Hasankeyf is the last stop on the way to the Eastern highlands of the Republic of Turkey if you are traveling from the South East to the East of our country. As a result of this advantageous location by the biblical River Tigris, Hasankeyf has a rich history. The archaeological excavations show that the traces of humankind goes back to twelve thousand years like many Neolithic settlements of the area. The city has always been popular among the conquerors of Anatolia.
Where is Hasankeyf?
Hasankeyf is located in the province of Batman city of Turkey. It is one of the most internationally popular cities of our country thanks to the fictional Batman character. It has been a small settlement in the area but attracted a lot of interest after the Turkish Government found oil in the area and built petrochemical industries. Today, Batman is a bustling Southeastern city with direct flights from Istanbul and Ankara. Hasankeyf is only 45 kilometers away from Batman airport which can be used as the beginning of your South East or East Anatolia tour. After exploring Hasankeyf, you can easily drive to Midyat city of Mardin province and spend the night there as the distance is the same as the airport of Batman. Hasankeyf is in the East of Mardin - Diyarbakir road so it is very easy to include Hasankeyf into your South East or East Anatolia tour.
History of Hasankeyf
Hasankeyf's name is coming from the evolution of Assyria and Arabic words. The city was called Kifo in Assyria which meant rock. As the dwellers of Hasankeyf built their houses into the rocks, Arabians called the city Hisn-i Keyfa which meant the city of the caves. The name evolved to Hasankeyf after the Ottomans conquered the area. The first settlers of Hasankeyf must have taken advantage of the River Tigris and the soft rocks of Hasankeyf which enabled them to carve secure dwellings for themselves and their produce. Besides, River Tigris was used as a transportation channel of their goods to lower Mesopotamia. People of Upper Mesopotamia built small boats from trees and sailed to the downstream of River Tigris with their produce. They sold the trunks in the ancient markets of lower Mesopotamia and got back home with an animal or on foot. Hasankeyf was located on the trading routes coming from the Middle East to the Eastern Highlands of Anatolia which brought its wealth. The trade started with obsidian of the Eastern Anatolian Mountains and still continues today with various produce. Hasankeyf was ruled by the Hurrians in the 14th century BCE. Assyrian Empire conquered the area in the 9th Century and ruled for two centuries until their colonies were taken by the Meds in the 7th Century BCE. Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabians, Turks, and Mongols ruled Hasankeyf throughout history. Iranian Safavid Empire is the last ruler of the region before the Ottomans took control of Hasankeyf. Its present name evolved to Hasankeyf from Arabic.
What to see in Hasankeyf?
Hasankeyf is located on a sheer rock that was eroded by the River Tigris. Soft volcanic rocks were carved in by people and Hasankeyf had a settlement starting from the river bed to the top of the rock cliff. Before the Ilisi reservoir, it was possible to explore the old neighborhood and the ancient city winding its way up to the hill. Today, the majority of the ancient city is under the water but Culture and Tourism Ministry built a beautiful museum to the top of the valley and moved important structures away from the reservoir area. There are boat trips available on the reservoir from the New Hasankeyf to the old one. There is a beautiful museum in the new Hasankeyf with beautiful artifacts found at the excavations in the area. Saved structures from the old city are exhibited in the garden of the museum. The most intricate structure of Hasankeyf is the tomb of Zeynel Bey. He was the prince of the Turkoman Aq Qoyunlu tribe that ruled the area before the Ottomans. Zeynel Bey passed away in the battle of Otlukbeli between the Ottomans and Aq Qoyunlu tribes. The monumental tomb was built by the Iranian architect Pir Huseyin in 1473. There are beautiful turquoise, blue, brown, and white tiles decorating the structure.
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