Göbekli Tepe and Southeast Turkey

Göbekli Tepe and Southeast Turkey

A Land Tour

Friday 10 – Saturday 18 May 2024

The moment we finished our first tour of southeast Turkey in 2022 we determined to run it again at the earliest opportunity.  But for the earthquake that would have been in 2023.  Now that we have assured ourselves that the region is once again ready for visitors, we are returning this spring, with an extended 8-night tour.    We remain almost improperly excited about this remarkable area and the amazing diversity of ancient sites in the Upper Euphrates Valley, in some cases of dizzying degrees of ancientness.  These include neolithic Göbekli Tepe, perhaps the most arresting archaeological site anywhere in the world, the astonishing mountain-top tomb at Nemrut Dağı, and Harran, noted not only for its Old Testament associations but as the one-time capital of the Ummayad Empire, earliest of the Islamic dynasties.  Then there are our bases, Diyarbakir, Mardin, Urfa and Gaziantep, which between them offer wonderful Islamic and Eastern Christian monuments, magnificent new archaeological museums, fabulous market areas, tremendous food traditions and an exotic character at once Kurdish, Arabic and Turkish.

Site gradings in bold indicate how uneven and/or steep the going will be underfoot; A-C are generally manageable, D may well be an issue for some, and E, should you ever come across the designation, is exclusively for the goats among you.

Day 1/ Fri 10 May 2024:  Guests are met at Diyarbakir Airport and transferred to their hotel where dinner awaits.  Overnight Diyarbakir.

Day 2/ Sat 11 May 2024:  We spend the day exploring this fascinating city’s wealth of mosques and churches, including the Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque), the Surp (St) Giragos Armenian Church and the Meryem Ana Church.  We also walk a section of the city’s spectacular enceinte of black basalt walls (A/B), among the most extensive intact city fortifications in the world, explore its market area and visit the archaeological museum.  In the afternoon we admire the 11th-century Ongözlü Bridge before driving south to Mardin and the Ağa Konağı Hotel.  Overnight Mardin

Day 3/ Sun 12 May 2024:  We explore Mardin’s delightful backstreets (B), historic markets and exquisite Artukid-era monuments including the Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque) and the Zinciriye and Kasimiye medrese schools. We also visit the archaeology museum and the Kirklar Church.  Overnight Mardin.

Day 4/ Mon 13 May 2024:  After breakfast we drive to the Deyrulzaferan Monastery, seat until recent times of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate.  Then we head west to Şanlıurfa, commonly Urfa, our base for the next three nights, where we book into the Alahan Hotel.  Overnight Urfa.

Day 5/ Tues 14 May 2024: After breakfast we explore Urfa’s great mosques, sacred lake complex and atmospheric markets.  In the afternoon we visit nearby Göbekli Tepe (A), the World Heritage Neolithic site which has done much to revolutionise humankind’s prehistory.  Overnight Urfa.

Day 6/ Weds 15 May 2024:  In the morning we visit ancient Harran (A/B), with its crumbling walls, Umayyad mosque and fortress, and distinctive beehive architecture.  We then continue onto the astonishing caves at Bazda (B) and to Neolithic Karahan Tepe (A).  Overnight Urfa.

Day 7/Thurs 16 May 2024:  In the morning we visit Urfa’s stunning new archaeological and mosaic museum and splendid moated Crusader castle (B).  After lunch we drive north into the mountains to our hotel before visiting Nemrut Dağı (C), a UNESCO world heritage site since 1987.  This is the spectacular first-century BC mountain-top shrine of Antiochus III of Commagene, one of the last-standing kingdoms of Alexander’s fragmented empire before its absorption by the Romans.  Overnight Euphrat Nemrut Hotel.

Day 8/Fri 17 May 2024:  After breakfast we leave for Gaziantep, a city of rich and colourful artisan districts that is also home to the acclaimed Zeugma Museum, with its world-class collection of mosaics rescued from the now-submerged Roman site at nearby Zeugma.  Gaziantep’s other great claim is as a foodie centre, not least for its pistachios and baklava.  Expect to eat especially well here.  Overnight at Gaziantep’s Şirehan Hotel, a converted kervansaray.

 

Day 9/ Sat 18 May 2024: The tour ends, with onward flights from Gaziantep Airport.

 

For the itinerary on Google Maps click HERE.

Our tours are designed and run by us.  We make it our business to be there every time you negotiate a challenge or difficulty, be it city steps or slopes, an ancient site or footpath.  But we cannot always be  your eyes; it pays to be aware that the ground is often uneven, not to say steep, with no shortage of rocky protuberances, in Turkey.  You will need a reasonable level of mobility, balance and fitness.  We grade the sites we visit to the best of our ability, but cannot be absolutely sure that all outings and activities will be within the capabilities of all guests.  We expect you to follow our advice if we feel that an outing, or an element of an outing, is beyond you.  If you are the least uncertain as to your suitability to join a tour, we’d urge you to consult us.

 

Cost: £2,200 per person sharing hotel rooms, £2,800 for single occupancy.  Price includes all accommodation, meals, guiding, entry fees, transportation and airport transfers, tips.  It excludes flights, visas and alcohol.  

Your holiday is fully bonded and administered by Heritage Group Travel (www.grouptravel.co.uk) in Bath. For a small charge Heritage can also assist with your flights. 

The trip will only run with sufficient numbers; early indications of interest are much appreciated.

Enquiries, or to request a printable copy of this itinerary, either to jeremy@somewherewonderful.com or text Jeremy on 07757 703604.