About City

Bitlis 

Bitlis is a town in eastern Turkey and the capital of Bitlis Province. The town is located at an elevation of 1,400 metres, 15 km from Lake Van, in the steep-sided valley of the Bitlis River, a tributary of the Tigris. The local economy is mainly based on agricultural products which include fruits, grain and tobacco. Industry is fairly limited, and deals mainly with leatherworking, manufacture of tobacco products as well as weaving and dyeing of coarse cloth. Bitlis is connected to other urban centres by road, including Tatvan on Lake Van, 25 km to the northeast, and the cities of Muş (Mush), 100 km northwest, and Diyarbakır, 200 km to the west. The climate of Bitlis can be harsh, with long winters and heavy snowfalls. Summers are hot, and often humid.

History

Ancient and medieval

The origin of the name Bitlis is not known. A popular folk etymology explanation, without any historical basis, is that it is derived from "Lis/Batlis", the name of a general said to have built Bitlis castle by the order of Alexander the Great. To Armenians, it was known as Balalesa or Baghaghesh, and later Baghesh. According to one popular Armenian folk story, on a cold, wintry day a donkey left its stable and wandered down the valley below. The donkey died of the freezing temperatures and was only discovered in the spring, once the ice had melted; thus, it received the name Pagh Esh, or "Cold Donkey."

Baghesh was one of the most important cities of the Kingdom of Armenia's province of Aghdznik', and it served as the primary fortress of the province's canton of Salnodzor. Some medieval Armenian writers, such as Anania Shirakatsi and Vardan Areveltsi, later mention it as a part of the canton of Bznunik. The fortress guarded the Baghesh Pass, which linked the southern reaches of the Armenian Plateau to northern Mesopotamia. The Arabs conquered Baghesh at the end of the seventh century and it eventually became the capital of the Zurarid emirs of Aghdznik'. Due to the fact that it fell on an important trade route, it prospered greatly.

The next two centuries, however, marked a turbulent period in the town's history. After Bugha al-Kabir's destructive 852-855 campaign in Armenia, the Shaybanid emirs of Arzan wrested control of Baghesh from the Zurarids; thereafter, in the first quarter of the tenth century, it was taken by the Kaysite emirs of Manzikert. In his 929-30 campaign against the Kaysites, the Byzantine general John Curcuas was able to capture and annex Baghesh. Following the devastation of the Arab emirs in the second half of the 10th century, a great number of Kurds settled in Baghesh and at the end of the 10th century, the city fell into the hands of the Kurdish Marwanid dynasty after breaking from Buyid rule. At the end of the 11th century, with the collapse of Byzantine power after the Battle of Manzikert, Bitlis fell under the control of Togan Arslan, a subject of the Shah Arman (Also called Ahlatshah) dynasty based in Akhlat' after brief Dilmachoglu rule. It was also ruled by Ayyubid (1207–1231), Khwarezm Shahs (shortly rule in 1230), Sultanate of Rûm (1231–1243) and Ilkhanate (1243–1335).

 

Modern

A view from Bitlis city center.

Description

Bitlis preserves more medieval and traditional architecture than any other town in eastern Turkey. They are of a high quality and are mostly constructed from locally-quarried light brown stone, sometimes called Ahlat stone.

The town contains a large number of late-medieval Islamic buildings in the form of mosques, medresses, and tombs. Commissioned mostly by its local Kurdish rulers, the architectural style of these buildings is very conservative and similar to much earlier Seljuq-period structures. Important monuments include the 12th-century Ulu Mosque with its 15th century minaret, and the Gokmeydani Medresesi and Sherefiye Mosque from the sixteenth century. Until 1915 there were five Armenian monasteries and several churches in Bitlis – only a 19th-century Armenian church survives, now used as a warehouse.

Bitlis is also notable for its many old houses. These are built of cut stone and are often large and impressive structures. Most have two stories, but three stories are also found. Ground floors were generally intended for storage and stables, with the residential quarters on the upper floors. Ground floor rooms have few windows, upper floors are well lit. Roofs are flat and covered with beaten clay. Unlike traditional houses in nearby Erzurum or Van, Bitlis houses do not have bay windows and balconies.

Climate

Bitlis has a dry-summer continental climate according to the (Köppen climate classification Dsb). Bitlis has hot, dry summers and freezing, snowy winters.

Climate data for Bitlis
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 1.2
(34.2)
2.5
(36.5)
6.5
(43.7)
13.2
(55.8)
19.3
(66.7)
25.7
(78.3)
30.7
(87.3)
31.1
(88)
26.5
(79.7)
18.6
(65.5)
10.1
(50.2)
3.5
(38.3)
15.74
(60.35)
Average low °C (°F) −6.4
(20.5)
−5.6
(21.9)
−1.8
(28.8)
3.2
(37.8)
7.3
(45.1)
11.5
(52.7)
15.5
(59.9)
14.9
(58.8)
10.6
(51.1)
6.2
(43.2)
0.7
(33.3)
−3.8
(25.2)
4.36
(39.86)
Precipitation mm (inches) 137.8
(5.425)
181.6
(7.15)
169.9
(6.689)
165.2
(6.504)
100.2
(3.945)
26.2
(1.031)
7.6
(0.299)
7.0
(0.276)
18.5
(0.728)
91.4
(3.598)
161.2
(6.346)
155.5
(6.122)
1,222.1
(48.113)
Avg. rainy days 12.8 13.1 15.3 15.8 14.2 6.1 2.5 2.2 3.0 9.8 11.1 13.2 119.1
Mean monthly sunshine hours 74.4 92.4 155.0 177.0 229.4 279.0 303.8 300.7 276.0 167.4 87.0 62.0 2,204.1
Source: Devlet Meteoroloji İşleri Genel Müdürlüğü

Economy

Historically, Bitlis produced wheat, which the British, in 1920, described as being "particularly excellent." However, poor trade routes in the area during the early 20th century meant that the wheat was mainly produced and used by locals. During this time, the British stated that the people of Bitlis were unable to use all of the wheat they produced, and most was "left to rot in the underground storehouses."

 Source: Wikipedia

Bitlis Eren University
Address: Ahmet Eren Bulvarı, Rahva Mevki, Bitlis Eren Üniversitesi Rahva Yerleşkesi PK 13000 Bitlis/Turkey
Phone: +90(434) 222 00 00 & Fax: +90(434) 222 0101
E-Mail is@beu.edu.tr

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