Mardin Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by June.b
  • Things to Do
    by June.b
  • Things to Do
    by June.b

Most Recent Things to Do in Mardin

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    The Cobblestone lanes of old Mardin

    by June.b Written Mar 29, 2013
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    While searching for the highlights – mosques, madrasas, churches, bedestans, hamam, etc – of the old part of Mardin, you will be wandering around walking through the cobbled stone streets and narrow lanes layered around the steep rock mountain all overlooking the green Mesopotamian plains.

    The lanes are quite quaint and charming and walking around is an itinerary in itself. Some lanes have arched tunnels under houses. You’ll encounter local people doing their daily chores and an occasional hello, welcome or merhaba every now and then. Walking along the streets are like walking in an enchanted town, a labyrinth that offers a sense of a 4,000 years of history with exciting sights at every turn of a corner.

    The people are used to tourists wandering the streets, although in my personal opinion the people in Midyat are friendlier.

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    The Old Houses of Mardin

    by June.b Written Mar 29, 2013
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    Mardin is famous for its old town on top of the mountain lined with its historic golden honey coloured houses made of limestones which are pretty enhanced during sunset. The houses are built in layers on the sides of the rock steep mountain. It’s a magical setting or fairy tale if I may use the adjective, with the castle perched on top, you could easily imagine the distant past of a kingdom with its king’s castle on the high hill with its constituents residing around it.

    Most of the houses which are decorated with ornate old carvings are big enough to fit extended family members.

    Here’s a trivia --- Houses that have a carved picture of the Kaaba in Makkah on its doors means that the owner has already made the pilgrimage to Makkah.

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    Melik Mahmut Mosque

    by June.b Written Mar 29, 2013
    Melik Mahmut Mosque
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    Melik Mahmut Mosque, also called Bab’es Sur was built during the 14th century. It is known for its large gate which features elaborate stonework.

    According to an inscription, it was built in the third quarter of the 14th century. The main portal facing the main square and road is an elaborately decorated stonework. The mosque has a central dome and is flanked by two barrel-vaulted sections.

    The empty square mausoleum of Melik Mahmut is located in the courtyard.

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    Sehidiye Medresse and Mosque

    by June.b Written Mar 29, 2013
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    The mosque and madrasa (Islamic school) was built by Sultan Melik Nasruddin Artuk Aslan in 1214

    The madrasa has a courtyard surrounded by porticos, several iwans, and a mosque. The ribbed and intricately carved minaret with two balconies was added later between 1916-1917 hence it contrasted in style to the rest of the structure.

    There is a big elevated terrace on the right side serving as an open air café.

    Sultan Atuk Aslan was buried in this madrasa.

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    Zinciriye Medresesi

    by June.b Written Mar 29, 2013
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    I walked along the main road and just infront of the Cig Kofte – the building with layers of terraces there is a long wide stairs going up so I climbed it and there it is the intricately decorated gate of the madrasa.

    The madrasa (Islamic school) is constructed in 1385 by Melik Necmeddin Isa Bin Muzaffer Davud Bin El Melik Salih – Sultan Isa for short.

    It is a large complex that includes a mosque and the tomb of Sultan Isa. The two storey building houses two courtyards in its 2 levels, a mosque, mausoleum and other chambers. There are beautiful ribbed domes on both ends of the roof and a high massive portal to the east. It served also as an observatory owing to its high elevated position. In the middle of the courtyard passed the arched porticos is a fountain.

    The madrasa used to be the old Mardin Museum until it was transferred to the new (church) building along the main Cumhuriyet Cad.

    At some point in history when Tamerlane – the founder of Timurid Dynasty – conquered Mardin, Sultan Isa was imprisoned in this madrasa.

    From the courtyard of the second level, you can have a good view of Mardin castle above.

    Entry is free.

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    Ulu Camii (Grand Mosque)

    by June.b Written Mar 28, 2013
    Ulu Camii Minaret and dome.
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    Every city in Turkey has its grand mosque and Mardin is no exception. The grand mosque of Mardin is located further down the edge of the mountain so much so that looking at it from above a distance, the several green mounds of plains below serves as a dramatic background including the horizons which I believe is where the country of Syria lies.

    The grand mosque was built during the 12th century by the ruler of the Artukid Turks, Qutb ad-din Ilghazi. Its tall Artuqid minaret dominates the skyline of the city. It is divided into four decorative sections with carved rings and a muqarnas balcony. Kufic compositions inscribed in tear drop motifs and medallions adorn the lower two sections, while the third section and the octagonal tower above the balcony are decorated simply with blind niches and arcades framed by carved moldings.

    There were originally two minarets, but one collapsed many centuries ago. The ribbed dome is quite interesting against the seemingly endless horizon.

    I went to this coffee teahouse with an entrance along the Cumhuriyet Cadessi as you will have a really nice view of the minaret and the dome on top of the mosque, against the plains.

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    Kasim Tugmaner Mosque

    by June.b Written Mar 28, 2013
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    This mosque along the main thoroughfare of Cumhuriyet Cad. is built on the foundation of an old church. Built in 1960, the arched entrance is intricately decorated with flowers in vines and geometric designs and a two stars on both sides. Some Arabic inscriptions too around the name of the mosque.

    One minaret is attached on one side of the mosque.

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    Mardin Castle

    by June.b Written Mar 28, 2013
    Mardin Castle
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    Up to the time of visit, the 3,000 years old castle is closed to the public at least for the past 50 years. Because of its strategic position – at more than 1,000 meteres high from the ground level – it was deployed by NATO during the cold war, and was used by Air Radar Position Commandership for 50 years.

    The castle, which has hosted Subari, Sumerian, Babylonian, Mitanni, Assyrian, Persian, Roman, Byzantine, Ummayad, Abbasid, Hamdani, Seljuk, Artuqid, Qaraqoyunlu, Akkoyunlu and Safavid rulers and the Ottoman sultan, was never conquered by any other army. It was besieged several times but never occupied.

    Plans has it that it will undergo a TL20 million worth of restoration and will then be opened to the public to attract more tourists to come to Mardin.

    This is a long awaited moment for the people of Mardin and for tourists as well.

    But for the moment – getting beyond the prohibited boundaries surrounding the castle is strictly prohibited and will put tourist crossing the line in danger from possible military assault.

    I just content myself getting to the best possible distance that I could have a good view of the castle above from below.

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    Meryem Ana Kilisesi

    by June.b Written Mar 28, 2013
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    On the right side of the Mardin Museum there is a stairs with a dilapidated building and on the left is a gate (closed) with a sign that says "Meryem Ana Kilisesi or the Church of the Virgin Mary with a year - 1895.

    It is a Syrian Catholic Church built by Antun Semhari.

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    Artefacts Exhibits at the Mardin Museum

    by June.b Written Mar 28, 2013
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    The Mardin Museum has three floors with exhibition halls displaying interesting artefacts such as (what I saw) old coins from Artukid, Byzantine and Ottoman periods. Seljuk pots and ceramics dugged from Hasankeyf, collection of Roman glasses, mosaics, vases, steles, figurines, busts, jewelries, ceremonial masks, Assyrian vessels.

    A separate hall for all the objects found around the Mardin mountains, some vases and interesting teracota animal and female figurines from Chalcolithic period (5500-3000BC), toy cars from the same period, a collection of bronze age (3000-2000BC) spearheads, and so many other objects.

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    The Mardin Museum

    by June.b Written Mar 28, 2013
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    This is an excellent not-to-be missed museum of Mardin. The mansion / church-looking building is the backdrop of the statue of Kemal Ataturk at the very center of the old city. It’s almost along the Cumhuriyet Cad. with the big parking lot in front.

    The building was originally constructed as a Syriac catholic patriarchate by Antakya’s patriarch Ignatius Banni. But converted for several uses prior to becoming a museum, as a military barracks, cooperative building, health center, police station, until the government decided to buy the property in 1988, did the restoration and resettled the old museum from the Zinciriye Madrasa to this beautifully restored building. It opened to the public in 1995.

    The beige (or peach?) colored building has 3 floors which houses

    The new museum building is completely made of cut limestone. There are unique ornaments on the internal and external vaults, arches, rails and column heads.

    Entry Fee is TL5 from the friendly lady at the booth and the courteous security staff at the gate.

    Opening time: 8am-5pm Tue-Sun, and they close during lunch time for an hour.

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    View from the bottom of town

    by maykal Written Feb 20, 2011

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    Mardin from the cemetery
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    Unless you plan to just pass through Mardin on the bus, you might miss one of the best views of the city. Pick any backstreet heading downhill from the main road and keep going until you hit the other main road at the bottom. There are a couple of good vantage points down here, one in a cemetery by an oldish mosque, the other in the garden of the Buyuk Mardin Oteli, a high rise hotel that you can't really miss. For those with kids, it might be useful to note that there is a childrens' playground next to the hotel gardens, as well as a cafe in the gardens themselves.

    From down here, you get more of a sense of how Mardin is built, each house seemingly on top of each other, and you can see the facades of the houses and their terraces which are not easy to see from street level. Each house was built in such a way that no other house was directly looked over, making the courtyards places where women could feel comfortable without being watched by outsiders. You also get a good view of the castle at the very top of the mountain, off-limits to all but the military unfortunately.

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    Mardin's churches

    by maykal Written Feb 20, 2011

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    Street to Kirklar Kilisesi, Mardin
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    My guidebook suggested hunting out some of the churches hidden down backstreets behind the Mardin Museum, so even though the skies threatened with rain, that was what I decided to do. The first one I managed to find was the Kirklar Kilisesi, the Syrian Orthodox Church of the Forty Martyrs, almost directly behind the museum, but there's not much to tell you from the outside that it is a church and not a private house. The clue is only visible from the end of the street...a belltower. The guidebook said visits were possible and the priests welcoming, but a notice on the door said that casual visitors were not welcome...I suppose since tourism has taken off here, it has brought along too many curious visitors and the priests have obviously had enough. It was the same story at the nearby Armenian Catholic church, and at the Syrian Catholic one by the museum. There is supposed to be a Chaldean church here too, but it was so well hidden I never tracked it down.

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    Latifiye Camii

    by maykal Written Feb 20, 2011

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    Latifiye Camii, Mardin
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    At the western end of the bazar area, sort of below the main square, is the Latifiye Camii, worth visiting to see the beautiful doorway and courtyard. The doorway is made out of stone with geometrical designs in blue and black carved all the way round it. Looking through, you can see a smaller one at the end of the courtyard, and through that one another smaller one. I actually preferred this to the more visited mosques in town.

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    Mardin Bazar

    by maykal Written Feb 20, 2011

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    Donkeys in Mardin Pazari

    The market area spreads out below the upper main road, and is quite a large area of covered passages and and alleys too narrow for cars...donkeys are used by a lot of traders here to transport goods to their shops. Considering the rise in tourism in Mardin over the last few years, i was pleasantly surprised that the market was still a local market with mainly food stuff on sale, not tacky souvenirs.

    Mardin is famous for its soap, and finding a place that sells the famous sabun isn't difficult...in fact, most shops on the main road have baskets full of bars of soap. But deep in the bazar is a sabuncu (soapmaker), his whole shop overflowing with soap made from hundreds of local ingredients. Nettle (isirgan), almond (badem), apricot (kayisi), melengic (a local pistachio-like nut used to make a weird coffee), and bittim (not really sure what this is, but it is green) are the main ones to look out for.

    Another thing to look out for in the markets is melengic coffee. It isn't my favourite drink of all time, and my attempts at making ti at home have been pretty disasterous, but try it in one of the coffeehouses in Mardin and if you like it, buy some in the bazar. it is made using the fruit of this strange melengic pistachio, and boiled with milk and sugar. Very sweet and very strange tasting, I can't drink much of it, but some may like it.

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