Ishak Paşa Sarayı, East Turkey

In our last blog post – part one of our east Turkey road trip – we took you to Muradiye Şelalesi (waterfalls) in the Van region. In today’s post, we’re heading north and back into the Ağrı region. We pass very close to the border with Iran and it’s strange to see road signs reading, ‘Doğubeyazıt,’ ‘Kars,’ ‘Iran.’ Iran has always felt like one of those untouchable faraway countries, and now, here we are, sharing the road with lorries with Iranian number plates and being pointed to the direction of the border by a road sign.

We ask our friend if she’s ever been to the border. Yeah, it’s just a load of lorries, is her reply. But that’s what borders are isn’t it? An exciting thought of being so close to another country – but the reality is, it’s a big queue with lots of bureaucracy – especially for the lorry drivers of this world. Any thoughts of a detour are dismissed and we continue northwards to Doğübeyazıt.

Onwards To Ishak Paşa Sarayı

Because Doğubeyazıt is the small town that is the closest hub for our next sightseeing stop; Ishak Paşa Sarayı (Ishak Pasha Palace). Again, road signs for the palace are not immediately obvious but we know we need to head uphill so we choose the winding hilly road that leads out of town.

Near Ishak Paşa Palace, Doğubeyazıt, Ağrı, Turkey

Looking onwards from Ishak Paşa Sarayı

If you ever find yourself in this area of Turkey, please don’t miss out on Ishak Paşa Sarayı. This place is scenic bliss. The photo above is taken from the car park in front of the palace and, as you can see, the road continues to wind uphill amongst rugged mountains. We know the views from further up this hill are even more breathtaking than the ones we can see behind us, but on this day, we’re not allowed to go any further up the hill as a funeral is taking place.

Ishak Paşa Sarayı, Ağrı, Turkey

Ishak Paşa Sarayı, Ağrı

But this is the type of scenery that makes you feel small and insignificant and in awe of the world. This is the site we wanted to see; Ishak Paşa Sarayı. And we wanted to see it because of its location. We’ve seen so many photos of it sitting on the mountainside overlooking the plains and the town of Doğubeyazit below…and Ağrı Dağı (Mount Ararat) looming in the distance. Just amazing!

The real urge to see Ishak Paşa Sarayı came when we were watching the Nuri Bilge Ceylan film, İklimler (Climates), a few years ago. In the film, he takes a taxi in the snow to the palace to take some photos. If you know of Nuri Bilge Ceylan, you’ll know he’s also a fantastic photographer, so you can just imagine this lonely mountain-top palace and the scenery beyond, covered with snow. It was one of those we’ve-got-to-go-there moments.

Ishak Paşa Sarayı, Doğubeyazıt, Turkey

So many photo opportunites

And now here we are. The camera goes into overdrive – our friends set about doing their various poses…and me and Barry slope away, managing to get away with just a few people pics. Inside the walls, the palace feels other-worldly. There was just a smattering of visitors on the day we were there so it was perfectly easy to lose yourself in the architecture.

That ‘other-worldliness’ is lost a little with the crisp white-painted meeting hall and glass roof – but when it comes to restoration, these are the types of things that are always going to divide opinion. We love the modern glass bridge that goes through Hadrian’s Gate in Antalya so why did I have a problem with the glass roof, here? Well, probably because all the images we’ve seen of Ishak Paşa Sarayı over the years are from the pre-glass roof era. I wanted those photos. Yes, everyone; selfish reasons. Apparently, the glass roof will protect the palace from the elements, thus preserving its existence.

View of Ararat and Doğubeyazit from Ishak Paşa Sarayı, Turkey

View of Ararat and Doğubeyazit from Ishak Paşa Sarayı

We’re all pretty mesmerised by this place…and eventually, we’re all wandering around separately in our own little worlds. I spot a room which looks like it might have amazing views of the plains below. Well, yes it does, as you can see in the photo above. Mount Ararat wrapped in cloud in the distance, Doğubeyazıt down below, spring flowers creeping over the near mountainside…and a sheer drop! This room I am exploring exits straight from this ledge and a dizzying drop, hundreds of metres below. Maybe no one thought to put a barrier here, yet…

Safety ponders aside, this is my favourite memory of Ishak Paşa Sarayı. This was the scenery we came up here to see. Eventually, hunger beats us and we head off back down the hill into town and another unexpected treat – we stumble across a lokanta that recommends we try the local speciality, Doğubeyazıt Köftesi.

Ishak Paşa Sarayı, East Turkey – Useful Info

  • Entrance to the palace is free to holders of the Müze Kart. If you don’t have one, entrance fee in May 2013 was 5 TL
  • If you aren’t driving, there is a dolmuş that comes up here from Doğubeyazıt. Taxis will also run you up here and wait for you for an arranged fee
  • The palace was completed in 1784 by Ishak Paşa – and architecture and art history enthusiasts will find a mixture of Mesopotamian, Anatolian and Persian styles
  • We mentioned above that the camera was in overdrive. There are just too many photos to choose from for this post so we’ve made a dedicated album with more photos of Ishak Paşa Sarayı and the interior, including architectural details. Click this link to view our Flickr album

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  1. Breathtaking photos, such a fascinating place, I was at Ishak Pasa a long time ago, this brings fond memories, thank you!

  2. Amazing – difficult to imagine we are living in the same country.

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