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Dogubeyazit

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Dogubeyazit is a city and district of Agri Province of Turkey, and is Turkey's most eastern district, having a border crossing to Iran at the town of Gurbulak. Elevation 1625 m. Area 2.383 km². Population (2010) 115.354 (up from 73,794 in 1980) of which 69.447 live in the town of Dogubeyazit, the remainder in the surrounding countryside.

The town of Dogubeyazit is a settlement with a long history. It lies 15 km southwest of Mount Ararat, 93 km east of the city of Agri and 35 km from the Iranian border. The town stands on a plain surrounded by some of Turkey's highest peaks including: Ararat (5,137m), Little Ararat (3,896m), Tendurek Dagi (3,533m), Kaletepe (3,196m) Aridagi (2,934m) and Gollertepe (2,643m). The weather on the plain is hot and dry in summer, cold and dry in winter.

For most of the periods described Dogubeyazit was a bigger and more important settlement than the present-day provincial capital Agri, not least because this is the Iranian border crossing. As a result, all but one of the major supplies comes from Iran. The exception is the beer lorry which comes from Turkey.

The area has had a rich history since it was settled during the times of the first Armenian Kingdom of Urartu (over 2700 years ago). Before the Ottoman empire the site was referred to by its Armenian name, Daroynk. In the 4th century the Sasanians failed to capture the Armenian stronghold and royal treasury at Daroynk. Princes of the Bagratid dynasty of Armenia resided at Daroynk and rebuilt the fortress. It was subsequently conquered by Persians, Romans, Arabs, and Byzantines all of whom would have used the plain to rest and recoup during their passages across the mountains. Turkish peoples arrived in 1064, but were soon followed by the Mongols and further waves of Turks. The castle of Daroynk was built and rebuilt many times throughout this history, although it is now named after the Turkish warlord Celayirli Sehzade Bayazit Han who ordered one of the rebuildings (in 1374). Ultimately, the town was renamed Beyazit itself in the 16th century.

After its conquest by the Ottoman Empire in 1514 the area was ruled by Turkish generals, later including Ishakpasa, who built the palace that still bears his name.

The town saw fighting in the Turko-Persian War of 1821-1822, was attacked by Russia in 1856, and taken by the Russians during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. When the Russians retreated many of the Armenian population left with them to build New Beyazit (now Gavar at Armenia) on the shore of lake Sevan.

The widely dispersed village of Bayazit, originally an Armenian settlement, was populated by Kurds in 1930, when the Turkish army destroyed it.

Dogubeyazit was further ravaged during World War I and the Turkish War of Independence and a newer city was built in the 1930s (hence the new Turkish name "Dogubeyazit" which literally means "East Beyazit").

Today, Dogubeyazit is a small town with a predominantly Kurdish population serving an impoverished rural area on a high altitude, dry plain. There is high meadow for grazing on the sides of these mountains while the plain is used for grazing and for growing grains and grasses, mainly as winter foodstuff for livestock. The mountainsides are however insufficiently forested. Life on the mountainside is hard, with people living in mud houses. Apparently rice was grown here in the past and the land had more agricultural potential than today.

However Dogubeyazit is secure at the moment and attracts visitors to Mount Ararat, who usually stop to see the Ishak Pasha Palace and other historical monuments, and others crossing the border to Iran. The economy of the town is boosted by providing food and accommodation (and many internet cafes) for these travellers and in the market in Dogubeyazit there is a small trade in cheap manufactured goods from Iran and beyond. There is also a strong military presence on the border which also benefits the shops, cafes, billiard halls and restaurants of Dogubeyazit.

In January 2006, Dogubeyazit was the centre of a H5N1 bird flu outbreak. Several children died from the disease after playing with chicken carcasses.

The Dogubayazitspor football club plays in the lower divisions of the Turkish football league. It played in the Turkish Third League for three seasons.

Leon Edgar Books