The Famous City Walls of Diyarbakir, Turkey


Diyarbakir has been continuously inhabited since its founding with evidence of human settlement going back to 11,000 years B.C. It is the largest city in Southeastern Turkey on the banks of the Tigris River. In good times, Travels With Sheila can imagine a travel operator coming up with boat excursions from Diyarbakir all the way downriver to Baghdad. Why not! Famed for its ancient culture, Diyarbakır is made up predominantly of Kurdish people, and sometimes described as the “unofficial capital” of Turkish Kurdistan.

Lunch over, we began walking along Diyarbakir’s city walls…View image… moving as briskly as possible with no lagging behind allowed, while trying to avoid the little children (per Oz’s instructions – he said the little girls are the worst and most proficient at lifting wallets) who scream, “hello, hello, money, money.” That refrain continued over and over again for the next three hours. The city walls surround Diyarbakir and run for an almost intact 5.5km/3.4 miles around the old city. These walls are said to be only second in length to the Great Wall of China. The very dramatic walls built of black basalt…View image….have four gates and 82 watchtowers….View image.

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ancient City Walls of Diyarbakir, Southeastern Turkey
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traffic moving through one of Diyarbakir’s city wall gates, Turkey

 

Diyarbakir’s city walls were built in antiquity, and extended by the Roman emperor Constantius in 349…View image. Up close in one part, the different strata used to build these walls was visible…View image. However, these walls primarily date from Byzantine times. I understand, in hindsight, that you can see reliefs, calligraphy and figures engraved on many of the stones in the wall. Oz sped us by different sections of the walls without stopping to point out any of them. (I’m still doing a slow burn over this.) We did notice one section where someone had bricked up an opening into a heart shape.

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a heart cut into the city wall of Diyarbakir, Turkey
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walking on Diyarbakir’s city walls, Turkey

 

Below the walls, families sat in the grass picnicking…View image, and talking…View image (I hope they weren’t homeless). Small boys would run to us as we approached shouting, what else, “money, money, photo, photo” – the all too common refrain today while several wild turkeys in Turkey popped out of the bushes…

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wild turkeys in Turkey

 

Many of the group did climb up for a short walk on top of the old walls with an admonition to watch out for thieves and be careful of footing. There have been reports of attempted robberies on the walls.

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Sheila is irritated over no free time to explore Diyarbakir, Turkey
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a busy street in Diyarbakir, Turkey

 

Disgusted, we turned off into an older area of Diyarbakir that looked promising, towards the Church of Virgin Mary (Meryem Ana Kilisesi)…

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