Mardin is located in Southeastern Anatolia in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins. One of the oldest cities of Upper Mesopotamia, Mardin is perched like an eagle’s nest atop a 1083-meter peak. Many written sources refer to the city as ‘Merdin’, meaning ‘fortresses’, in light of the many fortresses in the region. Mardin is set on the slopes of the mountains that form the northern Mesopotamian border. Certain areas of these mountains eroded over time to form volcanic plateaus. The province is covered in lowland plains, and its soil is clayey and limy. Mardin’s history dates back to Subarian times. In 335 BC, the city was taken by Alexander the Great, and was later ruled by many other conquerors. Mardin was annexed by the Ottoman Empire in 1517, and became a border city of the Turkish Republic in 1923. With its ancient architecture dating mostly from the 12th-15th centuries and its elegant, fairytale houses, Mardin is a veritable open-air museum.
Houses and Streets
The houses of Mardin are carefully arranged in tiers on themountain slope so that the roofof each houseserves as thecourtyard of the one above. Mardin houses feature intricately carved decorative stonework. The city streets are connected via a network of passages known as ‘abbara’ that sometimes pass directly under the houses. The abbara provide shelter from the hot sun in the summer and fromthe cold and the rain in the winter.