Great City, shame about the youngsters trying to kill me!
Diyarbakir Travel Blog› entry 477 of 658 › view all entries
People who contributed to and improved my trip: Volkan (Turkey)
I got into Diyabakir a little after midday and I was left with the task of finding Couchsurfer Volkan's house, with just an address to go on. Thankfully the street I was looking for was one of the main ones in the new area of the city, so I was put onto a bus and the ticket collector told me when to get off. Even though I had found the street, I now had to find the specific apartment and I managed to do this with the help of several Kurdish guys, one of whom actually took me in the elevator and all the way to Volkan's door!
After a brief introduction, which included getting some information on the city, I headed out to enjoy the last couple of hours of sunlight. Sadly I was on my own as Volkan was nursing a broken foot, which was keeping him from his work in the Turkish air force.
Arguably Diyabakir's most famous sight is its 6km black city walls and gates, which were built by the Byzantines in the 4th Century AD. Going even further back, the Romans had probably constructed a defensive wall here when they occupied the city, but this was either destroyed or rebuilt. I entered through a minor gate in the north and proceeded to walk around the perimeter in a clockwise direction. This took me past countless imposing towers and the Dag Kapisi (Harput Kapisi) Gate, before reaching the Saray Kapisi (Palace Gate).
Finding myself at the foot of Ic Kale (the Keep), I got to witness countless pilgrims lining up at Hazreti Suleyman Camii (Mosque), waiting to pay their respects to Muslim heroes who had died in Islamic wars.
My early impressions were soon scuppered however, as I climbed to the top of the walls to get some fantastic views of the old town. Whilst taking some photos a group of Kurdish teenagers spotted me and were saying 'tourist, tourist', whilst throwing rocks at me. What made this act even more irresponsible and dangerous was the fact that there are no guard rails and the wall was only wide enough for one person to walk on in some sections. Basically, if one rock had hit me then the probability is that I would have fallen 35m to my death.
I decided that I was through with climbing on the wall as getting some nice photos wasn't worth risking my life, so I went back down to the bottom and walked from the Mardin Kapisi (Mardin Gate) into the centre of the old town. On the way I stopped to buy a couple of kebabs, which only cost 1YTL ($0.65) each; a complete bargain! Rather than sticking on the main thoroughfares, I preferred to try and walk amongst the small lanes, but my early optimism for the place had disappeared and rather than feeling the charm of such narrow alleys, I now felt isolation and unease.
I walked past the black and white Seyh Mutahhar Camii, which was built in 1512 and had a pretty detached minaret that is called Dort Ayakli Minare (Four legged Minaret), due to its base comprising of four thin 2m pillars.
Back in the narrow streets I was approached by two young kids and whilst I tried to be polite to them, I really didn't feel comfortable with them. I decided that I'd had enough of the small alleys and that I would head back to the main street. As I approached the exit of the deserted alleys, one of the kids tried to snatch my camera from me, but luckily I always have it tied around my wrist, so he was unable to yank it away.
Another thing that was bothering me about the place was that countless youngsters were running around with pellet guns, no doubt getting in some practice for their future in the PKK. Whilst Kurdish adults seem really friendly, their kids are all too often running riot, begging or just pestering you.
I paid a quick visit to the 1091 Mosque called Ulu Cami, which had a beautiful courtyard containing a couple of handsome ablution fountains, before deciding I had seen enough for one day. I walked home via the Urfa Kapisi (Edessa Gate), keen to make it back home before dark.
I spent the evening chatting with Volkan and he had a married couple over with their small girl, who had just turned two. We ate some pizza and fries for dinner and then there was some birthday cake too. I took the chance to catch up with some stuff online before finally calling it a night around 23.00.