In this article I will show you what to do in Dogubeyazit Turkey and how to travel to the Iran border. In addition, I’ll show you how to get to Tabriz, Iran and a few things to see on the way.
Firstly, I recommend you stay overnight in Dogubeyazit which will give you time to see the attractions. Afterwards, you can rise early and head to Gurbulak on the Iran border.
Ishak Pasha Palace
What is the Ishak Pasha Palace which is on a hill overlooking Dogubeyazit? It is in fact an Ottoman Palace built in the 17th century. The governor of this region of the Ottoman Empire ordered the construction. Entry fee is minimal so you’ve no excuse not to explore one of the few remaining Ottoman palaces in the world.
How to get to Ishak Pasha Palace
The main attraction in Dogubeyazit Turkey is Ishak Pasha Palace. However, it’s on a hill overlooking the city therefore have a few options to reach it. You could take a 90 minute hike uphill in the heat. Alternatively, take a bus from the eastern bus stand.
Ishak Pasha Palace Interior
Inside Ishak Pasha Palace is full of intricate artwork which is well kept. As a result, you get a feeling of how this palace must have looked in its heyday. For me, the ceremonial hall was the stand out room but as you explore there is a lot more beauty to see. That’s not to mention the interior mosque, harem area and the mausoleum.
Ishak Pasha Palace Underground
There are not many tourists at the palace therefore you may feel a little nervous as you head into the underground! Did you know that Cappadocia, Turkey has one of the most complex and deepest undergrounds in the world?
As well as visiting the Ishak Pasha Palace be sure to explore a little further. Adjacent to the palace are the ruins of Dogubeyazit Castle. For me, this ruin is incredibly picturesque alongside a 16th century mosque and a winding road. In addition, there are some Urartian rock tombs nearby the castle. Finally, visiting the castle is free but be careful as it’s a huge ruin.
Noah’s Arc National Park
South east of Dogubeyazit is Noah’s Arc National Park. As a matter of fact, you’ll drive past it on the way to the Iran border. Here lies the Durupınar site which some believe are the fossilized remains of Noah’s Arc. Others say it’s just a mountain which slightly resembles the shape of Noah’s Arc. Here is the exact location if you decide to see it for yourself.
Downtown Dogubeyazit Turkey
In the center of Dogubeyazit are several shops, restaurants and of course hotels. It’s a relatively small town therefore you can easily explore it on foot.
How to get from Dogubeyazit to Gurbulak
Shared minivans from Dogubeyazit Turkey to Gurbulak leave regularly from this location. The minivans may go straight to the border but I was put on another minivan once mine got to the outskirts of the city. As a result, be prepared for a change of vehicle.
Turkey / Iran Border
The shared minivan takes you to within 200 meters of the Turkey immigration. Simply get in line and you’ll be stamped out of Turkey. Afterwards, walk through to the Iran immigration. It’s adjoined to the Turkey side therefore you don’t need to walk far. There was a large queue to enter Iran but when they realized I was a foreigner they invited me to the front. For this reason, make it obvious you are a foreigner (by foreigner I mean not from Turkey or Iran). Once in Iran, you must haggle with a taxi or find a bus to Tabriz.
As I am a UK passport holder, I had to have my visa and guide organised in advance. The same goes for Americans and Canadians. All other nationalities must have a visa in advance but don’t need a guide. If you do organise a taxi to Tabriz, there are a four must see sights you should negotiate into your taxi fair. Read on:
Make sure you know the exchange rate before you change money. There may also be a black market exchange rate which you should read about. If you’re not sure only change a few dollars and do more research in Tabriz. Generally, your best off taking all your cash as US dollars or Euros.
Saint Stepanos Monastery – UNESCO Site
Saint Stepanos Monastery is a 9th century Armenian monastery. However, throughout time it was severely damaged from earthquakes and the one you see today dates back to the 17th century. None the less, with the canyon as a backdrop, this monastery is a must see. Did you know, the background of this picture is in fact modern day Azerbaijan.
Saint Stepanos Monastery Interior
In addition to the stunning exterior of the monastery is a beautifully decorated interior. At the same time, the interior looks like it’s been renovated more recently than the 17th century.
Qara Kelisa – Black Church – UNESCO Site
The Black Church is an Armenian monastery which dates back to the 7th century. Like the Saint Stepanos Monastery, it also suffered extensive earthquake damage and the one you see today has been rebuilt. Finally, it’s official name is the Monastery of Saint Thaddeus so why is it referred to as the black church? Because it was built with black stone which makes the interior incredibly unique.
Iran / Azerbaijan Border
As you drive alongside the river Aras, this is in fact the border between Iran and Azerbaijan. In addition, it’s also an incredibly beautiful drive. On the other side of the river is a land locked part of Azerbaijan surrounded by Armenia.
You’re on the silk road between Iran and Turkey therefore you will see Caravanserai. Some may be converted into restaurants or cafes. As a matter of fact you can stay in a Caravanserai hotel in Iran.
Iranian food is delicious, especially the kebab with rice. Bon appetit.
Safe Journey from Dogubeyazit Turkey to Tabriz Iran
Enjoy the journey, it’s much easier than you’d imagine. Most of all, bargain a good deal with an Iranian taxi driver to take you to the UNESCO sites and alongside the beautiful border with Azerbaijan. Wishing you safe travels to Tabriz.
Tabriz to Zanjan