Diyarbakır (Kurdish and Zaza: Amed; Turkified form of Diyarbekir is also common in colloquial Kurdish) is the largest city in Southeastern Anatolia, on the banks of Tigris (Dicle), one of the greatest rivers of Middle East, and considered by many to be the capital of the Kurdish people.
After a few centuries, Diyarbakır came under the Ottoman Empire and earned the status of the capital of a large province.
By planeTurkish Airlines offers daily domestic flights from Istanbul (IST) and Ankara to Diyarbakir (DIY).
By railDirect trains (the Guney Kurtalan Express) run five days a week from Ankara to Diyarbakir, taking 21 hours. There are couchettes and a sleeping car. The main stops along the route are Kayseri, Sivas, and Malatya; from Diyarbakir the train continues to Kurtalan, another 3 hours. For details see Turkish railways website at tcdd.gov.tr, but beware that the timetable and the online booking system give different days of running for this service. Note also that Ankara railway station is partially closed for rebuilding until 2018, with bus replacements to Irmak 60 km east of the city, and altered timings. A high-speed line (YHT) is under construction from Ankara eastwards, and when this reaches Sivas (perhaps in 2018) the journey to Diyarbakir will be quicker.
By busMany local bus companies offer services from cities all over Turkey, including, among others, Erzurum (6 hours, bargainable down to 35 TL from the standard fare of 50 TL), and Mardin (dolmuş-type service, 2 hours, 9 TL—make sure you have your change back if you have no exact amount). The main bus station (otogar) is about 10 km away from city centre, along the highway to Urfa.
When traveling from Diyarbakir to west by bus be prepared for several ID check ups at military checkpoints.
The old city containing many mosques and churches, is a little run down but enclosed in magnificent walls. The city walls are very old and certainly worth a walk around. Some of towers are restored by the municipality and are easy to reach from the center of the old city. One such is Kechi Burcu, which offers a nice view of Tigris river below the city, and a great look over the city walls—a teahouse offering traditional tea is nearby as well. However, be careful while walking on the walls and do not enter into all of the towers which looks fancy enough, as some of them are home to junkies.
The old city is like a village in the middle of the city with village mentality; goose running around, women having cay in front of their houses and kids shouting to foreigners the few English words they know.
However, walking around in the city center is unique and totally different from other Turkish cities. You'll see people as they live their everyday Kurdish life. If you are lucky, you may even get invited for a tea by a friendly shop owner.
To avoid problems, dress modestly. There is extensive development outside including a pleasant park. It's called Gazi Kösk and it contains many teahouses and traditional bed-like constructions, where you sink into cushions and drink tea while overlooking the Dicle river below.
The Diyarbakir fortress has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Great Mosque of Diyarbakıraddress: Gazi CdThe oldest mosque in Anatolia, built in the 11th century by Malikh Shah,the Emir of the Seljuk Turks.
Kervanserayaddress: Gazi CdOld caravanserai, now used as a place for cafes, bookstores, and souvenir shops.
Meryem Ana Kilisesiaddress: Ana Sokak 26, SuriçiA Syrian Orthodox church founded in 3rd century. If you are lucky, the priest will sing you a fragment of the Bible in Aramaic.
Surp Giragos Armenian churchThe largest Armenian church in the Middle East, this edifice was restored by municipality. The first inauguration for a long time was held in October 2011 and has since started to serve the local Armenian community.
Many tourists only visit the old part of Diyarbakir, but don't miss the new and modern New City. Around Ofis district you find a lot of nice bars and cafès filled with lots of students and young couples. Some bars have live music; ask some locals on the street for suggestions. Don't worry about security issues as this part of the city is filled with policemen.
You can also find cheap (around 25 TL) traditional Kurdish trousers, the kind that older men wear every day. Enjoy tea and bargaining sessions with some friendly Bazaar shopkeepers.
Ekşili etli dolma, meftune, içli köfte are some other "must taste"s.
- Hasan Pasha Hani, Best place to get breakfast in Diyarbakir, located in an old caravanserai. Breakfast consists of your entire table being covered in many small dishes of tasty foods. Expensive by local standards but still very affordable, and delicious.
- Buket Lahmacun, One of the most popular and tastiest places in Diyarbakir to try lahmacun (lahmajun), thin crispy dough covered in meat and spices. Is very tasty and quite cheap. Comes with many salads.
- Dağ Kapı Ciğercisi, a restaurant popular with locals for its grilled liver on a skewer. The restaurant is in an old house and is very big.
A mixture of wheat grain, chick-peas, and yoghurt called mehir is purported to be very good for the stomach and is said to help healing stomach problems.
Diyarbakır is very famous for its desserts. Kadayıf, künefe are the two main types of desserts. They are acquired tastes, though, as they are very sweet and contain huge amounts of sugar. Saim Usta is perhaps the best place to have kadayıf in town, while for künefe, you should check out Levent Usta.
Mahya Kahve Eviaddress: Dicle sokak 2aThis coffeehouse (a mahya is a message spelled out by lights strung between minarets) has over 70 varieties of coffee and a nice interior. The owners and customers are very friendly and easygoing.
Tigris Cafe Nargile Salonuphone: +90 412 228 28 84address: Camii Sk. (now apparently called Sanat Sokak) Cüneyt Bey Apt Altı 16/BApart from nargilas, you can drink there delicious menengiç kahvesi, which is a very sweet milk based drink, a local speciality. The Tigris also has European style toilets available if you should be desperate.
Hasan Paşa Hanıaddress: Kıbrıs CdBesides coffee and tea, you can have an extremely rich breakfast and/or brunch here in the 500-year-old inn's nice atmosphere.
address: Sanat SokağıCoffee, tea, menengiç coffee, hot wine.
In summer check that your hotel has aircon since Diyarbakir can become very hot!
There are quite some budget-midrange hotels on Suleyman Caddesi, close to the wall or at Inönü Caddesi. Check around for good prices.
Hotel Surkentphone: +90 412 228 1014address: Hz. Suleyman Cd, 19Small but clean rooms and toilets, very colourful (pink walls!) Air-conditioning, heating, small fridge, comfortable beds, hot shower, western toilets, flat-screen TV. Some of the staff speaks English. If you are a foreigner a self-styled tour-guide called Omar might appear and offer his services. He didn't seem to knowledgeable about the sights, but he wasn't too pushy trying to sell his 60 TL tour. He answered other local questions though and his English was rather decent. There is a laundry service for 5 TL/2 kg which was fast but returned the laundry still wet.
Hotel Kentaddress: Hz. Suleyman CdLooks a bit more rundown than the Surkent, but has Aircon as well.
Hotel Sürmeliaddress: Hz. Suleyman 19Two stars, lobby was clean and bright, reception spoke some English.
Aslan Hoteladdress: Kıbrıs CdBudget-friendly hotel.
Hotel EkinThe hotel is very clean, good views from the breakfast lounge at the top. The windows are good and have to be due to the traffic noise and frequent honking of municipal buses in front of the hotel. It's easy to get into the newer part of the city. The best locations for nighttime cafes etc is called Ofis. This area is about 20 minutes walking distance from the hotel and safe at night. Go to the big junction to the right of the hotel and cross over to the other side of the city walls.
GAP OtelTV, fridge, and 24-hr hot water is provided. The place looks nice, but it's down a narrow and dirty dead-end street. Limited amounts of tea offered by the friendly owner.
Hotel Birkentphone: +90 (0412) 228 71 31address: İnönü Caddesi Nr. 26Nice, clean and central hotel with a very helpful staff.
While walking around the old city, you will see many children playing with toy guns, and, this could sound a little extreme, but they might try shooting you with plastic guns—be careful. Children can also be very annoying here, shouting "Money! Money!" at you and following you around. Not advised to give them money since that reveals the location of your purse and will probably not stop them. Just try to ignore them or try saying "Ayyip!" (shame).
The main shopping road, Gazi Caddesi, in the old quarter also houses two pricey hotels (one of them being the "Green Park"), which might lead you to expect that the area is safe. Be warned! The lower end of the street toward the Mardin Kapı, the Mardin Gate, is pretty dark and can be dangerous at night. Do not become prey to pickpockets who seem to hang around there.
The modern part of Diyarbakir is very much safer.
However, Diyarbakir seems to have recovered from the old times and the police are trying their best to provide a high level of security. So don't let the issues mentioned above scare you off, as the city itself is still a jewel among others in eastern Turkey, offering an amazing and unforgettable charm. Tourist crowds are still tending more to Mardin (1h away), so enjoy having the city mostly to yourself.
- Hasankeyf — village to east, downriver on the Tigris, with lots of medieval Islamic architecture and pleasant vistas.
- Karacadag, the forerunner of domesticated wheat originated in the mountains of Karacadag. Cultivation of wheat in the area dates back to approximately 8,800 BCE. Today Karacadag is home to seasonal nomads. Explore the ancient villages populated by Turkmen and Kurdish tribes.
- See where the first animals in the world were domesticated as mankind started settled farming at Çayönü around 40 km north-west of Diyarbakir. The site is hugely important for neolithic research and dates from 7200 to 6600 BC.