Perched on a rock rising high above the Mesopotamian plains, is the city of Mardin. Mardin had until this point, held a mythical status in my mind— uttering its name will generate long sighs and far-off gazes from anyone who has travelled there. I have wanted to see it for myself, the so-called "honey-coloured" houses, the labyrinthine alleyways, the churches and the mosques.
Mardin has at one point or another been home to the Hittites, Babylonians, Persians, Romans, Assyrians, Arabs, Seljuk Turks, Kurds, and Ottomans, to name a few. Armenian and Syriac churches stand side-by-side elaborately carved mosques, and voices carry Kurdish and Arabic through the streets. The road up the hill to the old city centre takes you past a grim prison and some rough-looking houses— definitely something omitted from travellers' tales and guidebooks. However, once in the centre, it is clear to understand why the name Mardin elicits those romantic, dreamy eyes. The architecture is stunning; though not far off from the pale, ornate structures in Urfa, but the setting is spectacular— it's out of another time, out of a book. Just the word Mesopotamia is enough to transport you.
One of the first things I noticed were the pretty, flat brown breads stacked outside bakeries. I couldn't recall seeing anything like them in Turkey, and our hunger and curiosity compelled us to investigate. The heat of the day kept them warm as though straight from the oven, and once we were away from view (not wanting to eat in front of anyone fasting), we set to work.
"This tastes Christian..." I mumbled through a mouth full of the sweet, cinnamony bread. Pedro looked at me puzzled. There was something about that flavour combination that I guess I subconsciously associate with the religion— it reminded me of Easter or Christmas.
In need of a shower and a brief nap, we retreated to the hotel that we had found, one of the few within our price range. Mardin, we were beginning to discover, was prepped for tourists.