Diarbekir, Or Diarbekr, also called Diarbek-Amid, and Kara-Amid (anc. Amida), a town of Turkey in Asia, capital of a vilayet of the same name (Turkish Kurdistan), on a rocky eminence a short distance from the right bank of the Tigris, in lat. 37° 55' 30" N., Ion. 39° 52' E., 155 m. S. S. W. of Erzerum. A fertile and well cultivated plain surrounds the city, which is encompassed by walls pierced by four gates, and surmounted by many towers. In the N. E. portion are the ruins of the citadel, formerly the residence of the pasha. It was once a very flourishing place, and contained, it is said, 400,000 inhabitants in 1750; but owing to the predatory disposition of the Kurds, who have rendered unsafe the intercourse with Bagdad and Aleppo, its prosperity has declined, and it now contains only about 35,000, chiefly Mohammedans and Armenians. It is the seat of an Armenian archbishop and three Catholic bishops (united Armenian, Chaldean, and united Syrian). Some trade is carried on with Aleppo, and the manufacture of cotton and silk goods, though much diminished, is still continued. The streets are narrow and dirty, and most of the houses are of rough stone covered with a plaster of mud and straw.
It contains many mosques, an Armenian cathedral and other Christian churches, numerous baths, caravansaries, and bazaars, and is well supplied with water, which is introduced by a fine aqueduct, and distributed through the city in numerous stone fountains. The Avails are built of a dark-colored basalt, quarried in the neighborhood, and many of the principal buildings are of the same material. - Diarbekir, then called Amida, was enlarged and fortified by Constantine. On the invasion of Mesopotamia by the Saracens it fell into their hands. At the end of the 14th century it was pillaged by the Mongols under Tamerlane, and in 1515 it was captured by Sultan Selim I.