Once you get off the plane in Mardin, you’ll see the old city high above on the mountainside where narrow labyrinthine streets lead past beautifully ornate doors, carved stone facades and friendly cats. Mardin is one of Turkey’s most wondrous destinations so make sure to visit all of its top sights.
Sakıp Sabancı Mardin City Museum
One of your first stops in Mardin should be the Sakip Sabanci Mardin Museum, where you’ll get a comprehensive introduction to Mardin’s history and culture. Located in what used to be army barracks, the museum has English translations for all of its displays and the art gallery downstairs also features exhibitions, especially the work of important Turkish photographers.
Holy Forty Martyrs Church
Renamed in the 15th century to commemorate the martyrs of Cappadocia, this historic church stands out with its delicate carvings at the entrance as well as its peaceful inner courtyard. Ask the caretaker if you can take a look at the small yet beautiful interior.
The lively bazaar of Mardin is a must-see in order to understand the daily routine of this historic city. You’ll see donkeys walking around with their masters since this is the best form of transportation due to Mardin’s steep and uneven climbs. Be sure to visit the beautiful 12th century Iraqi Seljuk Ulu Cami (Ulu Mosque) with its iconic minaret decorated with reliefs.
Located a bit outside of the old city, the Kasimiye Medresesi is worth the walk because its structure, built in 1469, is very beautiful, especially the main doorway and the courtyard with its arched colonnades. Below the two large domes are the tombs of Kasım Paşa and his sister and above it all, this structure provides a beautiful panoramic view of its surroundings.
Mardin’s other magnificent madrasah is the Zincirize Medresesi, which overlooks the city from its elevated position. Constructed in 1385, the inner courtyard has a small fountain whose flowing water reflects the perfect geometry of its interior construction. Make sure to take a good look at the main doorway with its minute carvings and head to the roof to enjoy the amazing view.
The post office
In a city as beautiful as Mardin, it comes as no surprise that the post office occupies a stunning 17th-century caravanserai with surfaces covered in detailed carvings and reliefs. Walk around the upper level to take in the view of the city and the beauty of the structure below.
Mor Hananyo Monastery
Located about 10 km southeast of Mardin, this Syriac Orthodox monastery is worth a day trip because of its architectural significance. Founded in the 5th century, the monastery still operates today and includes the main church, a burial chapel and an underground chamber with an amazing stone ceiling.