Erzurum to Diyarbakır

Friday, August 19, 2022 - 20:00

A fairly short entry today since we spent most of the day driving to Diyarbakır. The drive itself wasn't a patch on the drive yesterday, with the scenery being mostly fairly low-lying steppe, and then very dry farmland for the last 50 miles of approach to Diyarbakır. All very different to what you would find in the UK of course, but at this point in the trip we have seen so much of this landscape that it wasn't anything worth stopping and taking any photos for other than a few of the red rocks we'd seen yesterday. Perhaps of note however were the military checkpoints which started to appear on the road after we passed the town of Bingöl about halfway through the drive. Most of them had no one stationed, but a few had armoured vehicles and some soldiers who quickly ushered us through when they saw the foreign licence plates. At first I thought these might be a legacy from a few years ago when there were problems at the Syrian border not so far away, but on reflection they felt more like a warning to the Kurdish majority who live in this area, and are well known for their desire to have their own independent country. At this point I'd also like to assure any readers that we extensively researched Diyarbakır and this more southern region of Turkey before coming here, also consulting with some local Turks who confirmed the area is 100% safe nowadays and Diyarbakır is a lovely city known as the 'Paris of the East'.

Turns out they were more or less correct about Diyarbakır, in that it is certainly the best city we have been to in Turkey so far other than Istanbul. When we arrived it was a very hot and dry 40 degrees outside, and there was some kind of protest going on in the square not far from our hotel, so we decided to rest up in the room for a bit before heading out to explore before dinner. When we did, the city centre felt a lot less chaotic than places like Trabzon and Erzurum, with the old city area having a rather pleasant wide avenue of shops, restaurants and street vendors, with smaller cobbled back streets of to the sides. We saw the old mosque complex built in 1091, though unfortunately I couldn't go in due to wearing shorts and therefore not having my knees covered. There are a lot more women and families out and about here, which was also a nice change from yesterday. That said, I have no idea where the 'Paris of the East' moniker comes from since it looks nothing like Paris, unlike Buenos Aires which they call the 'Paris of the South' and at least shared the same architects.

Aside from the old city, there are sprawling areas beyond with tower blocks and other downtown areas to accommodate the nearly 2 million people that live here. When I got a taxi back from the EV charging point I noticed a lot of heavily fortified buildings along one of the main carriageways, which looked like either army bases or prisons of some sort. Slightly ominous and a reminder of the Turkish oppression of the Kurds in this city, and how they might be ready to crush any uprisings at any time - it reminded me of our visit to Lhasa in Tibet in that sense. The city has quite an interesting modern history in that it is over 70% Kurdish and was supposed to be the capital of the country Kurdistan established in the early 1920s. That was before the Turkish War of Independence where it was absorbed into what is now the modern Turkish State. On top of that, the Turkish State still has an official anti-Kurdish policy, even going so far as to deny Kurds and their language even exist, and banning letters from their alphabet until recently. This all makes for some interesting reading, and not an area of history we would normally learn much about in the UK.

Later on before bed I took Summer for a much needed walk since she had been in the hotel room since the afternoon, and we went over to the fortress walls from Roman times which mostly seemed to be restored, and apparently run for 6km around the old city. Unfortunately they weren't very well lit up at night so it was difficult to take any decent photos, or get a good sense of their scale. We'll have another look in the morning before we leave if we have time.

Dog Notes: 

Diyarbakır seems to be much more dog friendly than other cities we have seen in Turkey so far. Summer has had a lot of positive attention, with quite a few strokes from strangers as I walked around with her this evening. There also aren't any stray dogs in the city centre, and I only saw a few when I ventured out a bit to a park near the fortress walls.

Electric Vehicle EV Notes: 

Slightly awkward charging situation today where the best dog friendly hotel is 3.2km from the closest charging point. We prioritised the hotel and I thought the 35minute walk back to the hotel wouldn't be too bad. However it was 40 degrees in Diyarbakır today so I opted for a taxi instead. It cost 33 Lira (about £1.50) which was well worth it to escape the heat!
- ZES charger at Bosch Garage in Diyarbakır

Miles Driven: 
New Garden Hotel


It seems like a different world all together. Makes one realise just how varied the world and its people are.

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