Trip To Diyarbakir City - Oct.2010
You may not be aware of it,
but there are cities that are waiting for you, confident that one day
you will come to them. Somewhere you may have seen a giant tower with a
relief of a double-headed eagle that may have stuck in your mind. Or you
may have read somewhere that its walls are the longest in the world
after the Great Wall of China. For no reason at all, a line from a folk
song frequently played on Turkish State Radio years ago became part of
the language: Diyarbakır flows merrily along / facing towards Urfa and
Mardin... Like fond memories, accounts of this city grow on you until
finally one day you pass through its gate. But before you set out, you
must tell those who ask where you are going: To the city of walls,
mysteries and people of stern countenance.
But where did the rulers of this city, which is enclosed on four sides by walls five meters thick with high towers, themselves live? In the Inner Citadel, of course. Diyarbakırs Inner Citadel, believed to be the original settlement and defense system, is situated on the banks of the Tigris, on the northeast edge of the Outer Citadel. But the rulers palaces survive only in engravings. Two towers of monumental proportions in the southwest segment of the wall, called the Home Body Tower and the Tower of the Seven Brothers, are at the same time masterpieces of world military architecture. The name of the former derives from its having briefly provided refuge for homeless people, and the inscription that runs around it in three rows represents the pinnacle of the art of calligraphy. Repaired frequently throughout the citys turbulent history, the defense walls took their final form in the Roman period. When the Christians of Nisibis (Nusaybin) migrated to Diyarbakır, the citys western walls were destroyed between 367 and 375, and the portion of the walls extending from todays Mountain Gate (Harput Gate) to the Urfa Gate and from there to the Mardin Gate were constructed and the people of Nisibis taken inside the citadel as well.
The name of
the city that was founded on a high plateau 650 meters above sea level
on the right bank of the river in the upper reaches of the Tigris basin
is inscribed as Amid on the sheath of a sword from the Assyrian period
and always appears as such in both Assyriac sources and works in Arabic.
In Roman and Byzantine sources on the other hand, the name of the city
is written as Amida. The Artukid and Akkoyunlu Turks called the city
Kara or Black Amid for the dark color of the walls that surrounded
it from end to end, while in the Zafername, or eulogies in praise of
military victories, it is called the Kara Kale or Black Fortress. In
the Book of Dede Korkut and certain other Turkish works meanwhile it
appears as Kara Hamid. Following the Arab conquest of the region in
the 7th century, these lands, where the tribe of Bekr ibn Vail settled
on the banks of the Tigris, are known as the
Its location at a major crossroads throughout its history made Diyarbakır a center of learning, art, culture and trade. According to accounts by western travelers, products of woven silk and worked copper, iron and gold were exported from Diyarbakır to Moscow and even as far as Mongolia. Money changers were said to enter the citys markets with enormous precious stones and depart with articles of gold jewelry. Because Diyarbakır was an important stop on the Silk Road, it was also famous for its markets and inns which were a hub of trade in the past. While strolling through the narrow lanes of the Sipahi Market where the feltmakers and clogmakers and masters of copper workmanship once plied their trade, we find that all that remains today of the Herbalists, Goldsmiths, Locksmiths, Jewellers and Cloth Merchants Markets that once brimmed over with products of every variety from silk and textiles to copper and jewelry are the Hasan Pasha Market and inn and the Diyarbakır Bedesten or Jewellery Bazaar. On the right as you enter through the Mardin Gate, the Deliller Han, an inn built in 1527 by Sultan Süleyman the Magnificents Diyarbakır Governor, Hüsrev Pasha, serves today as a hotel. The Hasan Pasha Han, which highly impressed Western travellers with its 17th century opulence, its underground stables that could accommodate 500 horses, its lovely pool, and its jewellers, knifemakers and bootmakers, was built in 1573.
whichever gate you enter Diyarbakır, you will eventually find yourself
at Anatolias oldest mosque, the Ulu Cami or Great Mosque, where you
will also receive your first lesson about the city. You will learn, for
example, that the local building material, basalt, is divided into male
and female stone and that the female stone is used for paving courtyards
while the male stone is used for all hard surfaces. The material
extracted from the mosque, which collapsed following an earthquake and a
fire in 1115, was reused in the courtyard facades. The two-storey
structure on the western side of the courtyard constitutes the mosques
most interesting architectural element. While the decorations are
typical of 12th century Islamic architecture, the composite columns and
mouldings are Hellenistic and Roman in character.
The Surp Gregos, Mart Thoma, Saint George, Virgin Mary, Kırklar and Mart Pityon Protestant and Catholic churches and their once sizeable congregations exemplified the brotherhood of Armenians, Jews, Yazidis, Greeks and Chaldeans within the city walls, and numerous travellers from the worlds myriad religions who visit the citys narrow old streets and houses with their spacious antechambers still stop in today at these churches to pray. But it is the Tigris itself that performs this function for Diyarbakır now. Very soon, on the evenings of the Feast of Sacrifice, papers inscribed with prayers and wishes will be tossed into the Tigris from the Bridge of Ten Arches in the foothills of Mount Kırklar. The childless praying to be blessed with young, the sick to be restored to health, lovers to be reunited. On moonlit nights, these little scraps of white paper will join the exuberant waters of the Tigris, the regions life-giving source and therefore regarded as sacred by its people. The original source where it all began and a fount of undying hope for ancient Mesopotamia.
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