Places to Visit in Ağrı

Things to Know About Ağrı

Ağrı, situated in the eastern part of Turkey, is a gateway to a mystical world waiting to be explored. The city boasts a range of tourist attractions, many of which are closely linked to the east. For instance, Ağrı Mountain, which holds mythical significance and is believed to have housed humans during different periods, as well as Noah’s Ark, which is said to be hidden there even today according to sacred texts.

Ağrı is also home to the world’s second-largest meteor pit, offering visitors not only a stunning visual experience but also a chance to savor local flavors that will leave an indelible impression on their taste buds. Although the lands of Ağrı appear barren today, they have been a home to many civilizations, especially the Urartians, Persians, Seljuks, and Ottomans.

The city’s association with the sacred texts centered around Ağrı Mountain, the highest point in Europe where Noah’s Ark is believed to have landed, is a prime example of how history, culture, belief, and tolerance intersect across four different countries. A visit to Ağrı is highly recommended to experience all of this and more.

Places to Visit Ağrı

Ishakpasha Palace

The Ishak Pasha Palace is a grand architectural complex that stands as one of the most distinguished examples of Ottoman architecture from the 18th century. Situated on a hillside near the Doğubeyazıt District, it is the second most important administrative campus in Istanbul after the Topkapı Palace. The palace was constructed in 1784 according to the Islamic calendar, as indicated by an inscription located at the top of the Harem Section.

Although the palace is located on a steep terrain, there is also a flat area on the side, which provides access through an entrance door situated on its narrowest facade. However, due to its age, the palace’s main gate lacks sufficient defensive mechanisms, making it vulnerable to attacks. The palace features a neat stone texture and an old architectural style that is characteristic of other buildings found in Turkey. The palace is divided into various sections, each with its distinct architectural style. These sections include the Exterior Facades, First and Second Courts, Men’s Quarter (Selamlık), Mosque Building, Soup Kitchen (Darüzziyafe), Bath, Harem Section, Ceremonies Hall, Arch Gates, Panther Rooms, Ammunition Room, Moosoleum, Bakery, Dungeons, and Interior Design Features (such as doors, windows, and cupboards).

Visitors to the Ishak Pasha Palace are often struck by the grandeur of its design and the imposing nature of its location. While the palace may not be as defensible as other structures, its beauty and historical significance continue to attract visitors from around the world.

The eastern entrance of the Ishak Pasha Palace showcases exquisite Seljuk art with its intricate reliefs and decorations made of cut stone. The palace has two courtyards, one designated as the “public” courtyard and the other as the “enslaved” courtyard, with buildings surrounding them connected by halls that segregate male and female quarters. A mosque is located in one corner of the palace, adjacent to a mausoleum at the end of the divisions, with a passage leading outside to the harem court behind red painted sealed doors.

The mausoleum, constructed in the Seljuk “kümbet” style of architecture, is situated in the second courtyard of the palace and is built from cut stone. It is an octagonal structure with two floors and exterior pillars decorated with geometric motifs. The mausoleum houses the remains of Çolak Abdi Pasha, İshak Pasha, and their close relatives.

The palace comprises two floors, each with 366 rooms that are equipped with stone fireplaces and central heating systems. The grand reception hall of the palace measures 30m x 3m (100ft x 10ft) and features stone walls and flooring adorned with ornate Turkish calligraphy verses from the Koran. One of these verses highlights the efforts of İshak Pasha in making the whole world a place of benevolence, leading to the marking of the date 1199 as 1784 in the Gregorian calendar.

The Ishak Pasha Palace is a marvel of architectural design and craftsmanship, with each room exhibiting its unique qualities. The palace is surrounded by a desolate valley today, but its aura and various legends associated with it add to its magnificence.

Mount Ararat

Mount Ararat is the highest peak in Turkey, with an elevation that varies from approximately 3,000 feet on the north and east sides to approximately 6,000 feet on the south and west sides. The mountain range covers nearly 25 miles in width and 40 kilometers in length and is covered by more than four inches of ice every winter. Although Mount Ararat can be seen from various vantage points throughout eastern Turkey, it is particularly visible from afar due to a low pass that separates it from another volcanic ridge that extends down towards the Eastern Taurus Ranges. The mountain has two peaks, with the more prominent one featuring a snow-covered summit that rises to approximately 16,800 feet (5165 meters) above sea level.

Mount Ararat is a prominent mountain in Turkey, boasting the highest point in the country. Its elevation ranges from about 3,000 feet on the north and east sides to approximately 6,000 feet on the south and west sides. This mountain range is approximately 25 miles wide and 40 km long, and during the winter months, it is covered with over four inches of ice. Although it can be seen from various vantage points throughout eastern Turkey, Mount Ararat’s slope can also be spotted from afar through a low pass that separates it from another volcanic ridge extending down towards the Eastern Taurus Ranges.

Mount Ararat has two peaks, with the first peak having a snow-covered summit that is easy to spot from afar. This peak has an elevation of 16,800 feet (5165 meters) above sea level. The second peak, which is not covered in ice, has an elevation of only about 12,782 feet (3,896 meters) high and makes up just over half of the mountain range’s circumference. Its higher counterpart covers more than 75% of Mount Ararat’s territory, which could be why the second peak is rarely mentioned in hikers’ guides or tourist books covering Turkey.

These two peaks are separated by almost four miles, making it challenging to see them together at once without binoculars or a telescope on clear days. The city of Agri is famous for Mount Ararat. According to local tradition, Noah built an altar and planted his first vineyard on the slopes of the Ararat high above the Aras plain, where there was formerly a village.

Noah’s Ark

According to religious texts, Noah’s Ark is said to have rested at Ağrı Mountain after the flood. Today, it is believed that the Ark is stranded 3.5 km away from the Turkish-Iranian transit road, located south of Ağrı Mountain between Telçeker Village and Mesar Village. The areas known as Noah’s Lost City and Trail of Noah’s Ark are also considered possible locations of this sacred narrative.

The notion of the Ark settling on a mountain has been around for centuries, with the first mention occurring in 1876 when Armenian priests from Iran informed visitors to Ağrı that the Ark had landed there and could be seen from Akdamar Island. More recently, in 1979, an Iranian visitor noted similarities between Azerbaijan’s Shamkhor Valley and ancient Tabriz, prompting speculation about the story’s veracity. However, it wasn’t until 1987 when a geologist working with natural gas exploration crews noticed scattered stones on the side of Turkmenbashy Mountains. After reporting his findings to a Turkish archaeologist from the local archaeological museum, they both visited the site together.

Several petrified wood pieces have been found on the slopes of Mount Ararat, with over 100 discovered in different locations believed to be part of Noah’s Ark. However, despite this discovery, archaeologists cannot confirm with certainty that this is where the Ark finally came to rest. It’s possible that other locations along its route, such as Turkmenbashy Mountain or Mount Suleiman, could have similar geological features, both of which contain evidence of ancient forests. Some people believe that Noah’s Ark landed on these mountains, but the evidence supporting these theories is circumstantial. The prevailing theory is that Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat. While the collected evidence suggests a connection with Noah’s Ark, the final destination has not been confirmed, and historians and archaeologists continue to search for more conclusive proof.

Meya Caves

The Meya caves, located in the eastern region, hold significant historical value with their various structures and ancient artifacts. Among the caves are shelters, temples, sanctuaries, and rooms that provide evidence of human settlement for centuries.

Sculptures with horse motifs were discovered beside water channels, while ram sculptures were found inside churches that were carved into the rocks. The ruins around these cave paintings are from different civilizations, including the Roman era and the Seljuk Period culture. Exploring this site is a must, as it showcases traces of different beliefs and cultures.

Stone sculptures featuring horse, ram, and sheep motifs have also been uncovered next to tombs and church ruins, which have been under excavation since 2007. Although it was not open to the public until 2011 due to security reasons, visitors can now admire this rich cultural heritage.

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