district and town of Ağrı, Turkey
Asia > Middle East > Turkey > Eastern Anatolia > Doğubayazıt

Doğubayazıt (Kurdish: Bazîd) is a town in Eastern Anatolia, Turkey. In the extreme east of the country and right next to the Turkish-Iranian border, it is the primary gateway of Turkey to the east, and of Iran to the west. It also has a variety of attractions worth stopping by for, including the splendid 17th-century Ishak Pasha Palace and Mount Ararat, Turkey's highest, but better known in the West for its association with Noah's Ark.

Understand

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Landscape

Like many places in the east of Turkey, mostly Kurds live here.

After a brief Kurdish rebellion in the area was suppressed in 1930, the old town was destroyed, and the town was rebuilt in its current location, lower and flatter than the previous site and therefore much easier to keep under control. It was also renamed from Beyazıt to Doğubayazıt, "eastern Bayazıt" around this time, to avoid postage destined for the Beyazıt quarter of Istanbul's Old City ending up in the wrong place and vice versa.

Get in

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By plane

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The nearest airports are Iğdır Şehit Bülent Aydın (IGD  IATA) 70 km north, and Ağrı Ahmed-i Hani (AJI  IATA) 100 km west. The airports have flights from Istanbul (mostly IST; SAW is served much less frequently) and Ankara, at least once daily. Flight durations for Ağrı are 2h 10min from IST, 2h from SAW, and 1h 35min from Ankara; add an extra 5min to each for Iğdır.

Mefser Turizm runs buses to Doğubayazıt from both airports. Car rental agencies are also available at the airports.

By bus

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Coaches running between Trabzon and Van don't serve Doğubayazıt; the closest town on that route is Ağrı, from where it's possible to get a minibus to Doğubayazıt.

  • 1 Bus station (Otogar). Main bus station used for distant destinations, like a 24-hr coach from Istanbul. Minibuses to Ishak Pasa Palace also depart from here.
  • 2 Minibuses to Iğdır. From Kars, there is no direct bus. First you have to take a minibus to Iğdır (2h30) and transfer there to another minibus (1h) (250m from the place you have been dropped). The road between Igdir and Doğubayazıt has fine views of Mt. Ararat.From Kars to Iğdır, buses leave at 8:00, 10:00, 11:30, 13:00, 15:00 and 17:00.From Iğdır to Kars, buses leave at 7:00, 08:30, 10:00, 11:30, 13:30 and 17:00. Between Iğdır and Doğubayazıt, the first minibus which is full will leave, so try to find a minibus that already has people seated in it.
  • 3 Minibuses to Van. As of Oct 2023 minibuses from Van leave at 07:30, 09:00 and 12:00 from the minibus terminal which is next to the coach station and take almost 3 hours. There are several minibuses a day going to Van.
  • 4 Minibuses to Iranian border. The Iranian border (Gürbulak) is 35 km from town. The first major Iranian town, Maku, is 20 km beyond the border.

It can be difficult to leave after about 14:00 as most buses depart in the morning.

By car

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Doğubayazıt is at the eastern terminus of the major highway of D100 (or European route E80), which is dual carriageway in its entirety. Istanbul is about 1,500 km (930 mi) away on this route, via Erzurum. That's quite a long drive: to put it into perspective, Istanbul is roughly the same distance away from Vienna in the opposite direction, with at least three countries in-between.

Other approaches are also divided highways, although worse surfaced. D975 from Van climbs up to an elevation of over 2,600 m (8,500 ft) at Tendürek Pass, so expect rough driving in winter.

Get around

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You could walk to most places in this town of about 70,000 inhabitants, but most attractions are spread out so you will want wheels.

 
From the courtyard of the palace

The highlight is the Ishak Pasha Palace in the former site of the town, now known as Eski Beyazıt, "Old Beyazıt", on a hill about 8 km southeast.

  • 1 Ishak Pasha Palace (İshak Paşa Sarayı). 09:30-19:00 (Closed M). Looming high over the town, this fortified complex was commenced in 1685 by its eponymous pasha, the family of whom had its members hereditarily appointed as governors to the Ottoman eastern frontier, making it perhaps the only Turkish palace outside the political centres of the Ottomans and the preceding Seljuks. Combining the elements of Turkish, Persian, and Armenian architectures, the fortress, mosque and living quarters are stunningly beautiful, and are a must see when in Doğubayazıt – or perhaps even the main reason to visit the town. Try to go on a dry, sunny day. 70 TL (about €2.40).    
    • For a taxi from the town centre, expect to pay approximately 10-15 TL one way. Worth considering asking the taxi driver to wait at the gate.
    • There is a dolmuş service to the Palace. The dolmuş leaves every 30 minutes. You can find it at the end of the pedestrian street on the road that goes to the palace, close to a taxi station. The bus is green and white. 6 TL (2022) for one way. The last one leaving the palace is at 18:30.
    • Alternatively, it's a very stiff walk all the way up (or down) fully exposed to the elements (at least until the roadside saplings grow into a canopy); in summer take a lot of water and a hat, due to the risk of dehydration and heat stroke. Beware of scarily big sheepdogs regardless of the season.
  • The rest of Eski Beyazıt, a major Kurdish and Armenian-inhabited town of yore, is mostly unidentifiable rubble a short trek away up from the palace across the valley. It was probably first settled during Urartu times, at 800 BC. The points of interest include the 16th century Old Mosque (Beyazıt Eski Cami), an Urartian castle on the outcrop dramatically soaring above the mosque, and the tomb of Kurdish poet and scholar Ahmedi Hani/Ehmedê Xanî (1650–1707), a pretty building that wouldn't be out of place in the Levant with its multiple domes and walls made of alternating light and dark-coloured rows of stones.

Further afield

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  • 2 Mount Ararat (Ağrı Dağı) (northeast of town). Doğubayazıt has one of the best views of the twin-peaked dormant volcano – rearing up to 5,137 m (16,854 ft) above the plateau, Greater Ararat is Turkey's highest peak while its satellite cone Little Ararat comes the sixth at a relatively meager height of 3,896 m (12,782 ft). The mountain features prominently in the Genesis flood myth as the possible landing site of Noah's Ark; see below for one of the alleged sites. For Armenians, who view the mountain from the reverse angle (frankly a more privileged perspective), it is the holy wellspring of their civilization.    
  • 3 Ice Cave (Buz Mağarası) (28 km southeast; northeast of the village of Halaç on the southern foothills of Little Ararat). This is a cave with dripstones and multi-coloured ice, about 100 m (330 ft) long from its entrance on a cliff face, half as wide, and with an elevation difference of 8 m (26 ft) within. It hasn't been explored in detail and visiting may require prior caving experience. It is thought to be a part of the same lava tube system with the Meteor Crater below.  
     
    Durupınar site
  • 4 Durupınar site (29 km southeast, off D100 to the Iranian border; the turn-off is signposted "Noah's Ark"). Up in the hills, some swear that this suspiciously looks like the petrified deck of a certain ancient ship, long sought after hereabouts, and that its dimensions fit perfectly with that ship as narrated in the Bible, huge for its time, but most geologists assert it's just a natural rock formation comprising local minerals, if lining up somewhat interestingly to create an ovalish, well, boat-like shape – check out and decide for yourself. The road ends at the visitors' centre with a view over the entire site; from there it's a rough hike up and down across the valley if you want a closer look.    
  • 5 Meteor Crater (Meteor Çukuru) (38 km southeast; head northeast from the last turn-off on the highway before the border). A hollow 35 m (115 ft) wide and 60 m (200 ft) deep with a lake in its bottom, formed in 1892 by a meteoroid impact.  
  • 6 Sağlıksuyu (15 km northwest, off D975/E99 towards Iğdır; no signpost at the turn-off as of Aug 2022). Formerly the Armenian village of Ardzap (Արծափ), the ancient cemetery here retains some weathered and overturned khachkars, elaborately carved traditional Armenian headstones. Some of the larger and more crudely hewn khachkars here have been taken for the anchors of Noah's Ark – but hey, Durupınar is just 29 km away as the dove flies, or less than 16 nautical miles.  
  • 7 Balık Gölü (62 km northwest; turn off from D100 towards Ağrı at the signpost). A largish freshwater lake in a lava bed; a low-key resort for the locals.    
 
Greater and Little Ararat as seen east of Doğubayazıt
  • Climb Mount Ararat. Guides and vehicles are available in Doğubayazıt. The climb is long, but there is a fairly easy route from the south in late summer for climbers who are familiar with the use of axe and crampons. The glacier begins around 4,800 m (15,700 ft), so the last 400 m (¼ mile) is snow-covered year-round. International climbers need a climbing permit that can be obtained through Turkish embassies, or the easier option is to let your guide's company do it. Expect the authorities to process your permit application in two months. You also need a licensed guide to accompany you on the trek. There are two possible campsites on the mountain, and people most often attempt to climb up to the summit and return to Doğubayazıt in 4 days. However, you may need more time to acclimatise, so it can be wise to add an extra day.
  • As part of your acclimatisation, you may also want to climb other mountains in the region, such as Mt Süphan to the south on the rim of Lake Van.

Liquor stores (Tekel) along the eastward lane of the highway bypass offer the last legal pints before Iran. Apparently this is a lucrative business: there are several of these shops, and they seem to be well-stocked. One thing to consider is how you will bring your drinks across the border; it's risky in your luggage, and tipsy already in your system.

Try to get a rare abdigor köfte, the local delicacy. It is a fist-size meatball on rice.

  • Yöresel Yemek Evi (formerly Doguş Restaurant) is not bad, but is overpriced and often crammed with tour groups.

Drink

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  • Cafe shop on Kermelsi Rd. in the centre of Doğubayazıt
  • Pure fruit juice shop, makes nice pure juice! Istanplak Avenue in eastern Doğubayazıt

Sleep

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İsmail Beşikçi Avenue

Hotels are numerous. Not all places provide air conditioning.

  • [formerly dead link] Hotel Ararat, Belediye Cad. No:24, +90 472 312-49-88, fax: +90 472 312-25-23, . This hotel not so expensive and it was remodeled with new owners. It is very clean. Single 50 TL, Double80 TL, Triple 110 TL.
  • Hotel Erzurum, İ. Beşikçi Caddesi. This hotel has clean rooms with shared bathrooms.
  • Hotel Grand Derya, Abdullah Baydar Caddesi 203, +90 472 312-75-31, fax: +90 472 312-78-33. This three-star hotel is run down, but has air-conditionıng.
  • 1 Hotel Isfahan, Emniyet Cad. No:26, +90 472 312 4363, . This hotel has spacious although quite basic rooms and a somewhat worn lobby area. Friendly stuff, good breakfast, adequate price-value ratio. Some rooms come with balcony. WiFi.
  • 2 Hotel Nuh, Çiftepınar Mah. Büyük Ağrı Cad. No:55, +90 472 312-72-32. It has an impressive lobby area but a bit shabby rooms. The rooftop restaurant has views of Ararat. Free WiFi
  • 3 Hotel Ortadoğu, Ağrı Caddesi 105, +90 472 312-42-25, . Carpet floor rooms with en-suite bathrooms, TV. Next door to convenience store, very close to bus stops. Staff are helpful, speak some English. From 30 TL..
  • 4 Hotel Tehran, Büyük Ağrı Caddesi 124, +90 472 312-01-95, . Hotel Tehran is inexpensive and very basic hotel with surprisingly clean but small bathrooms. They also provide depository service for unnecessary stuff when doing a trip across the border to Iran or up to Ararat. Manager speaks very good English and is very helpful about all things local. Laundry service is 3 TL per kilo and very quick (can give laundry in the late evening and get it back semi-dry in the morning). Good breakfast with some view. Occasional problems with Internet. From 193 TL for a twin room ensuite with breakfast.
  • Hotel Urartu, Abdullah Baydar Caddesi (across the street from post office), +90 472 312-72-95. Urartu is reasonable with friendly staff.
  • Hotel Yayla Palas, +90 472 312-78-61. Hotel Yayla Palas — anything but a palace. 20TL single - 70s decor, cleanish rooms with sink, relatively clean (though smelly) shared bathrooms, perfect for budget travellers. On the main pedestrian shopping street.
  • Butic Ertur Hotel, Gurbulak Cevreyolu uzeri, Dogubayazit Otogar Karsisi. Smallish but clean rooms. Good reviews

Connect

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You'll get 4G with Turkcell but the town is otherwise a dead spot - the highways further out have a better signal. 5G has not yet reached this area.

Go next

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  • Van to the south is the hub for the Lake Van area with amazing ancient castles and medieval monasteries.
  • Iran is right around the corner to the east. Maku is its first significant town.
  • Iğdır to the north has transportation options into the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan.
  • Kars further to the north has a beautiful Russian-built old town and the striking Armenian ruins of Ani in its vicinity.
  • Erzurum to the west is the largest city in eastern Turkey where you will likely pass through to travel anywhere else in the country.
Routes through Doğubayazıt
Erzurum ← Horasan (    N) ←  W   E    Gürbulak/Bazargan → Becomes   Maku  
Ends at   in   Dəmirçi (  N   S)  Dilucu/Sədərək ←  N   S  TatvanDiyarbakır
Merges with    N   S  VanHakkari


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