Hakkari Tourist Attractions
Southeast Anatolia (Turkish Kurdistan)Situation and CharacteristicsThe small provincial capital of Hakkâri lies in the somewhat inaccessible Hakkâri Daglari (High Zap Mountains), 600m/1,969ft above the steep-sided gorge of the upper Büyük Zap (Great Zap). Rising 150km/93mi to the northeast in the mountains on the Iranian frontier, the Zap flows through the heart of untamed Kurdistan to join the Tigris south of Mosul (Iraq). The town and its province are named after a nomadic Kurdish tribe who occupied the area to the south and southeast of Lake Van after the Zengids drove them from Iraq in the 13th century Large parts of this mountainous region are now in Van Province. The High Zap Mountains are only thinly, and in the southeast very thinly, populated, the inhabitants of the scattered villages eking out an existence from cereal growing and horticulture. The mountains have plenty to offer climbers; but expeditions to this area on the borders of Iran and Iraq have to be in association with Turkish mountaineering groups (season: June-Sept.).WarningThe area around Hakkâri is the stronghold of the Kurdish resistance movement. As throughout the whole of the crisis region in southeast Turkey, visitors must expect restrictions on travel, curfews, and frequent military and police checks. Political discussion should be avoided despite the slight easing of tension resulting from the government's sanctioning the use of Kurdish in public.HistoryAccording to Sumerian and Accadian sources the early inhabitants of the area were tribes of semi-nomadic Lullubae who, before being defeated by Naramsis of Accadia, made frequent incursions into Mesopotamia. These were possibly the same semi-nomadic Kurdish hill-people, the "Kardushes", notorious even in Xenophon's day (401 B.C.), whose lifestyle, language and culture has remained fundamentally unchanged since Hittite times (as also their predilection for banditry and rebellion). It is thought that the Medes, fleeing to the eastern Taurus in the seventh century B.C., mixed with the resident Hurrian hill-tribes, nurturing over the centuries, in autonomous family units and tiny feudal states, a form of independence jealously guarded even to the present day. In the first millennium B.C. the region was part of the kingdom of Urartu. There then followed periods of Persian, Arab, Seljuk and Turkoman domination before it finally fell to the Ottomans in 1514. In the 19th century Hakkâri, then a small walled town and known as Culamerik, was the seat of the autonomous Kurdish prince Nurallah Bey. Up until 1921 the Kurds of the Hakkâri region lived side by side with Nestorian Christians, members of a church dissolved by the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the fifth century, whose ancestors fled to Kurdistan and Iraq to avoid persecution. Here Nestorian doctrine survived alongside Islam, Kurds and Christians living for centuries together in peaceful coexistence. After the First World War the Hakkâri Nestorians were forced to flee the country and today the vast majority of inhabitants are Kurds.
Hakkâri boasts a Seljuk and an Ottoman medrese (16th century). Towering above the town are the ruins of a fortress, Bava Kalesi.