Southeast Anatolia Region

Mountainous Southeast Anatolia is also known as Turkish Kurdistan. It borders Syria in the south, and Iraq in the southeast. In ancient times this area was part of northwestern Mesopotamia, the site of the earliest urban civilizations. There are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Nemrut Dağ (Mount Nemrut) has on its summit a number of large statues surrounding the mausoleum of Antiochus I (69–34 BC), who reigned over the Commagene kingdom. The archaeological site of Göbekli Tepe has the world’s oldest stone structures which were erected by an unknown civilization between 9,600 and 8,200 BCE. The monumental T-shaped pillars predate Stonehenge by 6,000 years.

The southeast is located at the southern rim of the Taurus belt, geologic units are marginal folds and stable platforms. In the folds are karstified units of Eozene Midyat limestone, underlied by impermeable rocks of the Gercüs unit. At some places carbonates of the Cretaceous Mardin group crop out. The limestones are karstified, but caves as large as in the central Taurus belt are rare.

The area has no show cave, the underground sites are cultural sites, either in natural or artificial caves. There is much early Christian and Muslim history.

The area is not very popular with tourists, for several years it was inacessible. On one side there are civil-war-like fights between Turish and Kurdish people. Turkey has some problems with the Kurds, and they fight a sort of internal war for decades now. It's a bit like the war in northern Ireland, and like the IRA, the Kurds also have a terroristic branch which is called Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). But in the intention to fight terrorism, the government actually sees any Kurd as a terrorist. Then there are fights between ISIS and IS and turkish and international forces. Also, there are quarrels about the water which is needed by the southern neighbours, but is dammed and used almost completely by Turkey. And then there is the ongoing civil war in Syria, which makes the area within 10 km of the Syrian border quite dangerous. All in all, an area with a lot of potential death and not nice for travelling. However, in 2024 the situation is comparably harmless and many people consider the region except the Syrian border safe if you take care.