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HAKKARİ

Population: 58,000

hakkari1Sümbül Dağı looms over HakkariOther name: Çolemerg (Kurdish)

Close to both the Iranian and Iraqi borders, Hakkari is almost as far into the southeast of Turkey as you can get. Once a no-go zone for outsiders, it has picked up considerably in atmosphere and on my most recent visit felt extremely welcoming.

As for its location - the mountain setting is quite simply superb with Sümbül Dağı (Hyacinth Mountain, 3467m) looming over the high street.

That said, there are few sights to see in the town itself which is mainly one of the typical concrete conurbations that grew up in haste as the surrounding villages were emptied of their populations inthe 1990s. My taxi driver told me he remembered the days when the houses were all of wood and stone and there were only 3,500 people living here. It's hard to imagine that now, when the few remaining stone houses with mud roofs all stand empty in the back streets.

The one historic monument perhaps worth going in search of is the Meydan Medresesi in the lower Bicer Mahallesi and even that only dates back to 1700-01 when it was built by a local prince called İbrahim Bey. It's a typically austere building on the outside with an outbreak of fine stone carving around the doorway. Sadly when I visited it was firmly locked. hakkari2

The main reason to come here is to explore the surrounding area, particularly the mountains and the yaylas (upland pastures). In spring and early summer the surrounding felds are a sea of wildflowers. While the politics of the last twenty years may make for depressing reading the fact that the vilages were emptied out does mean that the scenery is protected from the usual blights of concrete and litter. Were things to become truly settled here then the area could so easily become a tourist playground. 

Eating

While no one is likely to come to Hakkari just to eat I thoroughly enjoyed breakfast at the busy Eylül next to the Şenler Hotel where they serve an excellent all-day breakfast either to share (serpme) or by the plate (tabak). It was packed when I dropped in.

At dinner time the Sefa Restaurant opposite the Hotel Şenler and the Diyarbakır Çiğerci (don't worry - it doesn't only serve liver) proved reliable. For casual snacks there are a complete of clones of Simit Sarayı.

Sleeping

Hotel Şenler

hakkari3The terslale (upside down tulip) is the symbol of Hakkari and many graves carry images of it.Transport info

An airport for Hakkari is under construction (May 2014) at Yüksekova. 

There are hourly minibuses between Van and Hakkari during daylight hours. There are also hourly minibuses during daylight hours between Hakkari and Yüksekova/Şemdinli. They all leave from near the statue of Atatürk in the town centre, as do minibuses to Çukurca.

One minibus a day leaves Şırnak for Hakkari at 8am. It returns at 6.30am.

Minibuses run up and down from the upper town to the lower Bicer Mahallesi for the medrese. 

Day trip destinations

Albayrak

Bercelan Yayla

Kırıkdağ Vadisi (Cennet Cehennem)

Konak (Koçanis)

Nehri

Şemdinli

Yavuzler Köyü

Yüksekova

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