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Hasankeyf / Batman / Southeastern Anatolia / Turkey

Hasankeyf, a district of Batman province which was hosting various cultures throughout its 12 years of uninterrupted historyand is located about 40 Km north of Batman, . It had many names during these centuties. The reason of diversity of these names was causing from the different pronouncing forms of the names in some different languages like Syrian, Arabic and Latin that also use different alphabets.

İt is believed that, the city mentioned as ''IlānlerurāIn'' in the inscriptions called ''Mari'' from ''Akad'' civilization (B.C.), is  probably hasankeyf. In the Roman period, the name of the city in Latin, was "Rock'' and in Syriac or Kurdish  ''kefa'' or ''kifo'' which seems to be derived from the words Cepha or Ciphas. When the Roman Empire was divided into western and eastern Roman empires in 330 AD, Kiphas was approved with the Greek name by Byzantine bishopric.

After the Arab conquest in 640, the name of the city became  as Arabic Hisn Kayf. The Arabic word "Hisn"  means ''Rock'' and the word ''kayf'' means "fortress" in english. So the name of the city had become ''Rock Fortress''.  The Western reports about the town before the 20th century indicate a number of different names translated from Arabic or Ottoman. The most popular of these were Hisn Kaifa and Hisn Kayfa. Two early Armenian historians list additional names for the town one of which is ''Harsenkev''. As a result, when the Turkish language was settled in the region, the word ''Hısn'' to ''Hasan'' and the word 'kayf' were converted to '' Keyf '' by prefering  the practical use in Turkish. 

As part of Atatürk's Reforms in the 1920s and 30s, the names of many places were changed, taking into account the current use of Turkish folk. So, the official name of the town was converted to Hasankeyf. In Kurmanji Kurdish, which is the ethnic majority, the town is still known as Heskîf..

Hasankeyf Kalesiden Dicle Nehri ve tarihi köprü

Hasankeyf Short History

Along the Middle Bronze Age, the Hasankeyf region and its vicinity are thought to be part of the "Hurrian" kingdom. The Mari Tablets of Akad civilization (1800-1750 BC) mentions Ilānleriurā, a city located on a large river and with an Acropolis surrounded by high walls.
Before Christ, in the late bronze period. Around the 14th century, the Hasankeyf region was attached to the Hurrian kingdom of the Mitanni civilization. It was a part of the Neo-Assyrian Empire between the 9th and 7th centuries BC.
During the Roman and Byzantine empires, Hasankeyf was used as a base for Roman legions due to the border with the Sassanid Persian Empire.
During some period of time, the city had been the capital of the Roman province of Arzanene, and thought to be built by Konstantius (324-361). However, it is still not clear whether this was the existing castle area or not. However, the presence of a Roman type bridge over the Tigris in Hasankeyf makes this belief extremely feasible.

The power balance in the region has changed dramatically in 363. Following the death of the Emperor Julian in the Battle of Samarra, his successor, Jovian, was ruled by the King of Persia ''Shapur II''. He had to surrender to Shapur and transfer the governing rights of Eastern provinces such as Arzanene, Moxoene, Zabdicene, Corduene to the persia. This handover was including 15 castles with the cities of Singara and Nisibis, but not the inhabitants and the Fortress of Castra Maurorum.

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Muslim dominance in the region starts with the invasion of the armies of second caliph  Omar  in A.C. 638. After the caliphs period, the city, which was ruled by the Umayyads, Abbasids, Hamdaniler and Mervanis, than became the capital of Artukids between the years 1101-1232. The historical importance of the city of Hasankeyf was also made possible by the Artunites, who established an important civilization here in 1910. Hasankeyf '' Hısn Keyfa '' under the management of Artuks becomes one of the important cities and attractions of the Middle Ages. Hasankeyf has been developed and enriched commercially and economically due to the fact that it is located on the Tigris River flowing from north to south and the easiest logistics facilities in those days were river transportation.
Eyyubi State who took over the region from Artuks who were ruling Hasankeyf, from 1232 soon faced with a Mongol invasion. The Mongol armies have acted as hungry grasshopper herds, which have always been useless and devastating in every period of history. As a result of the invasion of this savage clan, Hasankeyf was destroyed just as many settlements in the region. After the invasion, Hasankeyf, who constantly ruled by different  powers of the region, was re-built from the beginning of the 14th century, after being recaptured by the Eyyubies who survived the shock of the Mongolian invasion. The reconstruction effort of Eyyubies, who has a signature on many works in Hasankeyf today, reached its peak during the reign of Sultan Süleyman, and as a result of these efforts, Hasankeyf experienced one of the most brilliant periods of its 16th century.  Decades after, Eyyubies, which is worn out as a result of settlements of various folks, leaves the city to  Ottoman Empire which was the dominant power of the region in 1515. 
The city was abandoned during World War I and became a ruin. In Republican period the city, which was resettled by the refugee peasants, experienced a new destruction after the Mongols in 1966. Prime minister Süleyman Demirel, who came to Hasankeyf in 1966, orders new houses to be bilt for the people living in the caves inside the castle. while trying to built modern houses, the construction company devastated some of the history again

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Hasankeyf, which was declared as a first degree historical & preservation site in 1978 and was also included in the World Heritage List, was faced with the risk of flooding like Halfeti district by the water of the Ilisu dam, which was started to be built in the region years ago & started to hold water. For this reason, as a result of the measures and plans taken by the relevant authorities  It was decided that the historical artifacts in the region which will be inundated in this context will be moved to new and modern settlements which will be formed in a new place which is 3 km.  away from Hasankeyf. They were to be moved to new determined place in one piece with the necessary advanced methods. In accordance with the decision, studies were carried out and the transportation of Zeynel Bey Mausoleum/tomb was carried out with the historical Artuklu bathhouse. Other studies are continuing. Our page has been prepared according to the historical characteristics of Hasankeyf before the float of water and the photographs taken at that time.  below are the transportation work pictures.

click on the gallery below for the slide show of images

Hasankeyf Historical Constructions and Areas

Castle / Acropolis:

It is understood from the natural or carved cave formations inside the castle that the castle and its surroundings have been used as a civilian settlement since the ancient times. Since the beginning of the Byzantine period the area has been used as a fortress. Due to the fact that it is high and steep, it is extremely suitable for security concerns at the time. There are many historical monuments on it. There is a hidden stepped road made by carving the rock from the fortress to the river. This hidden staircase system was also used to transport water up from the river. There is an elegant, magnificent stone door on the road leading to the castle. The fortress is reached by a stairway from the east. It is understood from the inscriptions made of carved stones at the beginning of this road that it belongs to Eyyubi period. At the top of this road there is another door, which is partially ruined. At the northeast end of the castle there is a palace with a small tower. In addition, the Great Mosque and the Big Palace are also found in the castle. .

click on the gallery below for the slide show of images


Artukians in 1116. However,  it was mentioned in 638 when Muslims were conquered Hasankeyf that there was a bridge over the river. For this reason, there is a possibility that the bridge was built on the basis of an ancient Roman bridge and a hybrid architecture was used. The arch is the largest of the stone bridges in the Middle Ages. The opening between the two middle legs carrying the large belt in the middle is 40 meters. The large arches in the middle are now completely destroyed, except for the small arches in the east and west. According to research, the center of the largest arch of the bridge was made of wood. The form of the bridge that used to be elevated  by chains, which we know to be used frequently in the medieval castle and castle architecture, was very important in terms of defense. During the siege or attacks, this wooden part was elevated, and the enemy was prevented from reaching the  foots of the city walls. In terms of defense, the property provided an advantage to the city but on the other hand, it caused the bridge to shorten its life. One of the important features of the bridge is the figures on the middle legs, which are supposed to represent twelve astrological signs. It has been destroyed, except for one, and what they mean by shape has become incomprehensible. It is not known exactly when the bridge collapsed.

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El-Rızk Mosque

It is located in the east of the Tigris River, close to the foot of the bridge. It is understood that the inscription on the entrance was built in 1409 by Sultan Suleiman the ruler of Eyyubies. Today, only the minaret of the mosque has remained intact and is one of the most known symbolic landscapes of Hasankeyf. At the bottom of the inscription at the partially demolished entrance door, among the floral ornaments, ninety-nine names of God were written. One of the important features of the mosque is the double-seperate-staired mosque minaret.. Click on the photo for zoom.

El-Rızk cami

Sultan Süleyman Mosque
The minaret of the mosque was destroyed on an unknown date. The minaret is divided into portions and they were decorated with different vegetal ornaments.
Koç Mosque:
It is located at the east of Sultan Süleyman Mosque. It is estimated that it belongs to Eyyübies. Hasankeyf has the most lively gypsum decorations despite being dismantled. It is not known by whom it was made precisely because it does not have an inscription.
Zeynel Bey Tomb:
It is the only work belonging to ''Akkoyunlu'' period, who dominated Hasankeyf for a short time. It is understood from the inscription on it that it belonged to Zeynel Bey, the son of Uzun Hasan, Akkoyunlu ruler. The mausoleum was transported as a whole 3 km away to the new settlement area within the scope of the transport of the historical heritage of the city.

sülayman cami.

Small Palace:
The structure called as small palace, which is located on the north east end of the castle, was built on the top of chipped rock mass. He is one of the earliest works of Ayyubids in Hasankeyf. On the north-facing façade, two lion reliefs are placed, and in the middle of these reliefs there are cubical plates. There are traces of plaster decorations on the northern and western facades of the palace.
The Great Palace:
It is located below the ''Ulu'' Mosque in the north of the castle. It was largely demolished and remained underneath the ruins. The most important feature of the building is the fact that a rectangular tower is rising against the entrance. In this tower, which is built from cut stones, just like on the bridge, the stones are interlocked with metal chromium. It is estimated that this place served as a watchtower or a lightning rod.

Büyük saray ve Küçük saray,

Grand Mosque / Ulu cami

The mosque built at the beginning of the 14th century is located around the tomb of Imam Abdullah. It is built in a rectangular courtyard. The minaret is partially ruined. However, the building and vaulted door remained intact.

Ulu cami, The Grand Mosque
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