Highlights of The Eastern Anatolia

The Eastern Anatolia Region is the largest geographical region in Turkey. It covers 21 percent of Turkey with a surface area of 163,000 km2. It is adjacent to the Black Sea, Central Anatolian, the Mediterranean and the Southeastern Anatolia Regions. It also has borders with Georgia, Armenia,Nakhichevan,Iran and Iraq.

The Eastern Anatolia Region is the highest and the most uneven region. The average altitude is around 2000 meters. The highest peaks in Turkey are located in this region. Ağrı Dağı (Mount Ararat) is 5137 meters, the Resko Peak on Cilo Mountain is 4135 meters and Süphan Mountain is 4058 meters. The fact that Eastern Anatolia is high and mountainous and separated from the sea by mountain ranges causes the average annual temperatures to be low and the winters to be severe. The region is different from other regions from the aspect of the number of days it snows in the region and the number of days when the ground is covered with snow. In Kars and Erzurum Provinces, the number of days the ground is covered with snow is approximately 90 days a year.

The main economic activities in the Eastern Anatolia Region are animal husbandry and agriculture. The abundance of pastures in the region caused the number of animals to increase and priority was given to the production of animal products. In fact, the production of animal products in the region is about one fourth of the total production in Turkey.

Arable lands suitable for agriculture are limited in Eastern Anatolia. Only one tenth of the whole region is arable. More than 90 percent of these arable lands are allocated for grains. Among the types of grains, wheat is first and barley is second. In contrast to this, the sowing of industrial plants is not very widespread. Cotton, tobacco and sugar beets are among the main industrial plants sown. Sugar beets started to be sown following the construction of sugar plants in the region.

Fruit trees at high elevations have almost completely disappeared. In contrast to this, various fruits are grown on some hollow plains which are protected from the cold. The plains of Erzincan, Malatya and Elazığ are important in this respect. Good quality fruit is also grown on the narrow strip surrounding Van Lake. The section below Kağızman of the Aras Valley and Iğdır Plain are regions where fruit trees are concentrated.

The main industrial branches in the region are cotton textiles, sugar, cement, food and tobacco enterprises. The hydroelectric power plant at Keban, the thermoelectric power plant at Afşin-Elbistan and the other plants which are still being constructed contribute significantly to the energy production in Turkey.


Erzurum is the largest provincial capital in Eastern Anatolia and it was founded on the foot of the Palandoken Mountains at an elevation of 1950 meters. Erzurum known as the citadel of Eastern Anatolia, is located on an important trade junction and transit route between Ankara, Trabzon and Teheran. Furthermore, it is connected to every part of the country both by airways and railways. The city is at the same time the cultural center of Eastern Anatolia. Atatürk University in the city is one of the best higher education institutions in Turkey.

Erzurum is a rich historical treasure, with its centuries old mosques, forts, towers and large tombs with dome-shaped or conical roofs. The Twin Minaret Madraşah, the symbol of the city, belongs to the Seljuk Period. The capital of its portal, with its stone carved ornaments, is among the most beautiful examples of Seljuk art. The minarets at both sides of the capital portal are 26 meters high and they are decorated with turquoise colored glazed tiles. Üç Kümbetler a group of three tombs, is one of the monumental works in Erzurum. The largest of these tombs is the large tomb of Emir Saltuk, the founder of the Saltuklu State, which is placed on an octagonal plan. The most important mosques in the city are the Grand Mosque, from the twelfth century, and the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque from the sixteenth century.

The Rüstem Pasha Caravanserai was built by Rüstem Pasha, the Grand Vizier of Kanuni Sultan Süleyman (Süleyman the Magnificent). The caravanserai, which has the characteristics of the sixteenth century Ottoman architecture, is being used as a market place, with workshops processing the famous "oltu" stone (jet) and galleries where it is sold. The Aziziye Monument, that was erected to represent the heroism displayed by the people of Erzurum as a whole during the Ottoman-Russian War in 1878, is one of the most important monuments in the city. The forts built to defend the city of Erzurum during the war are located on the strategic hills in the surroundings. The building where the Erzurum Congress was held on 23 July 1919 has been organized as a museum to keep alive the memories of the Congress.

The Palandöken Ski Center is 5 km to the south of Erzurum. It is among the longest and steepest ski runs in the world. The length of the chair lift is 3237 meters and the difference in altitude from the start to the finish is 1000 meters. Among the other points of interest in Erzurum are the Tortum Lake and Waterfall, with its steep cliffs, the Çobandede Bridge, which has a length of 220 meters, built by the Seljuks on the Aras River in the thirteenth century, Pasinler and Oltu Citadels.


Malatya and its surroundings have been the host to various civilizations from the first ages of history. The city of Malatya, which is located in the middle of a fertile plateau, the surroundings of which are irrigated by many large and small streams, is where various fruits are grown, including the world famous apricots. Fruit orchards, grain fields and animal husbandry in the pastures are the main assets of Malatya. The city with its planned urbanization, is today the main Eastern Anatolian city, it has industry, medical facilities and a university. The most frequently visited places in the city are the Archaeological Museum and the New Mosque of the last Ottoman Period, which was built in 1912. Battalgazi, to the north of the city, is an important historical center. The citadel in Battalgazi was first constructed by Titus, the Roman Emperor, in the first century A.D. and then restored extensively by the Seljuks in the twelfth century. The Battalgazi Grand Mosque is the only example of a mosque plan with iwans in Anatolia. Aslantepe archaeological excavation site is at a distance of 4 km from Malatya on the road to Battalgazi. The excavations are continuing at Aslantepe, which is a Late Hittite City where there are ruins of Hittite palaces remaining from the thirteenth century B.C.


Van on the southeastern shores of Lake Van, the largest lake in Turkey, was Tuşba, the capital city of the Urartians (1000 B.C.). Van Citadel was first constructed by Sardur I, the Urartian King, in the ninth century B.C., is 80 meters above the lake level and extends 1800 meters from the east to the west, and 120 meters from the north to the south. The city of Van was at the southern foot of the citadel before the First World War.

Today, in this region which is called Old Van, there are historical structures from the Seljuk and Ottoman Periods.Urartian artifacts found in the region are exhibited in a rich collection, at the Archaeological Museum in Van.The city is known for its kilims, made with natural dyes and the art of silversmithing is also developed. Furthermore, Van cats are famous because the color of each eye is different and they have thick white fur.

Lake Vanis in the realm of the beauties of Eastern Anatolia. Mountain silhouettes, coves, beaches, islands, waterfalls and centers belonging to various historical ages are located around the lake. There is plenty of sodium carbonate in the lake which is at an elevation of 1720 meters above sea level. The fish caught in the lake are without fat and very delicious. Among the islands in Lake Van, Akdamar Island is the most beautiful. This is the place in the region that becomes green the earliest in the spring. There is a church remaining from the tenth century on the island, which can be reached by motorboat from the wharf, at a distance of 45 km from Van.


Kars is the city called the "Caucasus Gate" of Eastern Anatolia. The city was founded at the eastern side of the Kars Stream, which merges with the Arpacay. The city is composed of two parts, the Old Kars and the New Kars. The Old Kars was founded around the Kars Citadel, located on a hill to the north, and the core of it is formed by the Kaleici District. The New Kars which was founded after 1878, extends towards the plain. The significant difference between the new city, which was built according to a systematic plan, where the streets and avenues intersect each other perpendicularly, and the old city with its narrow and irregular streets, can be noticed readily. There are some structures built by the Russians in Kars. The city was occupied by the Russians three times in 1828, 1855 and 1877, and was under Russian sovereignty for approximately forty years during the third occupation.

The historical Kars Citadel, the symbol of the city, was constructed by Saltukoglu İzzeddin Han in 1152. The Citadel, which was repaired many times, has two sections, the inner section and the outer section. Only seven of the 220 towers have lasted until the present. The Museum of Apostles is located to the south of the Kars Citadel. The museum is an old church constructed for the 12 Apostles in the tenth century. There are reliefs of the twelve apostles between the exterior window arches of the building.

The most important historical city around Kars is Ani. Ani, which was founded as a fortress city, became the capital of the Bagratid Kingdom in the tenth century. The city walls in the ancient city, the Menucehr Mosque, the Seljuk Palace and the Museum-Churches of Nakışlı, Keseli, the Virgin Mary and Abugamrentsare worth seeing.

Kars is known for its rich folklore, carpets and kilims made by using natural dyes, kasar cheese and honey. The fact that various Turkish tribes lived in the region caused the folk music and dances to be very colorful and diverse.

Sarıkamış, a county of Kars Province, is surrounded by forests and known for its natural beauties. The monument erected in memory of the Turkish martyrs who died during the First World War in Sarıkamış and the Hunting Lodge built for the Russian Tsar Nikola are worth seeing. Sarıkamış is at the same time the winter sports center of the entire region.


Located on the eastern border of Turkey, Ağrı has been a settlement place for different civilizations since the ancient times. Hurris were one of the oldest civilisations that settled in Ağrı (between 1340-1200 BC). In the middle of the 7th century, Arabs took control of the area and the Byzantines followed them. Later in 1054, the Seljuks conquered the city from the Byzantines. During the Ottoman Empire, the province was a sanjak called Doğu Bayazıt. It became a city center in 1927. Taking its name from the Mount Ağrı, the city called as Ağrı in 1938.  


The history of Doğubeyazıt goes back to the Urartu times (over 2700 years ago). The region was controlled by the Persians in 250 B.C. and then later by the Romans.

Mount Ararat,  Ağrı Dağı ,  extinct volcanic massif in extreme eastern Turkey overlooking the point at which the frontiers of Turkey, Iran, and Armenia converge. Its northern and eastern slopes rise from the broad alluvial plain of the Aras River, about 3,300 feet (1,000 metres) above sea level; its southwestern slopes rise from a plain about 5,000 feet (1,500 metres) above sea level; and on the west a low pass separates it from a long range of other volcanic ridges extending westward toward the eastern Taurus ranges.

The İshak Pasha palace is an Ottoman-period palace whose construction was started in 1685 by Colak Abdi Pasha, the bey of Beyazit province. According to the inscription on its door, the Harem Section of

the palace was completed by his grandson İshak The Palace is more of a complex than a palace; it is the second administrative campus after the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul and the most famous of the palaces built in recent decades.

The palace is built on a hill at the side of a mountain, It was the last large monumental structure in the Ottoman Empire from the "Lale Devri" period. It is one of the most distinguished and magnificent examples of the 18th century Ottoman architecture and is very valuable in terms of art history.

The İshak Pasha Palace is a rare example of the historical Turkish palaces.


Ararat traditionally is associated with the mountain on which Noah’s Ark came to rest at the end of the Flood. The name Ararat, as it appears in the Bible, is the Hebrew equivalent of Urardhu, or Urartu, the Assyro-Babylonian name of a kingdom that flourished between the Aras and the Upper Tigris rivers from the 9th to the 7th century bce. Ararat is sacred to the Armenians, who believe themselves to be the first race of humans to appear in the world after the Deluge. A Persian legend refers to the Ararat as the cradle of the human race. There was formerly a village on the slopes of the Ararat high above the Aras plain, at the spot where, according to local tradition, Noah built an altar and planted the first vineyard. Above the village Armenians built a monastery to commemorate St. Jacob, who is said to have tried repeatedly but failed to reach the summit of Great Ararat in search of the Ark. The village, the monastery of St. Jacob, and a nearby chapel of St. James were all totally destroyed by an earthquake and avalanche in 1840.

The Southeastern Anatolia Region has a very rich history and cultural heritage, as can be seen in its magnificent historical sites. Its history begins around 7,000 BC in the New Stone Age. Between 2,000 BC and 1,500 BC came the Hurris who were followed by the Hittites sometime around 1,200 BC.

Gaziantep (685 km southeast of Ankara) is located on a wide and fertile plain cultivated with extensive olive groves and vineyards and produces a wide variety of agricultural crops. It is especially known throughout Turkey for its excellent pistachios. Industry also contributes to the local economy.

The 36 towers of the city's fortress were originally constructed in the Justinian era and were later rebuilt by the Seljuks. The Archeology Museum has important artifacts from Neolithic, Hittite and Roman , Byzantine periods. The mosaics of the ancient city of Zeugma (was originally founded as a Greek settlement by Seleucus I Nicator, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, in 300 BC. King Seleucus almost certainly named the city Seleucia after himself; whether this city is, or can be, the city known as Seleucia on the Euphrates or Seleucia at the Zeugma is disputed. The population in the city at its peak was approximately 80,000)  are also displayed at the museum.

In the 12th century BC, Kahramanmaraş (78 km north of Gaziantep) was the capital of the Hittite state of Gürgüm. A massive citadel built in the 2nd century BC now houses the city museum with a good collection of Hittite sculptures. Other sites include the 15th-century Ulu Mosque and the Taş Medrese. The city is famous throughout Turkey for its ice-cream thickened with gum arable and beaten with a wooden paddle.

Nemrut Dağı, the highest mountain in Northern Mesopotamia at 2,150 meters, sits the gigantic funerary sanctuary erected in the first century BC by King Antiochus 1 of Commagene. The engineering involved continues to amaze visitors seeing for the first time the artificial tumulus as it is flanked by terraces on which rest the colossal statues of Apollo, Zeus, Hercules, Tyche and Antiochus. Time has inflicted heavy damage on the sculptures - their torsos sit with their beautifully carved heads at their feet.

In the great Upper Mesopotamian plain,Şanlıurfa, thought by some to be the ancient city of Ur and later known as Edessa, proudly exhibits the legacy of all the civilizations that have prospered in this region. Some of the oldest signs of civilization, dating to 7000 BC.Şanlıurfa area, in the second millennium BC, was a city of a Hurrite state. Some believe that Abraham was born in a cave near where the Mevlid Halil Mosque now stands. Today the cave is a pilgrimage site and flocks of pigeons do not seem to disturb the elderly men praying around the entrance. 

The remains of a castle with two lone Corinthian columns rising above the ruined walls stands atop a small crest. At the foot of the hills, the lovely Halil Rahman Mosque is built around a quiet pool in which sacred carp swim. The 17th-century Ottoman Rıdvaniye Mosque and the Firfirh Mosque, formerly the Church of the Apostles, are worth a detour.

Believed to be the ancient city of Harran mentioned in the Old Testament, Harran, 48 km south of Şanlıurfa, is known more now for its unusual beehive dwellings than as the place where Abraham actually spent several years of his life. Harran, which was also known as Helenopolis, was burned and destroyed by Mongolian invaders in 1260. Included among the archeological finds are those of the largest ancient Islamic university, city walls dating from the eighth century, four gates and a citadel.


Diyarbakır, known in ancient times as Amida, has been a cradle of 26 civilizations during its 5000 year history. The city is spread across a basalt plateau close to the banks of the Dicle (Tigris) River. The black basalt triple walls which encircle the old town give the city a rather ominous appearance. These ramparts are 5.5 km in length, have 16 towers and 5 gates, are decorated with inscriptions and bas-reliefs, and represent a superb example of medieval military architecture.

Only 7 kilometers east of Mardin is the Syriac-Jacobite Monastery of Deyrulzaferan, which was once a thriving religious community. At nearby Kızıltepe, the 13th-century Ulu Mosque, one of the best examples of Artukid architecture, has superb mihrap reliefs and a beautiful portal. 

Midyat, famous for its silver jewelry known as 'telkari,' also has many elegant and historic houses. Eighteen kilometers east of town is the active Syriac-Jacobite monastery of Deyrelumur (San Gabriel), which dates from the beginning of the fifth century.


Eastern Anatolia Climate

Eastern Anatolia has a harsh continental climate with long winters and short summers. During the winter, it is very cold and snowy, during summer the weather is cool in the highlands and warm in the lowlands.


How can we help you?