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BATMAN

Eastern oil town                                                      Population: 380,000

batman1Other name: Elih (Kurdish)

Don't be fooled by the name - there's nothing remotely comic-book about this busy town which actually takes its name from the nearby Batı Raman mountains. Oil was found in 1948 since when it's been boom, boom, boom, despite the troubles in the east which left the town under curfew for much of the 1990s.

Batman is about as attractive as Milton Keynes for visitors but it does offer a decent range of hotels and restaurants which, for some, might make it a good base for visiting Hasankeyf. It's most conspicuous "monument" is the huge new Batman Park shopping mall, the place to go if you fancy a coffee in the sort of air-conditioned comfort you'd find in İstanbul. 

The town has no clear central square. Instead lengthy Diyarabakır Caddesi, the main drag, counts as "the centre", with the roundabout known locally as Dörtyol as its focus. 

Batman Museum (closed Mondays) is attached to a cultural centre in the Fatih Mahallesi. It offers an inttroductory showcase for the many largely forgotten ancient sites in the area as well as to nearby Hasankeyf; the ruins at Çattepe looked especially interesting. The basement hosts changing photographic exhibitions while the grounds contain replicas of houses from the Neolithic and other periods. To reach the museum it's quicker to walk across the park than to take the bus although without being able to speak Turkish it could be tricky to find the way. 

Eating and drinking

Batman is hardly a culinary hotspot. I ate at the smart Çırağan Restaurant on Diyarbakır Caddesi (Tel: 0488-212 6311) and was impressed by the service.

But by far the best place in town seemed to be Çömçe (Tel: 0488-213 1776) which has been in business since 1986. One can see why. It's garden was packed to overflowing with happy diners eating amid fountains and a large children's play area. The food was lovely. Ditto the prices.

Just off Diyarbakır Caddesi there's a small pedestrianised street with a line of small tea-houses down one side. Most offer nargiles so that they reminded me of Tophane in İstanbul but with far fewer female customers.

If the heat and the dust is getting to you the Batman Park shopping centre offers the usual food hall and a pleasant branch of Kahve Diyarı with cooling frappaccinos.

Sleeping

batman2Meyankökü şerbeti (liquorice drink) seller passes Batman's take on the Tophane area of İstanbul

Ancient Mesopotamia Hotel

Hotel Bozooğulları. Tel: 0488-215 0444

Grand Hotel Hasankeyf

Hotel İzgi Turhan

Transport info

The İlçe Otogar (local bus terminal) for all local destinations is a short walk away from Dörtyol, the roundabout in the middle of Diyarbakır Caddesi near the Ancient Mesopotamia Hotel. 

Regular dolmuşes to Hasankeyf leave from Dörtyol as well as from this otogar.

You can also pick up local buses to Sason, Kozluk, Kurtalan and Beşiri from the local terminal. Just a block away a second terminal houses minibuses to Diyarbakır and İkiköprü. There are dolmuşes to Diyarbakır at least every 15 minutes during the day. 

It's possible to get from Batman to Diyarbakır and back by train. The station is in the centre of Batman although the times of the trains may not be very convenient.

Day trip destinations

Ayranci (Mor Kiryakos Monastery)

Diyarbakır

Hasankeyf

İkiköprü

Kurtalan

Malabadi

Midyat

Sason

Siirt

Silvan

Tillo

Veysel Karani

Read more: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-350272-in-batmans-backyard.html

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