Şanlıurfa (the Prophets' City; also known as Urfa), is a pilgrimage town and spiritual centre. This is where the prophets Job and Abraham left their marks, and the Dergah complex of mosques and the holy Gölbaşı area is imbued with a compelling atmosphere redolent of the Middle East.
Full of heart, soul and character, Diyar is proud of remaining the symbol of Kurdish identity and tenacity. Behind the grim basalt walls, the old city's twisting alleyways are crammed full of historical buildings and Arab-style mosques. Diyarbakır has witnessed pro-Kurdish demonstrations and riots.
After the rigours of central Anatolia, this vast expanse of water surrounded by snowcapped mountains sounds deceptively promising for beaches and water sports. Lake Van (Van Gölü) has great potential for such activities, but nothing has been really developed yet. On the positive side, it's very scenic and virtually untouched.
More urban, more casual and less rigorous, Van is very different in spirit from the rest of southeastern Anatolia. Young couples walk hand in hand on the main drag, live bands knock out Kurdish tunes in pubs, and a resilient population coping with the impact of recent earthquakes inspire a satisfying urban buzz.
Mardin is a highly addictive and unmissable spot. Minarets emerge from a baked brown labyrinth of meandering lanes, a castle dominates the old city, and stone houses cascade down the hillside above the Mesopotamian plains. As a melting pot of Kurdish, Yezidi, Christian and Syrian cultures, it also has a fascinating cultural mix.
Hasankeyf is a heartbreaker. This gorgeous honey-coloured village clinging to a rocky gorge above the Tigris River is a definite must-see, but it's slated to vanish underwater. This is rumoured for 2016 or 2017, but at the time of writing there was no definitive timing. Meanwhile the foundations of Yeni (New) Hasankeyf are taking shape across the river on higher gound.
Harran is reputedly one of the oldest continuously inhabited spots on earth. The Book of Genesis mentions Harran and its most famous resident, Abraham, who stayed for a few years in 1900 BC. Its ruined walls, crumbling fortress, and beehive houses give the town a feeling of deep antiquity.