Turkey, the cradle of civilizations is such a diverse country in every aspect. In that sense, the north Mesopotamia (South East Anatolia) in Turkey is one of the foremost regions in the ancient history. During our tour, we are going to explore the sacred lands of Gaziantep, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Mardin and Sanliurfa provinces. As a lifetime experience, this is certainly not an ordinary sightseeing trip, since we are going to witness some of the most ancient heritage in the world ever created by the humankind. The region stands out with its amazing cuisine, a huge variety of crafts, unique civil architecture, incredible museums, thousands of years old shrines and temples, colorful medieval arcades and extremely hospitable locals. Come and join us for an unforgettable journey!
Our tour will begin in Gaziantep airport. We will have a three hour drive onto Mt. Nemrut bearing the colossal masonry statues atop. They were erected by the Commagene Kingdom more than 2000 years ago. The sanctuary was commissioned by the almighty King Antiochus I of Commagene and that it was supposed to be his burial place. Having enjoyed a fantastic sunset we will continue to our hotel in Adiyaman town.
Overnight in Adiyaman
Today we have a morning drive across the basin of the ancient Euphrates river. Old Diyarbakir upon Tigris with its substantial ramparts has recently been enlisted as a UNESCO world heritage destination. The old town enclosed within the walls offers a lot to see. Major churches and mosques operate hand in hand welcoming their worshippers in the old Diyarbakir. Taking a walk in the historical and narrow streets of Diyarbakır, we will have a photo opportunity at Dicle (Tigris) or Ten Segmented bridge as known by the locals upon the ancient river of Tigris.
Overnight in Diyarbakir
Driving further south, our first stop will be at Hasankeyf an ancient settlement, one of the oldest constantly inhabited settlements in the world. Hasankeyf not only offers great views overlooking the Tigris but also boasts so many medieval landmarks. Next, we will carry on across the Mesopotamian lands to reach Mardin where we will spend the whole afternoon exploring its merits.
Mardin is famous for the consistency of its unspoilt masonry urban texture. During our time in Mardin, we will pay a visit to the Syriac Orthodox Saffron Monastery, a living example of the ancient Christian heritage in the region. Zinciriye Medrese is perched atop the whole town offering amazing views. Grand Mosque (eg. Mardin Ulu Camii) is another place of worship to visit. Sakıp Sabancı City Museum is a beautifully set up institution bringing the cultural heritage of Mardin to life.
Roaming around in Mardin’s historical streets and arcades, one can purchase so many exotic products such as home made soap, pistachio coffee, Syriac wine and olive oil.
Overnight in Mardin
Today is a special day given the fact that we are scheduled to visit the oldest known sanctuary in the world, Gobeklitepe. Yet another UNESCO site in Turkey, Gobeklitepe is located just outside the greater Urfa and that it has literally wiped out all our previous knowledge of the prehistoric cultures in the world. The circular temples with the colossal T shaped monoliths curiously decorated with high and low relieves had been erected way earlier than the Stonehenge.
After an exhilarating time journey at Gobeklitepe, we will reach the old Urfa where we will sample some of tastiest kebabs in the world (such as Urfa Kebab) to be washed down with Ayran, Turkey’s national drink made of yoghurt and water.
Urfa is yet another ancient settlement in the south east of Turkey, which has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years. Our afternoon sightseeing includes a visit to the amazing Urfa Archaeological Museum complex displaying the prehistoric artifacts obtained in Gobeklitepe and Urfa region. We will also walk around the old quarters visiting the Prophet Abraham’s birthplace, Sacred Balikli Gol (eg. Lake with fishes) and Rizvaniye Mosque. For the energetic, Urfa also boasts an abundant number of historical arcades, car free narrow streets to discover.
Tonight, we have an optional dinner at a cultural center to watch a traditional nightly get together event of Urfa locals offering a presentation of local folk music and dancing accompanied by delicious local delicacies.
Overnight in Urfa
In today’s agenda, we are going to visit our final stop Gaziantep. Gaziantep holds the biggest mosaic museum in the world. The panels being mostly of Roman period, the vast museum operates with a smart technology where the visitors can access touch screens to further examine the fantastic mosaic depictions.
Gaziantep stands out with a very high quality coppersmithy that has been on for centuries. We will make sure to show you the local artisans constantly hammering their artworks in front of their shops.
Among the local delicacies for us to sample, Baklava is a must try special dessert that consists of forty layers stuffed with Pistachio crumbs and soaked in syrup. To give our legs a rest, ground pistachio coffee is available at many of the medieval bedestens (old shopping quarters with high quality merchandise). We can never stress enough on the quality and diversity of the Gaziantep cuisine which was awarded as the best in the world on many culinary contests around the world.
Before we call it a day, we will definitely have free time in the old town for endless photo and souvenir opportunities. There are lots of historical arcades big and small offering local crafts and food in the old neighborhood of Gaziantep.
Tonight is our farewell night with a special meal combining a nice array of local dishes.
Overnight in Gaziantep
Our tour will end in Gaziantep. Transfer to Gaziantep airport.
PS: This tour can be further be extended to visit the medieval Midyat famous for its masonry civil architecture and still working Syriac Orthodox monastery of Saint Gabriel as well as Harran, home of the biblical beehive like adobe houses.