The Romans left a strong mark on Diyarbakır—not only did they lay the foundations for its famous city walls, but they created the basic layout of the old town: a rough rectangle with two main streets that cross and connect the four gates that are found at each compass point. The walls were constructed by the Byzantine Emperor Constantius in the 4th century and various Arab and Turkish rulers restored and added to them over the centuries, until the local Artakid Turcoman emir al Malik al-Salih Mahmud gave them their current form in 1208. On the whole, the walls remain in good shape along their entire length; indeed, if you feel like a bit of an adventure, the best way to appreciate these great walls is to wander along the top. Of the original 72 towers, 67 are still standing, decorated with myriad inscriptions in the language of every conqueror and with Seljuk reliefs of animals and men; you can also explore their inner chambers and corridors. The easiest and safest section to explore
is around Dağ Kapısı (Mountain Gate). Alternatively, start at the Mardin Kapısı (Mardin Gate), on the south side near the Otel Büyük Kervansaray, where you'll usually find plenty of local tourists. Exercise caution, but you should be able to walk along the wall west as far as Urfa Kapısı (Urfa Gate), also called the Bab er-Rum. About halfway you will come to the twin bastions Evli Beden Burcu and Yedi Kardeş Burcu —the latter is also known as the Tower of Seven Brothers and was added to the fortifications in 1209. From here you can see the old Ottoman bridge over the Tigris, called Dicle Köprüsü (Tigris Bridge). Continue clockwise along the city wall, and you'll eventually reach another gate, the Dağ Kapısı (Mountain Gate), which divides Diyarbakır's old and new towns. Farther east, inside the ramparts, are the sad remains of the Artakid Saray (Artasid Palace), surrounded by a dry, octagonal pool known as the Lion's Fountain. Not long ago there were two carved lions here, now there's only one; what happened to the other is a mystery.
Diyarbakır, Diyarbakır, Turkey