Nemrut is a mountain in eastern Turkey. So far nothing special, but in the first century B.C. king Antiochus build something mind blowing on the dusty summit. Huge statues of up to 9 meters tall of himself and a number of Greek, Armenian and Persian gods, and to top it of, an artificial peak of stone rubbles which is believed to be his tomb (but nobody knows). Today the statues are broken into pieces that are scattered on the mountain top, but the giant heads are still gazing proudly over the plateau below.
About 20 km southeast of Istanbul lies nine islands (four main ones) known as Princes' Islands, or just Adalar (the islands). Though they only are a ferry ride away from bustling Istanbul, they are a very sedated places. The small-town vibe and the slow peace is the exact reason way people come here. Well-off city slickers have weekend houses here, while the rest settle for hotel room in the weekend or a day trip. There are no cars on the islands, so transport is either by foot, bicycle or pimped out horse carts. The Princes' Islands make a great escape from Istanbul, but don't expect white sandy beached - the few beaches are pebbled and mostly covered in deck chairs.
Known as "The Prophets' City" it is no surprise that Şanlıurfa, or Urfa for short, is legendarily the birthplace of both Abraham (Ibrahim in the Muslim world) and Job. The city is therefore one of the mayor pilgrimage sites, not only in the southeastern Anatolia, but in Turkey. The pilgrimages, and thus the city’s mayor draw, center on the Dergah Complex. A number of mosques build around the Cave of Abraham and the holy Gölbaşı pool. Legend has it that the builder of the tower of Babel, Nemrut, wanted to burn Abraham as a sacrifice. God however intervened and turned the pyre into water and the coals into fish. Both the pool itself and its fishes that thus holy, something the now very large fish seems to be very happy with indeed. All this is set picturesque below a medieval castle. A short way northeast of Urfa is also the site of Göbekli Tepe, the oldest known temple in the world dating back to 9,000 BC.
A hour minibus ride from Mardin lies the charming village Savur. Here mud-colored houses are stacked on top of each other on the hillside along with a few towering minarets. The narrow lanes are steep and there is a wonderful laid-back attitude. Savur has been hyped as a mini-Mardin, though that will be pushing it, with less visitors than Mardin which can get flooded with local tourists during holidays. There are several Kurdish villages on the way from Mardin to Savur, which might be equal interesting to have a look at.
Tigris River is one of those mythical places. It nourished early civilization in ancient Mesopotamia along with Euphrates River, and is even mentioned in the Bible. So you would expect something more glorious than a lazy brown river which is the reality. You can see, and even dip your toes into, Tigris in the outskirt of Diyarbakir. You have to navigate a maze of small gardens to get down to the river bank, which is equally unimpressive but surprising clean of any rubbish. So go and feel the magic - for you won't see it.
Religious ceremonies around the world vary from the intricate to the mundane. But one ceremony stands out in the minds for any visitor to Turkey, the Sema. In the 13th century, in the Turkish town of Konya, the Mevlevi Order of Sufism was born. Practitioners of the religion spin repeatedly to put themselves into a trance. The Sema and the Mevlevi have been given the name of 'Whirling Dervishes". While the ceremony can be seen at any number of places throughout Turkey (some more authentic than others), to see it in the birthplace of the religion, along with a visit to the Mevlevi Museum, is worth the trip to Konya.