Explore The Euphrates and Tigris basin
Diyarbakır’s six-kilometre-long city wall, breached by four huge main gateways plus several smaller ones, is dotted with 72 defensive towers. Much of what can be seen today dates from the eleventh-century Artukid kingdom of Malık Salih Şah. When exploring the walls in hot weather make sure you’ve got water and a head-covering. A torch is handy for the darkened interiors of the gate-towers. Be warned that some sections lack either an external or internal parapet wall or rail and it is only a couple of metres wide in places. Especially at dusk watch out for stone-throwing youngsters.
Most visitors start at the Saray Kapısı which marks the entrance to the İç Kale, Diyarbakır’s citadel. The section from Saray Kapısı to Oğrun Kapısı is navigable, but take care while ascending the steps. The crumbling tower just south of Oğrum Kapısı gives fine views over the Tigris valley and the alluvial plain on which Diyarbakır’s famous melons grow in special holes dug in the sandy riverbanks.
The citadel, until recently a military zone, is now open and under restoration. Inside is the substantial Church of St George, probably dating back to the early Byzantine period. It once had twin domes, but later structural changes suggest it was subsequently used as a palace by Muslim rulers of the city. The black stone Hazreti Süleyman Camii boasting a huge square minaret, built in 1160 by the Artukids, comes alive on a Thursday, when hundreds of female pilgrims arrive to pray for their wishes to be granted. Diyarbakır’s archeological museum, which lay outside Dağ Kapası, is closed, though there are plans to re-open it in one of the empty buildings here within the next two years.
The best stretch of wall to walk is that between Mardin Kapısı and Urfa Kapısı. From Mardin Kapısı, turn right and follow the inside of the wall for four hundred metres, at which point some steps lead up to the battlement walkway. Turn left and head back to Mardin Kapısı, threading through a vaulted passageway en route to an excellent viewpoint, then retrace your steps west along the ramparts. First up is the Yedi Kardeş Burcu (Seven Brothers Tower), a huge circular bastion decorated with Selçuk lions and a double-headed eagle. Beyond this is the Melikşah Burcu (also known as the Ulu Badan), also decorated with Selçuk motifs.
The views from the walls and towers over the Tigris are superb. Allow around thirty minutes to reach Urfa Kapısı. Follow the steps down into the gate-tower (hold your nose as there is a pungent stench of human excrement) and take care as finding the next set of steps down to street level is not easy in the semi-darkness.