Diyarbakir Tourist Attractions
Southeastern AnatoliaSituation and ImportanceDiyarbakir, one of the most picturesque of all Turkish cities, with a high proportion of its inhabitants Kurds, stands on a pedestal of black basalt on the west bank of the upper Tigris (Dicle Nehri), surrounded by fertile plots of cultivated land.
Provincial capital (and unofficial "capital" of Turkish Kurdistan) the city is located in a steppe-like plain, bordered to the southwest by the flat but massive basalt ridge of the Karaca Dag (1,938m/6,360ft). Once a staging post on the ancient trade route from the Persian-Arabian Gulf to the Old Syrian Mediterranean ports and, via Byzantium, to the West, Diyarbakir, with its excellently preserved town wall and citadel, its host of lovely medreses and mosques and its winding alleyways is the epitome of an old Anatolian town. For some years now new industries have brought a huge influx of people into Diyarbakir from the surrounding countryside. The walled Old Town is about 1.5km/1mi across from west to east and a kilometer from north to south.HistoryIn the ninth century B.C. Diyarbakir was the chief settlement in the Bit Zamami region, intermittently dependent in subsequent centuries on the Assyrian Empire. Later the city became capital of the Roman province of Mesopotamia. It was here in 115 that Trajan defeated the Parthians. From the fourth to the seventh century the hard-pressed Byzantines struggled to defend the city against the Sassanids; the emperor Constantius built substantial ramparts to this end in 394, which Justinian strengthened 200 years later. The dark basalt walls led to the city being called "Amida the Black", the Turkish form of which, "Kara Amid", is still used today. In 636 the Arabs captured the town for the Omayyads. They in turn handed it over to the Beni Bakr tribe, from whom its present name derives (Diyar-Bakir; land of the Bakr). After a short period of independence, possession changed hands several times before the Seljuks (Ortokids) ravaged the city in 1085. In the final years of the 14th century the Akkoyunlu Turkomans made it their capital; in 1507 it became Persian and in 1515 it passed to the Ottomans. Located as it is at the very heart of Turkish Kurdistan, Diyarbakir has witnessed and continues to witness bloody confrontations between Turks and Kurds, including full-scale rebellion in 1929.
The Archeological Museum, situated in a building in the northern part of Diyarbakir, has displays of finds from various periods; these include Ottoman artifacts excavated in Cayönü and Üçtepe (near Bismil).
Behram Pasa Camii
Built in 1572 the Behram Pasa Camii, Diyarbakir's largest mosque, stands in the southwest quadrant of the Old Town, beyond the bazaar quarter with its little shops and open-air market. Its strict observance of architectural canons make the mosque one of the most important in the city. Note the richly ornamented prayer niche.
Fatih Pasa Camii
Also called the Kursunlu Cami this mosque, located about 300m/330yds south of the citadel, was founded in 1522 by Diyarbakir's Ottoman conqueror Mehmet Pasa. The interior is clad in lovely tiles.
St George's Church
Now very dilapidated the fourth century Armenian St George's Church, a cruciform domed basilica with a large colonnade under a wooden roof, is situated inside the citadel in Diyarbakir.
Hasan Pasa Hani
The Hasan Pasa Hani, across the road and a short distance northeast from the Ulu Cami in Diyarbakir, is a late 16th century caravanserai built around a courtyard. The two-story complex is still in use, divided into shops and lodgings. Calligraphic inscriptions adorn the entrance.
Hüsrev Pasa Camii
The Hüsrev Pasa Camii, a mosque on the southern edge of the Old Town of Diyarbakir, started life as a medrese, endowed between 1521 and 1528 by the city's then governor Hüsrev Pasa. The present prayer hall is the old teaching room. The prayer niche and pulpit are especially fine. The walls are tiled. The minaret was added in 1728.
Iç Kale Camii
The small citadel mosque in the southern part of the citadel precinct of Diyarbakir was built sometime around 1160; it has been restored and altered several times since. Adjoining are a türbe and minaret. The plain base of the minaret suggests Seljuk origin.
Kasim Sultan Camii
Apart from being known by three different names - Kasim Sultan Camii, Kasim Padisah Camii and Seyh Muattar Camii - the principal feature of this early 16th century mosque (1512) opposite the post office in Diyarbakir is its square minaret, standing in the street in front of the mosque on four short columns. Walk round "the Four-Legged Minaret" seven times and you will have a wish granted.
The Kültür Müzesi in Diyarbakir occupies a very traditional, elegantly furnished house, home of the Turkish writer Cahit Sitki Taranci who died in 1956. In addition to an interesting exhibition of local craftwork etc., some of the writer's personal effects are on display.
On the east side of the courtyard of the Ulu Cami in Diyarbakir an arcade of ancient columns leads via a gate to the Masudiye Medresesi (1198-1223), designed by a Syrian architect for the Ortokid Sultan Sökmen II. The former Koranic and medical school now houses the offices of various religious bodies.
The Melik Ahmet Pasa Camii, a late 16th century mosque (1591) near the Urfa Gate on the road running east-west across Diyarbakir has a pretty minaret.
Meryam Ana Kilisesi
The Syrian Jacobite Church of the Virgin, in an alleyway north of the Yeni Kapi Caddesi in Diyarbakir, is of unknown date.
Although restored by the Marwanids in 1065 (there is an inscription to this effect on a limestone plaque on the south side) the 10-arched Roman Bridge 3km/2mi south of Diyarbakir, already spanned the Tigris in 512, at the time of the Emperor Anastasios I. Downstream from this point the river becomes navigable by keleks (flat bottom craft made from inflated animal skins).
This elegant mosque, behind and to the north of the Kara Cami in Diyarbakir, has an octagonal central bay. Except on feast days, the minaret with its decorative colored tiling used to be kept in protective drapes to preserve the scent of herbs mixed in with the mortar. The mosque is thought to have been built by Uzun Hasan, the great Akkoyun i.e."White Sheep" leader (1435-78).
The ancient defensive walls of Diyarbakir, which stand 12 m high, still maintain 72 of the original 78 towers, along with four gates.
The jewel in Diyarbakir's crown, its Great Mosque, stands on the west side of Ulu Cami Meydani, in the town center. Modeled on the Omayyad mosque in Damascus, it was built in the 11th/12th century and is thought to occupy the site of a fifth century Christian church. It has been restored several times, in particular following the great fire which resulted from an earthquake in 1115. In the early days a third of the mosque was apparently reserved for Christian use. Above the main courtyard entrance are reliefs of lions and bulls. Ancient columns and capitals are incorporated into the structure of the three-aisle prayer hall with its central crossing as well as into the two-storyed arcading of the facade. Like the mosque itself the square minaret is Syrian in style.
The Zincirli Medresesi, a late 12th century Koranic school west of the Ulu Cami in Diyarbakir, has student cells grouped around a square courtyard and, on the east side, an iwan. It used to house an archeological museum.
From the Peygamber Camii in Diyarbakir the Izzet Pasa Caddesi leads east to the citadel gate, flanked by two massive semi-circular towers. Three more gates pierce the 650m/700yd-long citadel wall, fortified with sixteen towers, on which Arabs, East Romans, Seljuks and Ottomans have all left their mark. The 40m/131ft-high artificial mound on which the citadel stands in the northeast corner of the Old Town, was very probably the site of the original settlement. The arrival in A.D. 363 of thousands of refugees fleeing from the Sassanids, caused the city's expansion westwards.
Ziya Gökalp Müzesi
Map of Diyarbakir Attractions