfully treat many illness.
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