DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (Kurdistan 24) - A library containing over one million books was recently opened in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, offering readers a modern ambiance with a relaxing environment.
The privately-run library named as "Dara Weşanê" (the Tree of Publications in Kurdish) sits at the Mahabad boulevard famous for its stylish cafes and restaurants.
Yusuf Serdar Esen, the man behind the library project and its founder, tells Kurdistan 24 that he wanted to make Diyarbakir a major destination for book lovers and publishers alike.
"I have been in publication business for a dozen years. This time I planted a tree in this city of civilizations, and now it is the readers' turn to water it," Esen says.
Shelves at the library, stretching over 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) contain books of fiction, non-fiction, education, world literature, science, history and many other areas of interest in 22 languages, including Kurdish dialects.
Students and academics from Diyarbakir's Dicle University and high schools flock to the new library, claiming to be the biggest in the number of books it has in Turkey's Kurdish region.
It welcomes visitors from neighboring provinces.
Abdurrahman Adak, a lecturer of the Kurdish literature at the Artuklu University in Mardin says he views the library as an essential milestone in presenting and preserving the Kurdish language.
"Diyarbakir has always been a center for publishing and libraries. It reminds me of the Ayyubid era. There used to be a million books in this city then," Adak says, referring to the time of the 12th-century Kurdish sultanate founded by Saladin who liberated Jerusalem from the Crusaders.
Saladin's dynasty ruled large parts of today's Middle East.
Onder Atli, a regular visitor who describes himself as a bookworm, states he could not be happier to have a library that big in his city, emphasizing Diyarbakir public's need for more venues of education and arts.
"I can now find many books I used to search for. I particularly love the atmosphere here. It is quite suitable for book-lovers," Atli says.
Diyarbakir, a bastion of Kurdish political movements and patriotism, suffered a phase of a month-long urban warfare between Turkish government forces and Kurdish rebels last year that caused the killing of hundreds and large-scale infrastructural destruction, mostly in its historic Sur district.
However, it persists to remain a center of flourishing Kurdish arts, music, and literature despite increasing government pressure and policies of assimilation.
Editing by Sam A.
(Kurdistan 24 correspondent Mahir Yuksel contributed to this report from Diyarbakir.)