Mardin, Southeastern Turkey

Last Updated on May 6, 2019

Mardin is perched at the edge of a plateau in southeastern Turkey overlooking the swelteringMesopotamian plain 95 km (59 miles) south of Diyarbakir.

Mardin is a provincial capital (population 62,000, altitude 1325 m/4347 feet) and an ancient town built of sandstone with some interesting old buildings, including the medieval Sultan Isa Medresesi (1385), Kasim Pasha Medresesi (1400s), the Ulu Cami (Great Mosque, 1000s), and a rambling bazaar.

But most people come to visit the Saffron Monastery (Deyrul Zafaran), 6 km (4 miles) to the east. This was a holy place even in pre-Christian times. The monastery has been here since 495 AD. Some of its existing floor mosaics are 1500 years old.

Once the seat of the Assyrian patriarch (who now resides in Damascus), Deyrul Zafaran is now mostly an orphanage run by a few monks.

Church services are still chanted in Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke.

Other Assyrian monasteries are scattered throughout the Tur Abdin ( the region to the east), particularly at Midyat and Mor Gabriel.

Minibuses run frequently from Diyarbakır to Mardin throughout the day.

Turkish Airlines flies from Istanbul via Ankara to Mardin several times weekly, as does Onur Air. There are more frequent flights to Diyarbakır.

The nearest train station is at Şenyurt, 25 km (16 miles) south on the Syrian border. Thus the nearest trains now serve Diyarbakır.

Distances & Travel Times

Adıyaman: 280 km (174 miles) W, 4.5 hours

Ankara: 1005 km (625 miles) NW, 15 hours

Diyarbakır: 95 km (59 miles) N, 1.5 hours

Istanbul: 1459 km (907 miles) NW, 22 hours

Kâhta (Nemrut Dağı): 312 km (194 miles) NW, 5 hours

Midyat: 59 km (37 miles) E, 1.25 hours

Nusaybin (Syrian Border): 60 km (37 miles) E, 1 hour

Şanlıurfa: 172 km (107 miles) W, 2.25 hours

Southeastern Turkey

Eastern Turkey

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