Mardin (Kurdish: Mêrdîn,[3] Arabic: ماردين, Syriac: ܡܪܕܝܢ, romanizedMerdīn,[4][5] Armenian: Մարդին) is a city in southeastern Turkey. The capital of Mardin Province, it is known for the Artuqid architecture of its old city, and for its strategic location on a rocky hill near the Tigris River that rises steeply over the flat plains.[6] The old town of the city is under the protection of UNESCO, which forbids new constructions to preserve its façade.[7]

Mardin
Clockwise from top: View of the old city and citadel; Sultan Isa Medrese; Kasımiye Medrese; view from the top of the Mesopotamian plain from the city; Mor Behnam Church; houses of the old city; Mor Hananyo Monastery.
Mardin is located in Turkey
Mardin
Mardin
Location of Mardin within Turkey.
Coordinates: 37°18′47″N 40°44′06″E / 37.31306°N 40.73500°E / 37.31306; 40.73500Coordinates: 37°18′47″N 40°44′06″E / 37.31306°N 40.73500°E / 37.31306; 40.73500
Country Turkey
RegionSoutheastern Anatolia
ProvinceMardin
Government
 • Elected MayorAhmet Türk (deposed) (HDP)
 • Acting Mayor (Governor of Mardin Province)Mustafa Yaman
Area
 • District969.06 km2 (374.16 sq mi)
Elevation
1,083 m (3,553 ft)
Population
 (2012)[2]
 • Urban
86,948
 • District
139,254
 • District density140/km2 (370/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+3 (TRT)
Postal code
47x xx
Area code(s)0482
Vehicle registration47
Websitewww.mardin.gov.tr
www.mardin.bel.tr
www.mardinimiz.net

HistoryEdit

Antiquity and etymologyEdit

The city survived into the Syriac Christian period as the name of Mt. Izala (Izla), on which in the early 4th century AD stood the monastery of Nisibis, housing seventy monks.[8] In the Roman period, the city itself was known as Marida (Merida),[9] from a Neo-Aramaic language name translating to "fortress".[10][11]

Between c. 150 BC and 250 AD it was part of the kingdom of Osroene, ruled by the Abgarid dynasty.[12]

Medieval historyEdit

Byzantine Izala fell to the Seljuks in the 11th century. During the Artuqid period, many of Mardin's historic buildings were constructed, including several mosques, palaces, madrasas and khans. Mardin served as the capital of one of the two Artuqid branches during the 11th and 12th centuries. The lands of the Artukid dynasty fell to the Mongol invasion sometime between 1235 and 1243, but the Artuqids continued to govern as vassals of the Mongol Empire.[13]

During the medieval period, the town (which retained significant Assyrian and Armenian populations) became the centre for episcopal sees of Armenian Apostolic, Armenian Catholic, Church of the East, Syriac Catholic, churches, as well as a stronghold of the Syriac Orthodox Church, whose patriarchal see was headquartered in the nearby Saffron Monastery from 1034 to 1924.[14] In 1451 the Kara Koyunlu besieged the castle of Mardin, damaging the city after their failed attempt to take the stronghold. About half a century later, in 1507, Ismail I of the Safavids succeeded to capture the city and the castle.[15] A Venetian merchant who visited the town that same year wrote that there were still more Christian Armenians and Jews in the city than Muslims.[16]

Ottoman EmpireEdit

 
Engraving of Mardin by Jacob Peeters (Flemish traveler) in 1690

A few years later in 1515, the city yielded to the Ottomans, who were bitter rivals of the Safavid dynasty, though the castle still remained under the control of Ismail I. One year later, the Ottomans under the leadership of Selim I besieged the city anew and eventually annexed it in 1517.[15] During this time, Mardin was administered by a governor directly appointed under the Ottoman Sultan's authority.

The city experienced a relatively tranquil period under Ottoman rule, without any significant conflicts or plights. European travelers who visited the city in the late 18th and early 19th centuries gave highly variable estimates of the population, but generally indicate that Muslims (or "Turks") were the largest group, with a sizeable Armenian community and other minorities, while Arabic and Kurdish were the predominant languages.[16]

The period of peace was finally halted when the Ottoman Empire came into conflict with the Khedivate of Egypt. During this time the city came under the rule of insurgents associated with the Kurdish Milli clan. In 1835, the Milli tribe was subdued by the military troops of the Wāli of Diyarbekir Eyalet, Reşid Mehmed Pasha.[17] During the siege the city's Great Mosque was blown up.[16] Between 1847 and 1865 the city's population suffered from a notable cholera epidemic, with the exact number of fatalities not known.[15] During World War I Mardin was one of the sites of the Assyrian and Armenian genocides. On the eve of World War I, Mardin was home to over 12,000 Assyrians and over 7,500 Armenians.[18] During the course of the war, many were sent to the Ras al-'Ayn Camps, though some managed to escape to the Sinjar Mountain with help from local Chechens.[19] Kurds and Arabs of Mardin typically refer to these events as "fırman" (government order), while Syriacs call it "seyfo" (sword).[20] After the Armistice of Mudros Mardin was one of the Turkish cities that was not occupied by the troops of the Allied Powers.

Modern historyEdit

In 1923, with the founding of the Republic of Turkey, Mardin was made the administrative capital of a province named after it. Many Assyrian survivors of the violence, later on, left Mardin for nearby Qamishli in the 1940s after their conscription in the Turkish military became compulsory.[20] As the Turkish Government subdued the Sheikh Said Rebellion in 1925, the first and the fourteenth cavalry division were stationed in Mardin.[21]

Mardin industrialized significantly during the 1990s, when inhabitants moved in greater numbers to the modern parts of the city that were developing on lower ground at the foot of the old city hill.[22] Through a passed law in 2012 Mardin became a metropolitan municipality, which took office after the Turkish local elections in 2014.[23] The city has a significant Arab population.[24]

GeographyEdit

The city is located near the Syrian border and is the center of Mardin province. The old city is built mostly on the southern slope of a long hill topped by a rocky ridge. The slope descends towards the Mesopotamian plain. The top of the ridge is occupied by the city's historic citadel.[25] The newer parts of the city are located on lower ground to the northwest and in the surrounding area and feature modern amenities and institutions.[22] Mardin Airport is located to the southwest, 20 kilometres (12 mi) from the old town.[26]

Panorama of the old city of Mardin, with the Mesopotamian Plain opening to the right
Cultivated plains south of Mardin

ClimateEdit

Mardin has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa, Trewartha: Cs) with very hot, dry summers and chilly, wet, and occasionally snowy winters. Mardin is very sunny, with over 3000 hours of sun per year. While temperatures in summer can easily reach 40 °C (104 °F), because of its continental nature, wintry weather is still somewhat common between the months of December and March, and it usually snows for a week or two. The highest recorded temperature is 42.5 °C (108.5 °F).

Climate data for Mardin (1991–2020, extremes 1941–2020)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 19.4
(66.9)
19.5
(67.1)
27.5
(81.5)
33.6
(92.5)
35.4
(95.7)
40.0
(104.0)
42.5
(108.5)
42.0
(107.6)
39.3
(102.7)
35.6
(96.1)
26.1
(79.0)
24.1
(75.4)
42.5
(108.5)
Average high °C (°F) 6.8
(44.2)
8.2
(46.8)
12.8
(55.0)
18.2
(64.8)
24.7
(76.5)
31.6
(88.9)
35.9
(96.6)
35.5
(95.9)
30.7
(87.3)
23.9
(75.0)
14.9
(58.8)
8.8
(47.8)
21.0
(69.8)
Daily mean °C (°F) 3.7
(38.7)
4.7
(40.5)
8.8
(47.8)
14.0
(57.2)
19.9
(67.8)
26.1
(79.0)
30.3
(86.5)
30.2
(86.4)
25.6
(78.1)
19.3
(66.7)
11.2
(52.2)
5.8
(42.4)
16.6
(61.9)
Average low °C (°F) 1.3
(34.3)
1.8
(35.2)
5.5
(41.9)
10.3
(50.5)
15.4
(59.7)
20.9
(69.6)
25.2
(77.4)
25.5
(77.9)
21.3
(70.3)
15.5
(59.9)
8.1
(46.6)
3.4
(38.1)
12.8
(55.0)
Record low °C (°F) −13.4
(7.9)
−14.0
(6.8)
−11.7
(10.9)
−5.3
(22.5)
2.6
(36.7)
0.6
(33.1)
11.8
(53.2)
12.8
(55.0)
8.0
(46.4)
−2.5
(27.5)
−9.5
(14.9)
−11.9
(10.6)
−14.0
(6.8)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 95.4
(3.76)
92.2
(3.63)
83.5
(3.29)
66.8
(2.63)
51.7
(2.04)
8.8
(0.35)
4.8
(0.19)
4.2
(0.17)
5.4
(0.21)
31.7
(1.25)
64.6
(2.54)
101.0
(3.98)
610.1
(24.02)
Average precipitation days 10.53 10.17 10.47 10.27 7.30 1.73 0.80 0.30 0.90 5.77 7.23 9.90 75.4
Mean monthly sunshine hours 142.6 144.1 192.2 231.0 306.9 369.0 390.6 362.7 312.0 238.7 180.0 136.4 3,006.2
Mean daily sunshine hours 4.6 5.1 6.2 7.7 9.9 12.3 12.6 11.7 10.4 7.7 6.0 4.4 8.2
Source: Turkish State Meteorological Service[27]

DemographicsEdit

Historical population
YearPop.±%
152610,000—    
192722,249+122.5%
194518,522−16.8%
195019,354+4.5%
195524,379+26.0%
1970 33,740+38.4%
1990 53,005+57.1%
2000 65,072+22.8%
2012 86,948+33.6%

The city's population has a Kurdish majority,[28][29] and counts with a significant amount of Arabs and Syriac Christians (Assyrians).[28][30]

Ecclesiastical historyEdit

A bishopric of the Assyrian Church of the East was centered on the town when it was part of the Roman province of Assyria. It was a suffragan see of Edessa, the provincial metropolitan see. It eventually became part of the Catholic Church in the late 17th century AD following a breakaway from the Assyrian Church, and is the (nominal) seat of three sees of the Catholic Church: the current Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Mardin and two (now) titular sees under the ancient name of the town :[31] former Armenian Catholic Archeparchy of Mardin, now Titular see of Mardin only, and former Syriac Catholic Eparchy of Mardin and Amida, now titular see (initially as mere Eparchy).

EconomyEdit

Historically, Mardin produced sesame.[32] Mardin province continues to produce agricultural products including sesame, barley, wheat, corn, cotton, and others.[33][22] Angora goats are raised in the area and there is small industry that weaves cotton and wool.[33] Agricultural enterprises are often family-based, varying in size.[22] The city was also historically an important regional trading center on the routes between Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and northern Syria.[33] Nowadays, trade with Syria and Iraq depends on political circumstances.[22]

Historical landmarksEdit

Mardin has often been considered an open-air museum due to its historical architecture. Most buildings use the beige colored limestone rock which has been mined for centuries in quarries around the area.

Mosques and madrasasEdit

 
Great Mosque of Mardin
 
The Sultan Isa or Zincirye Medrese
  • Great Mosque (Ulu Cami) of Mardin: The historic main congregational mosque of the city, probably first built in the 1170s under the Artuqids. It was destroyed by artillery explosions during Rashid Pasha's siege of the city in the early 19th-century and rebuilt afterwards, probably along similar lines as the original building. Only the north wall of the original mosque remains. The original Artuqid minbar (pulpit), made of wood, has also survived. An inscription on the base of the minaret records its original construction date as 1176, but most of the minaret above the base was rebuilt circa 1892, probably well after the reconstruction of the prayer hall.[25]
  • Sultan İsa (or Zinciriye) Medrese: One of the most impressive Islamic monuments in the city, dated to 1385, during the reign of Artuqid sultan Al-Zahir Majd al-Din 'Isa (r. 1376–1407). Built as a madrasa, it also includes a mosque (prayer hall) and a mausoleum, arranged around two inner courtyards. The mausoleum was likely intended to be Sultan 'Isā's burial site, but he was never buried here after his death in battle. It has an imposing entrance portal carved with muqarnas, and two ribbed domes over the mausoleum and the mosque that are visible on the city's skyline.[25]
  • Kasım Pasha (or Kasımiye) Medrese: Another major Islamic monument begun by Sultan 'Isa but left unfinished upon his death in 1407. It was completed in 1445, under Akkoyonlu rule. It is located to the west, just outside of the town. It has a large central courtyard, a monumental portal, and three domes arranged near the front façade.[16]
  • Emineddin Külliyesi: A külliye (religious and charitable complex), believed to be the oldest Islamic monument in the city, founded by Emin ed-Din, the brother of Sultan Najm ad-Din Il-Ghazi (r. 1115–1122). Il-Ghazi may have finished the complex after his brother's death. The complex contains a mosque, a former madrasa, a fountain, and a hammam (bathhouse).[25]
  • El-Asfar Mosque: Believed to be the remains of a former madrasa known as the Necmeddin Medrese (Nahm ad-Din Madrasa). According to tradition, sultan Najm ad-Din Il-Ghazi was buried here, placing its foundation to the early 12th century, although only parts of the original building remain.[25]
  • Şehidiye Mosque: Originally a madrasa, probably built in the reign of Artuqid sultan Najm ad-Din Ghazi (r. 1239–1260) or earlier. Heavily restored in 1787–88. The minaret was rebuilt in 1916–17.[25]
  • Latifiye Mosque: An Artuqid mosque dated to 1371, with a minaret added in 1845.[25]
  • Şeyh Çabuk Mosque: A mosque of uncertain date, built no later than the 15th century (the Akkoyonlu period) and restored in the 19th century.[25][34]
  • Reyhaniye Mosque: Mosque of uncertain date, probably of the Akkoyonlu or early Ottoman period (15th-16th centuries).[25]
  • Hatuniye Medrese or Sitt Ridwiyya Madrasa: Believed to have been built by the Artuqid sultan Qutb ad-Din Il-Ghazi II (r. 1175–1184), with a mausoleum that may have been intended for the sultan's mother, Sitt Ridwiyya (Sitti Radviyye). The building now serves as a mosque. Both the prayer hall and the mausoleum contain finely-decorated mihrabs.[25]

ChurchesEdit

 
Mor Behnam or Kırklar (Forty Martyrs) Church
 
Mor Hananyo Monastery, also known as the Saffron Monastery

Other landmarksEdit

  • Citadel: The citadel occupies a long ridge at the city's highest point. It was probably first built under the Hamdanids (10th century), but its present walls were likely rebuilt in the Akkoyonlu and Ottoman eras, possibly with some reuse of Artuqid materials. Up until the 19th century it was densely inhabited, but is now occupied by a military radar station. The interior includes the remains of a small mosque.[25]
  • Mardin Museum: an archeological museum dedicated to the city's history, opened in 2000, housed in the former Syriac Catholic Patriarchate building constructed in 1895, next to the Meryem Ana Church.[44][45]

House architectureEdit

 
Mardin Post Office, an example of traditional domestic architecture

Houses in Mardin tend to have multiple levels and terraces to accommodate their sloping site, giving the old city its "stepped" appearance from afar.[46][25] They are typically centered around an internal courtyard, similar to other houses in the region. Larger houses, as well as other public buildings, tend to have stone-carved decoration around their windows.[25] The courtyard of larger houses is often on the lower level, while the upper levels "step back" from this courtyard, giving the house an appearance similar to "grand staircase" when seen from the courtyard.[46]

PoliticsEdit

In the 2014 local elections, Ahmet Türk of the Democratic Regions Party (DBP)[47] was elected mayor of Mardin. However, on 21 November 2016 he was detained on terror charges after being dismissed from his post by Turkish authorities. A trustee was appointed as mayor instead.[48] In the Municipal elections in March 2019 Türk was re-elected. But he was dismissed from his post in August 2019, accused of supporting terrorism.[49] Mustafa Yaman, the Governor of Mardin Province was appointed as acting mayor.[50]

Notable localsEdit

International relationsEdit

Twin towns—Sister citiesEdit

Mardin is twinned with:

See alsoEdit

CitationsEdit

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General sourcesEdit

  • Ayliffe, Rosie, et al. (2000). The Rough Guide to Turkey. London: Rough Guides.
  • Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Mardin" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  • della Valle, Pietro (1843), Viaggi, Brighton, I: 515
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