Dogubeyazit is 100 km (62 mile) far to Agri. Most towns in Turkey have changed out of all recognition over the last twenty years. Dogubayazit (East Bayazit) is not one of those towns. Instead it’s a rather grim little border town that it might be good to bypass were it not the best base from which to visit both Agri Dagi (Mt Ararat), the supposed lasting resting place of Noah’s Ark, and the Ishak Pasa Sarayi, a mainly 18th-century palace in a lofty and picturesque location.

Dogubayazit is the last town before the Iranian border at Gurbulak, 35km to the east.

Dogubayazit town has little to say for itself. There’s a monument to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights near the otogar but otherwise not so much as a museum.

Ardent shoppers might want to explore the two-storey network of pasajs (arcades) near the monument. They’re filled with items Iranians think the Turks want and Turks think the Iranians want. You’re unlikely to find anything you want to buy.

High up at the top of what was then the site of Bayazit town, Ishak Pasa Sarayi was the brainchild of Colak Abdi Pasha for whom work began in 1685. However, most of what you see today was actually built in the 18th century for. It’s an extraordinary mishmash of styles: the entrance portal, for example, calls to mind the Seljuk complex at Divrigi while some of the decorations around the windows are reminiscent of Mardin. To add to the mix there’s even one carving in the second courtyard that looks seems to be anticipating Art Nouveau.

The palace occupies an area of 7600 square meters, and rests on a terrace of a mountain rising above the plain, 5 kilometers east of Dogubeyazit, a pretty Anatolian town near Mount Ararat (Turkish Agri Dagi) The breathtaking portal gate, which was designed and decorated in the Seljuk style, provides entry to a large courtyard. The palace complex is composed of several halls and buildings; these include an outer court, an inner court, men’s apartments, harem, servant and guard stations, a hamam, a large kitchen, reception and courtrooms, a tomb, and a mosque. There are also some small rooms one of which is believed to have been used as a library. The mosque is famous for the magnificent decoration of its dome and the tomb for its splendid workmanship.

Restoration of the building was undertaken in 1956. Much of the original decorative work has been preserved in the complex. The acoustics in the mosque is incredible. The palace takes its name from Ishak Pasha who served as a vizier in 1789. However, his son, Mahmut Pasha, completed the construction work.

In a short, walking distance from the palace is a small mosque that stands on the mountain side. This plain structure was constructed by Selim I the Grim. Next to the main building rises a stone-capped minaret resting on a base which is lower than the main structure. Although the interior is smaller than the Palace Mosque, its design bears a considerable amount of resemblance to it.

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