A couple of months ago a local tour company called Sen Anlat Istanbul, advertised a tour to the south East of Turkey. Over the last couple of years we had been on a number of their walking tours discovering Istanbul which was an eye opener for me as I had though I knew the city quite well. We also did a 2 day tour with them visiting Edirne on the Greek-Turkish border over New Years in 2017-2018. However, this part of Turkey, down near the Syrian border looked very interesting. Exploring a part of the country that many never go to see for many reasons.
So on Friday 26th October we departed from Istanbul at 05.40am for Mardin, on the north Mesopotamian plain, some 1250km southeast of Istanbul, near the east Syrian and Iraq border. It was rainy and overcast leaving Istanbul and even more rainy in Mardin when we landed almost 2 hours later. Rain is fairly unusual in this part of the country.
This part of Turkey is populated mainly by ethnic Kurds and a smattering of Syriac Christians who are an ethnic relic of some of the earliest Christian communities in the Roman province of Syria almost two thousand years ago. There is also a small Yazidi presence as well.
After arriving in Mardin we headed south to the ruins of Dara, an ancient border fortress town marking the line between the Roman and Persian Empires in the 6th century AD. It’s still on a border being only 5km from the Turkish Syrian Border today.
The town held the Roman garrison and 65km of canals were dug and great cisterns holding 14,000 cubic meters of water, i.e. 14,000 tons of filtered water. The town lost it’s importance after the Arab invasions in 639AD and the destruction of the Persian empire by the Arabs that occurred at the same time.
There was a small cantina at Dara with a lady making Gözleme, a traditional flatbread filled with cheese or potato and vegetables. Delicious late breakfast.
From Dara we journeyed back into a rainy an wet Mardin and, after taking a look round the well appointed museum with many ancient artefacts over 5000 years old, took a walk through the bazaar and old part of Mardin and spent the rest of the day exploring the town while trying to stay dry.
At times it had the feel of being in the original starwars movie in the Tatooine scenes. No sign of Han Solo or Jabba the Hut however!Share