After spending nearly a month travelling around Southeast Turkey, we thought it was about time we visited a city that holds some controversy.
Before travelling, as is customary for me and many others, I checked the UK Government website for the latest travel restriction rules. I noted that although the FCDO advised against all but essential travel to the province of Diyarbakir, visiting was not prohibited by law. I was very close to the province, so it was likely I would be passing it anyway as I continued my travels. Besides, it would feel rewarding to be able to share Diyabakir’s lesser known history with future tourists.
My first impressions; the city looked cleaner and more modern than many European cities I’ve been to. What’s more, the people are friendly but they keep to themselves. I like that as it can be hard putting up with people right up in your face when they recognise that you’re a tourist.
The city and its history both come with baggage. The Kurdish hold the view that this province and city are both situated within the region of Kurdistan. For that reason, the city has the largest Kurdish population in all of Turkey. Whilst in the city, I came across many people that spoke English and Kurdish, but not Arabic.
As soon as I arrived, I found the roads to be clean and tidy, but not easy to drive at times due to the congestion and the walls that go around the city. The walls become a barrier almost when wanting to from one place to another. At times I had to take a much longer route just because of the wall. I found the people to be very outgoing and friendly and whenever I would ask for advice, they would go out of their way to help.
The wall that goes around the city had been built to protect the city and its inhabitants and is known today as the world 2nd largest wall. With a length of 6 kilometers, the walls of Diyarbakir are located not so far from the breathtaking River Tigris.
The wall today has reduced to a tourist attraction, with couples, lads, lasses, the old and the young all taking advantage of the lack of security. We were also guilty of that. I mean how could we resist!
From up above, we found some amazing views of the Hevsel Gardens which was another delight! The Hevsel Gardens consists of seven hundred hectares of cultivated and fertile lands and is known to be 8000 years old! What’s more, it’s also classed as a UNESCO site, so it gets the care and protection it deserves. The views from the Diyarbakir Fortress walls are simply breathtaking and its easy to just sit here and gaze at the vast fields!
Diyarbakir as a city has been trying really hard to attract more tourists. But with countries advising against traveling here, it has lost a lot of attention. I loved Diyarbakir. I found it to be more vibrant and energetic than many neighbouring Turkish cities and there was also a real feel of spirituality in the air as the city is not only tombs of companions, but also surrounded by tombs of prophets in the nearby village of Egil.