Mardin

The city of Mardin is located between the Dicle and Fırat rivers and one of the most wondered cities of the South-East Anatolian Region of Turkey. From the past to the present Mardin has always been the cradle of cultures. People from different cultures with different beliefs, religions, and nationalities live together for a long time. Mardin has a long history and during this history, it has been the home of a lot of civilizations; even it was one of the oldest cities of Mesopotamia. 

View of the old Mardin

Also, the architecture of Mardin is incredibly unique and very old. Even, some of the structures are reached out to the present day from Paleolithic Era. Most of the majestic historical landmarks are preserved and open to visitors. It became a quite popular city to visit for both foreign and local tourists. Since different cultures are living together in Mardin, there is a great diversity of historical landmarks and delicious food.

Where is Mardin Located on the Map of Turkey?

Mardin is located in the South-East Anatolian region between the Dicle and Fırat rivers and near the Syria border. It is located on the east of Şanlıurfa, on the south of Diyarbakır and Batman.

About the City

Mardin is the 26th big city of Turkey and its population is 854.716. The majority of the population consists of Kurdish people and Arabs. Also, the limited population of Syriacs is living mostly in Mardin currently. In the Mardin, there are large areas of forests and most streams are found in the city. The climate is a regular continental climate where the wintertime passes very cold and usually snowy and the summertime passes very hotly and dry. The city breaks the record of having the highest temperature in Turkey which is 48.8 oC.

MonthsExpected Weather ForecastAverage Temperature
JanuarySnowy 3.2 oC / 37.76 oF
FebruarySnowy5.3 oC / 42.54 oF
MarchClear9.5 oC / 49.1 oF
AprilWarm and Clear14.5 oC / 58.1 o
MayHot and Clear20.2 oC / 68.36 oF
JuneVery Hot27.1 oC / 80.8 oF
JulyVery Hot31.4 oC / 88.5 oF
AugustVery Hot31 oC / 87.8 oF
SeptemberHot and Clear25.7 oC / 78.3 oF
OctoberRainy and Clear18.8 oC / 65.8 oF
NovemberRainy and Cloudy10.2 oC / 50.36 oF
DecemberSnowy and Cloudy4.9 oC / 40.82 oF

History of Mardin

Mardin has been the homeland of various civilizations in history. In Mardin, some findings belong to very ancient times. Even, some leftovers are found from Old Stone Age. In B.C 2000 Mardin was the homeland of Asur civilizations. Then, Mardin and its around are occupied by Hitit and Urartu civilizations. The “Mardin” name of the city was used for the first time in the 4th century by the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus.

In 1805 Mardin came under the rule of Seljuk State and from that day the area became a Turkmen area. In 1103 Artuk Seigniory became the ruler of Mardin. In 1515 the Ottoman Empire got back the city of Mardin but cannot keep the Mardin castle. However, they did not give up and gain the castle as well in 1517. 

Getting to Mardin

Getting to Mardin would not be a trouble for you. From lots of big cities of Turkey, there are direct transportations to Mardin. You can get to Mardin by plane or bus very easily. Also, you can get to Mardin with your vehicle if you wish. 

By Plane

There is Mardin Airport which is 20 km away from the city center. It is the fastest and easiest way of transportation if you are coming from away. From the three big cities of Turkey which are İstanbul, Ankara, and İzmir there are direct flights to Mardin every day. You may have to check the days for other cities. Unfortunately, there is no direct flight from abroad to Mardin.

By Bus

Getting to Mardin by bus from most of the cities is very easy. Whether the city is far or close or the city is big or small it doesn’t matter. You can travel to Mardin by bus directly from most of the cities in Turkey even though the trip lasts longer. Also, the frequency of the bus hours is agreeable. 

CityKm / MileDuration time by bus
İstanbul 1468.4 km / 912.4 mil20 hours
İzmir1443.5 km / 896.95 mil19 hours 30 minutes
Ankara1040.6 km / 646.2 mil14 hours 30 minutes
Adana  552.2 km / 343.12 mil6 hours 30 minutes
Denizli (Pamukkale)1276.4 km / 793.1 mil19 hours 30 minutes
Nevşehir (Cappadocia)781.2 km / 485.4 mil12 hours 30 minutes
Antalya1152.2 km / 715.9 mil18 hours 30 minutes
Antakya536 km / 333 mil10 hours 15 minutes
İskenderun536.5 km / 333.4 mil9 hours 
Diyarbakır93.6 km / 58.1 mil1 hour 45 minutes
Gaziantep 336.5 km / 209.1 mil5 hours 45 minutes
Adıyaman296.4 km / 184.17 mil5 hours 30 minutes
Batman 141.2 km / 87.7 mil1 hour 15 minutes

Urban Transportation

Urban transportation in Mardin is quite common and easy. The transportation inside the city is provided mostly by the minibuses and buses. The prices are also very affordable. From the airport to the center of Mardin you can get on a minibus or take a taxi. You can also see private taxis outside of the airport which will cost about 50-60 Turkish lira to get into the center. 

Top Things to Do in Mardin

In the Mardin, there are lots of things to do and see. Lots of fascinating historical landmarks are waiting for you to serve you a mystic experience. If you cannot decide where to start, the list below will guide you through the way. 

Streets of Old City of Mardin

Narrow streets of Mardin

The streets of the Old City of Mardin are located in the Old Mardin side where also the houses are. The streets of old Mardin are very narrow but you can feel one hundred percent of this historical and mystic vibe of the city. You will feel like you are doing time travel as you pass down these streets.   

Mardin Houses

Mardin Houses were built in the south slopes of Mazı Mountains in the area of 2500 m in length and 500 m in width. The houses look like they are piling up from the top view of the city and give the city an incredibly unique look. There are some motifs you can see on these traditional Anatolian houses. In the past, the courtyards and the gardens were used commonly especially in the summertime but in the present, they are used generally as storages. In 1979 Mardin Houses is announced as a protected area. 

Mardin Castle 

Mardin Castle

Mardin Castle is also known as the Home of Eagle and it is a reinforced place in a large area of the city. The castle was very important for lots of civilizations and emperors including, Sumerians, Romans, Persians, Byzantium, Umayyad, Ottoman, and goes on. In A.C. 330 a king named Şah Buhari came to Mardin and stayed there for 12 years with his civilians and soldiers. Then the plague disease got spread and everybody in the castle infected and died. No one ever entered the castle until the year 542. In the present, you can see the leftovers of the caste on the top of the city view.

Dara Mesopotamia Ruins

Dara Mesopotamia Ruins are located in Oğuz Village in 30 km southeast of Mardin. Dara was one of the most important residential areas of Mesopotamia which was built by the order of Anastasius to protect East Roma from Sassanid. It was recorded as one of the most essential trade centers and also in the archives, there are some findings that this field was the witness of the battle of Great Alexander and Darius. When you visit there you can still see the leftovers of a bazaar, church, dungeon, palace, etc. It worth seeing.   

Deyrulzafaran Monastery

Deyrulzafaran Monastery is located 3 km east of Mardin and it is a Syriac monastery built in the 5th century. It is one of the most important centers of Syriacs. Mor Hanonyo Church, Beth Kadişe, Meryemana Church, and Temple of Sun are the most important parts of the monastery. There is a holy bible in the Syriac language and a holy stone in the monastery. Also, there are some mosaics left from the time it was built. 

There are rumors about here that are believed it was the first medical school of all time. It is a very great place to feel the ancient times of Syriacs. Also, there are 52 tombs of Syriac patriarchs inside the monastery. Recently, in 2021, Deyrulzafaran Monastery is added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative List. 

Mor Gabriel Monastery

Mor Gabriel Monastery is the oldest Syriac Orthodox Monastery that stands still in the world. It is in the Midyat district of Mardin and inside the Tur Abdin plateau which is known as the homeland of Syriacs. The Monastery weathered from the time it was built which is 397 until today. Lots of Syriac monks were murdered there. Somehow it has been the target even still an open case going on about there. Despite these, you can always go and visit this magnificent structure and getting closer to a new culture.

The Great Mosque of Mardin

The Great Mosque of Mardin was built in the Artuklu period and it is located in the central of Mardin. The dome of the mosque has a sliced-up structure which a very unique design and becomes a traditional structure in Mardin later on. It was built in 1186 and damaged throughout the battles and invasion but restored. The motifs on the walls and minaret are hard-to-find kinds of art pieces.

Mardin Museum

Mardin Museum exhibits the traditional, historical, cultural archeological, and ethnographic art pieces inside. The art pieces are coming from B.C 4000th to B.C. 7th century. The art pieces of Greek, Persians, Roma, Byzantium, Seljuk, Artuklu, Hellenistic, Ottoman, etc. periods are exhibited in the museum. You can see the stamp, teardrop bottles, figures, etc. of ancient times in there. The entrance fee is very affordable and if you have “müzekart” it is free. You won’t regret visiting.

Historic Shops

The shops are also historic in Mardin. You can shop spices, sugared almonds, Syriac wines, textile products, carpets, and anything that remind you of Mardin from these historic shops. Even the shops have not lost their nostalgic texture. 

Madrasah and Mosque of Sehidiye

Madrasah and Mosque of Sehidiye are located in the Şehidiye neighborhood of Mardin. It was built in the 13th of century by Sultan Melik Nasruddin Artuk Aslan and he was buried inside of it. In 1916 a minaret was added to the mosque for supporting and completing the mosque structure. 

Madrasah of Kasimiye

Madrasah of Kasimiye started building in the 12th century but completed in the 15th century in the period of Kasım ibn Cihangir. In the 16th century it had the highest income but during World War I it was closed. There are two mescids, one tomb one fountain inside the madrasah. In the rumors, it is told the Kasım Pasha was killed there and his blood was immersed in the walls and believed that it is still appearing when it is wet. 

Kırklar Church

Kırklar Church was built in the honor of Mor Benham and his sister Saro in 569. Even though the Kırklar Church is turned into Sehidiye Mosque in the 12th century the name of Mor Benham Church has changed to Kırklar Church and is still known by the same name. It has a very large courtyard and inside of it, there is a ring bell tower. You can see art pieces on the walls of the church. It is still open to worship and also for the visit. Don’t miss it when you get to Mardin. 

Meryemana Church

Meryemana Church is a Catholic Syriac Church located in Cumhuriyet Square. It is a quite new church which is built in 1986 but it surely adapted the ancient vibe of the city with all of its gorgeousness. It is not open to worship recently. From 1995 to the present Meryemana Church is serving as a museum. You have to see this unique structure. 

Day Trips from Mardin

You can take a small daily trip when you are in Mardin. If you stay a little longer or have an extra day you can spend your day by seeing places besides Mardin. Here are some options gathered for you.

Midyat

Midyat is a district of Mardin but it is 1.5 hours away from the center of Mardin. It is known as the meeting point of religions and languages. Islam, Christianity, and Yazidi meet with Turks, Kurds, Arabs, and Syriacs. There are lots of villages connected to Midyat and the ancient time texture can be seen while you wandering around the district. You should spare one day to Midyat when you come to Mardin.

Diyarbakır

Diyarbakır is 1 hour 15 minutes away from Mardin by car. It is a great city to visit if you have an extra day. Diyarbakır is also a cosmopolite city where different cultures, religions, and nationalities live together. The center of the city has a 9000-year-old history. It can be said that the cultures of Diyarbakır and Mardin are quite similar.  

Hasankeyf

Hasankeyf is located in Batman city and it is about 1 hour away from Mardin by car. Hasankeyf is a residential area of Mesopotamia and it is a 12000-year-old area. However, the builders of the Hasankeyf cannot be known certainly. Unfortunately, this fascinating ancient city has flooded in 2020 for a water dam. However, it is still worth seeing if you drop by. 

What to Eat and Drink

In Mardin, there are lots of things to eat and drink. The different cultures also influence the food and drinks of Mardin in a very great way. The food in Mardin is mostly based on animal food and you can find plenty of coffee options to drink after you have your meals. If you want to get to know Mardin’s food and drink culture better, let’s review the list below! 

Lebeniye Soup

Lebeniye soup is a very delicious yogurt soup and goes well especially in the wintertime of Mardin. Leben means “yogurt” in Arabic and it derives from that word. Inside the lebeniye soup, there are chickpeas, rice, onion, dried mint, and little meatballs. It is a protein source and at the same time incredibly tasty and nutritious.   

Haşu

Haşu is traditional stuffed rice of Mardin but can be eaten by just itself. Pilaf is very important all around Turkey but you should give it a try. Inside of Haşu there is lamb, crispy almonds, parsley, and spices. You can’t believe how good it smells. The preparing process can be a little long but it worth it when you eat. 

Sembusek

Sembusek is a kind of samsa and known as “pizza of Mardin”. However, it is not like pizza at all but surely much more delicious than that. It Is prepared with a leavened dough which is rolled out quite thin. Then the doughs are stuffed with, mince, onion, and a variety of spices and after that cut out in the shape of a half-moon. It is cooked on sheet metal which doubles its taste, no doubt. 

Kaburga Dolması

Kaburga Dolması is a traditional and delicious food of Syriacs. In Mardin, meat is the most consumed food, and also the locals are love to multiply the taste of their food with spices. The rib of lamb or goat is filled with spiced stuffed rice and cooked between 3-6 hours. It can’t be described with words you have to taste it when you are Mardin in the local restaurants.

İkbebet and Irok

İkbebet and Irok are stuffed meatballs and the same food but cooked in different ways. Then ingredients are the same for both of them. Both of them have a wall from thin bulgur and are stuffed with mince with spices. İkbebet is cooked as boiling and Irok is cooked as frying. You can choose the one that seems nicer to you. However, it is always better to eat them together.

Sugared Almonds (Badem Şekeri)

Sugared almonds (badem şekeri) are prepared by covering the almonds with sugar. The almonds are roasted at first. Then, a sugar covering is prepared for them. In lots of cities, you can find sugared almonds but the sugars in Mardin are in the color of blue. The blue color is coming from the Lahor trees’ roots. However, the blue color should be turned into white as time passed otherwise it means that they have died artificially. 

Mardin Kebabı

Mardin kebabı is one of the best things you can ever taste. The shape of the kebab is rounder than the regular Adana or Urfa kebabs. The texture of the kebab could look like mince but there Is no way to use ready mince for it, the meat is sliced into the tiniest parts by special knives then cooked in the wood fire. You can either roll into a lavash or enjoy it by itself. 

Other Kebabs

Besides Mardin kebabı, if you want to eat other kebabs you can also find the great ones in Mardin. If you want to give it a try of Adana or Urfa kebab you can find plenty of local restaurants to eat them. They are also as delicious as the other food you would eat.

Syriac Wine

Syriac wine is the wine that was produced in the lands of Mesopotamia which is accepted as the birth land of wine. It has a 2600-year-old history and at first, the wines were produced in the houses of Syriac families. However, the exact place and time are not known but there are leftovers from the 7000 years before about producing wines in the lands of Mesopotamia. You can do wine tasting in the wine cellars.

Mırra

Mırra is a very dark and bitter coffee which is coming from Arabic culture. Since Mardin is very close to Arabic culture and a lot of Arabs living there it becomes a traditional coffee of Mardin. It is prepared by brewing a couple of times and it is served in small cups. It can be said it is an espresso duplicate but the preparing process is quite long. Mırra is poured into the cups from a pitcher. You can even have a cup of Mırra in the streets of Mardin by walking. 

Menengiç Coffee

Menengiç coffee is produced by Menengiç trees and naturally occurs in Turkey without any agricultural process. Menengiç trees are mostly found in the Mediterranean, South-East Anatolian, and Central Anatolia regions. The fruits are collected and dried, then prepared just like Turkish coffee. However, it is so much softer than Turkish coffee also very beneficial for health. You should give it a try when you are in Mardin. 

Dibek Coffee

Dibek coffee is a traditional Mardin coffee that is pestle in very large mortars. Lots of people think that “dibek” is a name of a place but it is the name of these large mortars. Turkish coffee beans and different herbs pestle in dibeks and ground. It is prepared in the same way as Turkish coffee but the color and the taste of it are lighter. Also, you can feel that herby smell while you are drinking. When you take a break from Mardin streets you can have a dibek coffee.

Shopping

Authentic bazaars of Mardin provide a different shopping experience to the customers. It is impossible to feel like in the old times when you are in the old bazaar of Mardin. In the bazaar, you can shop anything you want. You can buy some dibek or Menengiç coffee as a souvenir or also a bottle of Syriac wine would be a great gift. You can also buy some strong and special spices and herbs from these bazaars. 

If you want to shop for the jewelry you should visit “Kuyumcular Çarşısı” for buying the best golds and silvers of Turkey. Also, you should visit “Bakırcılar Çarşısı” which is a great bazaar for buying copper plates and dishes. In addition, don’t miss to visit Kayseriye Pasajı which belong to the Artuklu period, and Revaklı Çarşı which is standing still from the 17th century. You may want to shop for some clothes or carpets of high quality from there. 

Events

In Mardin, there is a couple of valuable and very fun events that you should join if you came by. If you wonder what they are, let’s follow the list below. 

Mardin Cherry Festival

Mardin Chery Festival is held every year mostly at the beginning of June. The best cherries of Turkey are grown in the Yeşilli district of Mardin. The festival is aiming to promote this cherry and make the local people socialize there. The festival involves people from different cultures and one of the goals of the festival is to highlight this fraternity, unity, and solidarity no matter what. You can get to the festival area by bus or minibuses. Also, the entrance to the festival is all free. 

Mardin International Film Festival

From 2006 to the present Mardin International Film Festival is held under the name of “SineMardin”. Besides the locals, also the tourists are interested in this festival. Films, short films, and documentaries are shown at the festival. The audience of it is growing more and more every year. The open-air projections are very impressive inside of the Mardin’s magnificent historical texture. As the classification of it is international, it is very important to be promoted Mardin globally. The festival is also free for everyone. 

Bilali Festival

Bilali Festival is the oldest festival of Mardin and it has been celebrated for 8000 years. At first, the festivals were stopped to celebrate in 1958, and then in 2018, it has reactivated again. At the festival, traditional music is listened to, folk dances are done, traditional food is prepared and served. Also, kermises are pitched. It is celebrated in Bilali Village of Mardin. The goal of the festival is making meet the locals together even once a year.  

Mardin Social Circus Festival

Mardin Social Circus Festival is held especially for refugee children. Since Mardin is a border neighbor with Syria lots of Syrian refugee children are living in Mardin. The people decide to hold a festival to make them have fun and help for getting over their pains as much as they can. The musicians, acrobats, jugglers, and artists are coming to the festival for making shows. A group of people consists of them are walking around the streets of Mardin to entertain the children.

Where to Stay

In Mardin, there are plenty of options to stay. You may stay in a luxury hotel, boutique hotel, or old mansion that turned into hotels. The mansions are the most expensive options. Old Mardin is a great and very touristic area to stay around and it would be a little expensive. The center of Mardin is a very good option to stay in and the prices are also high but not as the Old Mardin. Midyat and Kızıltepe are more affordable options if you are looking for something cheaper. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Mardin

If you still have questions about Mardin in your mind, don’t worry about it. Here are the frequently asked questions about Mardin and their answers. Let’s review them!

Is Mardin safe to travel?

The Syrian border makes people question the safety of Mardin and lots of people don’t want to visit just because of that. It is a very wrong and judgmental idea. Mardin is safe to stay in. You can’t even believe how warm the people of Mardin are when you get there. 

What language is spoken in Mardin? 

There are seven languages spoken in Mardin which are Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, Syriac, Armenian, Aramaic, and Torani. Not all of the languages consist of the majority of the spoken languages but they have still spoken. The newspapers in Mardin published in five different languages.

Is there any 5-star hotel in Mardin? 

Yes, there is a couple of 5-star-hotel in Mardin if you want to stay. However, if you have a budget for a 5-star-hotel you may want to stay in an old mansion turned into a hotel. It would be a different experience for you.

Is Mardin worth visiting? 

Yes, Mardin is worth visiting. It is not quite possible to see a city like this. It is very hard to find this mystic texture anywhere in the world. You won’t regret it if you visit Mardin. 

What does “Mardin” mean? 

The roots of the word Mardin is coming from both Arabic and Syriac. For Arabic, it is “Mâridîn” and for Syriac, it is “Marde”. Some of the people believe that the name is coming from the warrior peoples that lived in there called Mardes. The other majority of people believe that it can be coming from the word “merdin” which is in the meaning of “the castles” in Syriac since Mardin was surrounded by a castle. Both of the theories make sense but it is not certain.

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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