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Mardin- The Door of Mesopotamia

Mardin is a special city and a different world; a place on the northern Mesopotamia that is known as the cradle of civilization, under the influence of diverse cultures for thousands of years whose reflections are obviously apparent within the architecture of the city.

Mardin, which is built on the slopes of a rocky hill within Mesopotamia that is fed by The Tigris River and The Euphrates, is a mysterious city that has acted as the center for all different religions, cultures and beliefs throughout the history. Another important thing that increases the attention to the city is the fact that it is on the historic Silk Road. 

Along with being the center of tolerance, the earth colored city with its texture, lifestyle and daily life manages to stand against time with all its magnificence.

Origin of its Name

The name of the city roots back to the Syriac word ‘’Marde” that means “the city of castles”. Then when Romans took the city from the Syriacs they called it “Maride”. After that Arabs called it “Maridin”.

Starting from 4500 BC, the city was ruled by Aramean- Syriac, Aramean/Syriac Subaris, Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Mittanis, Assyrians, Persians, Byzantines, Arabs, Seljuks, Artuqids and Ottomans.

Houses of Mardin

Houses of the city that are made from ashlars draw attention. These houses which are classical examples of Syriac and Armenian architecture with mosques and madrasas done by Islamic architecture complete the image of the city as an open air museum.

City of Mardin is famous for its traditional houses that are built by using yellow limestone rocks as basic construction material and its ornamented with diverse patterns. The yellow colored limestone rock which has been mined for centuries in quarries around the area is widely used in construction; and no woodworking is allowed except the doors, windows and mezzanine that require use of wood.

Walls reaching up to 4 m. height surround houses and seclude them from the streets. A protection against the harsh winter climate is provided with these walls. Within the inner court or garden known as “yazlık”, there are storehouses once used as a stable. In summer season, iwans are highly preferable places to live. Porticos and iwans are built to provide shadow against sun while it is in the west. The most important aspect of the houses of Mardin is their stonework. Doors and windows are ornamented with pillars, cinctures and various patterns.

Central settlement declared to be an urban archeological area in 1979.

Malik Mansoor Madrasa

Malik Mansoor Madrasa that draws the attention of many tourists visiting Mardin is also known as Haliliye and Şeyh Aban Şeyh. The epitaph of the madrasa did not manage to survive.

Shah Sultan Madrasa

Shah Sultan Madrasa is one of the buildings that shed light into the history of Mardin. Building is very close to other historical buildings and it is easy to access. Shah Sultan Madrasa is located in Tekke district.

It is constructed by Shah Sultan, the wife of İbrahim Bey of Aq Qoyun. Since the madrasa has no epitaph, its construction period is unknown. However, from its architectural structure it is considered to be built between XV.-XVI. centuries.

Muzaffariye Madrasa

Muzafferiye Madrasa is constructed by Malik Muzaffar Karaarslan of Artuqid. Since the madrasa has no epitaph, its construction period is unknown. However, from its architectural structure it is considered to be built between XIII.- XIV. centuries. In Muzaffariye Madrasa’s construction, black and white stones are used.

Mardin Grand Mosque

Grand Mosque’s construction time is unknown because there is no written source left. However, on the door of the mosque it is written that it was built in 1190. Mardin Grand Mosque had twin minarets when it was built. Unfortunately, only one of them survived. Mardin Grand Mosque hosts for four great madhabs: Hanafi, Shafi’i, Hanbali, Maliki. Furthermore, in its minaret the names of the ten Sahabahs awarded with heaven are written.

Savur Kapı Madrasa

Even if there is no exact information about its date of construction, Savur Kapı Madrasa is considered to be built between XII.- XIV. Centuries in Artuqid period. The place is still worth visiting even though most of the structure is in ruins. Therefore, you can note this place down as a place to see in your visit Mardin.

Izozoel Church

Izozoel Church is one of the historical and touristic places within the city and it is definitely worth seeing. Church is located at Altıntaş Village and it is considered to be one of the best examples of stonework. In your first experience to see the church, it will enchant you. Even though it is known that the building is constructed in VI. century, there are rumors that it may be built in VIII. century.

Gurs Valley

Even if this valley is not widely known, it charms the people who visit it. Especially locals go to this valley in order to escape from the suffocating heat. While temperatures in centers can reach up to 45-50 C⁰, in the valley it decreases to 30 C⁰.

Ruins of Dara

In the past, Dara was a very famous city in Mesopotamia; however, now it exists as a small town. Water cisterns, water mills, theater, church, bridge, bazaar, armory and the 40m-deep-underground city can be considered among the astonishing aspects offered by the place. Full of discoveries, the Ruins of Dara are being constructed by Darxis between 530 and 570 BC. Moreover, Dara has hosted many important civilizations after its establishment. In addition to this, this mysterious settlement in Mesopotamia is also known as the area on which the first dam was built.

Telkari Art

Telkari is a silversmithing belonging to Mardin province. Silversmithing practiced in Beypazarı town in Ankara is upgraded and maintained to the modern date with enhancements such as various ornaments and designs in gold and silver jewellery. Telkari is done by combining of thin silver threads. This process is very old and it dates back to 3000 BC. It was first observed in the Middle East. From time to time, it was applied. It was used in Sicily and Venice from the end of 800s in Baroque era to the beginning of 900s. With the help of Telkari that is nothing but the process of crafting pieces or orbs through the use of a special machine by using gold or silver, thread or plate. The same optical effect can be achieved by knitting two or more threads that are in equal thicknesses. The process in which these orbs are respectively knitted through welding is called granulation, and it was brought to its perfection by the Etruscan civilization.

Telkari is a process that is done completely through handwork. For this purpose, threads are wrapped around themselves in oval and circular fashion.

* This article was taken from “Africa Time” magazine (November 2014 Edition) by demanding all necessary permissions for copyright.

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