Mesopotamia Kingdom of Commagene an Cilicia

Diyarbakir - Mardin - Midyat - Sanliurfa - Adiyaman - Gaziantep - Antakya - Mersin - Adana


Day 1: Your Airport - Diyarbakir

Arrival of the guest to Diyarbakir Airport. Meeting and greeting by our local professional tourist guide. Transfer to the hotel in Diyarbakir city. Diyarbakır is one of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey. Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Valleys, saw the dawn of the world’s first great empires. Diyarbakır’s history began with the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni around 1500 BC and proceeded through domination by the civilisations of Urartu (900 BC), Assyria (1356—BC), Persia (600—BC) and Alexander the Great and his successors, the Seleucids.

The Romans took over in AD 115, but because of its strategic position, the city changed hands numerous times until it was conquered by the Arabs in 639. The Arab tribe of Beni Bakr that settled here named their new home Diyar Bakr, which means the Realm of Bakr.

For the next few centuries the city was occupied by various tribes, until 1497 when the Safavid dynasty founded by Shah İsmail took over Iran, putting an end to more than a century of Turkoman rule in this area. The Ottomans came and conquered in 1515, but even then, Diyarbakır was not to know lasting peace. In subsequent centuries, invading armies from Anatolia, Persia and Syria all overcame the city’s walls.

Arrival to the hotel for dinner and overnight

Day 2: Diyarbakir-Mardin

Breakfast at the hotel and departure for a half day city tour. Diyarbakır’s single most conspicuous feature is its great circuit of basalt walls, probably dating from Roman times, although the present walls, around 6km in total length, date from early Byzantine times (AD 330—).

There were originally four main gates: Harput Kapısı (north), Mardin Kapısı (south), Yenikapı (east) and Urfa Kapısı (west). Fortunately, the most easily accessible stretch of walls is also the most interesting in terms of inscriptions and decoration. Start near the Mardin Kapısı close to the Deliller Han, a stone caravanserai now home to the Otel Büyük Kervansaray. We will visit Nur Burcu, the Yedi Kardeş Burcu, with two Seljuk lion bas-reliefs —only visible from outside the walls —and the bas-reliefs of the Malikşah Burcu. We will ascend the walls of the İç Kale (keep) for fine views of the Tigris. The İç Kale has been undergoing restoration for several years, and includes the beautifully resurrected 3rd century AD St George Church. Other ongoing restoration projects include using an historic prison as a new location for the city’s Archaeology Museum. At various spots inside the walls are brightly painted, open-air Sufi sarcophagi, notable for their turbans —their size is a symbol of spiritual authority. There’s a cluster a few hundred metres northeast of the Urfa Kapısı.

Visit to Ulu (Great) Mosque, The Great Mosque of Diyarbakır is the oldest and one of the most significant mosques in Anatolia. Following the Muslim capture of Diyarbakır in 639, a church in the city was used in part as a mosque. According to an inscription in situ, Seljuk sultan Malikshah directed the local governor to rebuild the mosque in the year 1091/484 AH. Natural disasters and the building campaigns of later rulers resulted in numerous changes to the mosque and led to its current form.

In addition to local basalt blocks, parts of Byzantine buildings were reused to construct the mosque. Antique columns and capitals, friezes with vine scroll ornament,

and fragments of Greek inscriptions show the use of spolia on the courtyard facades.

Later additions to the mosque occupy the north side of the courtyard. Occupying the west end is a small, three-aisled prayer hall known as Şafi Kısmı as it was reserved for followers of the Shafi’ite school of Islamic law. Across an uncovered walkway that opens onto the center of the north side of the courtyard is a portico that leads onto a madrasa known as Mesudiye Medresesi. It was constructed during the last decade of the twelfth/sixth century AH and first decade of the thirteenth/seventh century AH.

An octagonal ablutions fountain covered by a pyramidal roof occupies the center of the courtyard. This feature was constructed in 1890.

Visit to Archaeology Museum, The first museum in Diyarbakır was created in 1934 at the Senceriye (Zinciriye) Medrese (theological school) which is an extension of Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque). It moved to its new premises on Elazığ Street in 1985.

Pieces, starting with the Neolithic Age and including those from the Old Bronze, Urartu, Assyrian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, Akkoyunlu and Ottoman Periods are displayed in chronological order. Coins from different eras, most of them coming from the Artuklu Period, and local artefacts of ethnographic character are also exhibited at the museum.

Departure to Anastasiopolis, today know as Dara.

Dara was an important Early Byzantine city build in 505 AD by Emperor Anastasius I 30 years later the Fall of the Western Roman Empire. Another names of this city were Daras, Anastasiopolis and Iustiniana Nova (after reconstruction by Emperor Justinian I). It was abandoned just after about 200 years since its establishment.

Anastasiopolis was a well-fortified city which played an important role in protection of the eastern Byzantine Empire’s borders. In 530 AD

the crucial Battle of Dara between Byzantines and Sasanian army took place near its walls. The Persians were defeated thoroughly but after a short period of peace they continued attempts to capture the fortress.

In the years that followed Dara repeatedly passed from hand to hand. But the city continued to develop both under Byzantines and Persians due to its strategic location. Dara fell to decay after the Muslim conquest in 639 because the fortress lost its military significance. The inhabitants left the city little by little and it was emptied out.

At the present time there is a small village at the place of Byzantine Dara where Arabs and Kurds live. Most of the houses in this village are built of yellow stone and these stones was taken from the ruins of the ancient city.

Continue drive to Mardin. Southeastern Turkey, a stone’s throw from the Syrian border, hardly seems like the most tempting destination for a city break. But Mardin is as safe as the rest of the country, and you will be rewarded for your journey with golden stone alleyways, astonishing views, a rich multicultural heritage, and surprisingly excellent wine.

Mardin’s old city, balanced on the hillside between an ancient castle and the sweeping Mesopotamian plains, offers a stew of influences from Assyrian, Arab, Turkish,

and Kurdish cultures, expressed in unique architecture, food, and handicrafts. At the end of the day, watching the sun sink into the distant horizon over a copper cup of Syriac wine or a strong murra coffee, it is hard not to feel transported to another world.

Mardin’s sightseeing gem is most definitely the Deyr-ul Zafaran Monastery. This Syrian Orthodox monastery was established over 1,500 years ago and you will see evidence of its sacredness and importance. Historical relics on display, saffron colored stone, rose gardens, and peaceful courtyards fill the enormous space; the monks are happy to give tours. The monastery sits five kilometers outside of the city. Artuquid-era Kasimiye medrese (Islamic school) is worth a stop not only for its gorgeously simple design but for more views over the plains. It is a great spot for watching the sunset.

If you have not had your fill of religious monuments, the old city itself is stuffed with them. We will check out the Great Mosque with its enormous, elaborate minaret; the Latfiye Mosque for its intricate carvings; and the Kirklar Church where, if you are lucky, the friendly priest will let you in for a quick tour. Another pretty sandstone building is the city museum, which is worth a visit for informative displays and artifacts dating back millennia. Half the fun of finding these sights is exploring the narrow streets, getting lost among the old houses, and seeing local life play out.

Dinner and overnight at hotel.

Contact Us

Address: Taksim 360, Tarlabasi Bulvari, No. 142, Ic Kapi No. 4, Kat 5, Daire 4, Beyoglu 34435 Istanbul, Turkey
Phone: +90 212 512 42 32 & 513 22 05
Mobile: +90 532 287 92 57

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