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Gevas - Batman - Hasankeyf - Mardin

Trip Details

Road Trip 2014
Date: Tue, 09/09/2014
Distance: 400km
Motorcyclists: Manolis, Giorgos, Stratos, Stelios (
Copilots: Natasa
Photographers: Giorgos, Manolis, Stratos, Stelios (, Natasa
Authors: Manolis, Stelios
Translators: Stratos
Map: Trip map

Sightseeing map

Bit of Syria in Turkish territory ...

We woke up in the morning by the ducks sounds. Ducks wakes up before the roosters at about 5: 30 ... Neither we knew this but it was in our destiny to learn it ... When the sun arises and warmed us, we begun to gather our staff.

Before we left, an Iranian family came in camp. The place is used for picnics and the family very soon had completed their preparation. They put on the grass some carpets and also they made some a custom shadow system. Part of their stuff was pillows, kitchenware and a huge tea machine were they prepared their tea. We made fun with teases against Natasha, the cause was, that women of Iranian family are the ones who made all the preparations for the picnic, while the men sat comfortably. Unlike our company, where men packed the tents and gather things and the only woman of the group sitting...

We left camping and Gevas with direction the southwest side of the lake, were located the town of Tatvan. It was very comfortable to drive until there, as was almost all the route from Digabayiazit. Shortly after the Akdamar camping at the point where we had stopped the previous day to ask for accommodation, there is a small pier where the boats start for the island of Lake Akdamar.

During the last 1600 years, the Akdamar Island was a Christian place, sometimes of  Armenian, sometimes of Orthodox and other times of the Catholic Church. Although most of the buildings on the island have been destroyed, the church remains intact, perhaps the best preserved medieval Armenian religious structure out of Armenia state. The Church of the Holy Cross, built by the Armenian King Gagik Artzruni the 921bc. The church was part of a larger complex that included a palace, monastery and a cemetery.

Unfortunately we did not have the time to visit it, because in the morning we decided to have a look at Hasankeyf, which is out of our way and adds same more miles. Eventually each time something left as "yeast" for a next trip ...

We enter at Tatvan and begun the search for a supermarket. We found one in the center and we made our supplies. I had no idea if the city has some attraction but just had acquired one. Us ...

A lot of people came close to us, in order to see motorcycles and us. Maybe someone ask if we are familiar with this?  The truth is that we have, but in this town really we felt like aliens...

Manolis who had pass from this area in previous travel was surprised by the changes. He remembered a city very different consisting of two-storey houses and very litle options for accommodation. Now several buildings have erected and ads of luxury hotel dominate the entrance of city.

Above the town rises the mountain Nemrut Dagi (not the one with the statues), on the top of the mountain there is a large lake, the Nemrut krater golu, which is accessible by a road starts from the west side of Lake Van. This mountain is the remnant of a volcano, like many others in the area.

We continue, following signs for Batman. The route in terms of road  status continues to be very comfortable, and the landscape has more rocky areas with not so intense vegetation. At some points we follow a spiral downhill route close to side of rapids, in the gorge of Bitlis Vadisi. I impressed by the frequent presence of camps near the road, something we had met for first time in Turkey.

At 2.30pm we enter at city Batman (200 km.), which is most known because of the eponymous television hero of «Gotham City». Otherwise city has no special interest apart from colorful apartment along the main road that crosses the city, as of course happens and in other cities of country. Generally bright colors in buildings are one of the characteristic features of modern Turkish architecture and decoration.

We cross the Batman and continue to Hasankeyf, which is approximately 35km away. The road crosses a parched area with wild beauty at an altitude of about 600-800 m. The scenery is breathtaking, with the river Firet (Tiger) to give a special charm as rolling among towering vertical cliffs. The scenery is truly unique!

Arriving at the entrance of this special village, we see the picturesque houses hanging on the edge of a cliff right above the river Tiger. This impressive river, known since antiquity, it will be possible the cause of Hasankeyf  "disappearing" .

Unfortunately this charming village, with a dozen more will sink sometime because of construction of the great dam - Ataturk Kemal - at Tiger River. The original date was in 2012, but the project was delayed due to the big number of reactions. According what I read on the Internet (in Hasankeyf matters), works on the dam will continued normally, and several residents have agreed to sell their homes in the state. But nobody can give a date. We just hope that it will be never...

The heat was unbearable and the time limited as we want to got to Mardin quite early in order to found hotel and also to visit the old part of town. So we left Hasankeyf crossing the Tiger river, through the bridge, and continue southern for more 130km. until the final destination of the day.

The landscape is still impressive with little vegetation, arid and inhospitable. The road is in good condition, with no traffic and one more lane in each stream. We pass the town Midyat and we met again camps and a military checkpoint for inspection. We stopped, but we were allowed to pass without passports check.

Having covered about 100km. it appeared in front of us the city of Mardin. From afar we could distinguish tall buildings, which surprised us as we had not imagined something like that according what we had read in the internet.

We followed the GPS instructions to the hotel and we enter to the old part of the city, which, fortunately, has nothing to do with the new! We suddenly felt that we were in another country and another time! The architecture of buildings has left us astonished, giving us the impression that we are in a medina of Syria! We crossed the market, collecting the residents sights and after some meters in a narrow street, we found the hotel.

Hotel (Antik Tatlidede Konagi) is a well-preserved building of 1800, which has reformed in a boutique hotel, strongly looking like a mansion of that age. All hotel rooms are carefully designed and the decor is excellent, with strong Arabian influences. The most impressive place of the hotel is the terrace with an amazing view reaches the Syrians borders, about 20 km away!

In the afternoon unfortunately I felt seek, the cause was gastroenteritis, which had affect all of as the last days. So relaxation for me, when others left the hotel to explore the city. The rest of the team started their tour to the city through the narrow cobbled streets, with its stone houses in a light tan color. An indoor market, which strongly resembles Arabic souks, hosts small shops were you can find a huge variety of goods. Unfortunately it was late and most has been closed, this leading us to the main road. Numerous shops, restaurants with beautiful terraces and ornate minarets rising through the densely-built houses. Town planning was so dense so minarets are the only way for orientation. Although the city is built on a hillside, the narrow, labyrinthine streets not allow you in most cases to have a panoramic view...

We stand out of the historical museum, which houses exhibits from 4000ac, but unfortunately was closed. The Mardin has a rich and eventful history over time, with influences that are strongly Arab. After some time we arrived at a restaurant that pull our attention as more customers seem to be locals rather than tourists. The truth is that in general the city is very tourist, something we did not expect. The fact that Syria is just a few kilometers seems to not be disincentive for many people. Food was delicious. The waiter, as the owner of our hotel, when we said that we are Greeks was very pleased, exclaiming «komsu», means "neighbors" in Turkish.

We returned to the hotel and stayed on the porch chatting until late. How many different things we had lived in this journey ... From Christian paces with Russian influences and buildings with straight lines, we are in Muslim places with Arabic influences and buildings with curves. Realy a journey in space and time!