Di­yarbakır and Mardin in south­east­ern Ana­to­lia have hosted var­i­ous civ­i­liza­tions for thou­sands of years. Both an­cient cities are ex­tra­or­di­nary tourist draws for their rich, di­verse his­tor­i­cal sites and they are wait­ing for vis­i­tors to come and ex­pe­ri­ence

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

TUR­KEY is a heaven for ex­plor­ers. The Ana­to­lian lands have been the home of var­i­ous civ­i­liza­tions since the dawn of time, and one can still trace ev­ery step of their ex­is­tence. This win­ter set your course to south­east­ern Ana­to­lia to dis­cover the an­cient cities of Di­yarbakır and Mardin, while strolling down nar­row, his­toric streets.


Fas­ci­nat­ing for its cul­tural rich­ness, Di­yarbakır has mag­nif­i­cent 2,000-year-old walls, con­sist­ing of 82 bas­tions, that are on the UN­ESCO World Her­itage List.

Af­ter a splen­did break­fast full of lo­cal tastes in the mys­ti­cal at­mos­phere of the his­toric Hasan­paşa Inn, Di­yarbakır House or Sülüklü Inn, his­tory and lit­er­a­ture lovers need to check out the mu­seum house where Cahit Sıtkı Tarancı, the fa­mous poet and au­thor, was born and raised, the mu­seum house where in­tel­lec­tual Ziya Gökalp was born, Me­sudiye Madrasah, one of the first uni­ver­si­ties in Ana­to­lia, the Ah­met Arif Lit­er­ary Mu­seum, the Zin­ciriye Madrasah and the Cemil Bey, İsk­ender Paşa and Sü­ley­man Nazif man­sions.

The Great Mosque of Di­yarbakır, which was built on a church that is thought to have been es­tab­lished as a Ro­man tem­ple in 639 A.D. in the Sur dis­trict, is con­sid­ered the fifth-great­est mosque of Is­lam.


Those who visit İçkale, the mosque and com­pan­ion tombs, find a spa­cious land­scape that was purged of ir­reg­u­lar con­struc­tions around the area of the Hazreti Sü­ley­man Mosque thanks to work by the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment and Ur­ban­iza­tion on a 115-acre field.

İçkale, which is the in­ner parts of the city walls and was the ad­min­is­tra­tive cen­ter in ev­ery pe­riod, fea­tures the St. Ge­orge Church, which cov­ers 20,000 square me­ters and dates back to the sec­ond cen­tury B.C., while the Ar­tuqid Palace and build­ings re­flect the ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures of the Repub­li­can and Ot­toman pe­ri­ods. It is a must-see place in the city.

Peo­ple can also visit the 800-year-old Erde­bil Man­sion, which is three kilo­me­ters from the city. They can re­lax watch­ing the Ti­gris River Bridge, also known as Ongö­zlü (Ten-eyed) Bridge, the river flow­ing un­der it, Kırk­lar Moun­tain op­po­site it and Di­yarbakır’s glo­ri­ous walls and taste lo­cal foods.

Atatürk Man­sion, si­t­u­ated at a point dom­i­nat­ing the Ti­gris Val­ley south of the city, is one of the first places that comes to mind when Di­yarbakır is men­tioned.


At the fork of the Di­yarbakır-Bingöl high­way in the Lice dis­trict sits the nat­u­ral won­der that is the Birkleyn Caves, which have sta­lac­tites, sta­lag­mites and cu­nei­form scripts from the Assyr­ian King­dom. It is a must-see his­tor­i­cal des­ti­na­tion.

Hi­lar Caves and Çayönü Hill, one of the old­est cave set­tle­ments in Ana­to­lia, in the Er­gani dis­trict are at­trac­tive as they shed light on the his­tory of civ­i­liza­tion and re­gional his­tory.

Known as the realm of prophets and saints, the Eğil dis­trict is an­other op­tion for guests. Lo­cated on the side over­look­ing the Ti­gris Dam Lake, the dis­trict is a fa­vorite spot for re­li­gious tourism with Zi­yaret Hill, fea­tur­ing the tombs of Hazreti Zülkif, Hazreti Elyesa, Nebi Harun and Nebi Ömer.

Those want­ing to ex­plore the lo­cal culi­nary de­lights of Di­yarbakir can en­joy meals such as liver ke­bab, mef­tune, içli köfte (stuffed meat­balls) and meaty or sour dolma. Vis­i­tors can also pur­chase sou­venirs such as tra­di­tional hand­i­crafts, ex­clu­sively de­signed gold or sil­ver jew­elry, spices, Karadağ rice and Di­yarbakır ka­dayıfı (a much-loved lo­cal dessert).


The city of Mardin, with his­tor­i­cal mosques, madrasahs, churches, monas­ter­ies and unique ar­chi­tec­ture, of­fers an un­for­get­table hol­i­day for vis­i­tors.

In ad­di­tion to its his­tory, Mardin is one of Tur­key’s most unique places to visit thanks to the har­mony of the city, em­a­nat­ing from the pos­i­tive bonds shared by dif­fer­ent re­li­gions.

Peo­ple vis­it­ing Mardin, where the sound of the azan and church bells can be heard to­gether, can stay in his­tor­i­cal man­sions that have been turned into bou­tique ho­tels along with el­e­gant ho­tels and authen­tic Mardin houses that serve as hos­tels.

The Mardin Mu­seum is among the must­see places in the city cen­ter.

Watch­ing the sun­rise and sun­set from Mardin Cas­tle in the an­cient city pro­vides hol­i­day­mak­ers with a unique, un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Er­doba Man­sion or the Cer­cis Mu­rat Man­sion, bear­ing the marks of the city’s unique stone ar­chi­tec­ture, are among the culi­nary des­ti­na­tions. Some of the del­i­ca­cies are Sem­busek, içli köfte, kibe bum­bar, dolma, stew, ribs, etli ek­mek (bread with a meat layer on top) and cheese halva. More­over, vis­i­tors to Mardin can swing by the col­or­ful and bustling mar­ket to buy ex­otic spices, sug­ared al­monds, telkari sil­ver, hand­i­craft ob­jects and lo­cal or­ganic soap.

Deyrulzaferan Monastery, Vir­gin Mary Church and Mor Yakup Monastery are other im­por­tant his­tor­i­cal sites to visit, par­tic­u­larly for those into cul­tural tourism. Mor Gabriel Monastery, 23 kilo­me­ters from Midyat dis­trict, is the third largest monastery in the world.

The Dara Ruins, where an­cient rock tombs dat­ing back to the 5th cen­tury A.D. are lo­cated, are con­sid­ered the “Eph­e­sus of Me­sopotamia.” The an­cient site of Dara was an im­por­tant set­tle­ment on the Silk Road.

Speak­ing to Anadolu Agency (AA), Özgür Azad Güngör, the head of Mardin’s Tourism and Ho­tels As­so­ci­a­tion, said that the city is ready to host lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional tourists in the midterm hol­i­day, adding that Mardin has al­ways en­joyed wide in­ter­est among tourists.

Not­ing that the city has a ca­pac­ity of 6,500 beds, Güngör said: “We are nicely pre­pared. There is se­ri­ous de­mand, and we are look­ing for­ward to host­ing guests in Mardin.”

Lo­cated in­side the city walls, İçkale dis­trict of Di­yarbakır is home to St. Ge­orge Church dat­ing back to the sec­ond cen­tury B.C. The Ar­tuqid Palace and build­ings re­flect the ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures of the Repub­li­can and Ot­toman pe­ri­ods.

Mardin is one of Tur­key’s most unique and his­toric places to visit thanks to the har­mony of the city, em­a­nat­ing from the pos­i­tive bonds shared by dif­fer­ent re­li­gions.

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