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"Amid" redirects here. For other places, see Amid (disambiguation).
Top left: Ali Pasha Mosque, Top right: Nebi Mosque, 2nd: Seyrangeha Park, 3rd left: Dört Ayakli Minare Mosque, 3rd upper right: Deriyê Çiyê, 3rd lower right: On Gözlü Bridge (or Silvan Bridge), over Tigris River, Bottom left: Diyarbakır City Wall, Bottom right: Gazi Köşkü (Veterans Pavilion)
Top left: Ali Pasha Mosque, Top right: Nebi Mosque, 2nd: Seyrangeha Park, 3rd left: Dört Ayakli Minare Mosque, 3rd upper right: Deriyê Çiyê, 3rd lower right: On Gözlü Bridge (or Silvan Bridge), over Tigris River, Bottom left: Diyarbakır City Wall, Bottom right: Gazi Köşkü (Veterans Pavilion)
Diyarbakır is located in Turkey
Location of Diyarbakır within Turkey.
Coordinates: 37°55′N 40°14′E / 37.91°N 40.24°E / 37.91; 40.24
Country  Turkey
Region Southeastern Anatolia
Province Diyarbakır
 • Mayor Gültan Kışanak (BDP)
Elevation 675 m (2,215 ft)
Population (2013)[1]
 • City 930,266
 • Metro 1,300,000
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST[2] (UTC+3)
Postal code 21x xx
Area code(s) (0090)+ 412
Licence plate 21

Diyarbakır (Kurdish: Amed)[3] is one of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey. Situated on the banks of the Tigris River, it is the administrative capital of the Diyarbakır Province. With a population of about 930,000 it is the second largest city in Turkey's south-eastern Anatolia region, after Gaziantep.

Diyarbakir is also a major cultural and economic center in Turkey and as such has been a focal point for conflict between Turkey's government and its Kurdish population.


The name Diyarbakir (Arabic دیار بکر "Diyaru Bakr which means the land of Bakir;Armenian: Տիգրանակերտ Tigranakert;[4] Ancient Greek: Άμιδα, Amida; Ottoman Turkish: دیاربکرDiyâr-ı Bekr; Syriac: ܐܡܝܕ) is inscribed as Amid on the sheath of a sword from the Assyrian period, and the same name was used in other contemporary Syriac and Arabic works.[5] The Romans and Byzantines called the city Amida.[5] Among the Artukid and Akkoyunlu it was known as "Black Amid" (Kara Amid) for the dark color of its walls, while in the Zafername, or eulogies in praise of military victories, it is called "Black Fortress" (Kara Kale).[5] In the Book of Dede Korkut and some other Turkish works it appears as Kara Hamid.[5]

Following the Arab conquests in the seventh century, the Arab Bakr tribe settled in this region,[5] which became known as the Diyar Bakr ("landholdings of the Bakr tribe", in Arabic: ديار بكر Diyar Bakr).[6][7] In 1937, Atatürk visited Diyarbekir and, after expressing uncertainty on the exact etymology of the city, ordered that it be renamed "Diyarbakır", which means "land of copper" in Turkish after the abundant resources of copper around the city.[8]


The earliest reference to the city comes from Assyrian records which identify it as being the capital of the Aramean kingdom of Bit-Zamani (ca. 1300 BC). In the ninth century BC, the city joined a rebellion against the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III. The city was later reduced to being a province of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

From 189 BCE to 384 CE, the region to the east and south of present Diyarbakır came under the rule of the Hellenistic kingdom of Corduene.

Later, the Romans colonized the city and named it Amida, after the earlier Assyrian name Amid. During the Roman rule, the first city walls were constructed (297 AD) and later, the greater walls were built as per the command of the Roman emperor Constantius II. After the Romans, the Persians came to power and were succeeded by the Muslim Arabs. It was the leader of the Arab Bekr tribe, Bekr Bin Vail, who named the city Diyar Bakr, meaning "the country of Bakr", i.e. Arabs. Much later, in the Republican era, the city got its current name Diyarbakır, which was derived from the abundance of copper ore that exists here.

After a few centuries, Diyarbakır came under the Ottoman Empire and earned the status of the capital of a large province. The city became the base of army troops who guarded the region against Persian invasion. Diyarbakır faced turbulence in the 20th century, particularly with the onset of World War I. The majority of the city's Syriac and Armenian population were massacred and deported during the Armenian Genocide in 1915. In 1925, the Kurdish population rose in a rebellion against the newly established government of the Republic of Turkey, which was crushed by Turkish forces. Thousands of Kurds were killed in this attempt.


The area around Diyarbakır has been inhabited by humans from the stone age with tools from that period having been discovered in the nearby Hilar cave complex. The pre-pottery neolothic B settlement of Çayönü dates to over 10,000 years ago and its excavated remains are on display at the Diyarbakır Museum. Another important site is Girikihaciyan Tumulus in Egil.[9]

The first major civilization to establish themselves in the region of what is now Diyarbakır were the Hurrian kingdom of the Mitanni. The city was first mentioned by Assyrian texts as the capital of a Semitic kingdom. It was then ruled by a succession of nearly every polity that controlled Upper Mesopotamia such as the Aramean, Assyrians, Urartu, Armenians, Achaemenid Persians, Medes, Seleucids, and Parthians.[10] The Roman Republic gained control of the city in 66 BC by when it was named "Amida".[11]

In 359, Shapur II of Persia captured Amida after a siege of 73 days which is vividly described by the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus .[12][12]

Christian bishopric[edit]

Syriac Christianity took hold in the region between the 1st and 4th centuries AD, particularly amongst the Semitic Assyrians of the city. The earliest documented bishop of Amida was Simeon of the Church of the East, who took part in the First Council of Nicaea in 325, on behalf of the city's Assyrian and Aramean Christians. Maras was at the First Council of Constantinople in 381. In the next century, Saint Acacius of Amida (who died in 425, and is included in the Roman Martyrology[13] was noted for having sold the church's gold and silver vessels to ransom and assist Persian prisoners of war.

Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II (408–450) divided the Roman province of Mesopotamia into two, and made Amida the capital of Mesopotamia Prima, and thereby also the metropolitan see for all the province's bishoprics. A 6th-century Notitia Episcopatuum indicates as suffragans of Amida the sees of Martyropolis, Ingila, Belabitene, Arsamosata, Sophene, Kitharis, Cefa, and Zeugma.[14] The Annuario Pontificio adds Bethzabda and Dadima.

The names of several of the successors of Acacius are known, but their orthodoxy is unclear. The last whose orthodoxy is certain is Cyriacus, a participant in the Second Council of Constantinople (553). Many bishops of the Byzantine Empire fled in the face of the Persian invasion of the early 7th century, with a resultant spread of the Jacobite Church, Michael the Syrian gives a list of Jacobite bishops of Amida down to the 13th century.[15]

At some stage, Amida became a see of the Armenian Christians. The bishops who held the see in 1650 and 1681 were in communion with the Holy See, and in 1727 Peter Derboghossian sent his profession of faith to Rome. He was succeeded by two more Catholic Armenians, Eugenius and Ioannes of Smyrna, the latter of whom died in Constantinople in 1785. After a long vacancy, three more bishops followed. The diocese had some 5,000 Armenian Catholics in 1903,[16] but it lost most of its population in the Armenian Genocide. The last diocesan bishop of the see, Andreas Elias Celebian, was killed with some 600 of his faithful in the summer of 1915.[17][18][19][20]

An eparchy for the local members of the Syriac Catholic Church was established in 1862. Ignatius Philip I Arkus, who was its first bishop, was elected patriarch in 1866, he kept the governance of the see of Amida, which he exercised through a patriarchal vicar. The eparchy was united to that of Mardin in 1888. Persecution in Turkey during the First World War brought an end to the existence of both these Syrian residential sees.[17][18][21][22] However, in 1966 a Chaldean Catholic Archeparchy with jurisdiction over all Chaldean Catholic Turks was revived in Diyarbakir, with the city being both the episcopal see and location of the dioceses main Cathedral.

As of 2015, there are two Assyrian Churches, and 3 Armenian churches in at least periodic operation. three other churches are in ruins, all Armenian. one outside Sur district, one in it, and one in the citadel that is now part of a museum complex.

No longer a residential bishopric, Amida is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.[23]

Middle Ages[edit]

See also: Diyar Bakr

In 639, the city was captured by the Muslim conquests, and introduced to the religion of Islam. The city passed under Umayyad and then Abbasid control, but with the progressive fragmentation of the Abbasid Caliphate from the late 9th century, it periodically came under the rule of autonomous dynasties. Isa ibn al-Shaykh al-Shaybani and his descendants ruled the city and the wider Diyar Bakr from 871 until 899, when Caliph al-Mu'tadid restored Abbasid control, but the area soon passed to another local dynasty, the Hamdanids. The latter were displaced by the Buyids in 978, who were in turn followed by the Marwanids a few years later. The Marwanids ruled until after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, when the city came under the rule of the Mardin branch of the Oghuz Turks and then the Anatolian beylik of the Artuqids. The whole area was then disputed between the Ilkhanate and Ayyubid dynasties for a century, after which it was taken over by the competing Turkic federations of the Kara Koyunlu (the Black Sheep) first and then the Aq Qoyunlu (White Sheep Turkomans) until the rise of the Persian Safavids, who naturally took over the city and the wider region.

Safavids and Ottomans[edit]

Between the early 16th century and mid-to late 17th century the city and the much wider Eastern Anatolia region (comprising Eastern Anatolia and Southeastern Anatolia) was being heavily competed between the rivalling Persian Safavids and the Ottoman Turks, being passed on numerous times between the two arch rivals. When it was firstly conquered by the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century by the campaigns of Bıyıklı Mehmet Paşa under the rule of Sultan Selim I following the Battle of Chaldiran, they established an eyelet with its centre in Diyarbakır. The Ottoman eyelet of Diyarbakır corresponded to Turkey's southeastern provinces today, a rectangular area between the Lake Urmia to Palu and from the southern shores of Lake Van to Cizre and the beginnings of the Syrian desert, although its borders saw some changes over time. The city was an important military base for controlling this region and at the same time a thriving city noted for its craftsmen, producing glass and metalwork. For example the doors of Mevlana's tomb in Konya were made in Diyarbakır, as were the gold and silver decorated doors of the tomb of Imam-i Azam Ebu Hanife in Baghdad. Ottoman rule was confirmed by the Peace of Amasya of 1555 which followed after the Ottoman–Safavid War (1532–55). However, a recapture of the city followed by Safavid Persia, ruled by shah Abbas I, during the Ottoman-Safavid War (1603-1618).

In 1895, indigenous Armenians and Assyrians were subject to massacres in Diyarbakır.[24] The city had been also a site for ethnic cleansing of Armenians and Assyrians, nearly 150,000 were deported from the city.[25]

Republic of Turkey[edit]

A typical example of Diyarbakır's historic architectural style, with masonry tiles built of the city's indigenous type of dark basalt stone.
Diyarbakır's city walls, built by Constantius II and extended by Valentinian I between 367 and 375, stretch almost unbroken for about 6 kilometres.
Dört Ayakli Minare Mosque with its famous four legged minaret

In the reorganization of the provinces, Diyarbakır was made administrative capital of the Diyarbakır Province. During the 1980s and 1990s, at the peak of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) insurgency, the population of the city grew dramatically as villagers from remote areas where fighting was serious left or were forced to leave for the relative security of the city. After the cessation of hostilities between the PKK and the Turkish army, a large degree of normality returned to the city, with the Turkish government declaring an end to the 15-year period of emergency rule on 30 November 2002. Diyarbakır grew from a population of 30,000 in the 1930s to 65,000 by 1956, to 140,000 by 1970, to 400,000 by 1990,[26] and eventually swelled to about 1.5 million by 1997.[27]

The 41-year-old American-Turkish Pirinçlik Air Force Base near Diyarbakır, known as NATO's frontier post for monitoring the former Soviet Union and the Middle East, closed on 30 September 1997. This closure was the result of the general drawdown of US bases in Europe and the improvement in space surveillance technology. The base housed sensitive electronic intelligence-gathering systems that monitored the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Russia.[28]

According to a November 2006 survey by the Sur Municipality, one of Diyarbakır's metropolitan municipalities, 72% of the inhabitants of the municipality use Kurdish most often in their daily speech, followed by Turkish,[29]with small minorities of Assyrians, Armenians and Yezidis still resident.


Historically, Diyarbakır produced wheat and sesame.[30][31] They would preserve the wheat in warehouses, with coverings of straw and twigs from licorice trees. This system would allow the wheat to be preserved for up to ten years.[30] In the late 19th and early 20th century, Diyarbakır exported raisins, almonds, and apricots to Europe.[31] Angora goats were raised, and wool and mohair was exported from Diyarbakır. Merchants would also come from Egypt, Istanbul, and Syria, to purchase goats and sheep.[32] Honey was also produced, but not so much exported, but used by locals. Sericulture was observed in the area, too.[33]

Prior to World War I, Diyarbakır had an active copper industry, with six mines. Three were active, with two being owned by locals and the third being owned by the Turkish government. Tenorite was the primary type of copper mined. It was mined by hand by Kurds. A large portion of the ore was exported to England. The region also produced iron, gypsum, coal, chalk, lime, jet, and quartz, but primarily for local use.[34]


Some jewelry making and other craftwork continues today although the fame of the Diyarbakır's craftsmen has long passed. Folk dancing to the drum and zurna (pipe) are a part of weddings and celebrations in the area.


Diyarbakır is known for rich dishes of lamb which use spices such as black pepper, sumac and coriander; rice, bulgur and butter. The most famous specialty dish from Diyarbakır is Meftune which is made up of lamb meat and vegetable laced with garlic and sumac. Another known dish is Kaburga Dolması which is a baked lamb's ribs stuffed with rice and many spices. Diyarbakır is also famous for its watermelons which are exported internationally; one of the largest events in the city is the annually held Watermelon Festival.

Main sights[edit]

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 II in 349.

Diyarbakır boasts numerous medieval mosques and medreses, including:

  • Great Mosque of Diyarbakır 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/Medreseya Mesûdiyeyê was built at the same time, as was another prayer-school in the city, Zinciriye Medresesi/Medreseya Zincîriyeyê.
  • Beharampaşa Camii/Mizgefta Behram Paşa – an Ottoman mosque built in 1572 by the governor of Diyarbakır, Behram Pasha, noted for the well-constructed arches at the entrance.
  • Dört Ayaklı Minare/Mizgefta Çarling (the four-footed minaret) – built by Kasim Khan of the Aq Qoyunlu. It is said that one who passes seven times between the four columns will have his wishes granted.
  • Fatihpaşa Camii/Mizgefta Fetih Paşa – 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.
  • Hazreti Süleyman Camii/Mizgefta Hezretî Silêman – 1155–1169 – Süleyman son of Halid Bin Velid, who died capturing the city from the Arabs, is buried here along with his companions.
  • Hüsrevpaşa Camii/Mizgefta Husrev Paşa – the mosque of the second Ottoman governor, 1512–1528. Originally the building was intended to be a school (medrese)
  • İskender Paşa Camii/Mizgefta Îskender Paşa – a mosque of an Ottoman governor, an attractive building in black and white stone, built in 1551.
  • Melek Ahmet Camii/Melek Ahmed Paşa a 16th-century mosque noted for its tiled prayer-niche and for the double stairway up the minaret.
  • Nebii Camii/Mizgefta Pêxember – an Aq Qoyunlu 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.
  • Safa Camii/Mizgefta Palo – built in 1532 by the Aq Qoyunlu (White Sheep Turkomans) tribe.

Famous churches include:

  • St. Giragos Armenian Church – first built in 1519, the current structure is from 1883, and was recently restored after a long period of disuse.[35]
  • The Syriac Orthodox Church of Our Lady (Syriac: ܐ ܕܝܠܕܬ ܐܠܗܐ `Idto d-Yoldat Aloho, Turkish: Meryemana kilisesi), 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 today.[citation needed]
  • Mar Petyun (St. Anthony) Catholic Chaldean Church, built in 1681.[36]
  • There are a few other churches in the city
Historic bridges


Diyarbakır has a borderline Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa) and hot dry-summer continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dsa). Summer are very hot and very dry, due to its location on the Mesopotamian plain which is subject to hot winds from the deserts of Syria and Iraq to the south. The highest recorded temperature was 44.8°C (112.64°F) on 28 August 1998. Winters are cold and wet and with frosty nights. Snowfall is quite common between the months of December and March, snowing for a week or two. The lowest recorded temperature was −23.4°C (−10.12°F) on 30 December 2006.

Climate data for Diyarbakır (1960-2012)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 1.8
Average low °C (°F) −2.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 68.0
Average rainy days 12.2 11.8 11.8 12.0 8.9 2.9 0.5 0.3 1.2 6.1 8.0 11.5 87.2
Average relative humidity (%) 75 72 67 65 59 43 31 31 35 51 69 75 56.1
Mean monthly sunshine hours 120.9 134.4 173.6 207.0 300.7 366.0 387.5 362.7 297.0 229.4 162.0 117.8 2,859
Source #1: Devlet Meteoroloji İşleri Genel Müdürlüğü [1]
Source #2: Weatherbase[37]

Notable people born in the city[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Turkey: Major cities and provinces". Retrieved 2015-02-08. 
  2. ^ Distribution of Kurdish People. As some have noted, Turkey's road to the EU lies through Diyarbakır
  3. ^ Rêbera Geştê ya Amedê (2011). Boyut, Istanbul, ISBN 978-605-87650-0-9, 235 pages, a very interesting tourist guide published in Kurdish by the city council in Diyarbakır (Şaredariya Bajarê Mezin a Amedê).
  4. ^ Western Armenian pronunciation: Dikranagerd; Hovannisian, Richard G. (2006). Armenian Tigranakert/Diarbekir and Edessa/Urfa. Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers. p. 2. ISBN 9781568591537. The city that later generations of Armenians would call Dikranagerd was actually ancient Amid or Amida (now Diarbekir or Diyarbakir), a great walled city with seventy-two towers... 
  5. ^ a b c d e Diyarbakır. Turkish Airlines. Retrieved on 2012-05-13.
  6. ^ Abdul- Rahman Mizouri Taj Al- Arifeen: Udday bin Musafir Al- Kurdy Al- Hakary Is not an Umayyad. Part Two. College of Arts/ Dohuk University (2001)
  7. ^ Verity Campbell (1 April 2007). Turkey. Lonely Planet. pp. 621–. ISBN 978-1-74104-556-7. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  8. ^ See Üngör, Uğur (2011), The Making of Modern Turkey: Nation and State in Eastern Anatolia, 1913-1950. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 244. ISBN 0-19-960360-X.
  9. ^ Charles Gates, Ancient Cities, 2011, p. 19.
  10. ^ Trevor Bryce, The Kingdom of the Hittites, 1999 p. 137
  11. ^ Theodor Mommsen History of Rome, The Establishment of the Military Monarchy. Retrieved on 2012-05-13.
  12. ^ a b The Eye of Command, Kimberly Kagan, p23
  13. ^ Martyrologium Romanum (Vatican Press 2001 ISBN 978-88-209-7210-3), under 9 April
  14. ^ Echos d'Orient X, 1907, pp. 96 and 145.
  15. ^ Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. II, coll. 989-996
  16. ^ Annuaire Pontifical Catholique, 1903, p. 173.
  17. ^ a b Pius Bonifacius Gams, Series episcoporum Ecclesiae Catholicae, Leipzig 1931, p. 456
  18. ^ a b Pius Bonifacius Gams, Series episcoporum Ecclesiae Catholicae, Complementi, Leipzig 1931, p. 93
  19. ^ F. Tournebize, v. Amid ou Amida, in Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de Géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. XII, Paris 1953, coll. 1246-1247
  20. ^ Hovhannes J. Tcholakian, L'église arménienne catholique en Turquie, 1998
  21. ^ S. Vailhé, Antioche. Patriarcat syrien-catholique, in Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, Vol. I, Paris 1903, coll. 1433
  22. ^ O. Werner, Orbis terrarum catholicus, Freiburg 1890, p. 164
  23. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 831
  24. ^ Gunter, Michael. The Kurdish Predicament in Iraq: A Political Analysis. p. 8. 
  25. ^ Dumper, Michael. Cities of The Middle East and North Africa: A Historical Encyclopedia. p. 130. 
  26. ^ McDowall, David (2004). 3E, ed. A Modern History of the Kurds. IB Tauris. p. 403. ISBN 978-1-85043-416-0. 
  27. ^ Kirişci, Kemal (June 1998). "Turkey". In Janie Hampton. Internally Displaced People: A Global Survey. London: Earthscan Publications Ltd. pp. 198, 199. 
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Belediye Diyarbakırlıyı tanıdı: Kürtçe konuşuyor". Radikal (in Turkish). Dogan News Agency. 2006-11-24. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  30. ^ a b Prothero, W.G. (1920). Armenia and Kurdistan. London: H.M. Stationery Office. p. 60. 
  31. ^ a b Prothero, W.G. (1920). Armenia and Kurdistan. London: H.M. Stationery Office. p. 62. 
  32. ^ Prothero, W.G. (1920). Armenia and Kurdistan. London: H.M. Stationery Office. p. 63. 
  33. ^ Prothero, W.G. (1920). Armenia and Kurdistan. London: H.M. Stationery Office. p. 64. 
  34. ^ Prothero, W.G. (1920). Armenia and Kurdistan. London: H.M. Stationery Office. p. 70. 
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^ Historical Weather for Diyarbakir, Turkey – Travel, Vacation, Forecast and Reference Information. Weatherbase. Retrieved on 2012-05-13.
  38. ^ Plant, Ian Michael (2004). Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 229. ISBN 9780806136219. Aetius: A Greek from Amida (in Mesopotamia), who wrote on philosophy in the mid- sixth century AD in Alexandria. 
  39. ^ Meade, Richard Hardaway (1968). An introduction to the history of general surgery. Saunders. p. 108. OCLC 438114. Aetius of Amida, who lived in the sixth century A.D. and was the first Greek physician who was a Christian, had a chapter on aneurysms in his book on surgery. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°55′N 40°14′E / 37.91°N 40.24°E / 37.91; 40.24