Diyarbakır melting pot of cultures and old walls
Midyat, where church bells ring and the müezzin calls for prayer
Monastries and churches in Tur Abin
Dara ( Anastasiopolis)
Zerzevan castle and Mithras temple
Day 1: Sunexpress flight Antalya – Diyarbakır
( Dept 07.00 hrs
|Diyarbakır- breakfast at Paşa Han – old city- churches and mosques – Arabic houses and Hacı Abdullah Bey konak in Savur Syriac village Dereiçi – Midyat .|
After the Antalya-Diyarbakır flight, we will start our tour with breakfast at the 450-year-old Hasan Paşa han. We walk through the covered bazaar where craftsmen work and visit several churches, Sülüklü Han, the four-legged minaret and the Great Mosque of Diyarbakır which is believed to be one of the oldest mosques in the history of Islam. The impressive city walls are over 9,000 years old, and were restored by Constantine II during the Roman rule in 349.The citadel has 16 towers and 4 gates. From the oldest parts of the walls: Mardin Kapısı (gate) and Keçı burcu (arch) we overlook the green Hevsel gardens and the Tigris river over which a 10 arches-stone-bridge from the eleventh century has been built. Then leave for Midyat. Stop at the bridge in Başkavak, built in 1755 and have lunch by the river in green and lush Savur. The village of Savur has beautifully decorated Arap houses,of which the Abdullah Bey Konak is a good example. Savur is known as mini-Mardin.The almost deserted village of Dereiçi ( Quelleth/Kılıt) has a Protestant and Syrian Orthodox church.
Night: Midyat. Boutique hotel Nehroz.
Distance: 172 km- 3 hrs.
Day 2 :
|Midyat – Mağara köyü ( Kiwex ) – Mor Gabriel klooster – Gülgöze ( Aynverd) – Mardin.|
Midyat is located in TUR ABİN, a high plateau with about 80 villages, a hundred churches and 80 monasteries and bordered by the river Tigris. The landscape is partly Mesopotamian, partly more Mediterranean, green and full of vineyards. Until the 1960s, it was the center of the Syriac Orthodox Christians (Süryani – Suyoye – Syriac), who still live in small numbers in about 20 villages. The other residents, with exception of a few remigrated Yazidis, are generally Kurdish. After breakfast w’ll visit Yezidi village, Mağara köyü, Mor Gabriel, the most famous and oldest existing monastery in the region and the Suyoye village Gülgöze (Aynverd-aynwarda) a village built on a rock. The village houses a Byzantine church from the fifth century and a school class in the church tower.
Following a lunch in Midyat and visit to Gelüşke Han caravanserai, built in 1903 and in use until 1970, we continue to Mardin. On arrival in Mardin we visit the Kasimiye Medrese. It is located on the outskirts of old Mardin overlooking the flat Mesopotamia plains and built by Akkoyunlu Sultan Kasım IBN Cihangir in the 15th century.
Overnight : Mardin.
Distance: 163 km km- 3 hrs 15 min
Restaurant: Cercis Murat Konağı
|TUR ABİN is Syriac or Aramaic for “the mountain of the servants of God” The churches and monasteries in the area are among the oldest in the world and this is clearly visible in the architectural style. Because they also had to defend themselves against persecution, they sometimes look more like a fortress than a church or are built in caves. The Monastery of Mor Gabriel (Deyrulumur Manastır), which has existed since 397, is the holy center of Syrian Orthodox Christians. They split from the other Christians in 451 after a dispute over the nature of Jesus, who according to the Syriac Christians has one divine nature.
Their language is ancient Syriac (Aramaic) and from a stone found during excavations in Adana you can conclude that their history goes back to the Assyrians.
(Y)ezidism can best be described as a remnant of the pré-islamic beliefs of the Iranian peoples. There are clear Mazdaism/ Zoroastrianism elements in the worship of the Supreme Being Jezdan (Ezid), who is the creator of the world and peacock angel “Melek Taus”. The Supreme Being is accompanied by the sun and seven angels, the chief of which is Melek Taus. The sun is prayed for at sunrise and sunset. The Yezidis have written two holy books: the Kitabe Cilve (the book of inspiration) and Meshef Resh (the black book). Sacred texts are mainly distributed orally. Their religion is not recognized by Muslims and they are considered by many to be worshippers of the devil.
Day 3 :
|Mardin – Mor Evgen monastry and Marin – Dara ( Anastasiopolis) – Mardin|
Today’s tour leads to Nusaybin, ancient Nisibis, where about 10km from the Syrian border stands the Monastery of Mor Evgen (Mor Augen) on the southern slope of Mount İzlo. The monastery was founded in the 4th century and had more than 350 monks during the period when it was still one of the most important spiritual centers in Turabdin. In the last century there were only 20 monks and the last one died in 1975. They suffered greatly from the persecution of Christians . Recently, Christians can live more safely and the monastery has been reopened for visitors. Not far from the monastery are the ruins of Marin (Eski hisar). This was a large and important city in Mesopotamia which was called Merdis by the Assyrians. The city went down in history when it was besieged by the Mongols who destroyed the city when the inhabitants did not surrender. The location against a rock wall is spectacular.We then explore the ruins of Dara (Anastasiopolis). Named after the Roman Emperor Anastasius, this Roman garrison town is carved out of rock and the remains are nothing short of impressive. In Dara , the first dam and irrigation canals in Mesopotamia were built . Back in Mardin we take a city walk through the narrow alleys and underground passages to the colorful bazaar.
Overnight in Mardin. Osmanlı Konağı
Recommended restaurant: Bağdadi
Distance: 196 km – 3 hrs.
Day 4 :
|Mardin- Deyrul Zaferan Monastry – Zerzevan Castle and Mithraeum- Diyarbakır – Flight to Antalya ( 20.20 hrs)|
After breakfast we leave for the Deyrül Zaferan or ‘Saffron’ monastery. The monastery was built in 793 when Mardin was dominated by the Arabs on another religious center and is the spiritual center of the Syriac Orthodox Church and the largest active monastery in Turkey. It consists of the Mor Hananyo Church, the House of the Saints, the Virgin Mary Church and the Sun Temple.
At noon we drive to Diyarbakır and top for visit to Zerzevan castle.the castle. This fortress was strategically located on an ancient commercial and military route and was of great importance to the Romans during their expansion to the east. The discovery of a Mithraeum, a Mithras temple in the complex, sparked international interest because the belief in Mithras is a Persian religion and it is quite possible that the temple at Zerzevan is the first temple of the Mithras religion. Moreover, this temple is very well preserved and gives a lot of insight into this mysterious religion, which was brought to Rome with the Roman soldiers from the east. For example, four sacrificial pendants, the pool of bull’s blood and three functional niches can be seen.
|The Persian god Mithras is a sun god and symbol of agreement and friendship. Mithras also symbolizes light, war, justice and faith. In the second and third centuries AD it was a widespread religion in the Roman Empire, but with the spread of Christianity it lost its significance. The religious ceremonies were secret and open to men only.|
After visiting Zerzevan Castle, we conclude our tour with a transfer to Diyarbakır Airport for our flight back to Antalya.
(dept 20.20 hrs- A. 22.05 /XQ 7713)
Distance: 129km – 2hrs
- 4 days minibus
- Local Turksih guide
- 3 nights in boutique hotels x BB
- Personal expenses