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Hasankeyf

Hasankeyf is a magnificent castle city that is dominating one of the most important passage points of Tigris River.  The lower part of the castle that is made up of monolithic carved rock, is full of Cappadocian style cave settlements. There are monumental architectural works around it that belong to the Islamic period.

Hasankeyf that was called as Kipas, Kefa (Cepha) or Kifas by Roman historians took the name of "Hısn-ı Kifa" during the Islamic period and this name was transformed into Hasankeyf in time. Kefa means "rock" in Syriac language and "Hısn-ı Kifa" in Arabic means "Kifa Castle."

The city which was one of the most important police stations along Tigris in Roman period, hosted Assyrian Patriarchy in 500 A.D.  It also became one of the first centres of Christian churches that are particular to Eastern countries in 600 A.D. and 700 A.D.

Marwanids (1000-1097), Artuqids (1101-1232), Ayyubids (1232-1461), Aq Qoyunlus (1461-1482) and emirs who were descendants of Ayyubi again (1482-1565) respectively reigned in the city.

The city that lived its most brilliant periods during Artuqids period and that became the capital at this period, could not reach those brilliant days after being invaded by Mongolians in 1301 and remained as an inactive town in Ottoman Period.

Hasankeyf gets its popularity from Ilısu Project although it is a vital historical settlement. Hasankeyf, most of which will remain under water within the context of the latest major project of Turkey, has always been on the agenda of Turkey with dam project, rescue excavations made, restoration and transportation projects.

Hasankeyf Excavation Site was declared as a 1th degree archaeological protected area in 1981. The excavations started in 1986 under the presidency of Mardin Museum Directorate by Prof. Dr. M. Oluş ARIK. Excavations in Hasankeyf have been carried out since 2009 until now by Batman University. The excavation, documentation and transportation activities will go on until Ilısu Dam will be full of water.

Several architectural works of art were built in Hasankeyf during various periods; however, most of them could not reach today because of the earthquakes, wars and negligence. Cave type housings thought to be approximately 4500 years old, are the first examples of such works of art that reached until today and this is what makes Hasankeyf so 'famous.'

 

The legends of scorpion and snake at the gate of Hasankeyf Castle

Historical Hasankeyf Castle was built by Eyüp Sultan. There are scorpion and snake embossments on the entrance gate of the castle. According to a legend, scorpion and snake embossments protect the castle from scorpions and snakes.

According to a belief, anyone who enters into the castle cannot be bitten by snake and scorpion. This spell is broken only when you leave the castle. The spell of scorpion was broken when a tourist from Egypt came and stole the scorpion embossment. It is believed that anyone who enters into the castle can be bitten by scorpion since the spell was broken. It is also believed that the magic of snake is still available today.

 

İçkale

İçkale was built on a 135-meter monolithic rock mass. From two different roads protected by gates, it is possible to exit to the rock mass surrounded with steep hillsides and having natural protection.  Among these exists, there are five monumental gates at east and at west there is one gate interval connected to the Tigris River. İçkale, known as the "Upper City" with its city walls and glorious gates fitting with its natural structure, was used until 1970s.

There are several human-made cave housings and structures that belong to Urartu, Roman, Artuqid, Ayyubid and Ottoman periods in İçkale known as the "Upper City" with its city walls and glorious gates fitting with its natural structure.

Northern, north-eastern, western, eastern and central parts of the castle witnessed intense settlements.  Located on a gradual elevation considering the slope of the terrain, which includes approximately 2000 houses, the castle seems to be just like a Medieval settlement with its narrow streets, boreholes and cisterns.

At north-eastern side, there are Büyük Saray and the houses that residents live in; there are civilian houses at West and a cemetery area on Southern field having a slight slope, tomb and Grand Mosque. There are also religious and social structures such as mosques with civilian structures, prayer room, madrasah at east.

Located at North of the castle, Büyük Saray was used as garrison building in Roman period and it was turned into a palace later on. This structure has reached until today in a destructed condition. 

Located on Northeast of the palace and as an observation mansion, Küçük Saray looks like a giant tower. There are two lion embossments on the window on Northern side.

The first entrance gate and city walls of İçkale and main body of Büyük Saray belong to Roman period. The remnants of Artuqid State, which enabled the city to gain its second identity, are only the ruins. Mardinike Mosque and Koç Mosque revealed in archaeological excavations was built in Seljuk period.

With their first designs, the remnants of Artuqids are as follows: the first structure of Grand Mosque, a large amount of Tigris-Hasankeyf Bridge that has the largest and widest openness, two madrasahs revealed in the excavations between 2004-2005 and called as "Zeynel Bey Külliyesi", inn and a Turkish bath alongside, a large part of Büyük Saray, mansions in Salihiye Gardens and water systems connected to the castle.

Furthermore, there are hundreds of cave-house used as home by the residents of İçkale that were carved and turned into houses, niched walls, kitchen, living room. İçkale was abandoned after the residents migrated to the current settlement in 1970s.

 

Zeynel Bey Tomb

The tomb was built for the son of Artuqid Ruler Uzun Hasan who reigned Hasankeyf between 1462 and 1482, Zeynel Bey who was injured and died in Otlukbeli War. With its off-Anatolian architecture and adornment, the unique structure has similar features with Berde Kümbet (Dome) dated 1322 in terms of planning, brick material and decoration.

Zeynel Bey Tomb has a cylindrical view from the outside, and was planned in octagonal way. In addition to botanical and geometric decorations made of sky-blue and navy-blue glazed brick coverings and mosaic tiles, it also has a kufic written as “Allah, Muhammad, Ali, Ahmed" in Arabic language. The kufic written from top to down was made of vertical piles of dark blue and turquoise blue coloured bricks

 

Hasankeyf Bridge

Hasankeyf Bridge is the bridge that links Mesopotamia and Anatolia.  Hasankeyf Bridge is one of the most glorious and largest stone bridges of Medieval Age with its approximately 40 meters of belt openness. There are 12 large embossments symbolizing the horoscope signs on Southern leg of the bridge.

The first bridge was probably built in Roman period due to the fact that Hasankeyf was an important center and trade route between Mesopotamia and Anatolia. It is estimated that the current bridge was by Artuqids upon the foundations of Roman Bridge.

Only a small belt located on left part of Tigris River and the legs on right side remained from the bridge that was thought to be built in 12th century.

 

Er-Rızk Mosque

It was built in 1409 by Sultan Süleyman, an Ayyubid ruler. The prayer area in south fell down to the river because of landslide. The northern wall, entrance of courtyard, crown gate and minaret of the sanctuary reached until today. The minaret on North of the yard, crown gate and northern front of the sanctuary are still available as the original structures of the mosque.

The minaret on the northeast corner of the mosque adjacent to the high square base prism, was covered with colourful stones cut as small mosaics and fine geometrical bonds arranged with inlaid technique. You can reach the minaret balcony with two stairs and the minaret is so beautiful that will evoke admiration with the geometrical decorations and kufic Arabic writings.

Er-Rızk Mosque has a very dramatic story:

“The assistant foreman of the mosque was fired because of a dispute between him and his foreman about a construction technique of the minaret of 'Sultan Süleyman Mosque' during the construction process. As the foreman continued to build the minaret of Sultan Süleyman Mosque, his assistant foreman undertook to build the minaret of El-Rızk Mosque.  Both of two minarets rose to the sky as a result of deluxe efforts of Foreman and Assistant Foreman and they were completed after some time.  Inauguration ceremony of the construction of minaret of the foreman was very glorious. The assistant foreman called his foreman for his own inauguration ceremony. When the foreman went up to control the stairs, he saw his assistant waiting him and got surprised; he asked how he could go up and his assistant told him that he used the secondary adjacent route. Then, the foreman realized the adjacent route and got surprised. The assistant foreman built double routes for the minaret and people going up are not able to see each other while going up via these routes. Having realized that he built his minaret with only one single route, the foreman could not resist the idea that his assistant defeated him and he jumped into the waters of Tigris from the top of minaret.”

 

Sultan Süleyman Külliye

It was built in 1407 by Süleyman, an Ayyubid Sultan.  Sultan Süleyman, who died in 1432, lies in the tomb on eastern edge of the complex composed of mosque, madrasah, imaret and tombs. The most important part of Sultan Süleyman Mosque is its minaret and Crown Gate that reached until today. The minaret that is covered and adorned with clean cut stones, is like a monumental front with its adjacent Crown Gate and fountain on south of the gate.

Sultan Süleyman Mosque has a dramatic story:

“The assistant foreman of the mosque was fired because of a dispute between him and his foreman about a construction technique of the minaret of 'Sultan Süleyman Mosque' during the construction process. As the foreman continued to build the minaret of Sultan Süleyman Mosque, his assistant foreman undertook to build the minaret of El-Rızk Mosque.  Both of two minarets rose to the sky as a result of deluxe efforts of Foreman and Assistant Foreman and they were completed after some time.  Inauguration ceremony of the construction of minaret of the foreman was very glorious. The assistant foreman called his foreman for his own inauguration ceremony. When the foreman went up to control the stairs, he saw his assistant waiting him and got surprised; he asked how he could go up and his assistant told him that he used the secondary adjacent route. Then, the foreman realized the adjacent route and got surprised. The assistant foreman built double routes for the minaret and people going up are not able to see each other while going up via these routes. Having realized that he built his minaret with only one single route, the foreman could not resist the idea that his assistant defeated him and he jumped into the waters of Tigris from the top of minaret.”

 

İmam Abdullah Zaviya

İmam Abdullah Zaviyesi is a kulliye developed in time around the zawiyah and tomb belonging to İmam Abdullah who is believed to be a descendant of Prophet Muhammed and who is respected by residents of the region to a great extent.

The main zawiyah was built in Artuqids period in 12th century and these structures were rebuilt by an Ayyubid Sultan Takiyeddin Abdullah period (1249-1294).

On the inscription at the entrance of the tomb it was recorded that it was repaired in 1478 by Artuqids.