Diyarbakir

Overview

Introduction

One of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey, ancient Diyarbakir lies along the Tigris River 350 mi/560 km southeast of Ankara. It is at least 5,000 years old and has, over the years, been overrun by Hurrians, Urartians, Assyrians and Persians.

Today, it is predominately Kurdish and, during the 1990s, was pretty tense when the Kurdish insurgency was in full swing. Nowadays it is fairly calm, but you may want to keep an eye on travel-safety updates before you visit.

Diyarbakir has a special, at times eerie, atmosphere and a number of beautiful mosques and churches. The first things you'll notice, however, are the gigantic black basalt walls, built by the Byzantines, that enclose the city and were clearly meant to intimidate. The town also boasts a number of medieval mosques and madrassas.

Ulu Cami, built in 1091, was one of the first major Selcuk mosques. Those interested in Christian history will be moved by what's left of the Armenian church near Kasim Padishah Mosque and the still-in-use Syrian Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary.

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