Mardin Tourist Attractions
Southeast AnatoliaSituation and TownThe provincial town of Mardin which lies on a picturesque site at the foot of a steeply sloping rocky plateau, offers a tremendous view to the south over the extensive cultivated plains of northern Syria.
This is the seat of the Patriarch of the United Syrian Christians (Jacobites) of Tur Abdin. Many of the grand stone houses reflect the town's strong agricultural traditions and the style is clearly influenced by Arabic architecture. Cereal growing is important in the region and there are also a number of olive groves. Extensive fruit orchards flourish in the hinterland (Tur Abdin).HistoryLittle is known of the town's history before the spread of Islam. In 640 the town came under the control of the Omayyad caliphs from Damascus and a century later fell to the Abbasid dynasty of Baghdad. Before the Seljuk era a Kurdish dynasty held sway (1100) but then eight years later the Artukids from Turkmenistan became masters over Mardin and remained in control until 1260. In 1516 Mardin fell to the Ottomans until the renegade Egyptian governor Mehmet Ali supported two Kurdish uprisings (1832 and 1840) against the Sublime Porte but they were brutally put down by Resid Pasa.
Mardin is the official seat of one of the metropolitans of the Syrian Orthodox church, whose adherents follow the thinking of its first and most important teacher Jacob Baradair (490-578). He spent 35 years as an itinerant monk in Syria. His followers, also known as Jacobites, split from the Byzantine church which in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon (Kadiöy near Istanbul) rejected monophysitism, the belief that Christ has a god-like nature and was never a human being.
Isa Bey Külliyesi
The Koran school complex, the best preserved building in Mardin can be seen on the eastern side of the town center above the main street. Founded in 1385 by Isa Bey the decorations on the portal are of special interest. The complex is comprised of a domed mosque, a mausoleum and two inner courtyards. Part of the building is used as a boarding school and part as museum where the rarest exhibit is a Seljuk door-knocker from the Ulu Cami at Cizre.
Kasim Bey Külliyesi
The Kasim Bey Külliyesi complex in the west of Mardin consists of a theological college and domed mosque. It was founded by the Akkoyun Ogullari in the 15th century.
The Latifiye Mosque which stands on Mardin's main road was built in 1371 and has a fine portal. The minaret was added in 1845.
Mardin castle or Telhan Kalesi towers above the town on a rocky crag, near a radar station belonging to the U.S. army (access forbidden). Many assailants have tried in vain to conquer this castle but now a steep path leads up from the Sultan Isa Medresesi. Dating from Roman times, it had been extended by the 15th century so that all the inhabitants of the town could seek refuge there in the event of an impending attack. A relief carving of two magnificent lions can be seen on the gateway.
To the west of Mardin castle above the Sultan Isa Medresesi was another Koran school which used to house an archeological museum. Only the ethnography section remains.
The large mosque in the center of Mardin was built in the 11th century by the Artukids, but it was reconstructed in 1176. The building suffered badly during a Kurdish uprising in 1832 and it has been partially restored. Beneath a prism-shaped stone dome supported by pillars lies a prayer room which is divided in three sections. Only the three simple entrance doors remain from the original building.