Mardin is a very rich city in terms of places to visit. The magnificent legacies left behind by the masters who ruled the stone are located in the historical city center of the city. It is not possible to enter the side streets that spread like roots from the U-shaped 1st Street that passes through the city by car.
If you have a car, park it in a suitable place and start walking. When you start from one end of the main artery of Old Mardin and start walking, you can see all the historical places lined up right and left. All the places to visit are within walking distance.
All of the extraordinarily beautiful houses made of limestone shaped by skilled Artuqid masters are scattered on the hillside above and below this street towards the castle. All overlook the Mesopotamian Plain, which feels like it stretches out into infinity. The stone-paved streets of the city, which is built on the southern slopes of the Mazı Mountains, are decorated with cut stone houses.
In these streets, which are intertwined like a labyrinth, almost everything is provided either by human power or by animals such as donkeys and mules. The municipality collects the garbage with assigned donkey workers.
The famous Mardin Castle with its head touching the stars, the Great Mosque built by the Artuqid Ruler in 1190, the bazaars that hide interesting details about the region are valuable places. Mardin Museum, Virgin Mary Church, Kırklar Monastery must be seen. Bellers, Bezzas, Stovemen, Butchers, Boilers, Coppersmiths, Attarlar are the most important bazaars of the city.
Deyrülzafaran Monastery, one of the important religious centers of the Assyrians, is one of the structures that fascinate those who come to Mardin. Dara Historical City, located in Oğuz village, is a unique ancient region formed by carved rock tombs. Midyat, Mardin’s district known for its silver craftsmanship, is a must-stop stop with its historical houses and narrow streets.
I marked the destinations on my mobile phone and started to visit the Kırklar Church. The undulating streets and alleys called abbara , where I walked to find every point I marked , showed me all the beauty of old Mardin. You can mark the places to visit in Mardin on Google Map and follow a similar route.
The old Mardin buildings with several floors opening onto some streets that I entered randomly that I never expected, took me to the cafes with terraces that open to the sky. There are such beautiful places to drink tea and coffee in Mardin that it is enough to just trust your feelings and climb a few steps to find these surprise spots.
1. Historical Mardin Houses
Historical Mardin Houses is the most remembered symbol of the city in the memories of many people, seen in all photo posts about Mardin. Historical Mardin Houses, which are made of local yellow limestone with stonework and give the city a medieval appearance, are works of art built with traditional Artuqid architecture.
The distant view of the houses, which are spread out in the form of terraces on the slopes of Mazı Mountain, is so unique that it cannot be forgotten. The feature of the yellow limestone used in the houses that transform the streets they are in into open-air museums is that it does not reflect the heat of the outside into the house. You feel lost in time as you walk among the houses lined up in the narrow streets.
There are passages called Abbara , the like of which I have not seen in any city before , which is one of the most important details that add mystery to the city. These passages made of cut stone in the form of a covered tunnel connect different parcels and streets of the same family.
Pictures drawn on the stones framing the doors, reliefs of animals and fruits engraved on the stones, door knockers reminiscent of a bird’s beak, and arched tunnel abbaras are intriguing details that will take you on a dream trip. The streets of the city, which surrender to the sun all day long, are shaded and its abbaras are breezy. It is exciting to walk through the labyrinthine streets, passing through abbaras reminiscent of ancient times.
If you look from the skirt of the castle, you can photograph the dome of the Zinciriye Madrasa, one of the most beautiful photographs of Mardin, and the panorama of the minarets of the Şehidiye and Ulu mosques overlooking the Mesopotamian Plain, which stretches out like an endless sea. In the image dominated by yellow, if you go in spring, you will see infinity like a green sea.
The historical Mardin Houses with high walls, which attract photographers and tourists from all over the world, take on a different beauty day and night. At night, the light leaking from its windows creates a rare sight.
2. Sakip Sabanci Mardin City Museum
Sakıp Sabancı Mardin City Museum and Dilek Sabancı Art Gallery convey the historical and cultural heritage of Mardin to visitors. At the end of the 19th century, Sultan II. It is located in the building that was used as the Hamidiye barracks during the reign of Abdülhamit. A building that was used as a tax office from the first years of the Republic until 2003 was restored and started to serve as a museum in 2009.
The building has an eye-catching architecture. In the museum, artifacts that make up the identity of the city of Mardin, social life and city history are exhibited. The content is not very rich but informative. If you spare time for informative visual and audio tools, it will enable you to better understand the places you see in Mard.
It aims to create a modern and contemporary art platform in Mardin. Sakıp Sabancı Mardin City Museum visiting hours are between 08.00-17.00 in winter (1 November – 1 May), 08.30-17.30 in summer (2 May – 31 October). The museum is closed on Mondays. Entrance fee is 5TL, student 2.50TL.
Near the museum, there is one of my favorite famous kebab shops in Mardin, Yusuf Usta. After visiting the museum, taste Yusuf Usta’s kebabs. Salads and appetizers that precede the kebab are also delicious. If you go to Mardin on cold winter days, you can sit around a burning stove and warm up.
3. Hatuniye Madrasa
Hatuniye Madrasa was built between 1176 and 1184 by the wife of Necmeddin Ilgazi, one of the sons of Artuk Bey, the founder of the Artuqid Principality, Sitti Raziye. Its real name is Sitti Radviyye Madrasa, and it is popularly known as Hatuniye Madrasa. It is located at the back of the Melik Mahmut Mosque in the Gül District, next to the stairs that go up.
It is the most important structure of Mardin after the Great Mosque. Pioneer of the madrasahs with iwan. It has undergone great changes over time and lost its courtyard structure. Today it is used as a mosque. The mihrab decorations reveal the rich stonework of the Artuqid Period.
In a glass next to the mihrab, Hz. A footprint said to be of Muhammad can be seen. It’s definitely superstitious. Inside, there are also the sarcophagi of the Artuqid Sultan Kutbettin Ilgazi and his mother Sitti Raziye in the tomb section.
4. Mardin Grand Mosque
Mardin Ulu Mosque is the most important legacy left by the Artukids to the city. This oldest mosque in Mardin was built in the 12th century. It is unique with its stonework bearing the architectural features of Anatolian Islamic works and the region. Reflection of Mardin’s rich historical past with 16 different inscriptions.
Although the mosque with a rectangular courtyard had two minarets at the time it was built, only one has survived. The doors of its courtyard on both sides and the fountain in the middle are enormous. The silhouette of the minaret, seen from the window formed by the door, is one of the photographic points of Mardin. The mosque can be visited free of charge outside of prayer hours.
☕️ Carpenters’ Coffee is one of the most beautiful places to take a breather in Mardin. It’s on your way when you exit the Ulu Mosque and walk towards 1st street. In a very narrow street, opposite the entrance door, there is a painting of Lebanese artist Fairroun painted in blue.
In its architecture, yellow cut stones that give personality to the city were used and decorated with lush green plants. Its terrace overlooking the plain and the slow music playing inside give a feeling of timelessness. I went with the advice of a friend from Mardin and sat for hours, sipping the infused tea of Süleyman Toparlı.
5. Revaklı Bazaar and Bedesten
Revaklı Bazaar , 150 meters east of the Ulu Mosque, is a bazaar whose history dates back to the 11th century, and you can visit every street. It is also known as Sipahiler Bazaar or Tellallar Bazaar. Shopping with local products in the shops between the stone walls of the Revaklı Bazaar is one of the indispensable and most enjoyable activities of a Mardin trip.
Mardin is famous throughout the country in silver and gold embroidery. Coppersmithing does not lag behind this either. Handcrafted ornamented copper items, small and large tins, ethnic souvenirs, artisanal products, bas -relief covers, paintings and many more are sold. Bedesten is another bazaar whose real name is Kaysariya Bedesten. It is located within the bazaars to the north of the Great Mosque.
6. Virgin Mary Church and Patriarchate
The Virgin Mary Church and Patriarchate is located in Cumhuriyet Square, in one of the narrow streets parallel to the main street. The church belonging to the Syriac Catholic Community was built in 860 by the Patriarch of Antioch, Ignatios Antuhan Semheri. It has been serving as a museum since 1995.
The building, which has a completely different look with its arch, round stone columns and balustrades in the courtyard, and the woodwork of grape bunch motifs, was handed over to the Ministry of Culture in 1988.
7. Mor Joseph Church
Mor Yusuf Church (Surp Hovsep) is located in the city center of Mardin. It was built between 1864-1894 under the leadership of Parliamentarian Member Hovsep Kazasyan and with the contributions of the Mardin Armenian Catholic Community.
Next to the church, a building reserved for the residence of the clergy and a seminary were added. There are 21 columns in the building, which was designed with a basilica plan made of cut stone. Visiting hours of Mor Yusuf Church are 09.00-11.30, 13.00-16.30. The church can be visited 7 days a week. Entry to Mor Yusuf Church is free.
8. Mor Behnam Kirklar Church
Mor Behnam Kirklar Church is a must-see church built in the middle of the 6th century in the name of Mor Behnam and his sister Saro. It is reached from a slightly inclined street with stairs on the 1st street. The church, located in the Sar district, has a small door to the church, which is behind the high walls and is not seen from the outside.
After Mardin became the Assyrian Ancient Patriarchate Center in 1293, the spiritual and administrative affairs of the people were managed from here. The building, which takes its name from the forty martyrs’ bones brought to the church in 1170, is one of the cultural jewels of the city with its stonework special to Mardin, precious and historical objects and majestic wooden doors.
It is fascinating with its fifteen-hundred-year-old root-printed curtains and the bell tower in its large courtyard. Kırklar Church visiting hours are 09.00-11.30, 13.00-17.00. The church can be visited 7 days a week. The entrance to the Kirklar Church, which you should add to the list of places to visit in Mardin, is free.
9. Kasımiye Madrasa
Kasımiye Madrasa is one of the most iconic structures of Mardin. Its construction started during the reign of Akkoyunlu Sultan Kasım. The Kasımiye Madrasa, which was left unfinished due to the attacks of the Mongols under Timur, was completed in 1502. The architectural features of the building, which is designed in the form of a complex consisting of a madrasa, mosque and tomb, resembles the Zinciriye Madrasa.
It is fascinating with its pools connected to each other by small channels in its courtyard, its fountain, large cage-shaped windows and simple architecture. The madrasa now hosts the Al Jazeera Art Museum.
The madrasa is within walking distance of the old Mardin, and when you walk a little downhill by the Kırklar Church of the 1st street, you come across it. Kasımiye Madrasa visiting hours are 09.00-18.00. The madrasa can be visited 7 days a week. The entrance to Kasımiye Madrasa is free.
10. Mardin Museum
Mardin Museum is a place that should be on your list of places to visit, where you can learn about the local culture and historical heritage. The Mardin Museum building serves in the patriarchate building, which was built by the Patriarch of Antakya Ignatios Benhan Banni as a part of the Virgin Mary Church. The building, which was used as a Patriarchate for Catholics in the first years, was restored in accordance with its original form.
There is a conference and exhibition hall on the first floor of the three-storey building, which was converted into a museum in 1995, and an ethnography hall and library on the second floor. On the third floor, archaeological remains such as mosaics, coins, oil lamps, tombstones, column heads from the Assyrian, Urartian, Roman, Byzantine, Zengi, Eyyubi and Artuqid periods are exhibited, as well as the artifacts unearthed from the Gırnavaz mound.
Mardin Museum visiting hours are between 08.30-18.30 in the summer (April 1 – October 1), 08.30-18.30 in the winter (October 1 – April 1) between 08.00-17.00. The museum is closed on Mondays. Mardin Museum entrance fee is 10 TL. Museum Card is valid.
11. Deyrulzafaran Monastery
Deyrulzafaran Monastery is one of the most important religious centers of the Syriac community. It is located in a large garden filled with olive trees, 4 km east of Mardin. It was made of reddish stones by the Assyrians in the 5th century.
Deyrulzafaran Monastery consists of three parts belonging to various periods. The most important parts of the monastery, which was used as the residence of the Syriac Orthodox patriarchs until 1932, are the Mor Hananyo (Domed), Virgin Mary Churches, the House of Saints and the Temple of the Sun. There are also the tombs of 52 Syriac patriarchs in the monastery.
The monastery has a very nice cafe at the entrance and a fireplace inside where you can warm up on cold winter days. Saffron tea and cinnamon and clove cookies unique to Mardin are delicious. If you want to bring a gift to a friend, keep these cookies in mind.
Deyrülzaferan Monastery visiting hours, which are indispensable in the list of places to visit in Mardin, are 08.30-12.00, 13.00-17.00 in the summer period (April 1 – September 30); It can be visited free of charge between 08.30-12.00 and 13.00-16.30 during the winter period (October 1st – March 31st). Appropriate attire is required as the monastery is open for worship.