Travel Talk: Eastern Turkey and the World's Oldest Temple
Introducing Göbekli Tepe
Travel The Unknown invite you to a travel talk with our Middle East expert and author of the Bradt Travel Guide to Eastern Turkey, Diana Darke. At an estimated age of 12,000 years old, Göbekli Tepe is believed to be the oldest religious sanctuary in the world. Turkish for ‘Potbelly Hill’, the structure of over 200 sixteen-tonne pillars in circular patterns has become a site of increasing cultural and historic significance, having recently been named a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Eastern Turkey also boasts the enigmatic statue-heads of Nemrut Daği (Mount Nemrut, pictured above), and the ingenious roof-top streets of Çatalhöyük, the world’s first city.
Come and join in the discussion of this varied and fascinating region, as well as the prehistoric archaeological gem of Göbekli Tepe.
The evening will include an in-depth talk from our special guest Diana Darke and a Q&A session. You will also have the opportunity to meet the Travel The Unknown Turkey experts to discuss travel options in this wonderful and archaeologically rich region.
More details to be confirmed - please call us on 0207 183 6371 with any enquiries
Location: Kensington Central Library
Date: 3rd December 2018
Hiking, Walking & Other Activities
Climb some of the most spectacular peaks of Eastern Turkey - Nemrut Crater Lake, Mount Suphan and Mount Ararat. These spectacular treks will give you a feel, not only for the stunning scenery of Eastern Turkey but also an insight into how people live in this part of the world and a chance to experience their warmth and hospitality. For something a little less strenuous but equally beautiful we can arrange hikes in the Kaçkar mountains in Northeast Turkey or for a cultural walking tour why not follow Abraham’s Path or St Paul’s Trail and discover the links to a past where history and mythology intertwine. Çesme offers wind-surfing, and diving can be arranged along much of the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts. Rafting and horse-riding can also be arranged. For golfers, Turkey offers an increasing selection of quality courses.
Ottoman opulence is legendary and today’s Turkey boasts unrivalled options for opulent travel, including regal palaces, luxurious cave hotels, glamorous beaches, and romantic getaways. Experience life as an Ottoman Sultan in Istanbul’s 19th century Palace of Ciragan, cruise the Bosphorus on a private chartered yacht, sip champagne whilst ballooning over the incredible fairy chimneys of Cappadocia and dine on goose and wine in Kars, “the city of snow”.
Turkey’s vast and varied land hosts a huge range of birdlife as well as encompassing two major migration routes. Discover rare White-backed Woodpeckers, Semi-collared Flycatchers, Krueper’s Nuthatch, Caspian Snowcock, Demoiselle Cranes and hundreds more fascinating species. From the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, from the wetlands of Ankara to the spectacular landscapes of Lake Van, Turkey boasts some of the best birding opportunities in Europe and Asia today.
A culinary tour of Turkey will tickle and tantalise your taste-buds. Combining Balkan, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Central Asian influences, Turkey delivers sensationally spiced and seasoned meats, freshly baked breads, yoghurt sauces and vine-ripened fruit and vegetables. Take a cooking class with an expert chef, sample flavourful street food or experience fine dining in Turkey’s culinary capital, Gaziantep. Don’t forget to wash it all down with a glass of one of Turkey’s renowned red wines at a signature tasting session.
Why not head to Çesme, near Izmir, a beautiful beach with excellent windsurfing, and an array of excellent restaurants and bars to keep you entertained through the long evenings? Beautiful boutique hotels are dotted around Çesme, whose stone crafted walls provide quintessential Mediterranean charm.
Fly to Istanbul, once known as Constantinople,a proud city that for millennia has straddled the East-West divide. Marvel at the elegant Blue Mosque and the exquisite Hagia Sofia and cruise along the Bosphorus. A range of group and private walking tours are available. For something a little different try Antalya for excellent boutique hotels, delicious food, numerous historical and archaeological sites and a plethora of hiking options. Urfa (formerly Edessa) is an ancient city with stone streets, lively squares, an excellent museum and a teeming bazaar. It also makes a great base for visiting Göbekli Tepe, the world’s first temple, and ancient Harran, as well as a boat trip to nearby Rumkale. Or why not discover the ancient history and traditions of Turkey’s oldest and still thriving city? Bodrum, a once sleepy fisherman’s town turned hotspot for artists, musicians and intellectuals offers fascinating historical sites, buzzing nightlife and glittering bays.
Cruise aboard a Turkish Gulet, a fine mahogany ship with billowing white sails and decadent rooms, as you work your way around the historic Turkish coast, experiencing the Mediterranean as never before. Explore forgotten Greek islands and ancient ruins on the Lycian coast whilst enjoying views of mysterious coves, sandy beaches and quaint villages in the comfort of unwavering hospitality and pleasant sunshine.
Cappadocia is a truly spectacular natural wonder. Its unique historical and cultural heritage featuring "fairy chimneys", rock-cut churches, natural castles and underground cities make for a fascinating journey into the history of this unique place. A hot air balloon ride as the sun rises over the stunning terrain of Cappadocia is a magical experience you will never forget.
Explore Turkey’s Kaz Daglari or ‘Goose Mountain’, the famous mountain of numerous ancient mythologies located in northwest Turkey. Now a national park, this isolated area is home to wild, therapeutic plants and flowers that not only attract brightly coloured butterflies, but hikers and trekkers eager to experience the serenity of the mountain slopes. Small boutique hotels nearby provide an excellent position to access the landscape.
Along the Turquoise Coast is Lycia, a sleepy town that enchanted the most powerful ancient empires. Explore the many ruins in Lycia, whether on the ground, carved into cliffs or lost in the crystalline waters. Discover the UNESCO Heritage Site of Xanthos, containing ancient Greek inscribed obelisks, or walk or cycle the Lycian Way, admiring the exquisite prehistoric tombs carved into the cliff face. Head down to the seemingly endless sandy beach and enjoy the aromatic wines produced in this unique region of Turkey.
Gaining legendary pseudonyms such as 'Babylon' and 'The Garden of Eden', Eastern Turkey has long captured the imagination. Little visited, the region's range from fascinating natural landscapes, enigmatic historical sites, to smiling faces and exotic markets, which combine to make an alluring combination of old and new.
The culinary capital of Eastern Turkey, Gaziantep's famous baklava (pistachio pastries) are shipped all over the country and beyond, and its renowned restaurants serve up mouth-watering dishes. Besides cuisine, Gaziantep boasts a fine Seljuk-era citadel, numerous impressive mosques and restored old buildings, so that much of the city appears almost as it was in past times. Gaziantep's chief draw however is its mosaic museum, believed to be the best in the world. The mosaics were recovered from the ancient Roman town of Zeugma, which is now underwater. The town's bustling city markets are also well worth a visit.
Sunrise and sunset at Nemrut Daği (a.k.a. Mount Nemrut) is one of Eastern Turkey's most exhilarating experiences. At the peak of this mountain (at over 2000m) sit the striking statues of the pre-Roman king, Antiochus I Theos of Commagene, surrounded by the various gods he believed to be his ancestors. The fearsome heads of the statue-figures are now separated from each other in the surrounding stone rubble, and the site still retains this sense of a lost world. Sublime views from the summit, across the distant Euphrates, add to the enigma of the place.
Halfeti & Rumkale
The quaint village of Halfeti sits on the side of an azure lake and is the staging post to catch a boat through a stunning valley to the beautiful cliffside fortress of Rumkale, which is only accessible by boat. Rumkale's setting is superb and the nearby village with its minaret rising up from the water is spectacular.
Mardin & Urfa
Mardin is a remarkable town full of beautiful mosques and churches set in a stunning, rocky landscape. With baked-brown alleyways, ancient, honey-coloured buildings, and a maze of a market, Mardin is charmingly authentic.
Urfa (known as 'Sanliurfa' or 'the Prophet's City') is the most spiritual city in East Turkey. It is a major centre for pilgrimage and its traditions are very much alive and well. Discover its 'park of mosques', imposing castle, its 'holy trout', its wonderful markets, historic buildings and picturesque squares.
Göbekli Tepe & Harran
Göbekli Tepe is the oldest man-made place of worship in the world, dating back an incredible 11,500 years. The site stunned archaeologists when it was first discovered, and its sheer expanse and craftsmanship is overwhelming, with exquisite stone carvings of people, lions, foxes, snakes and birds - some of the oldest known art in the world.
Once home to the Prophet Abraham, the ancient site of Harran is mentioned in the book of Genesis. Home of the first Islamic university in Anatolia, Harran also boasts the remains of an 8th century mosque, a citadel and some 300 year old beehive mud homes which enjoy a constant temperature throughout the year.
Dramatic Hasankeyf is like a mini-Cappadocia with beautiful honey-coloured buildings clinging to a cliff-side overlooking the river Tigris. Climb up the hill to see this wonderful site with its castles, palaces, mosques and a crumbling bridge. A government dam project means that the future of Hasankeyf hangs precariously in the balance.
This Kurdish dominated town (known as 'Amed' to Kurds) was once the flashpoint for anti-Turkish rebellion and indeed is seen by Kurdish people as the capital of their would-be nation. Today the city is experiencing a renaissance and is full of character and soul. The city walls are superseded only by the Great Wall of China and inside the walls you will find impressive mosques, churches, and an interesting architectural spectrum.
Close to the sublime Lake Van, Van is a university town with a relaxed character. The beautiful, sprawling Van Castle is the perfect place to watch the sun set. Take advantage of Van's laid-back character and have a drink while watching live Turkish and Kurdish music.
Hoşap Castle & Akdamar Island
About an hour from Van is the magnificent Hoşap Castle. Perched on a rocky hilltop slightly above the town, the castle offers breath-taking views of the surrounding areas. Its entrance is dramatically framed by the hillside, appearing to lead into another world, and there are intricate lion carvings set into the stone.
The short boat ride across Lake Van to Akdamar Island has views of the snowy peaks, azure water and the crown jewel – Akdamar Kilisesi (an Armenian church). This exquisite church boasts an exterior of relief carvings showing biblical scenes, and inside are some stunning, though faded, frescoes.
Ishak Paşa Palace & Mount Ararat
En route to Ishak Paşa Palace are the picturesque waterfalls at Muradiye, set in lovely, pastoral surroundings, and the drive to Ishak Paşa Palace is equally beautiful. Mount Ararat, Turkey's highest peak at over 5000m, and known in legend as the birthplace of Noah's Ark, looks down over the road making a spectacular backdrop for Ishak Paşa Palace. The palace itself is one of the world's most beautiful buildings with Armenian and Georgian influenced stone carvings and inspiring views.
Kars & Ani
Famous as the setting for the novel Snow by Nobel-prize winning author Orhan Pamuk, Kars is a fascinating mix of Russian, Azeri, Turkmen, Kurdish and Turkish influences – and its cheese and honey are famous throughout Turkey. Nearby Ani, however, is the gem of this region. Once the Armenian stately capital and a rival to Constantinople, Ani today is an impressive set of ruins spread over a large site with jaw-dropping views in every direction. Here you will find the spectacular remains of several churches, a convent, a castle, a cathedral, a Zoroastrian temple and a palace.
Turkey's Other Regions
Sitting on the Bosporus, Istanbul is one of the world's truly great cities, overflowing with culture and historical sites. World class attractions such as the exquisite Hagha Sofia and the Blue Mosque, excellent bars and restaurants, wonderful architecture, vibrant markets and a history of epic proportions makes Istanbul a city par excellence.
Cappadocia, Turkey's most famous cultural draw, is a natural phenomenon. The unique landscape of peaked domes, nick-named the 'fairy chimneys', is the product of year upon year of volcanic activity and erosion. Cappadocia has a rich, exciting history and its labyrinthine, ancient underground cities are riddled with tales of intrigue. There are also excellent trekking options in this captivating region.