Mardin is located in between the rivers of famous Euphrates and Tigris and is a well-known town for its mixed heritage, a town incorporating a Babel, Kheldani and Syrian past with different religions and cultures living together. It is very easy to see active churches and mosques next to each other. Mardin is counted as “The Jerusalem of Turkey”. Arabs, Kurds, Turks and others with different backgrounds live together peacefully in this city.
There are so many places to visit in Mardin, but we will highlight the most important ones for you:
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The monastery was a settlement for Assyrian Orthodox Patriarchs for 640 years until 1932 when it was moved to Damascus and consisting of three floors, got its present form in 18th century, with additions made beginning from 5th century. The monastery was built on a complex which was used as a sun temple which is about 4000 years old and then as a tower by Romans. After a big restoration launched by Saint Hananyo, Metropolitan of Mardin, in 793, the monastery was called with his name as Mor Hananyo Monastery.
After 15th century, it began to be called as Deyrulzafaran (Saffron Monastery), because of the zafaran (saffron) plant growing around the monastery. The monastery, which is a fine architecture example with its domes, arched columns, wooden handcrafts, stone embroideries in both inner and outer places, was one of religious education centers of Assyrian Church through its long history.
Deyrulzafaran Monastery, which was a settlement of Mardin Metropolitan, is still one of important religious centers for Assyrian Church today.
Deyr-ul Umur (Mor Gabriel) Monastery
This Syriac Orthodox monastery is one of the oldest functioning monasteries in the world. Located on a hilltop, the monastery was built in 397 with a financial benefaction from the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius. Various additions have been made over the years. The mosaics on the floor and ceiling of the apse of the main church are the finest surviving examples of eastern Byzantine mosaics.
The octagonal Dome of Theodora was built with a benefaction from the wife of Justinian, who visited the monastery. Built in the first half of the 5th century, the domed structure is thought to have originally served as a baptistery.
In addition to the main church, the monastery has three other churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Kırk Sehitler (Forty Martyrs) and Mor Simeon, one of the founders of the monastery.
The Mor Simeon Church houses an octagonal mausoleum known as the Tomb of the Egyptian Monks as well as three burial chambers. The monastery was restored to its original condition in 1997.
The madrasa which has a open front in South is one of the biggest ones among Mardin buildings. It has a open madrasa type, is designed around a single courtyard and has two floors. The madrasa was built with cut stone and bricks in 15th century. It is entered from southern front, passing through a cradle-vaulted corridor, which was connected by a portal.
There is an independent prayer room, which has the same entrance with other parts in the west of the building. In the east, it has a mosque, which ascends on two floors. Around the big cloister, which is entered from portal, it consists of cells, which are aligned among porticos upon two floors.
Houses in Mardin, reflecting all features of a closed-in life style are surrounded by 4 meters high walls and isolated from the street. These walls also provide protection from harsh climatic conditions.
Houses have their separate sections for males and females and mostly have no kitchens. The most important feature of these houses is the stone craftsmanship called “Midyat Work”. Doors, windows and small columns are dressed with arches and various motifs. The central settlement was given the status of urban site area in 1979.
Above the house doors are carved pictures of the Kaaba if the owner has made the pilgrimage to Mecca, and the door knockers have a distinctive form resembling the beaks of birds. Often the lanes run through arched tunnels beneath the upper floors of houses. Relief carvings of animals and fruit lend the city a dream-like character, and the modern world seems to fade away.
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