Amed (Diyarbakir)

Diyarbakir (Kurdish: Amed), the largest city in the Turkish Kurdistan region, is home to a wealth of history and cultural exchange. It is located in the southeast portion of the bo

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Diyarbakir (Kurdish: Amed), the largest city in the Turkish Kurdistan region, is home to a wealth of history and cultural exchange. It is located in the southeast portion of the boundaries of Turkey's Anatolia region -- a geographical area with a large percentage of Kurdish natives.[i]


Humans have inhabited the areas of Diyarbakir since the Stone Age and continue to populate now.[ii] Many civilizations have resided in or controlled land around Diyarbakir, including the Assyrians, Medes[iii], Romans[iv], Turks, and the Ottoman Empire.[v] It is believed that the Kurdish name “Amed” is derived from its connotation to the Medes, “A-med” meaning “from the Med” or “belonging to Med”. In fact, it was the capital of the shortlived Median Empire. After the fall of the Assyrian Empire, between 616 BCE and 605 BCE, a unified Median state was formed, which, together with Babylonia, Lydia, and Egypt, became one of the four major powers of the ancient Near East[vi]. 


It is argued, that although it is difficult to ascertain the exact timing of settlement of Diyarbakir by modern Kurdish people, we do have historical records of a certain dynasty of Kurdish descent called the Marwanids dated at 984 AD.[vii] This argument is not supported by findings of Kurdish inhabitance in the region dating back to Sumerians, 3rd millennium BC.[vii] The term “Kurtî” is a Sumerian term meaning “those of the mountains” (“Kur” meaning “mountain”). In modern history, the Kingdom of Commagene (see link to Adiyaman on KURDMAPS) dating back to 2nd century BC had its capital in Adiyaman, some 300 km from Diyarbakir, was indeed an ancient kingdom of Kurdish Median empire. From 189 BCE to 384 CE, the region to the east and south of present Diyarbakır remained under the rule of the Kurdish kingdom of Corduene (Kurdish: Gordiya, Kurdiye). Later, the Romans colonized the city and named it Amida.


During the Roman rule, the first city walls were constructed (297 AD) and later, the greater walls were built as per the command of the Roman emperor Caonstantanius-2. After the Romans, the Persians came to power and were succeeded by the Muslim Arabs. It was the leader of the Arab Bekr tribe, Bekr Bin Vail, who named the city Diyar Bakr, meaning "the country of Bakr". Later the Ottoman/Turks conquered the town in the 16th century and adopted this name. Under Ottoman Empire, Diyarbakir earned the status of the capital of a large province. The city became the base of army troops who guarded the region against Persian invasion. 


Diyarbakır faced turbulence in the 20th century, particularly with the onset of World War I. The city was deprived from Syriacs and Armenians, who were in majority till then, following deportations and genocides. In 1925, the Kurdish population rose in a rebellion against the newly established government of the Republic of Turkey under the leadership of Seyh Said. Thousands of Kurds were killed in this attempt including Seyh Said, who together with other leading officials were executed by hanging on June 29, 1925.[viii]


Since and throughout the 20th century multiple uprisings have emerged from Diyarbakir and the region against the assimilation and genocidal policies of Turkish Republic. Today, Diyarbakir has turned into the symbol of Kurdish freedom struggle.



[i] Dr. Osman Alacahan. "Differing Perceptions Of Kurdish Ethnicity According To Their Ideological Identities In Diyarbakir." The Journal of Academic Social Science Studies. July 2013. Volume 6, Issue 7. p. 64 


[ii] Charles Gates, Ancient Cities, 2011, p. 19.


[iii] Trevor Bryce, The Kingdom of the Hittites, 1999 P. 137


[iv] Theodor Mommsen History of Rome, The Establishment of the Military Monarchy. Retrieved on 2012-05-13.


[v] Canard, Marius; Cahen, Claude (1991). "Diyār Bakr". The Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume II: C–G. Leiden and New York: Brill. pp. 343–345.


[vi] Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia


[vii] McDowall, David (2004). 3E, ed. A Modern History of the Kurds. IB Tauris. p. 23.


[viii] Amedi, Botan. Kürtler ve Kürdistan Tarihi I. 1 ed. Aydinlar Matbaasi (1991) 

First, every traveler to Diyarbakir should know that the region's symbol is the watermelon. As such, many dishes including the sweet fruit are listed on menus city-wide. Otherwise, there is quite an assortment of Kurdish specialties to delight your senses for appetizers, entrées, and desserts. Of course, lamb kebabs are a common offering, but other typical dishes include kaburga dolması, ezo gelin soup, and irmik helvasi. For weary Westerner's looking for a taste of home, there are a few franchised fast food establishments, especially near the city center. Black Walls
Arguably the most sought-after attraction in Amed are the historical city walls. Made from black basalt, these walls are a lengthy 3.4 miles -- second only to the Great Wall of China. With many watch towers and antique styling, the volcanic stones surrounding the old city make a dramatic impression on travelers

Pira Dehderî Bridge
This amazing and historic landmark crosses the Tigris River with a stunning 10-arch design. Built in 1065 AD, its sturdy workmanship have held to the test of time, although automobile traffic is no longer permitted to ensure longevity of its regionally renowned beauty. (Note, this bridge has several names including the Dicle Bridge and Silvani Bridge.)

Great Mosque of Amed
This is the oldest mosque in the Anatoli region, dating its completion to 1092 AD. With ornate relief sculptures depicting animals and Islamic decorative patterns, there is must to capture the attention of any tourist -- especially those with a camera.

Saint Giragos Armenian Church
With ancient and glorious arches spreading over a nearly 3500 square foot space, this iconic building was recently restored in 2011 and is now actively used for religious services, but is also home to a museum about Armenian heritage.

Archaeological Museum
Housing artifacts from as early as the Neolithic period, the museum recently changed locations to increase its display space. An interesting visit for those wanting to learn more about the human history of Amed.

Diyarbakir is located in the southeast portion of the boundaries of Turkey's Anatolia region. The current population is just under one million, and as is true of most cities this size, there are many accommodations to choose from.

In Diyarbakir, the city stages the largest celebration ceremony of Newroz in the entire region. Every year more than one milliion people will join the celebrations of Newroz, which literally mean "new day" but which with time has evolved into a political manifestation of cultural and ethnic existence despite all attempts to cease this by military force in Turkey.
A variety of transportation options exist to take a visit to Diyarbakir. Several airlines offer regular service to the Diyarbakir airport and trains make trips to and from several other major Turkish cities. Travelers who pack lightly simply walk by foot from the airport or train station to the city center, but taxis and rental cars are also available nearby. Local buses provide another viable option for touring the Diyarbakir, with ticket purchases made at the bus counter at time of travel.

The city of Diyarbakir maintains a continental climate with very hot summers and very cold winters. The average high in August is a scorching 97°F, while the average low in January is a bitter 28°F. It is also a fairly arid place, with an annual average precipitation of less than 20 inches.[i] In history, the land was commonly used for agricultural production including wheat, apricots, and sesame and goat-keeping. The area is also rich in copper, iron, gypsum, and coal.[ii]

About Diyarbakir in Lonelyplanet:
“With its narrow alleyways, its countless historical buildings, its Arab-style mosques and its uniquely unforgettable ambience, the old walled city will make you feel like you’re floating through another time and space. Some travellers think it’s a bit rough around the edges; others regard it as a veiled, self-contained city that doesn’t easily bare its soul. Whatever your perspective, Diyarbakır is undisputably filled with character, soul and energy. Be sure to squeeze it into your Anatolian trip”.[iii]

[i] Historical Weather for Diyarbakir, Turkey – Travel, Vacation, Forecast and Reference Information. Weatherbase. Retrieved on 2014-03-01.

[ii] Prothero, W.G. (1920). Armenia and Kurdistan. London: H.M. Stationary Office. p. 62.

[iii] T, retrieved Aug. 15, 2014

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