The Diyarbakir city walls have an ancient history dating back to the Romans. Today, the walls are largely intact, and form a ring around the old city that is over 5km (3miles) in circumference. The walls are over 10 meters (about 33 feet) high and are 3-5 meters (about 10-16 feet) thick.
Built By Romans
These walls were first built in 297AD by Romans under the order of Constantius II. Over the next 1500+ years, these walls were expanded and fortified using volcanic rock from the surrounding region. This black basalt lent the name “Black Fortress,” which is what many military leaders called the city. The black exterior of the walls is only surface deep. The walls hide a complex network of tunnels, barracks and storage rooms.
There are four main gates and 82 watch towers on the walls. The towers at Diyarbakir were mainly built by the Romans, albeit reconstructed by the Ottomans when they took over the city in the 15th and 16th centuries.
During the defeat of the Safavids at Diyarbakir, the Ottomans destroyed the walls with the use of cannons, a new type of weaponry at the time, and therefore had to rebuilt them afterwards.
Many of the walls sit on a riverbank and are easily defensible. The riverbank around these walls was turned into a cliff, in a technique known as a bastion, or an alteration that makes approaching the walls difficult for invaders.
UNESCO World Heritage List
The city and walls of Diyarbakir are on an impending list to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Restoration by the Turkish government must occur first.
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