Mardin- the City From the Fairy Tale

Mardin is a city that is like nothing else. Walking through the streets of old Mardin, you can hear Turkish, Arabic, Kurdish and even Turoyo – the local dialect of the Aramaic language, miraculously preserved in these parts. Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Yezidis, Kurds and Turkish citizens live side by side in this city.

History of the Founding of the City of Mardin

When and by whom Mardin was founded is not known for certain. Its very name originated from the Aramaic “Merida”, which translates as “fortress”. In fact, on the flat top of the mountain, along the slope of which the old city stretches, there is a very ancient fortress. It is believed that it was founded by the Hurrians in the 3rd millennium BC.

The flat top of the mountain resembles a “glass” framed by sheer cliffs, which are natural fortifications. And the ancient builders had only to strengthen the weak areas. In this regard, the Mardin Fortress is very reminiscent of the legendary Masada, located in Israel.

Who has not had time to register here since then: Elamites, Akkadians, Babylonians, Hittites, Assyrians … – literally almost all the characters in the textbook “History of the Ancient World”! The city managed to visit the Persian Achaemenid Empire, to be conquered by Alexander the Great, to become part of the Hellenistic Seleucid state and to fall for some time under the rule of the Armenian kings.

However, the situation radically changes with the arrival of the Romans, under whom Mardin became part of the kingdom of Osroena, which played the role of a buffer between the Roman Empire and the Parthian state. Later, the Romans liquidated Osroena as an independent state, and Mardin became part of the Roman Empire. But the cultural influence of Rome here was relatively small, but the Eastern influence was very strong.

Already in the I century, Christianity penetrated into Mardin, which is widely spread in the region. Most of the population of Osroena spoke Aramaic, which is considered the native language of Christ and the language of his sermons. Thus, the first Christians of Mardin could perceive the teachings of Christ directly, without translation through Greek or Latin.

Mardin is the center of the historical region of Tur-Abdin (“Mountain of Worship”), which even after the arrival of the Arabs remained the largest Christian enclave in the Middle East. Dozens of monasteries and parishes continued to function here, and a very special cultural life took place.

What to see in the city?

  • The Great Mosque of Mardin
  • Latifie Mosque is the most beautiful in the city
  • Zinjirye madrasah with carved “marshmallow” domes
  • Shehidiye Madrasah with ornate minaret
  • Kasymiye Madrasah (completed at Akkoyunlu)
  • Hamam Savurkapi

There is a bazaar on the central street of the city, where you can buy everything you like. A large selection of oriental sweets, strong coffee, natural oils, jewelry and of course Assyrian wine.

Travel around Mardin and discover the land of oriental fairy tales.

You can read this article in Russian language: Мардин- город из сказки тысяча и одна ночь

Maria Rybakova

Hi, I'm Maria. I am a writer for Expat Guide Turkey and I strive to create the best content for you. To contact me, you can send an e-mail to Happy reading!

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