Midyat is an hour’s drive from Mardin. It used to be the epicentre of a centuries-old Assyrian enclave. It was better known under its Aramaic name Tur Abdin. The name Midyat comes from the word "Matiati" which means caves - as many people used to live in caves in this area. The name Midyat is first encountered in an inscription of the Neo-Assyrian king Ashur-Nasir-Pal II (883-859 BC) in a text which depicts how Assyrian forces conquered the Aramean city and its surrounding villages. Formerly inhabited by a majority of Arameans, it is now mainly lived in by Kurdish people.
Yet the steeples of nine Syrian Orthodox churches still peep up above the houses, although services are no longer held in most of them.
Ringed by modern development, the old town consists of a network of narrow streets framed with huge old sandstone houses with decorative façades.

It was for us the occasion to discover typical shops...

... and street markets.


Midyat is famous for its filigree silver jewellery called the Telkari art. In Ottoman, the word "Telkari" means "motif". This art comes from Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. There are plenty of shops selling samples at the edge of the old town.

An attractive restored caravanserai, the Estel Community Centre Inn, makes a great place to stop for a quick tea.

What makes this caravanserai very special is the cave which was turned into a museum displaying the various crafts of the region but which was once used to shelter cattle.

Located 18 kilometres east of the town of Midyat, it is one of the largest and most celebrated buildings of the Syriac Orthodox Church. Declared “The Second Jerusalem” by the Church, the monastery is 80 years older than Mor Saba Monastery in Palestine. It is one of the world’s oldest functioning monasteries. Church services are still held in Aramaic, the language of Jesus. The foundations of the monastery were laid in 397 AD by Mor Samuel of Savur and Mor Şleymun of Kartmin. It was the seat of Metropolitan Bishops between 615 and 1049. Its Turkish name - Deyrulumur - is a corruption of the Syriac which means “dwelling of the Monks”.