Very narrow streets take you to the mysterious very thin streets as you start to discover Mardin. Ever-lengthening streets in parallel are connected to the underpasses called as abbara.
Abbaras which generally passes behind the houses are the most striking elements of the historical and cultural texture of the city. Abbara which means passage, at 200 meters of length, brings Mardin with Mesopotamia Plain with its single entrance and escape gates.
Most of the residents in Mardin have memories about abbaras. Abbaras either witnessed the correspondences between lovers or the revenges between fearless youngsters. So that the idiom “erkeksen abbaraya gel” meaning as “if you’re a man, meet me at abbara” sticks to the ears in Mardin…
It is possible to tour Mardin on foot where rubbishes are collected by monkeys since the vehicles cannot enter into crinkled and narrow streets. The beauty of the houses and mystery of the streets of Mardin, which were made by carving the genuine stones of the region, are fascinating. Stonemasonry and domestic architecture that make the city privileged are really fascinating.
The streets of Mardin take you to churches, mosques and bazaars.
You can reach Dellar Bazaar by following Hasan Ammar Bazaar in Cumhuriyet Meydanı via Bezzazlar, Sobacılar and Kasaplar Bazaar, then you can see packsaddle shops on road when you reach Kazancılar Bazaar. There are only a few of shops left in Bakırcılar Çarşısı (Coppersmith Bazaar) which was a huge bazaar in the past, and hammer voices of masters hammering the copper spread to the plains of Mesopotamia by reminding the past.…
You can see the signboards of tailors on every corner. Shoe-making is still available. The masters do not only repair your shoes but also produce new shoes. Bedesten Bazaar is full of examples of silk headscarf, point laces peculiar to the region, and fabrics coming from Syria, Iraq, Iran and further countries. Let us not forget the antique dealers in the bazaars of Mardin. Every piece in these dealers have the traces from the magic life between the stone walls of Mardin houses…
A spice-seller shop hosts the travellers when they pass by an old hairdresser... Coffee, tobacco and tea sellers patiently wait on the line to show themselves to the customers... You can see clog masters in carpenters’ bazaar while they are working with all their power; you will definitely taste the roasted chickpeas which you will see on road while going to Attarlar Bazaar. Tasting the roasted chickpea prepared freshly before you, you will witness how this special flavour is integrated with Mardin... Please do not forget to taste blue sugared almonds and cardamom coffee.
Syriac people and their churches are the first to come to mind when it comes to Mardin. Churches and monasteries started to be built in Mardin and its periphery, as a patriarchate centre, beginning from 1st century A.D.
Among such constructions, the structure that was built in 1860 that was the office of Syriac Catholic Archbishop is one of the best civilian architectural examples used as Mardin Museum today.
The churches that are still used are as follows: Mor Behnam Church (Kırklar Kilisesi) that was built in 5th century and that is still used as a metropolitan church; Mor Şemune Church that was built in 6th century which has a school compartment as well; Mor Mihail Church from the Syriac Orthodox community which is the oldest church according to Syriac records (4th century); Red Church (Surp Kevork) as an Armenian Gregorian Church dating back to 420; Mor Yusuf Church (Surp Hovsep) dating back to 1894, used by the Armenian Catholic community, also Mor Petrus and Mor Pavlus Churches that were constructed in 1914 in Mardin.
Deyrülzaferan Monastery is located in 5 km south of the city on a desolate and arid valley which is the most important religion centre of the Syriac community. Church of the Virgin Mary that is the core monastery, was built in 6th century on an older praying place. The monastery was built and renewed by Mar Hananyo of Mardin in 793. The word ‘deyr’ means "monastery" and ze'faren means "saffron" in Arabic language. The monastery took this name from its yellow stone walls.
Deyrülzaferan Monastery is open to visitors except for praying hours. The Syriac people here pray 6 times a day by prostrating and bowing down just like Muslims do.
Mosques, külliye complexes, madrasas...
In addition to its churches, Mardin also hosts several historical mosques and madrasas. Grand Mosque, which is regarded as the signature of the city, the oldest mosque of the city which is located in the centre of Mardin bazaar, is from 12th century; Eminüddin and Necmeddin külliye complexes were built by Artuqids and are the first külliye complexes of Anatolia from the 12th century; Abdüllatif (Latifiye) Mosque that is an Artuqid work of art with its adorable crown gate and is one of the best examples of Seljuk woodworking from the 13th century; Şehidiye Mosque that was built by Artuqids from 12th century and Mahmut Mosque (Bab es Sur Mosque) that was also built by the Artuqids, are all important Islamic structures in the city.
The most important madrasas of the city were built by the Artuqids and the Akkoyunlu state. All the madrasas are like this except for Shah Sultan Madrasa.
Zinciriye Madrasa that was also used as an observatory, Şehidiye, and Sıtti Radviyye Madrasa in which Prophet Muhammad's footprint exists were built in Artuqids period. Kasımiye Madrasa that is one of the best examples of its own style, facing Syrian Plain on a foothill of a steep mountain, was built in the transition period from Artuqids to Aq qoyunlus.
Emir Hamamı (Turkish Bath) and Artuqid fountains the waters of which are still running, are among the important and alive water structures of the city. These fountains are Eminüddin Külliye Fountain, Kasımiye Fountain, Ayn Saraç Fountain, Ayn Ceviz Fountain and Savur Kapı Fountain.