MARDİN: Sites of Historical and Cultural Merit where Civilisations Meet

The building of the Mardin Museum, situated next to Cumhuriyet Square, was originally constructed as the Church of Virgin Mary and as the part of the Syriac Catholic Patriarchate by the Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatios Behnan Banni in 1895. Converted into a museum in 1995, this structure has three stories. On the first floor are: the information desk, conference, exhibition and relaxation salons; on the second floor, the salon reserved for the ethnographical items and the library and craft display cabinets; on the third floor: exhibition salons for pieces excavated from Gırnavaz Mound and for archaeological pieces that are bought and added to the museum collection.

The museum houses ceramics, seals, cylindrical stamps, coins, lamps, figurines, teardrop bottles, jewellery, vases and many other pieces belonging to the Early Bronze, Middle Bronze and Late Bronze Ages, the First Iron Age, Assyrian, Urartian, Persian, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, Artukid and Ottoman periods. In the salon reserved for the ethnographical items are choice pieces of silverwork from Mardin and its environs, especially Midyat, including: necklaces, earrings, bracelets, anklets, pieces worn on the forehead, original clothing, swords, coffee (myrrh) sets, bathhouse pieces, prayer beads, heating implements and copper pieces.

Dara Historical Site

Situated 30 km to the southeast of Mardin in the village of Oguz, Dara is one of the most important settlements of historical Upper Mesopotamia. It was founded as a garrison city to defend the eastern borders of the Eastern Roman Empire against the Sassanids by the Emperor Anastasius (491-518) in 505.

Consisting of buildings that were carved into the rock over a large area, the ancient city of Dara was once protected by 4 km long fortifications. The inner castle was situated to the north of the city on the flat top of a 50 m high hill. In the city can still be seen the remains of a church, palace, agora, dungeon, artillery and water cisterns. Furthermore in the environs of the village can be seen cave houses dating back to the Late Roman Period.

Gırnavaz Mound

Girnavaz is a 300 m long and 24 m high historical settlement situated 4 km to the north of Nusaybin and to the east of the Caggag Creek, one of the branches of the Habur River. It was first brought to the attention of the scientific community in 1918 and it has become clear that it was settled continuously between the 4th millennium B.C. and the 7th century B.C. From the excavations have emerged priceless metal weapons, ornaments, vases, lamps, seals and tablets.

Many ruins of ancient times in the areas around Mardin have survived to this day. Fitvar, located 13 km from the Derik District; Hofi, in its day a great centre of learning and trade, and Zorava both located 18 km away; the ruins of Telbisim, just 1 km to the south of Derik, in the village of Tepebag are all part of the cultural heritage of the Roman Period. Other local ruins of cultural ’interest include Ramanus, located 40 km from Nusaybin in the village of Kasribelak; Kefertut, Salah, Harzem, Belluke, Hafri (Yurderi) and Amrud in the village of Koglu which is part of Kiziltepe, and the ruins of Akbag in the village of Akbag at a distance of 13 km from the city centre.

Mardin Castle

The castle, standing on the hill dominating the city and crowned with superb stonework, was constructed in 975-976 by the Hamdanis. It is 1200 m above sea and has a width of between 30 and 150 m. It is clear from the reports of travellers who came to Mardin at different periods that there were many additions inside the castle including storage barns, wells and bathhouses. The castle, known as the “Eagle’s Nest” due to its protected position, has six gates formerly. Nowadays only the foundations remain from the castle.

Rabbat Castle

Rabbat Castle is situated 15 km west to the district of Derik, to the north of Hisaralti Village on top of a hill above a narrow valley. The exact date of construction is not known. The castle, that underwent restoration in the Artukid period, has 15 bastions, 4 corner lookout towers and entrance gates to the east and west. Under the ground level are shelters, the ruins of a palace and supply store rooms.

Morin Castle

Located in the old city of Merdis, 15 km to the northeast of Nusaybin in the village of Eskihisar, the castle was constructed on top of a high rocky outcrop. Although there is no archaeological proof as to the castle’s builders the style of building suggests that it belongs to the Byzantine Period. Covering an area of approximately 1500 m the castle was supported by 12 towers. Situated to the east of the castle is the King of Merdis’ Chateau, and storerooms and cistern carved into rock. The tower and ramparts of the castle are well-preserved to this day.

Aznavur Castle

Situated 14 km to the northeast of the Nusaybin District is Aznavur Castle, constructed across the highest two hills of a wide valley. Built by Abdullah bin Hamdan in 970, the castle boasts a length of 400 m and a width of between 30 and 60 metres. It was constructed with 14 bastions and 2 lookout towers. To the south, overlooking the Syrian plains, there is a tower standing to this day.

Dermetinan Castle

Located in the village of Gumusyuva, 20 km to the northwest of Mazidagi District, Dermetinan Castle was constructed during the Byzantine Period. The castle is built on a hilltop that is 150 metres high in a position that overlooks the caravan routes. Today only the ruins of the castle can be seen. The castle had eight bastions, watch towers, a single north-facing gate, cisterns, warehouses and houses.

Rahabdium – Hafemtay Castle

Rahabdium-Hafemtay Castle, 20 kilometres northeast of the Nusaybin District, was constructed on top of a hill during the Roman Period, close to the Syrian border. The castle, which was a frontier for the Romans against the threat coming from the south, was also for a long time much disputed by the Arabs and the Romans. The castle, lying on a north-south axis, has two 20 metre tall watch towers, 14 bastions and a 1500 m-long wall that has a height of 10 metres. The castle is approached by a single south-facing gate and inside can be seen: cisterns, depots, the ruins of some buildings and underground storerooms.

Savur Castle

Savur Castle is located on the top of the hill behind the Savur District. It was constructed by the Romans with respect to the strategical considerations of the time; the castle, located overlooking the Silk Road, experienced many disputes between the Arabs and the Romans. The castle, full of mystery, is still standing today.

Zarzavan Castle

Zarzavan Castle is located at a height of 50 metres on the Mardin-Diyarbakir Road. It was built on the historical Silk Road with the purpose of protecting caravan traders. During attempts by Tamerlane to take Mardin it was badly damaged.

Reyhaniye Mosque

Located in the Hasan Ayar Bazaar between the Ulu Mosque and the Şehidiye Madrasa, Reyhaniye Mosque was built in 1756 by Adile Hamm, the daughter of Ahmet Pasha. From the inscriptions it is understood that the mosque was renovated in the 19th century. The rectangular shaped main chamber is a fine example of a building with a single dome on top of the mihrap (prayer niche). The lower part of the minaret which has a square-plan pedestal is octagonal and after the balcony the upper part is cylindrical. The minaret is topped with a pointed spire.

Ulu Mosque and Bathhouse

Ulu Mosque, which is the oldest mosque in Mardin, is located in the centre of the city. It is thought that the mosque was built in the 11th century by the Seljuks and it took its present shape during the Artukid Period. The minaret was built during the reign of Necmeddin Ilgazi of the Artukid dynasty. The rectangular shaped mosque, which conveys to this day the splendour of its history through its magnificent structure, is covered by a single dome, supported by six pillars. The bathhouse, which lies to the southeast of the Ulu Mosque, „ was constructed by the Artukid Sultan Melik Salih (1312-1363) as a charitable foundation attached to the mosque.

Abdullatif (Latifiye) Mosque

Located to the south of Cumhuriyet Square, Abdullatif Mosque was constructed in 1371 A.D. by Abdullatif bin Abdullah who served in Mardin during the reigns of Artukid Melik Salih and Melik Muzaffer. The original minaret of the mosque, built by the Governor of Egypt, Muhammed Ziya Tayyar Pasha, was replaced by the current minaret in 1845, built by Mehmed Pasha, the governor of Mosul. The rectangular planned mosque, one of the last Artukid monuments, is distinctive with the dome in front of the mihrab. The well preserved portal is attractive with its three arches built of two coloured stones, geometrical motifs, knitted and starred decorations. The pulpit and gathering place that are original examples of wood carving of the late Seljuk Period are all worth seeing.

Babu’s-Sur (Melik Mahmut) Mosque

This mosque is located in the Savur Kapi Neighbourhood. According to its inscription it was constructed between 1312 A.D. and 1362 A.D. by the Artukid Ruler Melik Salih. It is named after the Artukid Ruler Melik Mahmut (1367-1368) who is buried here. The mosque has a rectangular ground plan and the masonry of the portal is interesting.


Şehidiye Mosque and Madrasa

The mosque and madrasa, located in the Şehidiye Neighbourhood of the city, were constructed between the years 1202 and 1239 by Sultan Melik Mansur Nasruddin Artuk Arslan, who was also buried there. The madrasa has a courtyard surrounded with porticos. The masonry of its portal and the workmanship of its northern facade and minaret which was built in 1916-17 fascinate visitors.

Kiziltepe Ulu Mosque

This mosque is located to the northwest of Kiziltepe District. Its construction was started by Yavlak Arslan (1184-1200) of the Mardin branch of the Artukid dynasty and was finished by his brother Artuk Arslan (1200-1239). Made from cut stone and bricks, the mosque has a rectangular ground plan and is divided into three sections. The inner walls and the mihrab of the mosque are decorated with elegantly carved writings.

Emineddin Complex

Located in the Emineddin Neighbourhood to the southwest of the city, this complex was constructed by the Artukid Sultan Necmeddin ilgazi (1108-1112) and his brother Emineddin. The complex is made up of a mosque, a madrasa, a bathhouse, a fountain, a hospital and a sanatorium. It is important because of being one of the first madrasas in Anatolia built in 12th century.

Zinciriye (Isabey) Madrasa

Located to the north of the Medrese Neighbourhood, just below the castle, this building was commissioned by Melik Necmeddin isa in 1385. Melik Isa, who fought against Tamerlane and his army, was imprisoned in this madrasa for a period. For this reason it is also known as the “Madrasa of Sultan Isa”. With its two storeys and two courtyards, the entrance stonework and dome, the building is magnificent and well worth seeing. To view Mardin from here is also very pleasurable. Inside the madrasa there are many old inscriptions and the Tomb of Sultan Isa. The building was used as an observatory in the past, due to the height of its location, and also functioned as a museum for a while.

Sitti Radviyye (Hatuniye) Madrasa

The Sitti Radviyye Madrasa, located in Gul Neighbourhood, was constructed by the mother of Kutbeddin ilgazi, Sitti Radviyye Hatun, in 1184-85. It is a two storied building and has a courtyard surrounded with porticos and has two vaulted rooms with one sides open to a courtyard surrounded with porticos. Beside the main vaulted room there is a tomb which has a dome decorated with reliefs. The quality of the tombs makes this madrasa one of the most important and outstanding Artukid works of art in this region. In the mosque next to the madrasa is a footprint that is believed to belong to the Prophet Mohammad. The bath-house to the south of the madrasa which dates back to the same date with the madrasa has seen a lot of restoration to the present day.

Kasımiye Madrasa

The construction of the madrasa, located below the south-western hills of Mardin, was begun during the Artukid Period but was finished in 1457-1502 during the reign of the Akkoyun Ruler Kasim Padisah bin Cihangir. The two-storied madrasa which has survived to this day in superb condition is constructed from cut stone with a courtyard and dome. The edifice is interesting due to its design, masonry and ornamentation and is located inside a religious complex along with a mosque and a tomb.

Mor (Saint) Behnam (Kirklar) Church

Located in the Sar Neighbourhood of the city centre, this church was constructed in 569 in honour of Syriac Saint Behnam and his sister Saro. The rectangular, planned church, situated to the east of a large courtyard, r is divided with arches supported by twelve thick ^columns. With its 400 year old wooden gates, root-dyed curtains, and spacious courtyard including the bell tower house and stonework examples that resemble a lacework, it is very striking. In 1170 the relics of 40 martyrs were brought to this church. Today it is the Metropolitan Church of Mardin.

Mor (Saint) Peter and Mor Paul Church

Located in the Gul Neighbourhood, this church was constructed in 1914 during the reign of Patriarch Abdullah II due to the endeavours of Father Abdulmesih. It is dedicated to St. Paul and St. Peter. The church comprising of nine equal squares covered by cruciform-shaped vaults has very elegant stonework.

Deyrulzafaran Monastery

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The Deyrulzafaran Monastery, located 3 kilometres to the east of Mardin, is one of the most famous buildings of the hills facing Upper Mesopotamia. The site was originally a sun temple before Christianity. After the Christianity became official religion, churches were built in the castle constructed by the Romans at the site. When the Romans withdrew from the region St. Sleymun brought the relics of some saints to the castle and converted the castle into a monastery. The monastery, which was the World Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate between 1116 and 1932, includes churches, receiving rooms, dormitories, altars, a school, tombs and hermitages which were built in various periods. The monastery took its present day appearance in the 18th century. It still has a great importance and meaning for the Syriac Orthodox Church. A historic bible and a holy stone can be seen in the monastery. It is also said that the first medical school was built here.

Deyrulumur (Mor Gabriel) Monastery

Located eighteen kilometres east of the town of Midyat, the monastery, one of the largest and most celebrated buildings of the Syriac Orthodox Church, was constructed on a relatively-high hill. The foundations of the monastery were laid in 397 by Mor Samuel of Savur and Mor Semun of Kartmin and the construction was finished in a short period of time. At different dates alterations were added to the inside and outside. These include dwellings and pray halls commissioned by Mor Samuel in the time of King Arcadius (395-408); memorial house for sarcophagi in the time of King Theodosius (405- 450)-today’s Meryem Ana (Virgin Mary) Church; Resuller Church; Kirksehit (Forty Martyrs) Church; Temple to Mor Samuel; Theodore Dome due to the king’s daughter was treated by Mor Samuel; Temple to Mor §lemun; and the huge Temple commissioned by the King Anastasius in 512. The Monastery which was the seat of Metropolitan Bishop between 615 and 1049 still preserves its splendid appearance.

Meryem Ana (Virgin Mary) Church and Patriarchate

Located in the Cumhuriyet Square next to the museum, Meryem Ana Church was commissioned in 1860 by the Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatios. It belongs to the Syriac Catholic Church. There are arches, circular stone pillars inside the church and parapets in the courtyard. The wooden motifs of bunches of grapes around the seat of the Patriarch and the lectern give a unique ambience. The building of Patriarchate was added in 1895. Having been acquired by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 1988 this building was subsequently restored and has been used as a Museum since 1995.

Mor Yakup Monastery

The monastery which is located in the district centre of Nusaybin was a Zoroastrian Temple until Mor Sabo and his 11 eleven students were martyred here. It was constructed on the ruins of the temple in 328 A.D. after the death of Mor Yakup and dedicated to him. He is buried inside. Up until the 19th century priests used to live here. It is possible to see the most elegant examples of stone work in the monastery.

Mor Yusuf Church (Surp Hovsep)

Opened for worship in 1894, the building is flat roofed and has a bell tower. Its inside is divided by 21 columns while the exterior walls are decorated with the ornaments unique to Mardin. In the church are valuable icons, silver lamps, other religious items and a special altar made of cut stone.

Mor Iliye Church

The construction date of the church, which is located in the village of Çiftlik, is unknown. Inside the church, there are two side rooms. Entry into these rooms is via a door which has a very low ceiling. The middle part, known as the healing place, is often visited by people suffering from depression, nervous disorders and epilepsy.

Izozoel Church

This church, which is located in the Altintas (Keferze) village of Midyat, is constructed on the highest point to the north of the village. The bell tower, which emphasises the splendid location of the church, is one of the best examples of the stone masonry in Midyat. According to a belief this church was constructed in the early 6th century by the architects Theodosius and Theodore, the sons of Sufnayn who were the architects of the Mor Gabriel Monastery. Alternatively it is also claimed that this church was built in the 8th century when Turabdin lived its most glorious period.

Mor Stefanos Church

This church is located in the Gungoren (Keferbe) village of Midyat. On the southern side of the church there is an inner courtyard which is framed by the altar on the east and used as a summer church. On the north side of the main building is the Church of Mor Yuhanna the Baptist which was used as a baptistery. The interior of the Mor Stefanos Church is elegant in a classical sense. Its nave is on an east-west axis and it is one of the most beautiful village churches in the Turabdin region.


Being one of the bedestens in Mardin, Kayseriyye is located to the north of Ulu Mosque. Most of the building is in use today. It is believed to have been constructed between the years 1487 and 1502 in the time of Kasim Padisah of Akkoyun Principality. The building is covered with vaults and has four entrances. Situated to the west of Reyhaniye Mosque is Revakli Bazaar which consists of galleries along both sides of a street and shops with barrel vaults. In the bazaars of Mardin, one can find all spices, soaps, cloths and regional headdresses for man and woman (pusi and hepri), jewellery shops, craftsmen and many more.

Military Barracks

Used as military barracks in the time of Abdulhamid II towards the end of 1800’s, this rectangular structure with two stories has a high ceiling, and it is partitioned with pillars and arches. Also served as recruiting office and tax administration in time, it is located in the Latifiye Neighbourhood. Since it has been decided to be used as the city museum, the building is under repair today.

Traditional Mardin Houses

In old Mardin, declared a protected site since 1979, can be seen traditional Mardin houses built close to the hill on which the city was founded. Looking up from the city it seems as if the houses are piled on top of one another but in fact they are organised on parallel lines and separated by narrow stepped streets. It appears as if the roof of any given house is the terrace of the house above. But none of them are in the shadow of each other nor do they block each other’s windows. Thus all of them have a brilliant view looking south towards Mesopotamia. The streets are interconnected with passages (abbara), allowing a practical shortcut to the upper streets without having to walk all around the city. Mardin developed a civic architecture, using an easily processed yellow calcaric stone in plentiful supply from local mines, which has made its traditional houses well-known. The most important characteristic of Mardin houses is the stone- masonry. Doors and windows, columns, arches are all decorated with various motifs often featuring nature with its plants, animals and water. Water drop which means life water is the most common motif. Geometrical motifs such as square, triangle, hexagon and star with six angles are also quite common. On the outside of the buildings, wood is only used where it is absolutely necessary. Over a typical Mardin window is a ventilation window which is named as ‘kameriya’. Surrounded a wall 4 metres high in order to give protection against the extreme climate as well as to separate them from the street, the houses have some parts known as ‘yazlik’ (for summer) in inner courtyards or in gardens. These parts were used as stables in the past but as storage depots nowadays. In the houses are also eyvan parts designed to be half-open for summer living, in that they create shade when the sun is in the west.

Excursion and Promenade Spots

With all its natural beauties, Mardin offers attractive spots for excursion and promenade such as Beyazsu and Karasu brooks in Nusaybin District, Gurs Waterfalls and Zinnar Gardens in Kiziltepe District, and the valleys and fruit orchards in Savur and Yesilli districts.

Wild Life

The region provides suitable conditions for the habitation of numerous animals such as wild sheep, Persian gazelles (gazelle subgutturosa), caracals, jerboas (allactaga williamsi), white tumbler pigeons, eagles, sparrow hawks (accipiter nisus), hoopoes (upupa epops), stone curlews (burhinus oedicnemus), black kites (milvus migrans), long legged buzzards (buteo rufinus), owls, and golden eagles (aquila chrysaetos). It is also possible to observe griffin, vultures and small vultures in Mardin.

Regional Cuisine

Mardin’s particular cuisine is customarily based on knowledge of local plants and the local life-style. The richness of Mardin cuisine can be explained by the cultural accumulation of the civilizations that have passed through here and the ability of locals to adapt themselves to them. Some prominent features of the local cuisine include varieties of food prepared for religious ceremonies, for weddings, for birth celebrations and wakes, for feast days and other celebrations. Local dishes with their distinctive flavors and spices include: kaburga dolmasi (lamb ribs stuffed with pilaf), kuzugevirme (spit-roasted lamb), maklube (a spicy dish made with lamb, potatoes, eggplants and rice), sembusek also named as ‘sam boregi’ (a kind of pancake), ikbebat, kitel rafia and irok (varieties of stuffed meatballs), acin (raw meatballs), kibbeh (stuffed tripe), and lebbeniye (wheat soup with yoghurt). Almond sweets, roasted chickpeas, keskek, halva, and desserts with walnut are some of the other local delicacies. One of the grape growing regions, Mardin is undoubtedly famous with its sira (slightly fermented grape juice), pekmez (thick syrup of grape juice) and home-made Syriac wine. Myrrh peculiar to the South-eastern Anatolian Region is bitter coffee offered after meals.

Handicrafts and Gifts

Mardin’s rich history combining religions, sects, customs and traditions shows itself in a variety of handicrafts practiced here since ancient times. These local handicrafts include earthenware, ironwork, copper work, tinsmith, jewellery, silverwork (filigree), needlecrafts, Midyat embroidery, quilt making, embroidery, painting (sibbeg), leatherwork (dabbag), soap making, weaving, sal u sapik (a special cloth weaving), kilim-weaving, carpet weaving (wool and silk), saddle making (wool felt), wood carving (kakmacılık), sedef (mother of pearl) work, halburculuk (ornaments made from the Hornbeam tree) and stone-carving.

Telkari (filigree work) is one of the traditional handicrafts of Mardin and especially Midyat, and consists of working gold or silver into fine wires and then inserting them into wood-carved channels as a form of ornament.

Earthenware and pottery are two branches of the arts that have been practiced in the district centre and at Midyat continuously since ancient times. The region’s red earth which is especially suitable to the production of clay urns is the most important reason for the development of these arts. Also the placing of earthenware pitchers and urns on the dome shaped roofs of the houses, played an important role in the development of Mardin’s particular architectural style.

Copper work is an art that found a place in the city’s unique formation and is still practiced, as it has been for centuries, in the bazaar named after it. The region produces many items of kitchen equipment such as: tableware, pots, spoons, ladles, colanders, trays, washing bowls, cauldrons, ewers and water jugs. ‘sahmeran’ which is a legendary creature with the upper body of a woman and a lower body like a serpent is the most common motif used in this art. It symbolizes wisdom, fertility and woman.

Needle craft, which has many roots in the past, still holds much importance today for local women and should be considered an art form. Amongst the items of which the importance should not be forgotten are: table cloths, room decorations, embroidered handkerchiefs and similar items.

Alternatively, basmacilik which is an art that uses dyes made from roots and utilizes them by printing with handmade wooden blocks occupies a special place in the city culture. The items produced include: quilt covers, curtains, table cloths and pictures.

Also gold jewellery products designed with precious stones bear characteristics peculiar to the city.


Mardin has a typical steppe climate with hot, dry summers while the winters are cold and subject to snow fall. The area of high pressure created during the winter, caused by the mountains located to the north of the town, means the winter months are cold. As for the summer season, the mountains stop the masses of cool weather entering into the region. At the same time, because of the effect of the southern desert climate in the summer months, the general temperature of the province increases greatly. On the other hand the districts of Derik, Nusaybin and Savur have their own microclimate that shows characteristics of both the temperate climate of the Mediterranean and the harsh climate of the steppe.


By Air: There are regular flights of Turkish Airlines to Mardin Airport.

By Road: Mardin, which is located on the axis of 2 major highways, can be reached by the E-90 highway from Adana via Gazi Antep and Sanli Urfa, and from Ankara and Istanbul via Diyarbakir. By road Mardin is 988 km from Ankara and 1451 km | from Istanbul.

By Rail: From Sanli Urfa-Ceylanpinar the line follows the Syrian border and continues onto Iraq. This connects to Mardin by a 30 km line from Senyurt town.



Strolling along the old Mardin streets dotted with traditional Mardin houses, churches and mosques,

Visiting the Kasimiye Madrasa at the sunset,

Viewing the Mesopotamian Plain with your back against the castle,

Trying local almond sweets, myrrh and Syriac wine

Tasting Beyazsu Brook’s delicious trout while dabbling your feet in the clear water,

Buying filigree work…



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