Turkey is beautiful. It is beautiful because it has been home to hundreds of cultures and civilisations over the millennia. Such a long time playing the role as host has not tired it. and it has passed on the gifts left by each guest to those who followed.
Turkey is beautiful because it encompasses the sacred plain of Mesopotamia, the plain whose legacy from previous civilisations has irresistible enchantment for everyone. This can be sensed in each cultural heritage, from Dayr-ül Zafaran to
the trails of Diyar-ı Bekir. And if your
H ja&r !%'% u»'- way takes you from
Diyarbakir to anywhere around Cizre you cannot miss the remains of the last palace rising above the depleted waters of the Tigris. liven complete disinterest in history cannot staunch your curiosity. You are duty-bound to discover where you are and where you live. Hasankeyf was the capital city of the Turkish Artuklu principality a thousand years ago. This city was born of a splendid marriage between history and nature, and possesses all the defiant pride of the formerly great. A mosque whose domes have caved in, miniature stone rooms, some yet boasting their wooden doors, a single surviving palace façade, and the flowing waters of the Tigris presaging the inevitable destruction of the city all contribute to the mystery of Hasankeyf. According to the encyclopaedias Hasankeyf is a corruption of Hisnıkeyfa, which some claim to mean "fortress of the heart". This would suit it well, since despite all its slate of ruination it is impossible not to be
captivated. Perhaps the maturity and wisdom implied by that very ruination is what makes this attraction so irresistible.
Only three of the original seven gates of the Artuklu walls are still standing today. In Hasankeyf the lonely fate of those who remain is clear for all to read. Yet these people served the Romans, the Artuklu. the Eyyubids, the Safavids. and the Ottomans. Throughout history they were strategically positioned in this ancient land. None would have credited the soothsayer who prophesied that Hasankeyf would disappear from the face of the earth. Yet now the city confronts just that fate, and whether it can be averted lies in the hands of today's materialistic civilisation. Can Hasankeyf win the silent fight between the evocative legacy of a magnificent past and the nagging demands of the present? Dams are generating huge
reserves of badly needed energy, but at the cost of sweeping history away.
Hasankeyf lies on a hundred metre high cliff south of the Tigris. From the road
the stone. columns, walls, arches and extensive foundations of the Artuklu
palace are clearly visible. Driving along, children playing under one of the
arches could be mistaken for tiny figures inhabiting this vision of the past.
The Artuklus built their fortress on this high point visible from every part of : Tigris
plain as the architectural mirror of tht power. When the Mongols invaded eight
centur ago they razed the city as iffearful that this power might reassert itself
if stone were left on stone. Paths generally meander through bare earth and
scrub, but those of Hasankeyf
have been carved the elements in the rocky landscape. If you accept the
challenge of climbing to the city's summit, will realise that not historians
but photographers alone can do justice to the overwhelming scene spread out at
your feet. That ancient civilisation still lives on here in flesh and bone, and you feel as
if you have travelled back in time. This city was not the work of a single
religious culture, but a summary of all the cultures of a past, each
represented by a single figure, whether atheist, Buddhist, polytheistic,
monotheistic invader, or protector. That is why expert; insisting that
Hasankeyf be rescued from
Hasankeyf Bridge, tossed over the Tigris likeancient threadbare kilim, is an unforgettable sight. The reliefs on its wearypiers immortalise the science
of astrology. Tribes which cherished their astrologers in their desperate
desire to see the future pondered these puzzling reliefs, wishing to unravel
news from the stars in ciphers and codes There can be few other bridges which
have played a supporting role in prophecy. One day when scholars come to
Hasankeyf not to carry away works of art but to decipher the mysteries of history,
they will perhaps read the prophetic letters passed down to us in those cawed
figures and discover that the fate of the fortress of the heart had long since
been written. Yet can we sit back and do nothing to sen t icin hayli zoiiandigtmz zirveden asagiya baktigmtzda o Hasankeyf from drowning together with its eski uygarligtn hala oralarda etiyle caniyla yasadtgtm secrets? At least we should go and see it, to share ve bir zaman tttnelinden geriye gittiginizi sanirsimz. its enchantment if only briefly. And we wil Dicle'nin ustitne geli§igiizel bir ortii gibi atilmts bulu- acknowledge once again the beauty whose every nan Hasankeyf Kopriisit ise cok eskilerde dokunmus line reflects a legacy of a multifaceted past. Turkey ve yer yer sbktilmiis iplikleri ile tarihini ozetleyen cok is beautiful because even the possibility of appreci- eski bir kilim gibidir artik. Buyiisii tartt.silamaz. citing intermarriage between cultures will serve : Hasankeyf. topraklanmizdaki diger yaptlar gibi tek bir bring its wonders alive again.