Hasankeyf had been the capital city of Artukogul between the years 1101 and 1231. The castle of the city is built on a high hill in the south of Tigris (Dicle). Imam Abdullah dervish lodge, Zeynel Bey tomb, Hasankeyf palace and bridge are among the structures to stand still.
Originally a Roman frontier town named Cepha. An important out post for Byzantine. After Arab control 640 C name changed from Greek Kiphas to Hisn Kayfa. In the centuries followed it became today's Hasankeyf. One can find many remains of Artukids. According to an Arab Chroicle the bridge built over Tigres river regarded finest in Anatolia. Artukids emir Fahreddin Kara Aslan repaired it in 1116. After Mongol invasion of Anatolia Hasankeyf took its share and never recovered its past glory. Fatih, Mehmet I annexed it for Ottoman domination in 1416.
The Romans had built a fortress on the site and the city became a bishopric under theByzantine empire. It was conquered by the Arabs, in ca. 640, who built a bridge over the Tigris river. The city was successively ruled by the Artukids and Ayyubids. The city was captured and sacked by the Mongols in 1260. Following the Ottoman ascendancy established by Selim I in the region in early 16th century, the city has become part of the Ottoman empire since the reign of Sultan Süleyman I's campaign of Irakeyn (the two Iraqs, e.g. Arabian and Persian) in 1534, at the same time as Diyarbakır, Mosul, Baghdad and Basra.
Professor Olus Arik who is leading the dig at Hasankeyf: ' Ephesus is celebrating its 110th anniversary of excavations We need a minimum of fifty years here and we have just nine or ten'.
A legend told by Cheref-Ouddin, Kurdish prince of Bitlis, in his book Cheref-Nameh (Marvels of the Kurdish Nation), written exactly 400 years ago, recalls an Arab prisoner called Hasan.
"Hasan, who was had been sentenced to death, requested a last favour. He asked if he could ride, for one last time, his beloved horse in the courtyard of the fortress, towering above the waters of the Tigris river, where he was incarcerated? His last request was granted -and during the course of his ride, the prisoner jumped off his horse over the wall of the fortress into Tigris - a formidable leap of 150 meters. The horse died on landing in the waters but the prisoner escaped, to the astonishment of all who witnessed the scene. According to legend, the spectators exclaimed:Hasan Keif?(Hasan, How), and from that day on the name was bestowed on the fortress which has kept it through the centuries."