Through the eyes of travelers: Diyarbakır Markets
There are many covered bazaars, markets, and different trade centers in the city.
Because of its location at the intersection of trade routes linking Mesopotamia to Anatolia, Diyarbakır has been an important center of trade throughout history. There are many covered bazaars, markets, and different trade centers in the city. Historically, crafts such as silk production, ceramics, glass making, cotton processing, and textiles were quite widespread. The remnants of centuries-old production sites, among them a mint, a beammaker, a macun maker (macun is a kind of herbal paste often reputed to have curative powers), a manufacturer of dyes and paint and a tobacco processing plant, tell of past good fortune. The famous traveler Evliya Çelebi, who visited Diyarbakır in the middle of the 17th century, described the city, in his 16th-century travelogue, as “a city abundant in craftsmen”, and estimated the number of market places in the city at 676.
The same travelogue also offers some more detailed information on the state of markets, covered bazaars, traders’ inns, public baths, mosques, and the palace inside of Inner Fortress. Here are some observations on the Diyarbakır of the 1650s, through the eyes of Evliya Çelebi:
In the markets of Diyarbakır, foremost are the Hasanpaşa market, the Espahi clothing market, and the markets for herbalists, jewelers, ironmongers, lockmakers, shoemakers, saddlemakers, silk dealers, and the cloth merchants—in short, 66 different craftsmen’s shops. But the Cloth Market and the Sipahi clothing market are extremely prosperous. In terms of industry, Diyarbekir’s swords, daggers, axes, drums, knifes, spears, red cloths, saffian leather, shoes, and boots are famous.
According to Çelebi, the boiler smiths and blacksmiths would strike their hammers and their stampers to segâh and hüseyni musical modes, working and singing, and the surrounding shopkeepers, hearing this, held them in high esteem. The city’s jewelers, too, were peerless in their silverwork.
The famous traveler J.S. Buckingham, meanwhile, who came to Diyarbakır in 1815 recorded that many of the city’s shopkeepers were engaged in shawl weaving and the manufacturing of hand tools, pipes of all colors, and gold and silver cigarette holders. Buckingham explained that there were 1,500 shawl looms in the city, 300 leather manufacturers, 100 blacksmiths, 50 pipe and cigarette holder makers, that the main raw materials used were silk and cotton, and that these materials were obtained from the nearby hinterlands.
Another traveler who came to the city in 1619, Simeon the Pole, also described the local markets in this way: “In Diyarbakır’s markets, which, like the poppy market in Bursa and the Alipaşa Inn in Edirne, are only matched by Istanbul, there are jewelers, knife makers, cobblers, boot makers, and various other craftsmen.”
The French traveler P. Avril, meanwhile, came to the city between the years of 1654 and 1686 and noted that the city had a developed commercial life. According to Avril, the city’s silk industry was quite advanced. Red cotton cloth and saffian leather were important trade goods. Avril mentions that trade was carried out on routes to Mosul and Baghdad, and on kelek (river rafts made from planks on inflated sheepskins) on the Tigris river.
The many inns (han) once found in the city were used for lodging and for trading and marketing. The most famous among these inns are Hasanpaşa Inn, Deliller Inn, Çifte Inn, Ipekoğulları Inn, Rüstempaşa Inn, Tütün (tobacco) Inn, Ibrahimpaşa Inn, Melik Ahmet Inn, Sipahi Inn, and Kayseriye Inn.
Wheat Growers Market (Çarşiya Elafan)
This market is adjacent to Hasanpaşa. The market continues its same function to this day. While the structure’s exact date of construction is unknown, it is thought to be built before the 16th century. There’s a wide courtyard in the center surrounded by riwaqs, a type of arcade found in Iranian and surrounding Islamic architectural styles. Behind the riwaqs are spaces used for storage. The market is covered by domes.
Wild Greens and Herbs Market (Çarşiya Eşêfçiyan)
Its name deriving from the Kurdish word for wild greens, eşêf, this market was founded between Melik Ahmet Street and the Cheese makers Market, on the same street as the Maliki Ejder Mosque. Woman come early in the morning to set up the market, and sells various herbs, vegetables and fruits they brought from the Tigris River Valley surrounding gardens and vineyards. People come to the market from across the city to make use of these herbs, many of them thought to be curative.
Sipahi Market (Çarşiya Şewitî)
Located between Balıkçılarbaşı district and the Great Mosque, the Sipahi Market is a favorite haunt for Diyarbakırites. Here one can find regional clothing, antique furniture, spices, hand crafted copperware, henna and other accessories for traditional weddings, tobacco, regional checkered scarves puşî, and the like. Because of the many fires that have broken out in the market across history, the market has another popular name, “Çarşiya Şewitî” in Kurdish, or Burnt Market.While we lack precise knowledge on the history of the structure, we know that the market has changed its function in recent history, as it used to be a wheat market.
Cheese Makers Market (Çarşiya Penêrfiroşan)
Between Balıkçılarbaşı and Mardin Gate, this market is located alongside the Deva Public Baths. In this recently built market, one can find all flavors of local cheeses and other dairy products. Look for braided cheese, örgülü peyniri, a delicious eastern Anatolian cheese enjoyed across the country. Because of the quality of the cheeses, not only local buyers but also visitors to the city from surrounding towns and villages frequent this market.
The Jewelers Market is found off of Gazi Avenue, opposite from the Great Mosque, in a space once used by blacksmiths. A new market, constructed with great attention to appearance, was built and the jewelers quickly moved in. All sorts of handmade adornments are bought and sold, and in terms of trade volume, the market has become one of the more important economic centers of the city.
Blacksmiths Market (Çarşiya Hesinkaran)
Just off of Gazi Avenue, behind the small shop of the famous herbalist Kör Yusuf (literally “Blind Yusuf”) is this lively working space. The finest example of the history of this blacksmith district are the traditional agricultural tools that are produced and sold here. It is in this market that the balustrades that have long decorated Diyarbakır’s balconies and windows are made.
Through the eyes of travelers: Diyarbakır Markets