Historic city of Mardin enjoys tourism revival
MARDİN - Demirören News Agency
With its historic architecture, characteristic city landscape, diverse cuisine and a culture of coexistence of Muslims and Christians, Mardin has become one of the fabulous tourist destinations in Turkey, especially after calm that has replaced conflict between the Turkish security forces and the PKK following the collapse of a peace process in the summer of 2015. Around 3 million tourists visited the city in the last 11 months of this year, a considerable hike in the numbers.
A candidate awaiting registry as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Mardin is located in Turkey’s ancient southeast overlooking Syria and Mesopotamia’s plains. It has found a place for itself among the most visited tourist sites in the country, as new hotels open and replace the ones once closed down because of a decline in the number of visitors. Despite the winter season, the streets of Mardin are full of tourists, both domestic and international.
Numbers speak for itself. In 2016, the number of tourists was 90,000, of whom 5,000 were foreign visitors, while the figures rose to one million, including day-trippers, in 2017. This year, the number reached 3 million.
Interest in the city also boosted air traffic, with the number of flights to the city now exceeding 15, a hike from 1-2 flights a day a few years ago. Last month nearly 700,000 passengers used Mardin Airport.
Top destinations: Historical sites
Tourists’ favorite destinations include the Mardin Castle, traditional stone houses and spots especially for faith tourism, such as the Grand Mosque and the Zinciriyye and Kasımiye madrasahs.
The monasteries and churches of the Orthodox Christian Syriac minority are also on tourists’ check list that includes the Mor Gabriel, Mor Malke, Mor Ya’qub and Mor Dimet monasteries.
The Mor Gabriel Monastery was founded in 397 and served as the oldest surviving Syriac monastery.
Temples that belong to the ancient Yazidi minority in the villages of the province’s Midyat district are also among visitors’ top destinations.
Imams, priests join forces
Mardin Governor Mustafa Yaman said the city aims for a larger number of tourists that will visit the province throughout the year and not only during holiday season. “Hotels have been full since November. Business managers cannot cope with the demand. Following successful anti-terror operations peace has been reigning in Mardin in the last two years. I hope this will continue,” he added, referring to military operations conducted against the PKK.
Not only its historical texture and the coexistence of religious cultures, Mardin’s diverse cuisine is another draw for tourists wanting to visit the city. The Dibek coffee that is unique to the city, a diverse selection of meat dishes and desserts also lure gastronomy lovers.
Cooperation between imams and priests in advertising the city’s beauties is testament to the region’s centuries-long culture of coexistence. Both imams and priests work hand in hand, as the imam of the Kasımiye Madrasah, Hazbi Bulut, informs tourists about religious sites and Mardin’s history and the head priest of the Kırklar Church, Gabriel Akyüz, enlightens them on the culture of the Syriacs.