EAST ANATOLIA AND TUR ABDIN

From Tur Abdin-Mountain of the servants of God to the Biblical Mount Ararat

Tur Abdin is a region of south east Turkey , situated just west of the river Tigris between the cities Mardin, Nusaybin, Hasankeyf and Cizre. The name “Tur Abdin” is from the Syriac language meaning “the mountain of the servants of the God”. Tur Abdin is the historical site of the ancient history and a cornerstone of the Christianity in the Orient. It is conisdered the heartland of the Syriac Orthodox belief. The aramaic language which was the language of Jesus Christ is spoken here still today. There are many monastries and churches in the region, one of them is the Mor Gabriel Monastery, the oldest functioning Christian monastery in the world. Few Syriac Orthodox people remain in the region today.

Turkey’s gigantic GAP (Southeastern Anatolia Project) includes the construction of the Ilısu Dam which will cause the flooding of the ancient city of Hasankeyf. History of Hasankeyf spans over 10.000 years in history. With this project many archeological sites and historical monuments of Hasankeyf will be affected by flooding in about 2016. In addition around 55.000 people need to be resettled.

On the way from the south to the North, Lake Van, Nemrut Volcano, Ahlat and the famous grave stones, Armenian Cathedral of the Holly Cross, Monastery of Akdamar, Mount Ararat and Ishak Pasha Palace are waiting for you to be explored.

Day Arrival in Diyarbakir via Istanbul

Day St. Giragos Church (visit possible according to the official availability) and the Monastery of Deir Az Zafaran

Day Monastery of Mor Gabriel, Hah’s Church of Virgin Mary, Monastery of Mor Yakub

Day Hasankeyf and Lake Van

Day Nemrut Volcano and Ahlat

Day The Armenian Cathedral of the Holly Cross, Monastery of Akdamar, Cavustepe and Van

Day Mount Ararat and Ishak Pasha Palace

Day Return flight from Van via Istanbul

* Transfers, suitable Excursions and round trips, with Air-conditioned Coaches

* 7 overnights in 4 * up to 5 * Hotels (land type) with Air-condition

* Double Room with Bath or Shower and WC

* Half Board (Breakfast and Diner) partly as open Buffet

* Qualified, educated, official, English speaking Guides

* All entrance fees

* Welcome cocktail

* All tips and park coast

1.Day : Welcome to Diyarbakir

Flight to Diyarbakir via Istanbul. Our proficient tour guide will be waiting for you at the airport with your ride to the hotel. Overnight stay in Diyarbakir.

2.Day : In the embrace of Mesopotamia, St. Giragos Church, Monastery of Deir Az Zafaran

Mor Abraham Monastery and Midyat

In the morning we visit the St. Giragos Church in Diyarbakir. St. Giragos Church is one of the most significant Armenian churches in Turkey. It was built in 1371. The church was renovated and reopened on 23 October 2011. (visit possible according to the official availability)

On our way to Mardin we visit the Monastery of Deir Az Zafaran. An important Syriac Orthodox monastery which was founded in the 5th century. It was the seat of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch from 1293 until 1932.

Late in the afternoon we arrive in Midyat, the main place of Tur Abdin. After visiting Mor Abraham Monastery we reach our hotel for two nights accomodation. Stay overnight in Midyat.

3.Day : Tur Abdin and Christianity in the East, Monastery of Mor Gabriel , Hah’s Church of

the Virgin Mary and Mor Yakub

Monastery of Mor Gabriel was founded in 397 and it is the oldest surviving Syriac Orthodox monastery in the world. It is impressive with its rare mosaics from Byzantine period, cloisters, domes and decorations on the buildings carved in lime stone of Midyat.

In the afternoon we visit the Hah’s Church of Virgin Mary which was buit in the 6th century. The Virgin Mary Church in Hah village is considered the most beautiful example of church architecture in Tur Abdin. Afterwards we visit the Monastery of Mor Yakub which was built in 328 AD after the death of Mor Yakup. Stay overnight in Midyat.

4.Day : Road to Tatvan at the Lake Van through Hasankeyf

Today you will be able to see the Hasankeyf which will soon be under water.

Late in the afternoon we arrive to Tatvan which is located at the 1917 meter high Lake Van. It is the largest lake in Turkey. The water of Lake Van is strongly alkaline and rich in sodium carbonate and other salts. Stay overnight in Tatvan

5.Day : Panaromic View of Lake Van, Excursion to the Nemrut Volcano and Ahlat

Nemrut Volcano is an extinct volcano by the Lake Van. On a clear and nice day we can enjoy the beautiful view of Lake Van from the Nemrut Volcano. (not to be confused with the Mount Nemrut in the southeastern Turkey)

Ahlat had been settled at the time of Urartu Kingdom, circa 900 BC. For a long period it was a part of the Armenian Kingdom. Today Ahlat is an open air museum with a cemetery. This is what Ahlat is famous for today, grave stones dating back to 12th century up to 15th century. Those graves, with their stone engravings and monumental coffins are each an artistic masterpiece. Ornaments on the stones evince Armenian influence. Stay overnight in Tatvan

6.Day : Armenian Cathedral Of the Holly Cross and the Pearl of the East, Monastery of

Akdamar, Cavustepe and Van

The Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Akdamar island was built between 915 and 921. Renowned for its beautiful and vivid decorations it is considered the area’s most interesting piece in the history of art. Reliefs of the facade depict scenes from the Old Testament.

Afterwards we visit the fortress of Çavuştepe. Urartian kings used it as a fortress during the 8th century BC. The fortress is situated upon the ridge of the Bol Dagi overlooking the Gürpınar Plain.

We proceed to Van which is dubbed “Pearl of the East”. In a rugstore we will be informed about the artforms of the region. Van is especially famous for its kilims (a kind of rug) which are manufactured traditionally by the nomadic people.

If we are lucky, we shall see a Van cat, a rare breed of cats with eyes of different colours.

After visiting the Van citadel we move into our hotel at the lake side for our final nights. Overnight stay in Van

7.Day : Biblical Mountain and the monumental Palace, Mount Ararat and Ishak Pasha Palace

One of the most impressive visual motifs of Turkey the Ishak Pasha Palace is situated at the altitude of 2200 meters overlooking the wide high plain of Dogubeyazıt.

Evidence found on the west side of the citadel shows that the corner stone was built in by the Urartians in 9th century BC. Today’s form of the palace is a combination of styles from different eras. According to the inscription on its door, the harem section of the palace was completed by Ishak Pasha in 1784.

Dogubeyazit is the ”base camp” to the 5157 m high Mount Ararat. According to the old Testament Noah’s Ark found its final rest here after the great flood. You can enjoy a very nice panaromic view of Mount Ararat. Stay overnight in Van.

8.Day : Return flight from Van

In the morning there is a shuttle to the Van airport for your flight home via Istanbul.