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Explore Eastern Anatolia

Tour Code : CUL 05

–    Cultural heritages & history of eastern Anatolia
–    Hosap Castle; ruins of Cavustepe & Van Castle
–    Akdamar Island & the holy cross church
–    Dogubeyazit & Ishak pasha palace
–    Kars & capital of Armenian kingdom Ani 
–    Nemrut Mountain (Crater Lake) & Tombs of Ahlat


Best Season   
Jan / Feb / Mar / Apr / May / Jun / Jul / Aug / Sep / Oct / Nov / Dec


Duration of the Trip
8 Days / 7 Nights


Difficulty Level
= A (Easy) 


Hotel    :    7 Nights

Day 1 : Van

Meet at the Van airport with Demavend Travels representative and drive to the Hotel, located in the city centre. Van is known as “The Pearl of the East” because of the beauty of its surrounding landscapes. Archaeological excavations and surveys carried out in the Van province and environs prove that the history of the city itself goes back as far as 5000 B.C. Under the ancient name of Tushpa Van was the capital of the Urartian kingdom in the 9th century BC. We spend the two Nights in Van at the Hotel.
Transfer time: 15 min.; transfer distance: 10 km (Hotel – Van airport)
ON: in Van at the Hotel
Meals: – / – / D

Day 2 : Hosap castle; ruins of Cavustepe & Van castle (citadel)

Today we take time to visit some important sights around Van; we visit Hosap Castle, Cavustepe and Van Castle. Hosap Castle; stands on a steep, rocky terrain, north of the Hosap Stream. The history of the Castle goes back to time of Urartians; most of the surviving structures were built by a local Kurdish lord named Mahmudi Suleyman in 1643. Fell into decay as a result of natural events, the castle has been renovated and is protected by three separate lines of wall; the castle also has two mosques, three baths, fountains and underground dungeons. Cavustepe; Armenian folklore tells that the fortress was founded in the 3rd millennium BC by Hayk, the Armenian progenitor, in close proximity to the site where he slew the invading Babylonian King Bel or possibly Nimrod. It was later used by the Urartian kings as a castle during the 8th century BC and to some extent by the medieval Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. Via Cavustepe we drive back to Van where we visit Van Castle; constructed by Urartian king Sardur. One of the most remarkable structures around is the rock tomb of Argisti the first, outside which is a long inscription relating the events of his reign. It is a massive stone fortification built by the ancient kingdom of Urartu during the 9th to 7th centuries BC and is the largest example of its kind. It overlooks the ruins of Tushpa the ancient Urartian capital during the 9th C. which was centred upon the steep sided bluff where the fortress now sits. We spend the Night in Van at the Hotel.
Transfer time: 1/2 h; transfer distance: 65 km (Van – Hosap Castle & ruins of Cavustepe / one way)
ON: in Van at the Hotel
Meals: B / L / D

Day 3 : Van to Tatvan via Akdamar Island & church

After breakfast we leave Van and drive to Gevas town and take a Ferryboat to visit Akdamar Island, a small island in Lake Van which is home to a 10th Century Armenian Church, known as the Cathedral Church of the Holy Cross and were the seat of an Armenian Catholics from 1116 to 1895. The unique importance of the Cathedral Church of the Holy Cross comes from the extensive array of bas-relief carving of mostly biblical scenes that adorn its external walls. After visiting Akdamar Island we continue to Tatvan where we spend the Night.
Transfer time: 2 h; transfer distance: 140 km (Van – Tatvan via Gevas Akdamar Island)
Ferryboat transfer: 20/25 min. to Akdamar Island / one way
ON: in Tatvan at the Hotel
Meals: B / L / D

Day 4 : Tatvan to Dogubeyazit via Nemrut Mountain (Crater Lake); Tombs of Ahlat & Muradiye Waterfalls

After breakfast we drive to the Nemrut Mountain (Crater Lake); a volcano named after King Nimrod who is said to have ruled this area in about 2100 BC. The mountain rises from the south-western shore of Lake Van and enters the district of Ahlat to the north. It is 3,050 m high and its elliptic caldera has a diameter of about 7 by 8 km. Mt. Nemrut is the most southern and youngest of the chain of volcanoes in eastern Anatolia.  After visiting Mt. Nemrut we drive to Ahlat; where we take time to visit the Cifte Kumbet, Emir Bayindir Kumbet and Ulu Kumbet, famous mausoleums from the Seljuk period; notable for their ornamentation and architecture. The historic Seljuk cemetery has been seriously damaged over the years but is still standing, in spite of all it has been put through. With more than 8,000 gravestones, the cemetery sits on a large piece of land. Efforts are presently being made by local authorities with a view to including the tombstones on UNESCO’s World Heritage List; with its domes, mosques, castle and cemeteries, Ahlat is like an open-air museum.  In the late afternoon we continue towards Dogubeyazit; on the way we take time to visit the Muradiye Waterfalls, the falls are around 10m tall, a bridge suspends over the river and it gives you a great view. We spend the Night in Dogubeyazit at the Hotel.
Transfer time: 4 h; transfer distance: 265 km; (Tatvan – Dogubeyazit via Nemrut & Ahlat)
ON: in Dogubeyazit at the Hotel
Meals: B / L / D

Day 5 : Dogubeyazit; sightseeing Ishak pasha palace – Kars

Dogubeyazit is a settlement with a long history. It lies 15 km southwest of Mount Ararat and 35 km from the Iranian border. The area has had a rich history since it was settled during the times of the first Armenian Kingdom of Urartu. The Area was subsequently conquered by Persians, Romans, Arabs and Byzantines all of whom would have used the plain to rest and recoup during their passages across the mountains. After breakfast we visit Ishak Pasha Palace; 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.     Afterwards we leave Dogubeyazit and drive to Kars; appears in Roman historiography (Strabo) as part of ancient Armenia. Little is known of the early history of Kars beyond the fact that it had its own dynasty of Armenian rulers and was the capital of a region known as Vanand. At some point in the 9th Century Kars became part of the territory of the Armenian Bagratunis and for a short time became the capital of their kingdom. Depending on arrival time it is possible to visit Kars Castle, also known as the Citadel, sits at the top of a rocky hill overlooking the city. It is said in the Ottoman sources that the castle was rebuilt with the help of one hundred thousand soldiers and workers. Also below the castle it is possible to visit an Armenian church of the Holy Apostles and to see some neo-classical (Baltic) architecture style buildings known as Russian Houses, which cannot be seen anywhere else in Turkey. In the decades after Kars was ceded to the Russian Empire in 1878 an entirely new district of European-style buildings was built, these buildings are mostly one or two stories high and built of basalt stone.
Transfer time: 3 h; transfer distance: 190 km; (Dogubeyazit – Kars)
ON: in Kars at the Hotel
Meals: B / L / D

Day 6 : Kars to Erzurum via capital of Armenian kingdom Ani

In the morning we visit the ancient city of Ani which was the capital of Armenian province in the 9th century. The ruins are 45km away on the eastern border of Armenia. A thousand years ago Ani was the capital of an Armenian kingdom that covered much of present day Armenia and eastern Turkey. Ani had a population of at least 100,000 and its wealth and renown was such that it was known as “the city of 1001 churches”. Built on a spectacular site – a plateau encircled by deep ravines – Ani’s many churches, palaces, and fortifications were amongst the most technically and artistically advanced structures in the world at that period.  Afterwards we head towards Erzurum; the centre of east Anatolia and because of its geographical location a strategically important town for generations. Once caravan crossroads of the Silk Road; Erzurum today is an economic and cultural centre of East Anatolia. We spend the Night in Erzurum at the Hotel.
Transfer time: 4 h; transfer distance: 295 km; (Kars – Erzurum via Ani)
ON: in Erzurum at the Hotel
Meals: B / L / D

Day 7 : Erzurum sightseeing; Cifte Minareli Medrese & Erzurum Castle (Citadel)

In ancient times, Erzurum existed under the Armenian name of Karin and the Erzurum Congress of 1919 was one of the starting points of the Turkish War of Independence. Today we take time to explore the city centre of Erzurum with its most famous sights; visit Cifte Minareli Medrese and Erzurum Castle.  Cifte Minareli Medrese is one of the most beautiful and largest Koran schools of the 13th Seljuk century in Asia Minor.  It takes its name, Twin Minaret Madrasa, from the two fluted minarets that crown the monumental facade. The east entrance of the madrasa and the enormous stone facade of ornamental brick and tile masonry with two minarets are remarkable.  Erzurum Castle (Citadel) stands guard on its hill in the centre of the old town. Originally constructed by the Emperor Theodosius, it was rebuilt by Suleyman the magnificent in 1555 and at various other times. Inside the castle is a 12th century mosque with a conical roof and a free standing minaret. In the 19th century the minaret acquired a Neo Baroque gallery with a clock presented by Queen Victoria. From the Citadel we have a beautiful view of the entire city. We spend the Night in Erzurum at the Hotel.
ON: in Erzurum at the Hotel
Meals: B / L / D

Day 8 : Erzurum – Home

Transfer to Erzurum airport where the Trip concludes.
Transfer time: 20/25 min.; transfer distance: 15 km (Hotel – Erzurum airport)
Meals: B / – / –

ON = Overnight accommodation / B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / D = Dinner

Price Includes
–    All transfers and transportations with private vehicles to the places mentioned in the Itinerary
      Day 1: One (one way) arrival transfer from/to Van airport/Hotel in the city centre
      Day 8: One (one way) departure transfer from/to Hotel/Erzurum airport
–    Demavend Travel English speaking Tour Leader
–    Hotel accommodations, rooms on double/twin share base;
      with Half Board (HB) service; Important: HB Dinner Service available until 20:30/21:00 h
–    7 x Breakfast, 6 x Lunch, 7 x Dinner


Price Excludes
–    All International and Domestic Flights
–    Travel insurance
–    Extra Transports and transfers other than stated in the Itinerary
–    All kind of Soft and Alcoholic drinks, Bottled Water, Tea & Coffee
–    Meals other than stated in the Itinerary
–    All kind of personal expenses
–    All kind of Entrance fees for historical and natural sites
–    Day 3: Ferryboat from Gevas to Akdamar Island & church
–    All kind of optional activities
–    Extra Nights
–    Single supplements
–    Personal Equipment
–    Tips