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EGIL

Arriving

Just fifty kilometres north of Diyarbakir is the ancient city of Eğil. It is quite hard to reach by public transport, although not impossible. I arranged a taxi to pick me up from my hotel in Diyarbakir and for a fair price I was dropped off in the center of Eğil. Often, it is easier to get back from a village to the regional center (Diyarbakir). Because once you're in the smaller town, you can just wait for any bus, and it is surely bound to the regional center. So I typically am not concerned with finding my way back. Be aware that there won't be taxis in the town of Eğil to take you back to Diyarbakir, unless you find a way to call one perhaps. I indeed made it back by bus after waiting for a bit, and it was a smooth trip. Do not expect to find a place to spend the night in Eğil, at least I don't find any hotels in Google Maps.

Some history

It was identified to once have been the city of Carcathiocerta, the capital city of Sophene, a province of the ancient Armenian empire. As this is so long ago, it's not easy to define from scriptures where those ancient cities were truly situated, but it's a close and educated conclusion. Simultaneously, the city of Angeghtun was situated here, and so was the fortress of Anggh. This might have been where I was visiting although I can't confirm for sure. In either way, it was on the mountain top right besides the city of modern-day Eğil. This ancient Armenian religious center was consequently ruled by the Assyrians, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Abbasids, the Seljuks and then the Ottoman Empire. Since 1923 this the Republic of Turkey. The interesting thing is that I visited the mountain and there were excavations ongoing. In fact, the crew was digging out a staircase that led deep into the rocks. Most likely from the ancient fortress to the river, to secure drinking water, or to provide a way for escape. In the video below you can see my visit and the archaeologists even take me into the tunnel to show me around. It was one of the most impressive experiences of my life.

What else to explore

There's more to see, though. As you walk down to the Tigris river, which is the place for several dam projects, you'll get down to what is now a lake. Be aware that it is rather dangerous to swim, as the river/lake can be hundreds of metres deep. It is a fun experience though to take a boat trip and see the tombs of the ancient Kings of Eğil. In winter, when I was visiting, it was perfect weather. But unfortunately, there were no tourists, and no boat trips whatsoever. The good part is that I was able to visit the fortress on top of the mountain on my own, and have a chat with the archaeologists working there. And that was an experience I will never forget. I do recommend visiting this place. It is slightly off the beaten path, and few people in Turkey will have heard of it. Once you pick Diyarbakir as a basis though, you'll be able to explore this place for a nice day trip. And there will probably be plenty of other unknown places nearby which I might have never heard of.

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