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Southeastern Anatolia

Turkey's wild child ­ southeastern Anatolia does feel different from the rest of the country, and that's part of its appeal. Apart from a few Arabic and Christian pockets, this huge chunk of territory is predominantly Kurdish. What does it have on its menu? For starters, you can choose from a wealth of historical cities, such as Mardin, the region's trophy piece, perched on a hill dominating Mesopotamia; anliurfa, swathed in historical mystique; the old city of Diyarbakir, ensnared in mighty basalt walls; Bitlis, brimming with Islamic architecture; and the honey-coloured town of Hasankeyf. For main course, adjust your camera setting to `panoramic' and shoot life-enhancing images of enigmatic Nemrut Dai, topped with colossal ancient statues; shimmering Lake Van; or the water-filled crater of the second Nemrut Dai, near Tatvan. And for dessert there's an array of off-the-beaten track cachet destinations, including Bahçesaray, possibly Turkey's most secluded village; Darende, a hideaway near Malatya; and a string of lovely churches around Midyat. Best of all, you can savour these sights without any tourist hustle and bustle. Oh, and southeastern Anatolia has its fair share of earthly pleasures (hmmm, pistachio baklavas...). With all the negative coverage this area gets in the media, you are probably worried about security. Rest easy: apart from a few spots that are off-limits to foreigners (mainly along the border with Iraq), southeastern Anatolia poses very few travel challenges and most of its attractions are perfectly accessible to independent travellers. Here what will linger longest in your memory is a warm-hearted ho geldiniz (welcome). So clear the slate and plunge in. SOUTHEASTERN ANATOLIA

HIGHLIGHTS

Feel elation while watching the sun set (or rise) from Nemrut Dai (Mt Nemrut; p616), the `thrones of gods' Go heritage-hunting among the historic buildings of Bitlis (p641), Hasankeyf (p639) and Mardin (p633) Swap stress for bliss in the perfect valleyvillage seclusion of Darende (see boxed text, p627) and Savur (p637)

Gaziantep

Darende

Lake Van Van Bitlis Nemrut Daÿî (Mt Nemrut) Hasankeyf Bahçesaray Savur Mardin Sanlîurfa Midyat

Fall in love with the Gipsy Girl and feast on culinary delights in hedonistic Gaziantep (p598) Nourish your soul in the great pilgrimage city of anliurfa (Urfa; p607) and confess your sins in a Syriac church around Midyat (p638) Scramble all over Van's castle (p646) and get a rush from its lively atmosphere before touring the shores of Lake Van (p642) Catch the daily minibus to the mountain village of Bahçesaray (p650) ­ a white-knuckle ride you're unlikely to forget

598 S O U T H E A S T E R N A N AT O L I A · · K a h r a m a n m a r a ( M a r a )

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SOUTHEASTERN ANATOLIA

Ulas Alpköy Kemah Erzincan Çat

i r) ehr Rive at N tes Oÿuz Fîr phra u Îliç (E

Divriÿi

D860

Yedisu

Peri Suyu

To Sivas Kavak Çetinkaya Kangal Alacahan

Kemaliye

D850

Tunceli

SOUTHEASTERN ANATOLIA

Akçapînar Aÿîn Hekimhan Pertek Keban

D260

D300

Bingöl

To Kayseri (150km)

Harput Elazîÿ

D300

Gürün

Gürpinar Selalesi

Darende

D300

Yazîhan Battalgazi Aslantepe

D300

MALATYA

D330

Kale

Sivrice Ergani

D885 D360

Yesilyurt Gündüzbey

D850

Elbistan

Doÿansehir

Pütürge Nemrut Daÿî National Gerger Büyüköz Park Nemrut Damlacîk Daÿî Narince (2150m)

D360

DÎYARBAKIR Bismil Siverek

D360 D950

Gölbasî To Kayseri (284km) Kahramanmaras

D835 D360

D360

Adîyaman Sambayat

Kahta

Bucak

Atatürk Dam Atatürk Dam

D885

Savur Yesilli Mardin Viransehir SANLIURFA (URFA)

D400 D885 D400 D400

Pazarcîk To Îslahiye (25km); Yesemek Open-Air Museum (105km); Antakya (197km) Araban Savas Rumkale

D875

Kocatepe Kîzîltepe Senyurt

GAZÎANTEP (ANTEP)

To Hassa (20km)

D850

Halfeti BelkesZeugma Birecik Barak

Nizip

Soÿmatar Bazda Caves Harran Suayb City Han el Ba'rur Ceylanpînar

Kilis

Öncüpînar

Elbeyli

Eu (F phra îra te tN sR eh ive ri) r

Raqqa

Akçakale

SYRIA

To Aleppo (60km)

%0344 / pop 543,900

KAHRAMANMARA (MARA)

If you're heading to this neck of the woods from Cappadocia or the Mediterranean coast, a stop in Kahramanmara is mandatory for all ice-cream lovers. This town produces an insanely good dövme dondurma (beaten ice cream), which is justly revered throughout Turkey. If you find that's not reason enough to stop here, there are a handful of cultural treasures that will keep you busy for at least a day, including the Ulu Cami (Atatürk Bulvari), built in Syrian style in 1502, the hilltop kale (fortress) and the lively bazaar. The Hotel Belli (%223 4900; fax 214 8282; Trabzon Caddesi; s/d TL45/80; a) has been refurbished and features spruce rooms and prim bathrooms.

From the otogar (bus station) there are hourly minibuses to Gaziantep (TL12, two hours, 80km), while five daily buses ply the stunning route to Kayseri (TL20, 5½ hours, 291km).

%0342 / pop 1,100,000

GAZANTEP (ANTEP)

There's one Turkish word you should learn before visiting Gaziantep: fistik (pistachio). This fast-paced and epicurean city is reckoned to harbour more than 180 pastry shops and to produce the best pistachio baklavas you can gobble down in Turkey, if not the world. Antep is a greatly underrated city that proclaims a modern, laissez-faire attitude while thumbing its nose at Urfa's piety. One of the

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