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.
Official logo of Mardin
Mardin is located in Turkey
Location of Mardin within Turkey.
Coordinates: 37°18′47″N 40°44′06″E / 37.31306°N 40.73500°E / 37.31306; 40.73500
 • MayorAhmet Türk (HDP) (elect-mayor) (deposed)
Tuncay Akkoyun [tr] (trustee)
 • Total129,864

Mardin (Kurdish: Mêrdîn;[2] Arabic: ماردين; Syriac: ܡܪܕܝܢ, romanizedMerdīn;[3][4] Armenian: Մարդին) is a city and seat of the Artuklu District of Mardin Province in Turkey.[5] It is known for the Artuqid architecture of its old city, and for its strategic location on a rocky hill near the Tigris River.[6]

The old town of the city is under the protection of UNESCO, which forbids new constructions to preserve its façade.[7]

The city had a population of 129,864 in 2021.[1]


Antiquity and etymology

Further information: Upper Mesopotamia

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

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

Medieval history

During the early Muslim conquests, the Byzantine city was captured in 640 by the Muslim commander Iyad ibn Ghanm.[13][14] In many periods control of the city changed hands frequently between different dynasties. Hamdan ibn Hamdun captured the city in 885 and it remained under intermittent Hamdanid control until the second half of the 10th century, at which point it became contested between the Marwanids and the Uqaylids, with the Marwanids probably holding the upper hand over this area.[13][14] Marwanid control in the region was ended by the arrival of the Great Seljuks under Malik-Shah I in 1085, which inaugurated an era of Turkish political domination and immigration in the region.[14]

From 1103 onwards, Mardin served as the capital of one of the two main branches of the Artuqid dynasty, a Oghuz Turkish family who had earlier fought alongside the Seljuks.[15][14] Many of Mardin's major historic buildings were constructed under Artuqid control, including several mosques and madrasas, along with other types of Islamic architecture.[16] The lands of the Artukid dynasty fell to the Mongol invasion sometime between 1235 and 1243, but the Artuqids submitted to Mongol khan Hülegü and continued to govern as vassals of the Mongol Empire.[17][15]

When Timur invaded the region in 1394, the local Artuqid ruler, 'Isā, submitted to Timurid suzerainty, but the region continued to be disputed between different powers.[13] The last Artuqid ruler, al-Salih, finally yielded the city to Qara Yusuf, the leader of Qara Qoyunlu, in 1408–9, and left for Mosul.[15][13] The city continued to be contested between the Qara Qoyunlu and their rivals, the Timurid-allied Aq Qoyunlu.[13] In 1451 the Qara Qoyunlu besieged the city after it had been captured by the Aq Qoyunlu, but failed to retake the stronghold. Aq Qoyunlu rule thus continued in the city for the rest of the 15th century.[14] Coins were struck here under the rule of Uzun Hasan and his son, Ya'qub.[13] After Ya'qub, Aq Qoyunlu rule began to fragment, but Mardin remained the center of an independent Aq Qoyunlu principality for many years, while the Safavids in the east grew stronger.[18] In 1507, the Safavid ruler Ismail I succeeded in capturing the city and the castle, expelling the local Aq Qoyunlu ruler.[19][13]

During the medieval period, the town retained significant Assyrian and Armenian populations and 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.[20] A Venetian merchant who visited the town in 1507 wrote that there were still more Christian Armenians and Jews in the city than Muslims.[13]

Ottoman Empire

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

After the Ottoman victory against their bitter rivals, the Safavids, at the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514, the balance of power in the region changed. The Safavid commander in the region, Ustajlu, was killed in the battle with the Ottomans and was replaced by his brother, Kara Khan (or Karahan). In 1515 Mardin briefly yielded to the Ottomans, but the castle remained under Safavid control and the Ottomans were forced to leave after a few days, leaving Kara Khan to re-occupy it.[14][13] The following year, the Ottoman commander, Bıyıklı Mehmed Pasha, defeated Kara Khan and Safavid control in the region crumbled. The Ottomans besieged Mardin again, which resisted under the command of Kara Khan's brother, Sulayman Khan. After the Battle of Marj Dabiq in August 1516, Bıyıklı Mehmed Pasha returned with reinforcements from Syria and finally forced the city's surrender in late 1516 or early 1517.[14][13] After this, 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 sizeable Armenian and Assyrian communities and other minorities, while Arabic and Kurdish were the predominant languages.[13]

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.[21] During the siege the city's Great Mosque was blown up.[13] Between 1847 and 1865 the city's population suffered from a notable cholera epidemic, with the exact number of fatalities not known.[19] 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.[22] 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.[23] Kurds and Arabs of Mardin typically refer to these events as "fırman" (government order), while Syriacs call it "seyfo" (sword).[24] After the Armistice of Mudros Mardin was one of the Turkish cities that was not occupied by the troops of the Allied Powers.

Modern history

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 Army became compulsory.[24] As the Turkish Government subdued the Kurdish Sheikh Said rebellion in 1925, the first and the fourteenth cavalry division were stationed in Mardin.[25]

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.[26] Through a passed law in 2012 Mardin became a metropolitan municipality, which took office after the Turkish local elections in 2014.[27] The city has a significant Arab population.[28]


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.[16] 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.[26] Mardin Airport is located to the southwest, 20 kilometres (12 mi) from the old town.[29]

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


The city is divided into the following neighborhoods: 13. Mart, Cumhuriyet, Çabuk, Diyarbakırkapı, Eminettin, Ensar, Gül, Hamzabey, İstasyon, Kayacan, Kotek, Latifiye, Medrese, Necmettin, Nur, Ofis, Saraçoğlu, Savurkapı, Şar, Şehidiye, Teker, Yalım (Mansuriye), Ulucami, Yenıkapı and Yenişehir.[5]


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 normals, extremes 1941–2023)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 19.4
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 6.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 3.7
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 1.3
Record low °C (°F) −13.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 95.4
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 9.5 9.1 9.0 7.8 6.0 2.0 1.4 1.4 1.4 4.5 6.0 8.9 67.0
Average relative humidity (%) 64.7 62.1 57.0 51.9 41.3 30.5 25.9 26.9 31.7 42.6 52.9 62.7 45.8
Mean monthly sunshine hours 142.6 144.1 189.1 231.0 306.9 369.0 390.6 356.5 312.0 238.7 180.0 136.4 2,996.9
Source 1: Turkish State Meteorological Service[30]
Source 2: NOAA (precipitation days and humidity)[31]


The English traveler Mark Sykes recorded Mardin as a city inhabited by Arabs, Armenians, and Jacobites in the early 20th century.[32] 12,609 Orthodox Syriacs and 7,692 Armenians (most of them Catholic) lived in the town, all of them Arabic-speaking. During the late Ottoman genocides, most of the Christians were killed, no matter their ethnicity.[33]

Mother tongue, Mardin District, 1927 Turkish census[34]
Turkish Arabic Kurdish Circassian Armenian Unknown or other language
5,820 25,698 15,640 15 5 309
Religion, Mardin District, 1927 Turkish census[34]
Muslim Christian Jewish Unknown or other religion
41,675 1,617 2 4,513

Today, the city is predominantly Kurdish and Arab, with significant communities of Syriac Christians (Assyrians).[35][36][37] Official census data does not record the number and proportion of citizens from different ethnicities and religions, but a 2013 study estimated that around 49% of the population identified as Arab and around 49% identified as Kurdish.[35] The city can be divided into three parts: the Old Mardin (Eski Mardin) which is predominantly populated by Arabs with some Kurdish and Syriac families, the Slums (Gecekondu) which are mainly inhabited by Kurds who have escaped the Kurdish Turkish conflict in the 1980-1990s and the New City (Yenişehir) where the wealthiest people live.[37] The civil servants are mostly Turks, which constitute the minority of the city.[38]

Ecclesiastical history

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:[39] 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).


Historically, Mardin produced sesame.[40] Mardin province continues to produce agricultural products including sesame, barley, wheat, corn, cotton, and others.[41][26] Angora goats are raised in the area and there is small industry that weaves cotton and wool.[41] Agricultural enterprises are often family-based, varying in size.[26] The city was also historically an important regional trading center on the routes between Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and northern Syria.[41] Nowadays, trade with Syria and Iraq depends on political circumstances.[26]

Historical landmarks

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 madrasas

Great Mosque of Mardin
The Sultan Isa or Zincirye Medrese


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

Other landmarks

House architecture

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.[54][16] 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.[16] 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.[54]


In the 2014 local elections, Ahmet Türk of the Democratic Regions Party (DBP)[55] 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.[56] 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.[57] Mustafa Yaman, the Governor of Mardin Province was appointed as acting mayor.[58]

Notable locals

International relations

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Turkey

Twin towns—Sister cities

Mardin is twinned with:

Sport In Mardin

See also


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