Diyarbakir, known in ancient times as Amida, spreads across a basalt plateau close to the banks of the Dicle river. The black basalt triple walls which encircle the old town give the city a rather ominous appearance. These ramparts are 5.5 km in length, have 16 keeps and five gates, are decorated with inscriptions and bas reliefs, and represent a superb example of medieval military architecture. The Ulu Mosque, built by the Seljuk sultan Melik Shah, is notable for its original design and for its utilisation of both Byzantine and more ancient architectural materials.
The mihrab of the nearby Mesudiye Medrese is made of the local black basalt. The Nebii Mosque represents the typical Ottoman style, while the Safa Mosque exhibits Persian influences in its tiled minaret. The third century Aramaic Church of the Virgin Mary (Meryemana Kilisesi), which is still in use today, also makes for an interesting visit. For an example of early domestic architecture, stop at the restored home of the writer Cahit Sitki Taranci. The Deliller Hani (1527) by the Mardin Gates, convened and refurbished into a hotel, recreates the atmosphere of the days when trading caravans stopped in Diyarbakir.
Just outside the city walls, by the river, stands Ataturk’s house, now a museum. South of town at the Dicle Bridge, built in 1065, you can take a great picture of the Dicle River, the bridge and the city walls. The old town is still surrounded by the ancient black basalt walls that gave it the name Kara (Turkish: “Black”) Amid. The triple walls, an outstanding example of Middle Eastern medieval military art, were greatly expanded and restored during the Arab and Turkish periods; they are about 3 miles (5 km) long and have numerous towers. Industries include woolen and cotton textiles and copper products; it long has been famous for its gold and silver filigree work.
Tigris University in Diyarbakir was founded in 1966 as a branch of Ankara University and acquired independent status in 1973. Diyarbakir is linked by air and railroad with Ankara, and the region has a well-developed road network. The surrounding region is part of upper Mesopotamia, comprising a large depression crossed by the Tigris River. It is separated from eastern Anatolia by the Taurus Mountains in the north and from the Mesopotamian plain by the Mardin hills in the south; the Karaca Mountain lies to the west. Agricultural products include cereals, cotton, tobacco, and fruits, notably watermelons; mineral deposits include copper and some coal and petroleum. A large proportion of the population is Kurdish.