Along the way here several people mentioned Mardin a must visit on our Turkey trip. Ignoring tips from local people would be a stupid thing to do so we continued our journey East to Mardin.

Mardin is a very interesting city. It’s a migratory city with lots of Turks, Arabs and some Syrians. Not long ago it was inhabited by Assyrians and Armenians, however during the genocide they were either brought to the killing camps nearby or they fled. Why they left behind was incredible architecture, churches and monasteries. The city now is quite the touristy place, you can rent a horse which will take you up and down the narrow streets of the city, you can take a photo with a parrot or cats and there are many things to buy especially; soap, gold and spices. All once traded along the Silk Road. 

We visited some mosques, a madras and the bazaar. We had tea, Ayran and delicious pide. We walked the unfamiliar and untouristy streets of the city and bought some natural face mask. 

Then we moved on to an Assyrian monastery nearby and slept there. We had a good conversation with the security man Aydin who works there 6 nights a week for 200 Turkish Lira per week. That’s €80,- per month. 

Midyat, city of rebellion

Another tip from the locals was Midyat. Smaller than Mardin and also less touristy. We love that! So we moved to Midyat. Found a nice spot to sleep via Park4Night and headed to a caravanserai turned restaurant. We checked out the caves in which people used to live. Summers cool, winters warm and it protects someone from intruders. I get it, very convenient in those times.

To watch the sunset over the city we walked up to ‘the guesthouse’, an old gentleman’s house. Again the architecture of this place is insane! Details, stairs, balconies. Romeo and Juliet would be jealous! And so is anyone who doesn’t live here. 

Or not. In the summer it gets so hot that people move their beds to the roofs and sleep there. Sounds amazing but there are mosquitos and it can be quite noisy. 

Anyway, we loved both cities. The history is a bit grim being the two cities from which thousands of Assyrians and Armenians were transported to death camps close by. The genocide is one that Turkey is still not willing to admit, but it’s there. Visible in the buildings, in the faces of the people, in the stories of the streets. Nonetheless the architecture of these cities is amazing, truly magnificent. The details in the houses, the windows, the doors, ceilings, it’s a work of art. Done mostly by the Armenians who are known for their fabulous craftsmanship. We enjoyed visiting both cities but it was time to move on. Not East, but North this time.

Love, Milene & Yuri