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Revision as of 11:28, 26 July 2012
Diyarbakır (Kurdish and Zaza: Amed; Turkified form of Diyarbekir is also common in colloquial Kurdish) is the largest city in Southeastern Anatolia, on the banks of Tigris (Dicle), one of the greatest rivers of Middle East.
Turkish Airlines  offers daily domestic flights from Istanbul (IST) and Ankara to Diyarbakir (DIY).
There are trains three times a week from Istanbul (Güney Express) via Ankara and a number of other cities on the way, including Kayseri, Sivas, and Malatya among others. There is also another daily train from Ankara (4 Eylül Mavi Treni), which takes the same route with Güney Express. On its way back to Istanbul, Güney Express, which comes from Kurtalan and Batman about 2 hours further east from Diyarbakır, departs from Diyarbakır on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays around noon. Trains to Istanbul get really overcrowded during early August because of huge numbers of seasonal workers taking the train to get to hazelnut orchards around Adapazarı and Eastern Marmara on the way (short of two hours from Istanbul—the last stop of the trains), and it is impossible to find a ticket during that season without booking/buying the ticket in advance. Even if you can find a ticket, the ride is very uncomfortable, and because of the huge numbers of passengers getting off the train in almost each stop—even if it is in the middle of nowhere, where normally no one ever gets on or off—to replenish their water from station fountains, trains are extremely delayed, and it takes almost two full days to get to Istanbul. Avoid if you are not deadly on budget.
Many local bus companies offer services from cities all over Turkey. The main bus station (otogar) is about 10 km away from city centre, along the highway to Urfa.
When traveling from Diyarbakir to west by bus be prepared for several ID check ups at military checkpoints.
The old city containing many mosques and churches, is a little run down but enclosed in magnificent walls. The city walls are very old and certainly worth a walk around. Some of towers are restored by the municipality and are easy to reach from the center of the old city. One such is Kechi Burcu, which offers a nice view of Tigris river below the city, and a great look over the city walls—a teahouse offering traditional tea is nearby as well. However, be careful while walking on the walls and do not enter into all of the towers which looks fancy enough, as some of them are home to junkies.
The old city is like a village in the middle of the city with village mentality; goose running around, women having cay in front of their houses and kids shouting to foreigners the few English words they know.
To avoid problems, dress modestly. There is extensive development outside including a pleasant park. It's called Gazi Kösk and it contains many teahouses and traditional bed-like constructions, where you sink into cushions and drink tea while overlooking the Dicle river below.
- Ulu Camii (The Great Mosque), Gazi Cd (In the centre of the Old Town, near the main crossroad). The oldest mosque in Anatolia, built in the 11th century by Malikh Shah,the Emir of the Seljuk Turks. Free.
- Kervanseray, Gazi Cd (Opposite the Great Mosque). Old caravanserai, now used as a place for cafes, bookstores, and souvenir shops. Free.
- Meryem Ana Kilisesi (Virgin Mary Church), Ana Sokak 26, Suriçi (In the Old Town, close to Melik Ahmet Cd, signposts indicate where the church is). Limited visiting hours, posted on the entrance. A Syrian Orthodox church founded in 3rd century. If you are lucky, the priest will sing you a fragment of the Bible in Aramaic. Free.
- Armenian church, (Next to the Virgin Mary Church, signposts indicate where the church is). The largest Armenian church in the Middle East, this edifice was recently restored by municipality. The first inauguration for a long time was held in October 2011 and has since officially started to serve the local Armenian community. Free.
You can go for a walk on the old city wall. Get onto it at the northern gate and walk anticlockwise to Mardin Gate. Great views of the surrounding area and the city and it's free. Single tourists might be conspicuous, however, and should beware of pickpockets. The walls serve as home to drug addicts, criminals and poor children - don't wander alone.
- Abraham's Path, Yuvacali village/ Hlvan/ Şanliurfa, ☎ 0533 747 18 50. braham's Path, Yuvacali via Gobekli Tepe to Harran, ☎ 0090 533 7471850, . Follow in the footsteps of the Patriarch Abraham through the sacred sites in and around Sanliurfa. Treks can last from 1 day up to 10 days, and are organized for travellers on a one-to-one basis. Price includes escort, luggage carrying, accommodation, and three meals per day. Contact [email protected] for further details. €55 p.p. per day. €55.
The grill of lamb liver, ciğer kebabı, is a famous part of Diyarbakır cuisine.
Ekşili etli dolma, meftune, içli köfte are some other "must taste"s.
A mixture of wheat grain, chick-peas, and yoghurt called mehir is purpoted to be very good for stomach and is said to help healing stomach problems.
Diyarbakır is very famous with its desserts. Kadayıf, künefe are the two main types of desserts. They are acquired tastes, though, as they are very sweet and contain huge amounts of sugar. Saim Usta is perhaps the best place to have kadayıf in town, while for künefe, you should check out Levent Usta.
There are many teagardens in Ofis and along the Basalt city walls, where you can meet locals. People in Diyarbakir are very open towards foreigners and you'll have a hard time paying for your own tea.
- Mahya Kahve Evi (Mahya Coffee House), Dicle sokak 2a (In Ofis, just off the main street where buses run from bus station to city center), ([email protected]). Open till late at night. This coffeehouse, name of which means "mosque lamp made of coloured glass", has over 70 varieties of coffee and a nice interior. The owners and customers are very friendly and easygoing.
- Tigris Cafe Nargile Salonu, Camii Sk. (now apparently called Sanat Sokak) Cüneyt Bey Apt Altı 16/B (In Ofis, near Yeşil Camii), ☎ +90 412 228 28 84. Apart from nargilas, you can drink there delicious menengiç kahvesi, which is a very sweet milk based drink, a local speciality. The Tigris also has European style toilets available if you should be desperate.
- Hasan Paşa Hanı, Kıbrıs Cd, ([email protected]). Besides coffe and tea, you can have an extremely rich breakfast and/or brunch here in the 500-year-old inn's nice atmosphere.
- Ninova Cafe, Sanat Sokağı (At Ofis, ask for the Sanat Sokağı; it's on the middle), . 11:00-23:00. Coffee, tea, menengiç coffee, hot wine etc. cheap.
There are many clean and reasonably comfortable hotels with air con, etc. There is an engaging hotel in the old han building.
One cheap option is Divan Otel at Gazi Cad. # 9.
- Hotel Surkent, Hz. Suleyman Cd, 19 (Close to the wall and center.), ☎ +90 412 228 1014. checkout: 11AM. It is a clean place, well located and with a very reasonable price. Air-conditioning, heating, small fridge, comfortable beds, hot shower, western toilets, flat-screen TV, English-speaking staff. 30 TL single room in June 2012.
- Aslan Hotel, Kıbrıs Cd. Budget-friendly hotel. 45 TL/night/single.
- Hotel Ekin (not 'Hotel Evin' as one popular guide book calls it). The hotel is very clean, good views from the breakfast lounge at the top. The windows are good and have to be due to the traffic noise and frequent honking of municipal buses in front of the hotel. It's easy to get into the newer part of the city. The best locations for nighttime cafes etc is called Ofis. This area is about 20 minutes walking distance from the hotel and safe at night. Go to the big junction to the right of the hotel and cross over to the other side of the city walls. A single room sets you back about 50 TL which is pretty good value. (Official price is 60 TL but the hotel usually offers the reduction itself. You might also negotiate an appropriate rate.).
Diyarbakır is rough. At first glance, it seems not a very welcoming city, actually it is the contrary. Lıfe in this city is hard for so many people. It is not advisable at all to walk alone during the night time, especially in the old quarter. Taking some precautions during the visit is advisable, just common sense. Don't hang around in dark areas; try not to look like
the typical tourist, etc.
The main shopping road, Gazi Caddesi, in the old quarter also houses two pricey hotels (one of them being the "Green Park") what might lead you to expect that the area is safe. Be warned! The lower end of the street toward the Mardin Kapı, the Mardin Gate, is pretty dark and can be dangerous at night. Do not become prey to pickpockets who seem to hang around there. Your life won't be in danger but your pockets might be emptied more quickly than you can shout Polis! And the narrow alleys quickly turn into a labyrinth when you are under duress. Don't let this scare you off, just take some precautions.
The modern part of Diyarbakir is very much safer.
- Hasankeyf — village to east, downriver on Tigris, with lots of medieval Islamic architecture and pleasant vistas
- other destinations in eastern and southeastern Turkey.
- Karacadag, the forerunner of domesticated wheat originated in the mountains of Karacadag. Cultivation of wheat in the area dates back to approximately 8,800 BCE. Today Karacadag is home to seasonal nomads. Explore the ancient villages populated by Turkmen and Kurdish tribes.
- See where the first animals in the world were domesticated as mankind started settled farming at Çayönü around 40km north-west of Diyarbakir. The site is hugely important for neolithic research and dates from 7200 to 6600 BC.