View over Ishak Pasha Palace in Dogubeyazit, Turkey.

© Ozbalci/Getty Images/iStockphoto

İshak Paşa Palace

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There are few experiences as magical as watching a blazing sunset from behind this ridgetop stone structure, its dome and minaret silhouetted against a vast landscape that appears to stretch to infinity. Backed by serrated crags, the ruined palace (completed 1784) has been patched up and, while many walls are bare, there are several sections with fine stone reliefs, now partially sheltered by a new glass roof. Even when it's closed, taking the 6km trip up here from central Doğubayazıt is an absolute must.

Combining Ottoman, Seljuk, Georgian, Persian and Armenian design features, the 18th-century palace was built for İshak Paşa, governor of Çıldır and Ahıska, who ended up being banished when the Ottoman authorities realised that he was scheming to set up his own domain.

An elaborate main gateway leads into the first courtyard where, in the far right corner, you can check out the dungeons. In the second courtyard is an elaborate tomb, believed to be that of İshak Paşa, richly decorated with a mixture of Seljuk carvings and Persian relief styles. There are three choices of direction from this area. Straight ahead through a beautifully carved portal are the private quarters, including the harem and the ceremonial hall with its melange of decorative styles. Steps down to the left take you to deep, subterranean granaries and servants' quarters. To the the right is the selamlık (council quarters), whose highlight is the mosque: remove shoes and push the door to enter and admire plenty of original relief decoration.

On exit, don't miss the chance of walking a little further east to enjoy various exterior views. A new observation platform was under construction at the time of research, on a rise directly behind the palace.

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