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Diyarbakir - a city in the heart of the Sun

27.12.2023 | 09:59 |
 Diyarbakir - a city in the heart of the Sun

The route of my next business trip ran from the Turkmen capital to Ancient Mesopotamia, more precisely the city of Amida, now famous Diyarbakir in Turkey.

According to historical information, Ancient Mesopotamia or Mesopotamia, along with Egypt, is one of the great civilizations of the Ancient World. This is an ancient country in Western Asia in the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which arose in the middle of the 4th millennium BC. and died out at the beginning of our era.

Ancient Mesopotamia left a deep mark on world culture: the ancient traditions of the “queen” of all sciences, mathematics (in particular, dividing a circle into 360 degrees and other units of the sexagesimal system), astronomy (the zodiac and other constellations), go back to its achievements.

In Mesopotamia, ancient writing appeared, the first cities and states, including imperial cities, the first signs of a banking system, ancient literature, libraries, schools, archives, and museums were built.

Mesopotamian civilization with its architecture, sculpture, institutions (statehood, law, monetary system, calendar, etc.) became a model for many states of the Middle East, including Elam, the Hittite Kingdom, Media, the Persian Empire and others.

Diyarbakir is called “the city in the heart of the sun.” It opens a window to the past, present and future, bearing traces of 33 civilizations, including the Assyrians, Medes, Persians, Romans, Eastern Romans, Marwanids, Seljuks, Akkoyunlu, Ottomans.

Diyarbakir was one of the points of the Great Silk Road. The ancient caravanserais still house shops selling carpets, kilims and silverware.

In the historical district of Sur in the center of Diyarbakir, there is one of the largest surviving fortifications in the world - the Diyarbakir Wall Fortress, which is the second longest after the Great Wall of China. The exact date of construction is unknown, but according to assumptions, the construction of this magnificent structure began in 349 on behalf of the Roman Emperor Constantius II. In 2015, the Walls of Diyarbakir, which resemble the shape of a flounder fish from a bird's eye view, were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The walls surrounding Diyarbakir consist of two parts - internal and external parts.

The length of the preserved part of the outer wall is about 5 km, the width ranges from three to five meters, and the height is from 10 to 12 meters. The fortress wall includes 82 towers and four gates, which are oriented to the cardinal points. The gates are decorated with bas-reliefs and inscriptions: “Mountain Gate” - in the north, “Mardyn Gate” - in the south, “New Gate” - in the east, “Urfa Gate” - in the west.

The fortress wall is built from dark gray basalt, giving it a powerful appearance.

Finds from the inner castle (Ichkala) and its location suggest that this area functioned as an administrative center during almost all periods of the city's history.

In the Inner Fortress there were the Amida mound, the Artukid palace and arch, the Mosque of St. Suleiman and 27 tombs of the companions, the Church of St. George, the Lion Fountain, and now the Archaeological Museum, the Regional Laboratory of Restoration and Conservation, the governor's reception room, the old prison, the building of the military building, and also the Ataturk Museum.

I'll tell you in more detail about several of them.

Amida Mound

The Amida Mound is located in the center of the city of Diyarbakir and is the place where the first settlement of the area began. Artifacts discovered during excavations showed that the first settlement in the Amida mound was founded 8 thousand years ago, in 6100 BC. (the period of the late Neolithic - early Eneolithic) and continued until today.

Saint Suleiman Mosque and 27 tombs of the Companions

The mosque is known under two different names - the Mosque of the Prophet Solomon (Suleiman) and the Kale Mosque (fortress). It is a place of pilgrimage for locals and foreigners, as the tomb of Suleiman and his 27 companions is located here.

The most important feature of the mosque, which is located in the citadel, is that the conquest of Diyarbakir began from here during the period of Caliph Omar and it is here that the burial place of the companions who died during the conquest of Diyarbakir by Muslims is located. Black basalt stone rises above the mosque and gives the mosque the appearance of a fortress. The mosque is a complex of buildings consisting of the tomb of the companions, a prayer hall, a square minaret and a number of fountains.

What impressed me most was the Ten-Eyed Bridge (Bridge with 10 arches on the Tigris River). Also known as the Tiger Bridge or Silvan Bridge, it was built during the reign of Nizamuddin Nasr during the Marwanid dynasty in 1065-1067. The bridge was destroyed by the troops besieging the city and later repaired again. The Ten-Eyed Bridge was built entirely from basalt stone and rubble stone. The length of the bridge is 18 meters, the width of the bridge covering is 7-8 meters. At the same level as the inscription located on the bridge, there is a bas-relief of a lion whose head faces to the right. On other stones of the main part of the bridge you can also see traces of a lion figure.

Among the attractions of Diyarbakir there are also the Zerzevan fortress and the mysterious Temple of Mithras, the Armenian Church of Surp Giragos, and the Sülüklu Han Hotel.

Diyarbakir also attracts foreign tourists with its exquisite cuisine. Popular dishes include a lentil grain soup known as habenisk, which is often prepared at home, and ayvali kavurma (quince stew), served in palaces, pavilions and mansions.

Katkat kebab is unique to Diyarbakir. This offal kebab gets its name because it is made from seven layers of animal tripe. Duvakli pilaf is also prepared in Diyarbakir. It got its name from its resemblance to the design on a bride's veil - duvak means veil in Turkish. This pilaf is traditional at engagements and circumcision celebrations, as well as weddings.

Well, Diyarbakir watermelonsare known all over the world for their size. Some can exceed 50 kilograms.

It is no coincidence that Diyarbakir was one of 11 Turkish cities that hosted the large-scale “Road of Culture” festival. The festival offers a unique experience for all residents and guests of the city: from concerts to master classes and exhibitions.

Nurmyrat Yylkybayev

Photo: author's photo

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