Diyarbakır was one of my favorite stops on our trip, and I wish we’d done one less day in Van and one more day in Diyarbakır! Our hotel was walking distance to the downtown historical area, the buildings were interesting, and there were many sites we didn’t get to see.
Diyarbakır was a 4.5 hour drive from our hotel in Van. We got to our hotel (Hilton Garden Inn) at lunch time. Our room wasn’t quite ready yet, and unfortunately the hotel did not have their restaurant open for lunch. But we had peanut butter, crackers, and fruit in our cooler, so we made a picnic lunch in their lobby!
We had a king sized corner room with a twin pullout. All four of us fit in the room fine, but there was the ability to get a connecting room if we’d been there longer. The A/C situation was weird. It seemed to mostly pull in air from outside, which at night was cool, rather than actually act as an A/C. But the room got cool enough at night, so it was much better than other hotels!
After dropping off our stuff in the room, we walked to Diyarbakır Castle. This was about 15 minutes away. Diyarbakır in this area is mostly flat, so it was an easy walk. If you happen to walking there from the Hilton, there is a pedestrian gate through the wall that isn’t on the pedestrian route for GoogleMaps, but cuts time a bit. The gate is here.
Inside the castle grounds, there is a public area and an admission area. The admission area is 10 tl or free with MuseKart and includes several museums (though not all seemed to be open). The Archaeological Museum was well done with signs in English and Turkish. Lots of interesting objects. The grounds were also very popular with brides! We were there on a Friday afternoon and saw 5 brides having portraits taken!
The park area with grass and the castle walls was free to view. Many families were relaxing and enjoying the area. We climbed up the wall for great views. The stairs up were a bit unnerving, especially with kids as there was no railing and they were fairly narrow.
From the castle, we walked to Sülüklü Han, about a 9 minute walk away. It was very crowded when we arrived (Friday afternoon definitely being a popular time) and we weren’t sure we’d be able to get a seat. But there actually was a fairly fast turn over as it’s just for drinks and a snack, not a full meal. The meal area is in the open-air courtyard. This was built in 1683. During this time, leeches were used by physicians and were gathered from a well there. Sülüklü means Leeched or With Leeches. A Han is an inn where the upper level had rooms and the ground floor was accommodations for animals and storage. These Hans are all over Turkey and are now mostly used as cafes and sometimes hotels.
Sülüklü Han serves coffee, tea, local homemade wine, and juices. They also had a cheese platter and these candied walnuts (soft and in honey) that were delicious. The Rose Sherbet (gül şerbeti) was actually a juice, not an iced dessert as I’d have thought. This is the flavor the waiter suggested was the most kid friendly. The kids really liked it, so he had a good recommendation. We got the wine, which was delicious as well. It was only 90 tl for 3 glasses of wine, 2 kid-sized juices, and the walnut dessert. At current rates, that’s just over $12 (but the exchange rate was even better when we went!).
After our snack, we walked over to the Grand Mosque, just a few minutes away. The courtyard was very beautiful. We did not go into the buildings itself as it was Friday and many people were praying. While it was not an official prayer time, and we would have been allowed in, it seemed disrespectful when so many were praying. So we looked in through the door and continued on. There were signs about clothing rules for entering. Nothing out of the ordinary for mosques, but in case you aren’t familiar with the rules, women need to have their heads covered and both men and women were supposed to have legs covered. These rules did not seem to apply in the courtyard, but just the buildings.
We enjoyed walking the narrow streets of the downtown historic area. Lots of little stalls, narrow alleys, and interesting wares! It reminded me a lot of Khan el Khalili in Cairo. I found a yarn shop and we bought a lot of yarn for projects for very cheap. We also got some delicious baklava.
Diyarbakır is on the banks of the Tigris River, which is pretty cool! We could see it from our hotel room and drove over it on our way into the city. It is always cool to see things on our travels that I grew up learning about! (and spoiler alert: the next day we drove over the Euphrates River!)