Mardin Houses: Building Blocks of a Poetic City

A visit to Mardin can unexpectedly turn into a historical voyage because it is one of the many settlements in Türkiye that keeps its bonds with the past —especially with its architectural heritage. One of the most important cities in Mesopotamia, Mardin, is right in between Tigris and Euphrates. Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Persian, The Roman Empire, Seljuk, and The Ottoman Empire are just a few civilisations settled in Mardin throughout history. As a result, Mardin had many different names in different languages, whether ancient or modern. For example, the Persians called it "Marde," Arabs named it "Merde," "Merdo," and "Merdi." Byzantine used "Mardia," while the Turks preferred "Mardin."

Wandering around Mardin can shift your perception of time and space constantly. Many remains from the Bronze Age and the Iron Age have been discovered in Mardin. Moreover, some studies indicate that it had residents even in 8000 BC, which means that city's past reaches back beyond antiquity and touches prehistoric periods. You can plan a trip to Mardin with a package vacation especially if you’re into history and architecture.

Mardin Houses

Stone Houses of Mardin

Although you may not encounter anything prehistoric while you're strolling through Mardin streets, the preservation of traditional architecture may strike you the most. One of the traits that makes the structures unique is their staircase-like positioning. Even though all houses are built separately by different people, stone houses' distribution is quite mesmerising. The houses are erect in such an order that they don't block each other's view.

One way to travel the city is just by stopping by each house and exploring the details. You can even ask the locals to tour their homes. Many of them will gladly do that, and you may taste a bit of sweet Turkish hospitality. Still, try to find someone who can communicate with them easily if your Turkish is not well enough.

Mardin Houses Stone

The houses from the Ottoman era generally have two separate areas called Haremlik and Selamlık. These sections mostly lost their functions in modern Türkiye, but women socialised in Haremlik while men got together in Selamlık. Houses often do not have rooms particularly used for kitchens, and the design is straightforward. In this aspect, Syrian culture's impact on Mardin's architecture is quite apparent.

Streets of Mardin

The layout of the houses keeps the streets in shades, which helps them stay cool in the summer. Nearly all houses in historical Mardin are made with yellow limestone. There are two main reasons for it. One is functional; the other is out of necessity, you may say. The practical reason is the characteristics of yellow limestone. It keeps homes warm in winter and keeps cool in summer. It's also easy to cut, shape, and mould. The second reason for the common utilisation of limestone is the area's volcanic structure. So, the material is fairly abundant.

Due to the challenging climate, the houses generally have four metres wide walls and almost no windows or small ones. Aside from windows, doors, and a few other components, wood is rare or non-existent.

Mardin Houses Street

Where to Visit Mardin Houses

The GAP project increased the area of arable lands and the potential of industrial agriculture lately. Consequently, the number of modern buildings raised in the city, but the people of Mardin are still deeply connected with their way of life. The new facilities are outside the "old town" because it's been under protection since 1979.

One of the most famous houses in Mardin is the Firdevs Pavilion in Nusaybin. As a work of art from Artuqids, the mansion offers a breathtaking landscape of the city.

Midyat is the leading province, where most of the architectural attractions reside. You can swing by Midyat Guest House if you aim to find one of the best archetypes of stone houses.

Savur and Nusaybin are other quintessential districts. They also have various historical remains and stone houses. Especially, Savur is a great place to visit because it's like a miniature of Mardin. In addition, you can wander around Kıllıt, with many abandoned stone house remains for further exploration.

Other intriguing structures in Mardin are cave houses around the Ancient City of Dara —which has a reputation as Ephesus of Mesopotamia. These caves date back as early as the Late Roman period. However, unlike the historic stone houses, the caves lost their functions as homes.

Mardin Houses Gate

Impact of Religion

There are stone mosques and active churches side by side, celebrating the cultural and historical splendour of the city today. You can visit some of these places.

  • Zinciriye Madrasah (Zinciriye Medresesi): Preserved since 1385.
  • Kasımiye Madrasah (Kasımiye Medresesi): Still strong since the 15th century.
  • Forty Martyrs Church: Constructed in the 4th century, one of the oldest remains of the city.
  • Deyrulfazaran (a.k.a. Mor Hananyo Monastery): Syriac-Orthodox Christian monastery from the 5th century is worth seeing.
  • Tur Abdin Area: Several monasteries from different periods, including Deyrulfazaran, can provide a mini time-travelling experience.
Mardin Houses Yard

Destination for History and Architecture Enthusiasts

The city presents stone houses not only as eye candy but also provides an opportunity to stay in them. Several Mardin hotels are initially historic stone houses. There, you can feel like part of history. There are many boutique, all-inclusive, city break and Valentine's Day hotel options in the city.

The intercultural spirit of the city is still alive, considering businesses are owned by people from different backgrounds. Thus, you can enjoy the historical journey, outstanding cuisine from many civilisations, and folk songs about countless rulers of the city or the lovers' tales. These unmatched traits helped the old town to get on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.

Mardin houses can offer a few unique experiences for you.

  • Wandering through the old ages by visiting the remains.
  • The presence of one of the finest works of historic architecture.
  • Understanding the very heart of the Mesopotamian culture due to many civilisations dwelled here throughout history.
  • Taking part in the journey by staying in one of the many stone house hotels.
  • A deeper understanding of the culture in the countless songs, stories, and tales from many cultures.
  • An atmosphere of tolerance due to the presence of churches, mosques, and other religious places altogether.
  • A movie-like total experience of a historical journey to remember.

Mardin houses can grant one of the most novel experiences of Türkiye. You can visit tens of civilisations, meet people from countless different cultures, listen to the most amazing local myths and stories with a single trip. So, if you are looking for something out of the ordinary, Mardin is the ideal place for you.