On a rocky hill overlooking an expansive view of Mesopotamia, Mardin stands as a city tested by time with a history seeped in different faiths, power struggles and conquests.
Mardin’s earliest foundations laid in the 11 century B.C. where a rocky hill served as a strategic advantage with its expansive views of the Mesopotamia. This outcrop in the plains led it to be called by the Romans as Marida (Assyrian for fortress). Mardin also served as one of the most important centers for Syriac Christianity, the people known as Assyrians where some of the first monasteries in the world were built in areas surrounding town, housing upwards of 70 monks. From the 7th century onwards, it’s history became divisive and confusing. In 640 Mardin was captured by a Muslim commander, followed by it being jockeyed by numerous dynasties. Most of the historical buildings seen today are testament the Artuqid dynasty of the 12th century with its stunning Islamic architecture. Through the years, though, Mardin as always served as a cultural crossroads where large populations of Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Jew and Armenians lived side by side.
All the buildings in the historical center are crafted in the tan limestone found in nearby quarries, some of them with intricate carvings and sculptures. The diversity of architectural styles, uses and faiths made it evident this is a city with a rich history. This diversity and the intricate buildings are also a testament to the wealth brought here via the Silk Roads. It’s easy to sit atop a rooftop and watch the sun set over the plains of the Fertile Crescent, reminiscing on the journey thus far and the history that stood before for as long as history tells.
THE SILK ROAD JOURNAL
How We Got Here:
We reached Mardin by bus from Diyarbakir, capitol of Kurdish Turkey, taking less than 2 hours.
Sitting on the rooftop of our guesthouse watching the sun set over the endless plains of Mesopotamia.
Sharing tea with a Syrian refugee, who shared from his heart his experiences and how he thinks Syrians should be treated.
Read the Story: Cradle of Civilization
S N A P S H O T S O N T H E R O A D
W H E R E W I L L Y O U R J O U R N E Y T A K E Y O U N E X T ?
Exploring Mardin delighted with its glimpse of seemingly endless history, but from here the journey continues southeastward. Two long, hot, and dusty paths ensues, crossing some inhospitable deserts, but the treasures that await may reward the wanderer.
Do you choose to cross the Persian Desert into India, or traverse the Empty Quarter to the Gulf of Arabia?