top of page
  • Writer's pictureMuhammed Yıldırım

Diyarbakır Fortress & Hevsel Gardens: A Cultural Landscape

Have you ever wondered what life was like thousands of years ago in the old city of Diyarbakir? How people lived, worked, and thrived within the long city walls? Well, wonder no more! The Diyarbakır Fortress, great mosque, and Hevsel Gardens offer a glimpse into the past that is both fascinating and awe-inspiring.

Diyarbakır Fortress, also known as the fortified city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the old city of Diyarbakir. The magnificent diyarbakir city walls, dating back to the Roman era, surround the fortress and have stood the test of time against wars, earthquakes, and countless other challenges. Within the fortress lies the Great Mosque, another architectural marvel that adds to the rich history of this ancient city.


But the citadel is not the only attraction in this area. The great mosque, located within the Diyarbakır city walls, is a must-visit for those interested in Islamic architecture. Guided tours are available to explore its intricate details and history. Meanwhile, the Hevsel Gardens, cultivated for over 2,000 years, provide a stark contrast to the surrounding desert landscape. Thanks to renowned Muslim scientist El Cezeri, who designed the water system that irrigates these gardens, visitors can enjoy a peaceful stroll through these lush gardens.

The history of Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens is rich and complex. From ancient civilizations to modern-day conflicts, this area has seen it all. The diyarbakır city walls and citadel have stood the test of time, as has the mosque located within the fortress. Located in Turkey, this area continues to stand tall as a symbol of resilience and strength.

Looking for exciting tours in Turkey? Look no further than the Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens, a world heritage centre boasting city walls and a rich history. With so much to explore, from the ancient city walls to the lush gardens, this destination is perfect for curious travelers and history buffs alike.

Historical and Architectural Features of Diyarbakır Fortress

Diyarbakır Fortress: A Historical Landmark Dating Back to the Roman Era

Diyarbakır Fortress, also known as the Citadel of Diyarbakır, is a historical landmark located in the southeastern Turkish province of Diyarbakır. The fortress, along with the city walls, dates back to the Roman era and has been an important site throughout history due to its strategic location on the banks of the Tigris River and its proximity to the bridge. Additionally, the fortress is situated near an ancient church.

The fortress, situated on a hill, not only served as a military base to protect against invading armies but also became a hub for trade and commerce. Today, it is a popular tourist destination with guided tours available to explore its different zones. Visitors can marvel at the stunning view of the city from the fortress and cross the nearby bridge to reach the historic church.

Today, visitors can explore the fortress and learn about its rich history. The inner castle features several historical buildings, including a mosque, church, and prison. Visitors can also climb to the top of one of the towers for panoramic views of the surrounding area. The fortress is surrounded by well-preserved city walls that divide it into different zones. El Cezeri, a renowned scientist, played a significant role in the management of the fortress during its peak.

The 5.5 Kilometer City Walls Built in the 4th Century AD

One of the most impressive features of Diyarbakır Fortress is its extensive city walls, which are considered as a valuable property. The walls were built in the 4th century AD during the reign of Constantius II and are over 5.5 kilometers long. El Cezeri's innovative engineering techniques were used in constructing these walls,

highlighting the importance of conservation and management for this historical site.

The walls and towers made from black basalt stone have been under the management of the local government for conservation purposes. The Mardin Gate, one of the most well-preserved gates in all of Diyarbakır's city walls, is now a protected property

Visitors can walk along sections of these ancient walls in the city and marvel at their sheer size and scope. From atop these walls, they can see sweeping views over both sides - inside towards Hevsel Gardens or outside towards modern-day neighborhoods. The management of these walls is a testament to the property's historical significance.

The Outer Castle's Impressive Buttresses & Mardin Gate

Another notable feature within Diyarbakir Fortress is its management of the outer castle, which is located outside the city walls. The management ensured that impressive buttresses were used to reinforce the walls and prevent them from collapsing, following the engineering principles of El Cezeri.

The Mardin Gate, managed by the castle's administration, is also located within the outer castle and is one of the most well-preserved gates in all of Diyarbakır's city walls. It dates back to the 12th century and was used as a main entrance into the fortress.

Visitors can explore these impressive city walls defenses and learn about their strategic importance in protecting against invading armies. They can also marvel at the intricate stonework and craftsmanship that went into creating these ancient structures. Additionally, the management of these defenses is a fascinating aspect to discover.

Significance of Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens as a Cultural Landscape

Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site

Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, are significant cultural sites managed with great care. The site spans over 4 kilometers along the Tigris River in the city of Diyarbakır, Turkey, and comprises two main components: the fortress walls and towers that surround the old city, and the Hevsel Gardens outside the fortress walls.

The fortress walls were constructed during various periods of history, including Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, and Ottoman times. They were built to protect the city from invaders and served as an important center for trade between Asia and Europe. The management of the fortress walls was crucial in ensuring the safety of the city. The Hevsel Gardens are located on fertile land near the Tigris River that has been used for agriculture since ancient times. The gardens contain a complex system of canals and waterways that have been used for irrigation for thousands of years, with careful management ensuring their continued use.

A Center of Civilization for Thousands of Years

Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens, surrounded by the ancient city walls, have been an important center of civilization for thousands of years. Evidence of human settlement in this area dates back to the Neolithic period. In later periods, it was an important center for Assyrian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Seljuk Turkish, Mongol Empire (1256-1335), Timurids (1370-1507)and Ottoman civilizations.

Throughout history, the city walls of Diyarbakir Fortress have witnessed many significant events such as battles between empires or religious conflicts between different groups such as Christians or Muslims. These events not only shaped Turkey's history but also world history.

Unique Combination of Natural and Cultural Elements

One unique aspect about Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens is the combination of natural, cultural, and historical elements that can be found in the site. The city walls, which surround the fortress, have played an important role in protecting the landscape and shaping the urban environment. The Tigris River, which runs through the site, has also contributed to the development of the city walls by providing a natural barrier against invaders. The Hevsel Gardens are a prime example of how humans have adapted to this environment by creating a complex system of canals and waterways to irrigate crops within the city walls.

The architecture within the city's Diyarbakır Fortress is also unique. The walls and towers were constructed using local materials such as basalt stone, which gives them a distinct appearance. There are many historic buildings located within the fortress walls, including mosques, churches, and synagogues.

Natural Beauty and Ecological Importance of Hevsel Gardens

A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Hevsel Gardens, located in the city of Diyarbakır, Turkey, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The gardens are a unique example of human interaction with nature, as they have been cultivated for over 2,000 years. The gardens are situated on the banks of the Tigris River and cover an area of approximately 700 hectares.

Home to Over 3,000 Plant Species

The ecosystem of Hevsel Gardens, nestled within the city walls, supports an incredible diversity of plant species. It is home to over 3,000 different types of plants, including many rare and endangered species. The gardens are also home to a wide variety of fruit trees such as pomegranates and figs.

The unique hydrological system in the city area has created ideal conditions for plant growth. The water from the Tigris River is channeled through irrigation canals into the city gardens, providing essential nutrients for plant growth. This system has been in place since ancient times and continues to be used today.

An Important Stopover for Migratory Birds

Hevsel Gardens, located in the city, is not only important for its plant life but also serves as a crucial stopover for migratory birds. Over 100 different bird species have been recorded in the area, including several rare and endangered species.

During their migration, city birds rely on areas like Hevsel Gardens to rest and refuel before continuing their journey. Without these urban stopover sites, many city bird populations would struggle to survive.

Supporting Local Communities

The ecosystem of Hevsel Gardens, located in the city, supports the livelihoods of local communities who have lived in the area for generations. Many families rely on agriculture as their primary source of income and depend on the fertile land provided by the gardens.

In addition to providing food and income opportunities, Hevsel Gardens also plays an important cultural role in the city's local communities. The gardens are a source of pride for many people, and they have played a vital role in shaping the culture and history of the region.

Mythology surrounding the construction of Diyarbakır Fortress

The Legendary Builders

Diyarbakır Fortress is a magnificent structure that has been standing tall for centuries in the city. Its construction dates back to ancient times, and over the years, many myths have emerged about its origins. According to one legend, the fortress was built by a mythical creature called "Zulqarnain." Zulqarnain is believed to be a great king who possessed supernatural powers and was tasked with building massive structures across the world. It is said that he constructed Diyarbakır Fortress in just three days.

Another myth suggests that the fortress was built by Alexander the Great during his conquests of the city of Diyarbakır in Asia Minor. This theory is supported by some historians who believe that Alexander did indeed visit Diyarbakır during his campaigns and may have commissioned the construction of the fortress.

The Actual Construction

Despite these legends, historical evidence suggests that the actual construction of Diyarbakır Fortress in the city dates back to the Roman era. The Romans established a military garrison in this strategic location around 297 AD and began constructing fortifications to protect their position within the city. Over time, these fortifications were expanded and improved upon until they became what we see today.

The fortress, located in the heart of the city, played a significant role in history as it served as a military stronghold for various empires throughout its existence. During medieval times, the city was occupied by Arab forces before being taken over by Seljuk Turks in 1071. Later on, it was controlled by Mongols and Timurids before finally falling under Ottoman rule in 1515.

Symbol of Power

Diyarbakır Fortress, located in the city, has always been considered a symbol of power due to its strategic location overlooking Mesopotamia's fertile plains. Its walls are almost six kilometers long and up to twelve meters high at some points, making it an imposing structure visible from miles away. The fortress's towers offer breathtaking views of the surrounding city landscape, and visitors can explore its many chambers and tunnels to get a sense of what life was like inside.

Today, Diyarbakır Fortress in the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts tourists from all over the world. Its historical significance, combined with its stunning architecture and breathtaking views of the city, make it one of the most impressive fortresses in the world. Whether you're interested in history or just looking for a unique travel experience in the city, Diyarbakır Fortress is definitely worth a visit.

Cultural Significance of Hevsel Gardens to the Local Community

Over a Millennium of Essentiality

Hevsel Gardens have been an integral part of the city's local community in Diyarbakır for over a millennium. These gardens, located on the banks of the Tigris River, have played a crucial role in sustaining the livelihoods of the city's people living in this region. The locals have relied on these gardens for food, medicine, and shelter, making them an essential part of the city's heritage. They have served as a place where people could come together to celebrate festivals and other cultural events within the city.

A Symbol of Cultural Heritage

The Hevsel Gardens are not just essential to the local community; they are also significant in terms of their cultural heritage. Situated in the heart of the city, these gardens were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. This designation acknowledges that these gardens represent an outstanding example of human interaction with nature over time.

The city gardens serve as a symbol of the cultural heritage of this region, reflecting its long history and rich traditions. They provide evidence that humans can work with nature to create sustainable systems that benefit both themselves, their environment, and the urban landscape.

Historical and Religious Importance

The Hevsel Gardens, situated in the city, are also significant from historical and religious perspectives. Several mosques and tombs are located within their boundaries, making them an important site for pilgrimage for many Muslims.

Moreover, this ancient city's gardens hold historical significance due to their association with various empires that ruled this region throughout history. The Seljuk Empire built irrigation systems that allowed agriculture to flourish in the city during its reign (1037-1194). Later on, during Ottoman rule (1515-1918), Diyarbakır became an important center for trade due to its location on major trade routes between East and West Asia.

Active Preservation Efforts by Locals

The local community of the city has been actively involved in preserving and promoting the Hevsel Gardens' cultural significance. They organize festivals and events to celebrate their heritage, such as the Hevsel Festival, which takes place every year in May.

Moreover, locals in the city have taken steps to preserve these gardens for future generations. In 2013, a group of activists formed the "Hevsel Platform" to draw attention to the environmental threats facing these gardens in the city. They organized protests and lobbied local authorities in the city to take action to protect this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Impact of Development on the Cultural Landscape and Efforts to Preserve It

Damage Caused by Development Projects

Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens are important cultural heritage sites that have been damaged by development projects in the city. The construction of roads, buildings, and other infrastructure has caused irreparable harm to the landscape setting of these sites. The fortress walls have been damaged, while the gardens have suffered from neglect and lack of maintenance. Illegal construction has taken place inside the protected area in the city, further contributing to the damage.

The damage caused by city development projects has not only affected the physical structures but also the intangible cultural heritage associated with them. For instance, traditional agricultural practices in Hevsel Gardens have been disrupted due to urbanization and modernization. This has led to a loss of knowledge about local crops, irrigation techniques, and farming traditions.

Conservation Efforts

Efforts have been made to implement a conservation plan for Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens. The aim is to protect these cultural heritage sites from further damage and ensure their preservation for future generations. UNESCO recognized the cultural significance of these sites in 2015 when it designated them as World Heritage Sites.

The conservation plan involves several measures such as restoring damaged structures, preventing illegal construction within the protected area, promoting sustainable tourism, raising awareness among locals about their cultural heritage, and involving local communities in conservation efforts.

Importance of Cultural Heritage Conservation

Cultural heritage conservation is crucial for preserving our collective history and identity. Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens are not just important landmarks but also repositories of knowledge about our past. Excavations conducted in these areas have revealed important attributes of the cultural landscape and its history.

For instance, archaeological excavations at a mound near Diyarbakır Fortress revealed evidence of human settlement dating back to 5000 BC. This discovery sheds light on early human civilization in this region and provides valuable insights into our cultural heritage.

Management Plans

Management plans have been put in place to ensure the preservation of the cultural landscape setting of Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens. These plans involve a range of stakeholders such as government agencies, local communities, NGOs, and international organizations.

The management plans aim to balance conservation with sustainable development. For example, tourism is an important source of income for local communities around these sites. However, it needs to be managed in a way that does not harm the fragile ecosystem or damage the cultural heritage structures.

Conclusion Highlighting the Unique Blend of History, Culture, and Nature Found at Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens

Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens offer a unique blend of history, culture, and nature that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The historical and architectural features of Diyarbakır Fortress are truly awe-inspiring. The significance of Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens as a cultural landscape is immeasurable. The natural beauty and ecological importance of Hevsel Gardens are unparalleled. The mythology surrounding the construction of Diyarbakır Fortress adds to its charm. Moreover, the cultural significance of Hevsel Gardens to the local community is remarkable.

Despite being under threat from development projects, there are efforts to preserve this cultural landscape for future generations to enjoy. It is important that we recognize its value not only for its historical significance but also for its ecological importance.

In conclusion, visiting Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens offers an unforgettable experience that combines history, culture, and nature in a way that cannot be found elsewhere. We encourage you to visit this unique destination to witness its beauty firsthand.


What makes Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens special?

Diyarbakir Fortress is one of the largest surviving fortresses in the world with a long history dating back thousands of years. Meanwhile, Hevsel Gardens has been cultivated for over 2 millennia by locals who use it as a source of food production.

Why should I visit Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens?

Visiting this destination will offer an unforgettable experience that combines history, culture, and nature in a way that cannot be found elsewhere.

How do I get to Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens?

You can reach them via car or public transportation from nearby cities such as Istanbul or Ankara.

Is it safe to visit Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens?

Yes, it is safe to visit. The local authorities have taken steps to ensure the safety of visitors.

How can I help preserve Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens?

You can support conservation efforts by donating to organizations that work towards preserving cultural landscapes like this one. You can spread awareness about the importance of preserving these sites for future generations.

0 views0 comments
bottom of page