Culture & Travel5 October 2023
Anatolia is a region that has hosted many civilizations throughout its history. The fact that a portion of Anatolia is also part of Mesopotamia adds to its mystique. Mesopotamia holds immense cultural and historical significance, situated between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. As expected, countless civilizations have traversed this land.
Mesopotamian stories and legends have transcended languages for centuries, continuing to pique the curiosity of both locals and tourists. We've compiled a list of the ancient cities in this region that have left a lasting historical legacy from the past to the present.
Dara Ancient City
When one thinks of Mesopotamia, Dara Ancient City immediately comes to mind. It holds a significant place in history and is located within the borders of Oğuz Village in Mardin. The origins of this ancient city date back to 505 AD. Founded by Emperor Anastasius, this magnificent city became a thriving hub for the Umayyads, Abbasids, and Ottomans, enriching the region culturally. Upon your visit, you'll notice that Dara is enclosed by walls stretching over 4 kilometers. This ancient city boasts must-see attractions such as palaces, bazaars, dungeons, cisterns, and artillery.
Arsemia Ancient City
Another must-visit ancient city in the Mesopotamian region is Arsemia. Located near Adıyaman, in the Kahta district, close to Nemrut Mountain, Arsemia Ancient City garners considerable attention from tourists. It's rumored to have been built by Arsames, believed to be a member of the Commagene dynasty, and its history dates back to the 3rd century BC. The reliefs of kings and historical figures found here, dating from various periods such as the Roman era, Middle Ages, and Hellenistic period, are truly worth witnessing. Due to its accessible location, you can easily explore this ancient city and capture souvenir photos.
Halfeti Ancient City
In 2000, the ancient city of Halfeti unfortunately became submerged during the construction of the Birecik Dam. It is situated within the boundaries of Şanlıurfa. Halfeti Ancient City, one of the must-see ancient cities, offers a captivating experience with its churches, water cisterns, caves, and monasteries from the ancient era. Its history traces back to 855 BC, and this magnificent structure defies time, continually astounding those who encounter it.
Assyrian King Salmanassar III was the founder of this city, which later hosted numerous civilizations, leaving behind diverse historical remnants, including Assyrian, Byzantine, and Ottoman influences. In other words, during your visit to both Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep, you can explore the rich historical layers of Halfeti.
Zeugma Ancient City
Zeugma Ancient City, another Mesopotamian treasure, can be found in the Nizip district of Gaziantep. When Gaziantep comes to mind, one of the first historical marvels that surfaces is the ancient city of Zeugma. This city reached its zenith during the Roman period, and the mesmerizing mosaics adorning the floors of its buildings are truly remarkable. The world-renowned Zeugma mosaic, now housed in the Zeugma Museum, is an absolute visual feast worth witnessing during your visit.
Zeugma Ancient City experienced its golden age, particularly during the Roman era. The architectural remains and ruins within the city beautifully showcase the aesthetic and artistic sensibilities of the time. The splendidly constructed villas from that period are a sight to behold. Recent excavations have unearthed even more relics. Among them, the globally famous "Gypsy Girl" mosaic is a standout piece on display at the museum.
Çayönü Ancient City
One of the most significant relics from the Neolithic period is Çayönü Ancient City. Situated in the Ergani district of Diyarbakır, this ancient city dates back to around 10,000 BC. Every part of this ancient city, often recognized as the first historical site where mining took place, is worth exploring. The history of Çayönü Ancient City, where settled life and agriculture began, runs deep. It's known that people inhabited this ancient city for a span of 6,000 years. Moreover, numerous human skulls and skeletons have been unearthed in various excavations. You can view these skulls and bones at the Terrazo Building. Çayönü Ancient City is essentially a hub of transition from primitive living to urbanization. It's an ancient city that will undoubtedly captivate history enthusiasts in the area.
Perre Ancient City
Perre Ancient City, one of the most pivotal cities in the Commagene Kingdom, served as a resting place for caravans and travelers. The rock tombs and cave dwellings of this ancient city, particularly noteworthy for its crystal-clear waters and historical remnants like the Roman fountain, are also worth a visit.
Soğmatar Ancient City
Sogmatar Ancient City traces its roots back to the 2nd century AD. Situated within the borders of Harran in Şanlıurfa, Sogmatar stands out with its reliefs and inscriptions. This ancient city, drawing the attention of both local and international tourists, houses places of worship, water wells, religious motifs, and tombs. In the region, you'll also find areas known as the Tektek Mountains, where people of the time used to worship the sun, moon, and planets.