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World Heritage Convention

Decision 39 COM 8B.32
Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape, Turkey

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Documents WHC-15/39.COM/8B and WHC-15/39.COM/INF.8B1,
  2. Inscribes Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape, Turkey, on the World Heritage List as a cultural landscape on the basis of criterion (iv);
  3. Takes note of the following provisional Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

    Brief synthesis

    The Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape is located on an escarpment in the Upper Tigris River Basin. The fortified city with its associated landscape has been an important centre and regional capital during the Hellenistic, Roman, Sassanid and Byzantine periods, through the Islamic and Ottoman periods to the present. The property includes the impressive Diyarbakır City Walls of 5800 metres – with its many towers, gates, buttresses and 63 inscriptions from different historical periods; and the fertile Hevsel Gardens that link the city with the Tigris River and supplied the city with food and water. The City Walls, and the evidence of their damage, repair and reinforcement since the Roman period, present a powerful physical and visual testimony of the many periods of the region’s history. The attributes of this property include Amid Mound (also known as the İçkale or Inner Castle), Diyarbakır City Walls (known as the Dişkale or Outer Castle), including its towers, gates and inscriptions, the Hevsel Gardens, the Tigris River and Valley, and the Ten-Eyed Bridge. The ability to view the walls within their urban and landscape settings is significant, as are the hydrological and natural resources that support the functional and visual qualities of the property.

    Criterion (iv): The rare and impressive Diyarbakir Fortress and the associated Hevsel Gardens, illustrate a number of significant historical periods within this region from the Roman period until the present through its extensive masonry city walls and gates (including many repairs and additions), inscriptions, gardens/fields and the landscape setting in relation to the Tigris River.


    The boundary of the property encloses all the attributes necessary to express the Outstanding Universal Value, including the importance of the landscape setting of the fortress and the proximity to the Tigris River. The City Walls demonstrate many periods of damage, repair and additions. While a section of the City Walls was demolished in 1930, and there are some examples of poorly planned, executed and documented conservation work completed within the past half century, the Walls are otherwise intact and generally in a good state of conservation. The state of conservation of the Hevsel Gardens is adequate, but vulnerable due to unauthorized settlements and businesses that have been established at the base of the citadel, and by blocked drains, water quality issues, and by dams on the Tigris River that divert water upstream. An adequate buffer zone has been delineated. Overall, the integrity of the property is considered to be vulnerable due to development pressures in the city centre and in areas surrounding the property and its buffer zones.


    Although the functions of the Fortress and gardens have changed over time, it has survived for many centuries and still clearly encircles the innermost core of the historic city. It is still possible to read the importance of these walls, and to recognise their materials, form and design. A substantial part of the 5.8km-long ring consisting of bastion walls, gates and towers of the old city remain, and meet the requirements for authenticity. The Hevsel Gardens have also maintained their historical and functional links to the city. While the authenticity of the attributes of the property is clear, the documentation of restoration work needs to be improved to continue to demonstrate the authenticity of restored sections.

    Protection and management requirements

    The Fortress walls and towers are protected through designation as an “Urban Site” in accordance with the decision of Regional Board of Cultural Heritage Conservation and the Law No. 2863 on Code of Protection of Cultural and Natural Properties. The Amida Mound in the Inner Castle is designated as a “1st degree Archaeological Site”, requiring permission from the Diyarbakır Regional Board of Cultural Heritage Conservation before any new construction or physical intervention. Special provisions for the historical City Walls, towers and wall gates are provided in the Suriçi Urban Site Conservation Plan; and permission from the responsible municipality is required before any new constructions or physical interventions occur in the settlements outside of the City Walls and in Hevsel Gardens. All archaeological studies and excavations in these areas are monitored and controlled by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Diyarbakır Museum Directorate. The Law No. 2872 of Environmental Law controls and administers the agricultural activities in the Tigris Valley and Hevsel Gardens. Diyarbakır Provincial Directorate of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs Diyarbakır Provincial Directorate and State Hydraulic Works are also the responsible institutions. Moreover, the Soil Conservation Board, which is included in decisions about Hevsel Gardens and Tigris Valley, conducts its works in accordance with the “Application Regulations on Soil Conservation and Land Use Law”.

    In relation to the buffer zone, protection is provided through permit mechanisms administered by the Diyarbakır Regional Board of Cultural Heritage Conservation before any new construction or physical intervention for registered assets in Historical Suriçi District. All archaeological studies or excavations carried out in Buffer Zone are monitored and controlled by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Diyarbakır Museum Directorate. Within the buffer zones, legal permission is required from the responsible municipality before any new constructions and/or physical interventions are carried out. These should be given in accordance with the provisions of Conservation Plan in Suriçi District, although the town planning regulations are advisory provisions for private owners, and the coordination with the management of the proposed World Heritage property is not evident.

    Legal protection is in place for the key attributes of the property, although the coordination of these provisions could be improved, and the protection of the buffer zone could be strengthened.

    Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape is divided into two major management components, namely, the Diyarbakır Fortress and the Hevsel Gardens. In order to develop suitable policies for these, seven implementation zones have been established – three of these concern the Diyarbakır Fortress, and the remaining four zones are associated with the Hevsel Gardens. The Buffer Zone inside the city walls (Suriçi) has three planning zones based on conservation issues, and the ability to directly affect the condition/views to the City Walls. The Buffer Zone encircling the property is divided into nine zones based on the area’s social and economic functions.

    Most of the proposed management structures are yet to be implemented. The property will be managed by Management Directorate that is led by a site manager, appointed by the Municipality. Supervision of the implementation of the Management Plan will be done by the Supervision Unit. The Site Manager will be supported by the Advisory Board and the Coordination and Supervision Board. The Advisory Board will be charged with reviewing the plan and making suggestions on the revision of the mid-term strategy and revision of the Management Plan every 5 years. The Coordination and Supervision Board has the authority to make decisions about site management and is responsible for the implementation of the Management Plan in relation to Regulations established in 2005 in accordance with the Protection of Cultural and Natural Properties Law. The Coordination and Supervision Board is supported by the Education Board – responsible for training of personnel; and the Science Board – responsible for all scientific activities arising from the Management Plan.

    The management system is not yet fully operating, and a complex range of organisations are involved. As a result, the overall functioning of the management systems is complex and might need further improvement to clarify responsibilities. The Management Plan for the property consists of 6 themes that focus on restructuring economic activities, conservation processes (for tangible and intangible heritage), planning activities, administrative improvements and risk management. The management of the buffer zones (particularly in relation to the Suriçi District) is not yet well coordinated with the management of the property.

  4. Recommends that the State Party give consideration to the following:
    1. Strengthening the legal protection of the buffer zone, through reinforcement of the provisions of the Conservation Plan in Suriçi District to protect the urban fabric and strengthening mechanisms for consideration of heritage impacts in development approvals processes;
    2. Reinforcing the coordination of the legal protection for the property and the two buffer zones;
    3. Fully implementing the proposed management system, including the management structures and advisory mechanisms and provisions for community involvement;
    4. Improving the presentation of the property;
    5. Improving the scientific basis and procedures for planning the restoration and maintenance of the City Walls, including documentation of the walls and the work undertaken;
    6. Improving the management of vegetation and water drainage near the walls, taking care to record archaeological evidence in these areas when new works occur;
    7. Further improving the study and documentation of the Hevsel Gardens, and the agricultural and water management systems that support the continuing use and significance of the property;
    8. Improving the monitoring indicators;
    9. Conducting a detailed Heritage Impact Assessment in accordance with the ICOMOS Guidance on Heritage Impact Assessments for Cultural World Heritage Properties for future development projects to allow the potential impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property to be recognised at an early stage; and submitting all proposals for development projects to the World Heritage Committee for examination, in accordance with paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  5. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2017, a report on the implementation of the above-mentioned recommendations for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.
Decision Code
39 COM 8B.32
Inscriptions on the World Heritage List, Reports
States Parties 1
Decisions adopted by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session (Bonn, 2015)
Context of Decision