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Castle Town of Mardin
DESSERT, DUSK AND HONEY COLORS OF MARDIN
Abbaras Mardin Mardin appetizers
I was here almost ten years ago when Mardin still was not well equipped to handle overnight visitors . It was our first stop over on a eight days Eastern Turkey tour and I thought the highlight of the trip was going to be Mouth Nemrut up to the point where I have seen and fall in love with Mardin. Unfortunately on my first visit we did not stay in the Old Town of Mardin where there were none of the boutique hotels of today, we stayed in a concrete so called 4 star hotel in the new town and very little time was given for us to discover this medieval looking city, but Mardin still managed to fascinate me and I knew I will definitely return back to this castle city one day to breath in the air one more time and take my own sweet time to walk in the small alleys and abbaras. The castle city of Mardin where dessert, dusk and honey colors combined in unity overlooking the fertile Mesopotamian planes that extend into Syria simply captured me.
Bazzar, Mýrra and the smell of freshly baked bread…
My second time in Mardin, I was alone and it was a pleasure trip combined with business. So I had plenty of time to explore the city by walking which I recommend to every visitor to Mardin. Whilst the majority of the commercial and social life pulse along the central ‘Cumhuriyet Street ’, if you wish to gain a genuine sense of the look; the true composition of Mardin you will have to delve upwards, downwards, along and around its maze of sloped alleys, stairways, lanes and abbaras.
Mardin is also known for its bazaars, a warren of alleys and stairs where tightly packed stalls are noisy selling spices, natural soaps, clothing, food and whatever you think of. Aromas of freshly baked bread, mýrra ( Arabic coffee ), strawberries and spices drift by as Syrian orthodox goldsmiths and Muslim copper workers beat their trade, side by side. I enjoy my time strolling around the back streets. Winding passageways often connected by low arched ’Abbara’; stone passageways whose purpose historically was to connect streets and separate parcels of land belonging to different families after whom they became named.Mardin is the best preserved city in eastern Turkey. Built on steep slopes with a castle atop a hill, it looks like a fantastic medieval stronghold. From a distance, the golden stone of Mardin houses blend into the rock /of the hills on which the city is built. On closer inspection, the stone carving and decoration of the houses and public buildings reveals the city as an architectural treasure-chest. Among the jewels are the ancient citadel and several mosques, in particular, Ulu Mosque. The 15th century Kasim Pasa Medrese is remarkable for its fine stonework.At the lovely Isa Bey Medrese from the 14th century, you can admire the magnificently carved portal and climb to its roof to enjoy the
fantastic view over the Mesopotamian Plain.
If even a simplest dish takes several hours to cook what do you expect but a great cuisine. I found the food in Mardin incredible original combination of many Ottoman and Suryani recipes. Some of the names sound very familiar like hummus, eggplant dishes, local cracked olives and yogurt dishes all done in regional style and very delicious. There are many meat base dishes but somehow they are cooked in a very different style then of Antep Urfa, or Adana. The Cercis Murat Konagi Restaurant is a fine example to try the Mardin cuisine.
Crossroads of Religions
Mardin is famous for the Syrian Orthodox heritage. South and east of Mardin lies the Tur Abdin, the Holy Land in Syriac language. Here, a lot of churches and monasteries, some dating back more than a thousand years ago, are still used by dwindling groups of priests ,monks and believers. On the other hand Islamic theological high schools like the Kasimiye and Radviye Medresse, to beautiful mosques like the Ulucami and Latifiye Camii are the best examples of the Islamic heritage of Mardin.
Faisal, Gabriel, Bejan or Ahmet... Theirs is a friendship like the fate of Mardin itself, which has sustained the brotherhood of Turk, Kurd, Arab and Assyrian for centuries. As heirs to the ancient civilizations, many of them speak three languages at home: Kurdish because of their mothers, Arabic because of their fathers, and the Turkish is thought in the schools.
Whatever the ethnic or religious backgrounds of people of Mardin, for many centuries they have lived in piece celebrating Syriac, Moslem , Jewish or Armenian holly days together with respect, tolerance and lenience towards each other and to understand this version of life in Mardin the best place is to visit is Sakip Sabanci Mardin City Museum.
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