Where to Visit in Mardin
Mardin is a city and seat of the Artuklu District of Mardin Province. It is known for the Artuqid architecture of its old city, and for its strategic location on a rocky hill near the Tigris River. The old town of the city is under the protection of UNESCO, which forbids new constructions to preserve its façade. The city had a population of 129,864 in 2021.
The city is located near the Syrian border and is the center of Mardin province. The old city is built mostly on the southern slope of a long hill topped by a rocky ridge. The slope descends towards the Mesopotamian plain. The top of the ridge is occupied by the city’s historic citadel, The newer parts of the city are located on lower ground to the northwest and in the surrounding area and feature modern amenities and institutions. Mardin Airport is located to the southwest, 20 kilometres (12 mi) from the old town.
The city is divided into the following neighborhoods: 13. Mart, Cumhuriyet, Çabuk, Diyarbakırkapı, Eminettin, Ensar, Gül, Hamzabey, İstasyon, Kayacan, Kotek, Latifiye, Medrese, Necmettin, Nur, Ofis, Saraçoğlu, Savurkapı, Şar, Şehidiye, Teker, Yalım (Mansuriye), Ulucami, Yenıkapı and Yenişehir.
Mardin has often been considered an open-air museum due to its historical architecture. Most buildings use the beige colored limestone rock which has been mined for centuries in quarries around the area.
Great Mosque (Ulu Cami) of Mardin: The historic main congregational mosque of the city, probably first built in the 1170s under the Artuqids. It was destroyed by artillery explosions during Rashid Pasha’s siege of the city in the early 19th-century and rebuilt afterwards, probably along similar lines as the original building. Only the north wall of the original mosque remains. The original Artuqid minbar (pulpit), made of wood, has also survived. An inscription on the base of the minaret records its original construction date as 1176, but most of the minaret above the base was rebuilt circa 1892, probably well after the reconstruction of the prayer hall. Sultan İsa (or Zinciriye) Medrese: One of the most impressive Islamic monuments in the city, dated to 1385, during the reign of Artuqid sultan Al-Zahir Majd al-Din ‘Isa (r. 1376–1407). Built as a madrasa, it also includes a mosque (prayer hall) and a mausoleum, arranged around two inner courtyards. The mausoleum was likely intended to be Sultan ‘Isā’s burial site, but he was never buried here after his death in battle. It has an imposing entrance portal carved with muqarnas, and two ribbed domes over the mausoleum and the mosque that are visible on the city’s skyline. Kasım Pasha (or Kasımiye) Medrese: Another major Islamic monument begun by Sultan ‘Isa but left unfinished upon his death in 1407. It was completed in 1445, under Akkoyonlu rule. It is located to the west, just outside of the town. It has a large central courtyard, a monumental portal, and three domes arranged near the front façade. Emineddin Külliyesi: A külliye (religious and charitable complex), believed to be the oldest Islamic monument in the city, founded by Emin ed-Din, the brother of Sultan Najm ad-Din Il-Ghazi (r. 1115–1122). Il-Ghazi may have finished the complex after his brother’s death. The complex contains a mosque, a former madrasa, a fountain, and a hammam (bathhouse). El-Asfar Mosque: Believed to be the remains of a former madrasa known as the Necmeddin Medrese (Nahm ad-Din Madrasa). According to tradition, sultan Najm ad-Din Il-Ghazi was buried here, placing its foundation to the early 12th century, although only parts of the original building remain. Şehidiye Mosque: Originally a madrasa, probably built in the reign of Artuqid sultan Najm ad-Din Ghazi (r. 1239–1260) or earlier. Heavily restored in 1787–88. The minaret was rebuilt in 1916–17. Latifiye Mosque: An Artuqid mosque dated to 1371, with a minaret added in 1845. Şeyh Çabuk Mosque: A mosque of uncertain date, built no later than the 15th century (the Akkoyonlu period) and restored in the 19th century. Reyhaniye Mosque: Mosque of uncertain date, probably of the Akkoyonlu or early Ottoman period (15th-16th centuries). Hatuniye Medrese or Sitt Ridwiyya Madrasa: Believed to have been built by the Artuqid sultan Qutb ad-Din Il-Ghazi II (r. 1175–1184), with a mausoleum that may have been intended for the sultan’s mother, Sitt Ridwiyya (Sitti Radviyye). The building now serves as a mosque. Both the prayer hall and the mausoleum contain finely-decorated mihrabs.
Meryem Ana (Virgin Mary) Church: A Syriac Catholic Church, built in 1895 as the Patriarchal Church, as the Syriac Catholic see was in Mardin up until the Assyrian genocide. Red (Surp Kevork) Church: An Armenian Apostolic Church renovated in 2015. Mor Yusuf (Surp Hovsep; St Joseph) Church: An Armenian Catholic Church. Mor Behnam or Kırklar (Forty Martyrs) Church: A Syriac Orthodox Church with a niche containing the remains of Mar Behnam. The building dates from the mid-6th century. In 1293 it became the Syriac Patriarchal Church. Residential annexes for the Patriarchate were expanded in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Mor Hirmiz Church: A Chaldean Catholic Church in Mardin. It was once the Metropolitan cathedral of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Mardin, prior to it lapsing in 1941. Nevertheless, One Chaldean family remains to maintain it. The building, or at least its overall design, may date from the 16th or 17th century. Mor Mihail Church: A Syriac Orthodox Church located on the southern edge of Mardin. Mor Simuni Church: A Syriac Orthodox Church with a large courtyard. The building may date from the 12th century. Mor Petrus and Pavlus (SS. Peter and Paul) Church: A 160-year-old Assyrian Protestant Church, recently renovated. Mor Cercis Church. Deyrü’z-Zafaran Monastery, or Monastery of St. Ananias, is 5 kilometers southeast of the city. The Syriac Orthodox Saffron Monastery was founded in 493 AD and is one of the oldest monasteries in the world and the largest in Southern Turkey, alongside Mor Gabriel Monastery. From 1160 until 1932, it was the seat of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch, until the Patriarchate relocated to the Syrian capital Damascus. The site of the monastery itself is said to have been used as a temple by sun worshipers as long ago as 2000 BC. Citadel: The citadel occupies a long ridge at the city’s highest point. It was probably first built under the Hamdanids (10th century), but its present walls were likely rebuilt in the Akkoyonlu and Ottoman eras, possibly with some reuse of Artuqid materials. Up until the 19th century it was densely inhabited, but is now occupied by a military radar station. The interior includes the remains of a small mosque. Mardin Museum: an archeological museum dedicated to the city’s history, opened in 2000, housed in the former Syriac Catholic Patriarchate building constructed in 1895, next to the Meryem Ana Church.