Diyarbakir is the second-largest city in South-Eastern Turkey. It is located on the northernmost point of the Fertile Crescent. Diyarbakir city was home to almost all civilizations that ruled Anatolia, the Middle East and Persia. The earliest traces of people goes back to the Stone Ages around Diyarbakir City. The first civilization to rule Diyarbakir were the Hurrians. They had ruled the region from the 3rd Millennium BCE until the rise of the Assyrian Trade Colonies in the 16th Century BCE. The city was controlled by the rural leaders and Assyrians until the Med rule that started in the 6th Century BCE. Meds were defeated by the Persians in 550 BCE. Alexander the Great conquered the Persian lands and the instability of the region continued until the rise of the Armenians. Tigranes the Great declared Diyarbakir their capital and named it Tigranakert. The name Amid survived despite the Armenian update in the 1st Century AD and was used by the communities that controlled Diyarbakir City until the Republic of Turkey converted it to Diyarbakir in 1937.

Where is Diyarbakir?

Diyarbakir is located in southeastern Turkey. The city is encircled by the Tigris River from the East. The meanders of the Tigris River in the East create the beautiful Hevsel Gardens which became a UNESCO heritage site along with the city walls of Diyarbakir City. There is an airport right next to the city making Diyarbakir easily accessible from Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Antalya. The city can be used to start or finish a South-Eastern Turkey Tour thanks to its convenient location. Besides, a three-hour drive from Diyarbakir will take you to Tatvan where you can start a tour of Eastern Turkey.

What to see in Diyarbakir?

CITY WALLS OF DIYARBAKIR

Diyarbakir City walls are 6 KM long. There is an inner castle that houses the Museum of archaeology and an Ethnography Museum. There are beautiful views of the Hevsel Gardens and the Tigris River from the inner castle. The walls we see today were built by the Roman Emperor Constantius II and extended by Valentinian I in between 367 and 375. Diyarbakir City Walls are the longest city walls of the world after the Great Wall of China. The walls of Diyarbakir are 10 to 12 meters high and 3 to 5 meters wide. There are four main gates on the walls and 82 watchtowers. The citadels in the south and the inner castle are the main tourist attractions today.

GRAND MOSQUE OF DIYARBAKIR

Grand Mosque of Diyarbakir is the first mosque of Anatolia. The Arabs converted the Martoma Church into a mosque in 639 AD. The mosque we see today is a complex of restorations made by the Seljuks in 1091. Grand Mosque of Diyarbakir is one of the five important mosques of Islam. There is a beautiful sun clock of El Cezeri in the garden of the mosque. He was an important scientist and engineer of the golden era of Islam in the 11th Century AD.

SHEIKH MATAR MOSQUE WITH FOUR-LEGGED MINARET

Built in1500, Sheikh Matar Mosque is a beautiful example of the Diyarbakirarchitecture. The most impressive part of the mosque is the minaret erected in the middle of the narrow street standing on 4 columns. The columns are believed to be standing for the four sub-sects of Sunni Islam. Today, locals believe that if you pass 7 times under the pillars of the minaret, your wishes will come true.

ST. MARY CHURCH

Diyarbakir’s ancient name Amid was given by the earlier settlers Assyrians. When Assyriac communities met with Christianity, they have converted their fire and sun-worshiping temples to churches. You can see the 2100-year-old remnants of the sun temple today inside the church. It is still an active Syriac Church with a very small community. It is located in the old town and easily accessible with a 15-minute walk from the Grand Mosque.

CAHIT SITKI TARANCI MUSEUM

Cahit Sitki Taranci is a prominent Turkish Poet who was born in this beautiful 18th Century stone house. The building is a beautiful example of the civil architecture of Diyarbakir city. This house was built in 1733 and was purchased by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 1973. It was restored in 2003 and converted into a museum in the name of Cahit Sitki Taranci to honor his contribution to Turkish Literature.

HEVSEL GARDENS AND DICLE BRIDGE

Hevsel Gardens is seven hundred hectares of fertile land on the banks of the Tigris river. Beautiful green low lands embellish the views of Diyarbakir City Walls from the inner castle to the Dicle Bridge. Tigris River is called Dicle in the Turkish Language. Even if the bridge is named after the Tigris River, locals call it the ten-eyed bridge thanks to the 10 huge stone arches. 178 meters long bridge was built in 1065 by Nizam al-Din and Muyyid al-Dawla under the rule of the Kurdish Marwanid dynasty. The bridge is 4.6 meters wide and stands 14 meters above the surface of the Tigris River. The bridge is closed for vehicle traffic but a popular spot among the locals and visitors of Diyarbakir city. There are a few tea houses by the bridge which is a nice spot for a nice cup of black tea after exploring the old town of Diyarbakir city on foot.

OTHER ATTRACTIONS TO SEE IN DIYARBAKIR

Hasanpasa Han is located right across the Grand Mosque of Diyarbakir. It was built by the Ottoman Governor to Diyarbakir Hasan Pasha in 1573. There are nice cafes and restaurants inside the old Han today which are popular breakfast spots for tourists and locals of Diyarbakir. The Ahmet Arif Literature Museum Library is a beautiful example of the civil architecture of Diyarbakir like The Museum of Cahit Sitki Taranci House. Surp Sarkis Chaldean Church is very close to the four-legged minaret and we are looking forward to visiting this beautiful small Chaldean Church soon. Behram Pasha, Fatih Pasha and Safa Mosque are just another beautiful example of Islamic Architecture in the old town of Diyarbakir city. Deliller Han is a beautiful 16th Century caravanserai standing across the Goat tower of the city walls. It is used as a hotel right now and very convenient for accommodations and walking tours of Diyarbakir City.

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