DIYARBAKIR

DIYARBAKIR


Diyarbakir rises above the right bank of the Tigris River (Dicle)
to the north of the Mesopotamian plain. Many thousands of years ago, the volcano Karacadag, now extinct, erupted leaving a thick layer of basalt. Diyarbakir, which has its foundations on this black basalt stratum, is known as “the Darkbecause the walls and much of the old town are constructed from the rock.
The region of Diyarbakir saw a succession of
civilizations such as the Hurrites, Mittanians, Arameans, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Urartians, Medes, Persians, Macedonians. The city, known at the time under the name Amida, from 115 AD, was at stake in the wars between the Romans and the Parthians and later the Sassanids. Finally in 297 AD, Amida was annexed to the Roman Empire. A fortress was built on the hillock overlooking the city and in 349, Emperor Constance surrounded it by walls that later were reinforced by the Byzantines and particularly in the 6th century under the reign of Justinian, to face the continuous Sassanid threat. But aroud 638, the tremendous walls could not resist the attacks of the Arab tribes regrouped unter the banner of Islam and who had set out to capture Syria, Mesopotamia and Iran, after defeating the Byzantines on the banks of the Yarmouk River (which delimits the modern border between Jordan and Syria) in 636. The city first became part of the Omeyyad Caliphate (660-750) and later of the Abbassid Caliphate, taking the name Kara Amid then Diyar-bekr
. In the late 10th century, the city became independent under the Marwanid rulers (circa 990-1096) who restored the walls. Persian Nâser-e-Khosrow who visited the city, in his memories attests that it was the most important fortified place he had ever seen. The successors of the Marwanids, the Seljuk-Artukids, founded a Turcoman (Turkmen) dynasty in Diyarbakir towards the end of the 11th century. But in the 13th century, the region was swept by the Mongols and the walls hardly resisted their assaults and those of Tamerlane’s in the 14th century. The Turcoman (White Sheep) Akkoyunlular, settled in the region in the mid 14th century, ruled Diyarbakir until the downfall of their dynasty in 1507. Diyarbakir then fell to the hands of the Persian Safavids, but when Ismail Shah was defeated by sultan Selim I in 1515, the city was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire.

The fortified city took its present form during the Islamic period, with several architectural additions.

Diyarbakir is reputed for its copper and silver artefacts and for its watermelons. In September, during the Watermelon Festival, it is possible to see watermelons which can weigh up to 40 kilogrammes / 88 pounds.
The other festivals and festivities held in the city are:
The Diyarbakir Culture and Art Festival which takes place every year in September.
Nevruz, celebrated on March 21, which commemorates the first day of spring.
Hidirellez, celebrated on May 6, which are culture and spring festivities.

Today, the GAP Project (South-East Anatolian Project) and the development of irrigation systems have brought to the region of Diyarbakir greater prosperity.

Diyarbakir is linked by daily flights to Ankara and Istanbul.

Places of interest:

The walls, which encircle the city, are 5.7 km / 3.55 miles long, 12 m / 39 ft high and 3 to 5 m / 9.8 to 16.5 ft wide, and are well preserved. There are four gates, each of which have in******ions and reliefs, and eighty two towers and bastions. The main bastion is the "bastion of seven Brothers" (Yedi Kardes), built in 1208 by the Artukid ruler Melik Salih Memduh. It has a double headed eagle and winged lion reliefs. The three main gates are Harput, Urfa and Mardin gates. The most interesting part of the walls lies between Urfa and Mardin gates.
Viewed from the air, the impressive black basalt walls have the shape of a turbot fish. They are one of the best examples of medieval military architecture.


Ulu Camii, the Grand Mosque, was erected by the Seljuk sultan Malik Shah in 1090-1091, on the site of the Byzantine
Mar Toma (St. Thomas) Church which had already been converted into a mosque in 639. The mosque, which is one of the oldest mosques in Turkey, was built in the local basalt stone but the originality of its architecture resides in its design and in the fact that it (and particularly the east and west wings) contains many re-used building materials from the Byzantine and more ancient periods. The walls of the mosque are ornamented with niches, corinthian columns, marble carvings, reliefs and Kufic ****** in******ions. The interior is notable for the ceiling of the central nave with ebony wood decoration and a calligraphic frieze inlaid in mother of pearl. The mosque has a rectangular minaret, and two ablution fountains or "şadırvan", (the latest is dated 1849) stand in the courtyard.



Mesudiye Medresesi, adjacent to the Ulu Mosque and one of the first theological school, was completed by the Arturkids in 1198.

Zinciriye Medresesi is built according to the traditional plan of the Seljuk medrese. It is an extension of Ulu Cami.

The Archaeololgical Museum
: the first museum in Diyarbakir was created in 1934 at the Zinciriye Medresesi. It moved to its new premises on Elazig Street in 1985.

Safa Camii, built in 1532 at the time of the Akkoyunlular, has a finely decorated minaret with inlaid tilework on its base.

Nebii Camii is an early 16th century mosque. The many references to Mohammed in the in******ions on the minaret which is dated 1530, have given the mosque its second name Peygamber Camii, the Prophet's Mosque.

 

Behram Pasa Camii was built in 1572 by the Governor Behram Pacha. It is one of the largest and most interesting Ottoman mosques in the city, with a particularly striking façade. It is interesting that a form of prestressed concrete was used, pre-empting by some four hundred years the more general use of that material.

Hazreti Süleyman Camii, also known as Kale Camii (Mosque of the Citadel), was built between 1155 and 1169. The style of the mosque is Seljuk except for the square minaret with a short spire which denotes an Arab influence. The adjacent mausoleum houses the tombs of early heroes of the Islamic wars in the region.


Fatih Pasa Camii was built between 1516 and 1520 by Biyikli Mehmet Pasha, the commander of the Ottoman army who conquered the region of Diyarbakir, and the town's first governor.

Seyh Mutahhar Camii, built by the Akkoyunlular, is notable for its minaret which stands on a base made of four columns carved from a single block of stone. It is said that if one walks seven times around the columns and make a wish, it will be granted.

Deliller Hani is a caravansarai close to Mardin Gate, built by the second governer of Diyarbakir, Hüsrev Pasha, for the use of the merchants and pilgrims who were travelling to the countries of the Hijaz where the two holiest cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina are located, and to the countries of the Silk Road like Syria, Iran and India. The han was built in white (from Urfa) and local black stone between 1521 and 1527 with a mosque and medrese forming a complex called külliye. The han has been turned into a hotel where carpet and souvenir shops can be found.

 


Hasan Pasa Hani was built by the third governor of Diyarbakir, Hasan Pasha in 1572-73. Today it houses a colourful carpet bazaar.

The Church of the Virgin Mary (Meryemana Kilisesi) is a 3rd century sanctuary
used by the remaining Syriac Jacobite Christian Community, where services are still conducted in Aramaic, the language of Jesus.The church, which has been restored many times, has a Byzantine altar and some interesting icons. The other church still active in Diyarbakir is the Chaldean Church (Keldani Kilisesi).

Cahit Sitki Taranci Evi is a beautiful local example of an early 19th century Ottoman house. It is a two storied structure built in basalt stone with white decorations. All facades look onto an inner courtyard. Here was born and lived the poet of the republican period, Cahit Sitki Taranci (1910-1954). Transformed into an ethnographic museum, the house also displays the poet's personal belongings.

Ziya Gökalp Evi : this house, which is another typical example of local architecture, was built in 1808. Here, the writer Ziya Gökalp was born in 1876. The house has become an ethnographic museum which also displays the personal belongings of the writer.

Dicle Bridge, which spans the Tigris (Dicle River) south of the city, can be seen from the city walls and the Atatürk Kiosk (Atatürk Köskü) located outside the walls, by the river. An in******ion informs us that the 10 arched bridge was built in 1065 during the Marwanid period.

 
Baklava bakery
Young boy selling simit breads

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