I am currently traveling through Turkey and I reached out to a few of my fellow travel professionals about their expertise on the country and Mary Anne Been (Editor & Chief of Jet Set Exta) told me that she loved her trip to Mardin. Turkey. Here she shares her top 5 things to see in Mardin, Turkey.
Mardin, Turkey, is full of religious and cultural history. Dating back to the third century, Mardin offers visitors the luxury of stepping back in time.
Mardin will soon be a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the city is working hard to restore its buildings and streets, including tearing down concrete additions to many of the city’s buildings to restore the original single-story, terraced look and burying all cable and phone lines so the view of the Mesopotamian plains are once again unobstructed.
1. Meet the people. I was taken aback by how open and welcoming the people of Mardin were. I didn’t expect to be so warmly received from the men and the women who didn’t know me. A friend of mine and I decided to walk through the city and just take in the sights. We found the city’s market area, which features winding alleyways down below the main city. It could have been intimidating for some, but we never felt uneasy or unwelcome. There are tradesmen making leather goods such as saddles and shoes and grocers selling fresh produce. I recommend stopping to have tea in a local café or restaurant. Of course, you should always be aware of your surroundings and the people you are meeting, something that goes for everyone, everywhere in the world.
2. Visit the Emir Hamam. Dating back to 1290 AD, this hamam is a must-see. The bath is a large, marble room segmented into smaller bath areas that fit up to four people. This is a very “locals only” kind of place. There were mothers with small children and young women with their mothers and aunts. Once done with the bath, head back into the main dressing area, which still holds the original stone water fountain in the center of the room and is surrounded by dark wood sitting areas with Turkish rugs and pillows for relaxing and dressing.
3. Go see the city of Dara. This ancient city has been standing since 505 AD. The city of Dara was in constant battle from its inception to its demise. When the Romans were not ruling, another culture was fighting to make the people live under its rule. Finally, in 958 AD, the city was taken from the Byzantines. A church, some tombs, and small dwelling spaces are all that remain of this once-great fortress so many fought to rule.
4. Visit Midyat. Midyat has been able to retain its old-world charm with winding cobblestone streets and delightful people. The city’s charm is not the only thing it has to offer: Midyat has a great hotel called Kasr-I Nehroz. The Kasr-I Nehroz was originally a private mansion owned by the Yenigün family for 260 years. The discreet exterior gives way to a hospitable ambiance and beautiful décor, making you want to climb to the rooftop after a tasty lunch and lounge while taking in views of the city.
5. See the Mor Gabriel Monastery. Built in 397 AD, the Mor Gabriel Monastery is a short drive to Tur Abdin from Midyat. It has a massive footprint and is situated high up on the hilltop overlooking the Mesopotamian plains. Within the walls of the monastery are the tombs of monks, a gorgeous church, and the monks and nuns who still run the monastery. If you’re so inclined, you can ask for permission to stay as a guest and really soak in the culture and history.
There is so much more to share about Mardin and it’s surrounding areas. I highly recommend going to see them for yourself.