Cornucopia’s online guide


On the banks above the Tigris, Diyarbakır is a major Kurdish town known for its oversized melons - a fruit with a long history in Turkey, as Berrin Torolsan explained in Cornucopia 39. It was an important Hurrian city and the Romans, who built the impressive city walls, called it called Amida. Other peoples to rule the town include the Black Sheep (Kara Koyunlu) and White Sheep (Ak Koyunlu) Oghuz Turks, whose names seem reflected in the chequerboard architecture. Diyarbakır has an important military airport and nearby Pirinçlik is a Nato radar base.

What you will see

The stark 6km black basalt wall encircling the city is an embellishment of the Roman original and has four main gates and around 70 towers. A walkway gives excellent views over the Tigris. The old town’s buildings, with some 20 mosques, have a distinctive black-and-white design using basalt and limestone blocks. The 12th-century Great Mosque, which can accommodate 5,000, is one of the oldest Seljuk complexes, probably built on the site of an earlier Christian church. The existing Syriac Orthodox church dates from the 3rd century. The Armenian church of St Giragos has been recently restored. Artefacts from Turcoman tribesman can be seen in the archeology museum.

Getting there

Dayarbakır has rail links to Ankara and Istanbul.