DIYARBAKIR

Diyarbakır, known in ancient times as Amida, spreads across a basalt plateau close to the banks of the Dicle (Tigris) river. The black basalt triple walls which encircle the old town give the city a rather ominous appearance. These ramparts, of 5.5 km in length with 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 utilization 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 Atatürk'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.

In Silvan, 77 km east of Diyarbakir you should stop at the graceful Ulu Mosque, which dates from 1185, to admire the fine flowing lines of stone-relief work that outline the pointed arch portal.

Çayönü, one of the earliest Neolithic settlements yet to be discovered, dates from the 7th millennium B.C.