Hevsel Gardens

Hevsel Gardens

The Hevsel Gardens have a rich history dating back to the ninth century BC when Aramean chronicles first mentioned them. These gardens were built on a basalt escarpment overlooking the Tigris River and were primarily designed to provide drinking water and food for city residents below the flowing river.

However, in 866 BC, the city was besieged by the Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II, and the gardens were destroyed as punishment. Despite this setback, the fortified city continued to be of great importance in the region during the Hellenistic period and was controlled by various empires such as the Roman, Sassanid, Byzantine, Islamic, and Ottoman Empires up to modern times.

Hevsel Gardens

The gardens are divided into five terraces that control the flow of irrigation water in the area. The uppermost parts of the gardens were strategically placed and played a critical role in the city's location. Additionally, the gardens were considered sacred as they represented an essential provisioning role and were often compared to the garden of Eden, symbolizing dominion over nature.

The Hevsel Gardens have a long and fascinating history. By 1655, the gardens extended across both banks of the Tigris and were adorned with beautiful flowers. Nineteenth-century travelers who visited the area reported seeing a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, including melons, grapes, and apricots. One sandy island formed by a braided river was renowned for its watermelons.

The gardens were an integral part of the city, with distinct areas for vegetable gardens and trees for various purposes, such as silk production (mulberry trees). The agricultural produce from the gardens was transported to nearby provinces on rafts, while timber was produced from poplar and willow trees in the garden.

Today, approximately one-third of the gardens are dedicated to growing poplar trees, while the remainder is used for cultivating an array of crops, including cabbage, spinach, lettuce, radish, green onions, parsley, watercress, eggplants, squashes, tomatoes, peppers, and beans. The garden also boasts a variety of fruits, such as peaches, apricots, plums, cherries, figs, and mulberries.

In 2015, the Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, acknowledging their historical and cultural significance.