Situated on the banks of the Tigris river in South-Eastern Anatolia, Diyarbakir still carries a medieval air.
Black basalt walls encircle the city, a perfect example of defensive architecture of the Middle Ages. They are the second largest walls in the world, after the famous Great Wall of China. Although there were Roman, and probably earlier walls here, the present walls date back to Byzantine times. There are sixteen keeps, with four main gates along the wall; Dag Kapi, Urfa Kapi, Mardin Kapi and Yeni Kapi. The walls are 12 meters high, 3-5 meters wide and have 82 watchtowers.
Located in the city centre is the Ulu Mosque, noted for its original architecture, it is one of the oldest mosques in modern day Turkey.
Nearby the Ulu Mosque is the Mesudiye Medrese and Hasan Pasha Han, a caravanserai now being used by carpet and souvenir shops. The Nebii Mosque is a typical example of the Ottoman style and The Church of the Virgin Mary (not to be confused with the one at Ephesus) is still in use.
The holy Mount Zulkufil, Hilar, Birkleyn and Hasun Caves and the archaeological site of Cayonu are all located nearby and the house where Cahit Sitki Taranci, one of the most celebrated poets of the Republican period, was born was turned into a museum in 1973, exhibiting photographs and personal articles of the poet.
You can step back in time by staying at the Deliler Han by the Mardin Kapi of the City Walls. Built in 1527 and now it is restored, it serves as a hotel with 120 beds, preserving the air of the old days, when caravan travellers on the silk road used to stop and rest here. The locals refer to it as “deliler” (guides) since guides on pilgrimages to Mecca used to gather here.
But perhaps the most famous structure in Diyarbakir is its fortress, situated 100 metres above the Tigris river. The structure has a domed basilica (a Nasturian Church from the 6th century), a mosque, Sahabeler tomb, an Artuklu Palace and other official buildings.
Jewellery, silk processing, copper and leather works, pottery, textiles, embroidery and carpet making are all leading handicrafts in Diyarbakir. And when you add to that the renowned watermelons, weighing in at around 40 kilograms (85lbs), Diyarbakir certainly stands out as a destination to be visited.