Tourist’s guide to Diyarbakir, city in Turkey with a rich history

Diyarbakir (Turkey) is a city located in the southeast of the country on the banks of the Tigris River, which has become the unofficial capital of Turkish Kurdistan. Its area is more than 15 thousand km², and the population reaches almost 1.7 million people. Most locals represent Kurds, who speak their own language, Kurmanji.

City of Diyarbakir

The history of Diyarbakir dates back to the 2nd millennium BC, when the city was part of the ancient state of Mitanni. Subsequently, he came into the possession of the kingdom of Urartu, which flourished on the territory of the Armenian Highlands from the 8th to the 5th centuries BC. With the advent of the Romans to these lands, the area receives the name Amida and begins to be actively fortified with black basalt fences, which is why it will later be called the Black Fortress. But in the 7th century, the city was captured by the Arabs-Berks and give it the name Diyar-Iberk, which is literally interpreted as “the land of the Berks.” At the beginning of the 16th century, Diyarbakir was part of the Ottoman Empire and acts as the most important defensive point in the war with Persia.

Diyarbakir is a city in Turkey

Diyarbakir is a harsh and unsafe city that has become the epicenter of separatist sentiments. Until 2002, it remained closed due to military conflicts between the Turkish army and Kurdish rebels. Today, the city is a mixture of ancient buildings and cheap box houses, diluted with minarets of numerous mosques. And this whole picture looms against the backdrop of picturesque hills and valleys.

Rare tourists have begun to visit the area relatively recently: travelers are primarily attracted by its rich historical heritage and authentic atmosphere. If you intend to go to the city of Diyarbakir, then we give detailed information about its remarkable objects and infrastructure below.

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Among the attractions of Diyarbakir are religious sites, historical buildings and even a prison, which is considered one of the worst in the world. When visiting the city, you should definitely see:

Great Mosque (Great Mosque of DiyarbakIr)

This shrine is the oldest mosque in Diyarbakir in Turkey and one of the most significant Islamic temples in all of Anatolia. Construction began in 1091 by order of the Seljuk ruler, Malik Shah. The religious complex includes a madrasah and a religious school. The main feature of the Great Mosque was its facades, decorated with a colonnade. Rich in decorative details and skillful carvings, the columns in the courtyard are distinguished from each other by their unique patterns. The mosque also acquired an unusual appearance due to the square minaret.

Big mosque
  • Opening hours: the attraction can be visited in the morning and after lunch in between prayers.
  • Cost of visit: free.
  • Address: Cami Kebir Mahallesi, Pirinçler Sk. 10 A, 21300 Sur, Diyarbakir, Turkey.
Hasan Pasa Hani
Breakfast at Hassan Pasa Hani

The city of Diyarbakir in Turkey is also known for its historic building, which once served as a caravanserai for merchants. Today there are several cafes and eateries where you can taste national dishes, and many miniature trading shops selling gold, carpets, souvenirs and oriental sweets. The architecture of Hassan Pasa Khani is also interesting: the internal facades of the two-story building are decorated with numerous arches connected by columns. The walls of the structure are painted in a white and gray strip, characteristic of many Middle Eastern caravanserais. Today, the place is especially famous for its delicious breakfasts, as well as a cheese shop.

Hassan Pasa Hani
  • Opening hours: the complex is open daily from 07:00 to 21:00.
  • Cost of visit: free.
  • Address: Dabanoğlu Mahallesi, Marangoz Sk. No: 5, 21300 Sur, Diyarbakir, Turkey.
City Walls

The most impressive landmark of the area was its fortress walls, which stretch for 7 km in the center of the city and divide it into two parts, which can clearly be seen in the photo of Diyarbakir. The first fortifications were erected during the reign of the Roman emperor Constantine. The material for the construction of the fences was basalt – an ash-black stone, which gave the structure a gloomy and intimidating appearance.

City walls of Diyarbakir

The thickness of the fortress walls reaches 5 m and a height of 12 m. 82 watchtowers have survived to this day, on which you can climb and see the panorama of the city. In some parts, the building is decorated with bas-reliefs and symbols of various eras. Today, the City Walls of Diyarbakir are among the oldest and most fortified in the world. Tourists can visit the attraction at any time absolutely free.

Armenian Church (St. Giragos Armenian Church)
Armenian church

Often in the photo of Diyarbakir in Turkey, you can see an old dilapidated building of large size, remotely resembling a temple. This is the Armenian church, which today is considered the largest Christian shrine in the Middle East. The construction, erected in 1376, is part of a large complex, which also includes chapels, a school and the homes of priests. For a long time the church did not work and reopened its doors for parishioners only in 2011, when the first restoration work was completed. The restoration of the building continues to this day. A distinctive feature of the decoration of the temple was its geometric ornaments and stucco elements.

  • Opening hours: There is no exact information on the hours of visiting this church, but, as a rule, city parishes are open daily from 08:00 to 17:00.
  • Cost of visit: free.
  • Address: Fatihpaşa Mahallesi, Özdemir Sk. No: 5, 21200 Sur, Diyarbakir, Turkey.

Prison in Diyarbakir

Diyarbakir prison is considered one of the worst in the world. It is located in an ancient fortress, which is surrounded by the aforementioned city walls. After the city became part of the Ottoman Empire, the Turks decided to transform the stronghold into a prison: its strong high walls guaranteed maximum protection from criminals. Previously, all prisoners were chained up to 2 or 10 people, while tightly fastened with chains not only the legs, but also the heads of the guilty. In the 19th century, a large part of the prisoners were Bulgarians, and some of them even managed to escape from prison thanks to the help of Armenian Christians.

Prison in Diyarbakir

Today, the Diyarbakır prison in Turkey, whose photos speak for themselves, is included in the ratings of the most terrible prisons in the world. And this is due, first of all, to the cruel attitude of its employees to prisoners. There are many cases where physical and psychological violence has been used against prisoners. In addition, the conditions of stay and detention in this prison can hardly be called civilized. But the most egregious fact about the institution was cases of imprisonment of children for life in its walls.


Hotel room Dies Hotel
Dies hotel

If you had a desire to personally see the Diyarbakir prison in Turkey and other attractions of the area, then it’s time to find out about accommodation options. Despite the small popularity of the city among travelers, it has a sufficient number of acceptable hotels, which can be booked at affordable prices. In Diyarbakir, 4 * category hotels are very popular: some of them are located in the very center, others are located a few kilometers from the historical district. On average, renting a double room in such hotels costs 200 TL per day. Some establishments include breakfast in the main price.

Hotel room Radisson Blu Hotel
Radisson Blu Hotel

The choice of three-star hotels in Diyarbakir in Turkey is very scarce: you can stay alone for one night in such an institution for 170-190 TL. As you can see, the price is practically no different from the prices in 4 * hotels. There is a five-star Radisson hotel in the city, in which the cost of renting a double room is 350 TL. If you are looking for the most budget options, then pay attention to institutions without stars, where it is quite possible to stay for 90-100 TL per day for two.

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Transport connection

Despite the remoteness of Diyarbakir from the famous cities of Turkey, getting here is not difficult. And for this you can use the plane or bus.

How to get there by plane
Turkish Airlines Plane

Diyarbakır Yeni Hava Limanı Airport is 8 km from the city center. Direct international flights are not provided here, so you need to fly with a transfer in Istanbul or Ankara. From the airports of these cities, several flights are made daily to Diyarbakir by Turkish Airlines and Pegasus Airlines. The cost of tickets from Istanbul in both directions varies between 250-290 TL, travel time is 1 hour 40 minutes. A similar ticket from Ankara will cost 280-320 TL, and the flight will take 1 hour 30 minutes. To get from the airport to the center, you need to use a taxi.

Important. Some airlines provide a free shuttle from the airport to the city. Check with airline staff in advance.

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How to get there by bus
Bus station Esenler Otogarı

You can get to Diyarbakir by bus from almost any major city in Turkey. If you are leaving from Istanbul, then you need to get to the Esenler Otogarı bus station in the European part of the metropolis. From there daily from 13:00 to 19:00 in a given direction leaves several regular buses. The cost of the trip is 140-150 TL, the journey takes from 20 to 22 hours.

If your starting point is Ankara, then you need to arrive at the Ankara (Aşti) Otogarı bus station, from where flights are operated daily from 14:00 to 01:30 to Diyarbakir. The price of a one-way ticket varies between 90-120 TL, and the travel time is 12-14 hours. For more information on bus schedules, visit

These are the two most optimal ways to get to the city of Diyarbakir, Turkey.

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