Istanbul is one of the first places that comes to mind when I mention Turkey. Why? Well, for starters, it’s a destination that is largely on the spotlight. Adverts, travel vloggers/bloggers and Instagram influencers all strive so hard to display the majesty and grandeur of the city through their relevant channels.
The thing is, Turkey is huge! Turkey is made of seven region, with each one being distinct from another. Istanbul, or Constantinople as it was known in the past, is in the Marmara region and it’s famously known as the region which has a city which straddles between two very large continents; Europe & Asia.
But what about the other regions?
Yes, Turkey is huge! From one side of Turkey to the other, it takes around 18-19 hours of driving time and covers a distance of around 1600km (1000miles).
It’s only when you leave the city of Istanbul and head south, east or even north that the country begins to reveal itself. Yes, I know that Istanbul is home to the world famous Sultan Ahmet Mosque and the Hagia Sophia which has been around for a very very long time. But did you know that Turkey is home to some even older sites?
For the sake of staying relevant to the title, I want to say that there are many places in Turkey which are waiting to be discovered. There are so many places which visitors pay absolutely no attention to and that possibly is because of the lack of information available about it. The point of this post is not to drown you with tonnes of information about all these places, but to focus on a place that is special to me due to the amount of history it possesses.
Southeastern Anatolia Region
One such region which I really want to focus on is the Southeast Anatolia Region. Getting here by plane is simple. You can easily book an hours flight from either one of two airports in Istanbul and you’ll vividly see yourself in a completely different setting.
But first, lets break this region down for you:
Fascinatingly, it sits just above Syria which means that the place is steeped with history. For me, that’s the biggest incentive to travel there. When compared to places in Turkey that I’ve already travelled to such as Istanbul & Fethiye, it almost feels unfair to not make a visit to this region.
Although it is one of the smallest regions of Turkey (9.7% of the country), it goes big when it comes to natural and historical sites. The place is massively original and unchanged which means that you really do get the feeling that you’ve gone back in time.
Whilst hot spot tourists locations such as Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya and Marmaris may base a large part of their economy on tourists, this region does Turkey proud with oil production, agriculture, and stockbreeding contributing to a large part of the economy. Again, just another reason why I feel its like going back in time. In fact, according to some, Gaziantep, also known as Antep, is known to be one of the oldest cities in the world.
There are many such cities in this region which will take your breath away. Driving east, you’ll approach a city worth all the reverence it gets. History tells us that it is in this very city that the Prophet Abraham was born and was also flung into the fire. The stories are famous and are mentioned in both the Bible and the Qur’an. Of course, later he did move to Palestine.
Today, visitors can visit the mosque complex located near Abraham’s Cave and the Pool of Sacred Fish (Balikligöl), which is where many believe the Prophet Abraham was flung into the fire which miraculously transformed into water. Today, the pool’s decorum attracts eager and religious tourists from Turkey and abroad to remember this mighty Prophet.
It was in this very city of Sanliurfa that many Christians were given the freedom to worship when other places were tormenting them. It is in this very city, that many believe Prophets such as Ayub (Job), Musa (Moses) and Elyas (Elijah) walked. Whatever the case, all we know for sure is that the history is far more complex and deep than we can imagine.
I have not yet visited the region, but I’m eager to do so very soon. Having heard from many, this place is one such place amongst others which still retains it’s originality and so I’m really excited to dive in.
Plus, apparently the region has some of the best food and is additionally very affordable.
That’s all for now. Let’s see if I can make it there!
Header Image Credit: thetaiwantimes.com