With its 4300 years of cultural wealth and architectural heritage, Mardin is a magical city in the southeastern Turkey. This poetic city still stands gracefully on the top of a hill and has managed to survive from one civilisation to another. Like an actual fairytale, the golden stone houses of this enchanting city create the perfect balance and harmony. Of course, the rich history of the city shows in every corner and in every stone, fact which attracts many tourists each year.
This ancient city is the homeland of Syriacs/Assyriacs. You may know Syriacs from their language which is directly related to the native/maternal language of Jesus Christ. This ancient people's origin goes way back to the Akkadian Empire, which was established in Mesopotamia around 2200 BC. But the first settlement in Mardin dates way back to the Neolithic Age. This "city of rock" was culturally, religiously and of course architecturally marked by civilisations such as; the Assyrians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Seljuks, Mongols, Ottomans and the list goes on and on! Just like an open-air museum, Mardin is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List!
Mardin is jewelled with three gorgeous monasteries since it has been a very important city for Syriac Orthodox Christians since the 5th Century. The most interesting one for me is the Deyrulzafaran Monastery. Let's take a look!
Picture © Credits to CihatDeniz
This amazing monastery was built on the site of a 4500-year-old pagan temple, which is still visible from the underground floors of the monastery! Due to its golden colored limestone exterior, it is also known as the "Saffron Monastery". Deyrulzafaran Monastery was used for solar worship and it was the seat of Patriarchate of all Syriac Orthodoxy until 1932. To serve its main aim, this monastery has 365 rooms, each symbolising a day the Earth spends on its full cycle around the Sun! It is still in use by the monks, but there are also the open sections for visitors, guided usually by the young monks. You should also know that in here Aramaic, Jesus’ language, is still being used as the liturgical language! Inside this monastery, you will find a prayer room, which was used as a temple to Baal in 2000 B.C., a 300-year-old Bible ,and a 1600-year-old mosaic floor!
Picture © Credits to SonerCdem
If the stonework architecture in the city center is not enough for you, you should visit one of the biggest towns in Mardin, Midyat. This whole town is jewelled with stone ornaments which gives the feeling of an Arabic fairytale! Here, you can find the major center of the ancient Hurrian town in Southeast-Turkey. The history of this magnificent town can be traced back to the 3rd millennium. Many different empires had ruled over Midyat, including the Assyrians, Armenians, Medes, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and of course Ottomans. The whole town is like an open-air museum, where you can also shop handcrafts such as carpets, towels and other cloth goods. Midyat is also famous for its Syriac silver crafts. The most famous one is its silver jewellery, known as ‘telkari,’ which basically refers to handcrafted filigreed ornaments. So don't forget to treat yourself with this amazing hand-carved silver jewels!
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