With its broad vistas and dramatic,
spare scenery, Eastern Turkey is
like one vast national park.
Summer is the best time to visit,
as the region is high and mountainous,
and given to late thaws and early snows.
When the Mediterranean resort
city of Antalya is
engulfed in sticky summer heat, in Erzurum the
air is dry and pleasant. (If you come
in winter, do it for skiing.)
Come for the sweeping scenery,
for the many striking archeological
sites, for the architecture of
the region's historic buildings, and
for a look at life as it was lived
in an earlier time.
Valley Travel organizes
both group and private
tours of Eastern Turkey, or you can have them arrange this self-guided itinerary. More...
is less developed than West,
and you may still see farmers in small
villages winnow grain in the wind,
the old-fashioned way.
Because of the distances in the East
and its distance from the cities of
the West, allow at least a week to
tour the East. Have a look at my Recommended
Itinerary (11 to 15 days, including
Sea coast and the Southeast).
Here's where to go and what to
the shadow of Mount
Ararat, this town four hours' ride
east of Erzurum is the jumping-off
point for trips into Iran,
and for visits to the dramatic İshak
Pasha Palace 6 km (4 miles)
east of town. More...
The "capital" and
largest city in the East, it has a
university, big army base, airport, Palandöken
ski area, and several fine Seljuk and Ottoman buildings.
It's a good base for visits to the Kaçkar
Mountains, Doğubayazıt and Mount
Range north of Erzurum is excellent
for trekking and river
rafting. Its small mountain
towns (like Yusufeli)
produce abundant crops of fruit,
and often harbor interesting 1000-year-old
churches left from the
time when this was the medieval Kingdom
of Georgia. More...
by the Russians for 42 years, Kars
has the feeling of an outpost
of empire. It's about as different
from Istanbul as
you can get (in Turkey). It's an interesting
place, and serves delicious honey
and butter for
breakfast. Kars is your base for visits
to the great medieval Armenian capital
45 km (28 miles) to the east. You can
also cross into Georgia at Posof. More...
The only river
outlet from this vast inland sea
was blocked by volcanic eruption
millennia ago, so the lake is highly
like the Dead Sea between Israel
and Jordan. Around it are several
historic towns including the city
of Van and
nearby archeological site of Çavuştepe,
with cuneiform inscriptions dating
back to the Kingdom of
3000 years ago. At Ahlat on
the north shore there's an eery
Turkish cemetery, the only
one of its kind in Turkey. More...
of Malatya and
north of Adıyaman and Kâhta,
is one of Turkey's most astounding
sights: an artifical mountaintop framed
by two great temples littered with colossal
statues of gods—and
one megalomaniac king. You gotta
see it. More...
a separate climatic region which,
unlike the East, is best visited
anytime except summer.
If you combine it with a tour of
the East, be aware of the climate
here for maps of Turkey,
including Eastern Turkey.
—by Tom Brosnahan