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Diyarbakır is the largest city in southeastern Turkey. Situated on the banks of the River Tigris, it is the administrative capital of the Diyarbakır Province with a population of almost 1.5 million. Within Turkey, Diyarbakır is famed for its culture, folklore, and watermelons.
Amid(a), ancient name of Diyarbakir, was the capital of the Aramean kingdom Bet-Zamani from the 13th century B.C. onwards, and later part of the Neo Assyrian Empire . Amid is the name used in the Syriac sources, which also testifies to the fact that it once was the seat of the Church of the East Patriarch and thus an original Assyrian/Syriac stronghold that produced many famous Assyrian theologians and Patriarchs. Some of them found their final resting place in St. Mary Church. There are many relics in the Church, such as the bones of the apostle Thomas and St. Jacob of Sarug (d. 521).
In 639 the city was captured by the Arab armies of Islam and it remained in Arab hands until the Kurdish dynasty of Marwanid ruled the area during the 10th and 11th centuries. After the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, the city came under the rule of the Mardin branch of Oghuz Turks and then the Anatolian Turkish Beylik of Artuklu (circa 1100–1250 in effective terms, although almost a century longer nominally).
The city became part of the Ottoman Empire during Sultan Süleyman's campaign of Irakeyn in 1534.
Places of interest
Diyarbakır's city walls, built by Constantius II and extended by Valentinian I between 367-375, stretch almost unbroken for about 6 kilometres.
Old City walls.The city walls - Diyarbakır is surrounded by an almost intact, dramatic set of high walls of black basalt forming a 5.5 km (3.4 mi) circle around the old city. There are four gates into the old city and 82 watch-towers on the walls, which were built in antiquity, restored and extended by the Roman emperor Constantius in 349.
Places of worship - Diyarbakır boasts numerous medieval mosques and madrassahs including:
Ulu Camii ("Great Mosque") built by the Seljuk Turkish Sultan Malik Shah in the 11th century. The mosque, one of the oldest in Turkey, is constructed in alternating bands of black basalt and white limestone. (The same patterning is used in the 16th century Deliler Han Madrassah, which is now a hotel.) The adjoining Mesudiye Medresesi was built at the same time as was another prayer-school in the city Zinciriye Medresesi.
Hazreti Süleyman Camii - 1155-1169 - Süleyman son of Halid Bin Velid, who died capturing the city from the Arabs, is buried here along with his companions.
Safa Camii - built in 1532 by the Ak Koyunlu Turkmen tribe.
Nebii Camii - another Ak Koyunlu mosque, a single-domed stone construction from the 16th century. Nebi Camii means "the mosque of the prophet" and is so-named because of the number of inscriptions in honour of the prophet on its minaret.
Dört Ayaklı Minare (the four-footed minaret) - built by Kasim Khan of the Akkoyunlu, it is said that one who passes seven times between the four columns will have his wishes granted.
Fatihpaşa Camii - built in 1520 by Diyarbakır's first Ottoman governor, Bıyıklı Mehmet Paşa ("the moustachioed Mehmet pasha"). The city's earliest Ottoman building it is decorated with fine tilework.
Hüsrevpaşa Camii - the mosque of the second Ottoman governor, 1512-1528, originally the building was intended to be a school (medrese)
İskender Paşa Camii - and another mosque of an Ottoman governor, an attractive building in black and white stone, built in 1551.
Beharampaşa Camii - an Ottoman mosque built in 1572 by the governor of Diyarbakır, Behram Pasha, noted for the well-constructed arches at the entrance.
Melek Ahmet Camii another 16th century mosque, noted for its tiled prayer-niche, and the double stairway up the minaret.
The Syriac Orthodox church of Our Lady was first constructed as a pagan temple in the 1st century BCE. The current construction dates back to the 3rd century, has been restored many times, and is still in use as a place of worship todayThere are a number of other churches in the city.
The Archaeological Museum contains artefacts from the neolithic period, through the Early Bronze Age, Assyrian, Urartu, Roman, Byzantine, Artuklu, Seljuk Turk, Ak Koyunlu, and Ottoman Empire periods.
Cahit Sıtkı Tarancı Museum - the home of the late poet is a classic example of a traditional Diyarbakır home.
The birthplace of poet Ziya Gökalp has been preserved as a museum to his life and works.