Below are pictures and videos. Select what you want to view below.
Seen from the south at a distance, Mardin looks spectacular, its tiered layers of houses, mansions, mosques and churches clinging to a huge citadel-topped rock which rises out of the endless level plain. The town itself affords breathtaking views, especially at sunset, over the Syrian plain.
Mardin boasts some superb Islamic buildings, including some of the old Arab-style houses. Following the main street, Birinci Caddesi, east from Cumhuriyet Meydanı leads you to a famous example – a beautiful stone facade with three arches, on the north side of the street. This is one of the finest private houses in town, and now serves as home to an extended family.
Several hundred metres beyond the house, the easterly of two sets of stone steps lead up to the Sultan İsa Medresesi (daily 9am–6pm; free) built in 1385, a striking, albeit crumbling, white structure with a magnificent Selçuk doorway, from which you can look out across the town towards Syria. Friendly tourist-police will show you the semi-translucent volcanic stones used in the mihrab, which glow when illuminated with a torch. You can also climb onto the roof to enjoy the view and a detailed look at the fluted dome of the Ulu Cami, an eleventh-century Selçuk mosque east of Cumhuriyet Meydanı blown up during the 1832 rebellion and much restored since.
Above the Sultan İsa Medresesi is the kale, or citadel, originally built by the Romans and extended by the Byzantines. You may be able to enjoy the views from the terrace, but the castle interior and the golf-ball-crowned summit are a strictly off-limits military zone. From the terrace you can see the Hediye Minare, though not its twin staircases, built so that those ascending do not catch a glimpse of those descending.
Recent years have seen an explosion of pricy boutique hotels, but for budget travellers the situation is still fairly grim. The central Otel Baak, on Birinci Caddesi (Tel:0482/212 6246;Price: 14-24), is friendly but the carpets are grubby, the rooms dingy and the shared bathrooms grimy and often lacking hot water.
The cheapest boutique hotel is the Maria Konağı (Tel:0482/213 6552; Price: 32-49) just off Birinci Caddesi. The integrity of the old rooms has been spoiled by the en-suite bathrooms, but they are undeniably comfortable and have air conditioning and satellite TV. The AErdoba Konakları Hotel (Tel:0482/212 7677, Web: www.erdoba.com.tr ; Price: 63-93) has a main building in Birinci Caddesi, with air-conditioned rooms equipped with fridge and TV, built in "period style" around a courtyard at the rear; there's an upmarket restaurant attached. There's also a separate, associated building with a few more rooms lower down the hill (accessible only on foot), in a converted merchant's mansion that has retained much of its character. The Artuklu Kervansaray at Birinci Cad 70 (Tel:0482/213 7353, Web: www.artuklu.com ; Price: 63-93) looks set to challenge the Erdoba, with characterful, comfortable rooms in a restored mansion dating back to the thirteenth century. On Yeni Yol Caddesi, at the foot of the old town, and aimed squarely at the coach-tour trade is the monumental Büyük Mardin Oteli (Tel:0482/213 1047, Web: www.dunyainsanlarininevi.com ; Price: 63-93), which offers attractively furnished rooms (with kilims for curtains) boasting air conditioning and satellite TV.
There are a few places to eat along Birinci Caddesi, of which the best is Yusuf Ustanın Yeri, opposite the PTT, an ocakbaı (charcoal grill) garden restaurant serving excellent kebabs but no alcohol. The Turistik Et Lokantası, at the Meydan end of Birinci Caddesi, serves a wider range of food (including the local speciality, sembusak, a kind of folded-over lahmacun) but its setting is less atmospheric, and it no longer serves beer. Kino Burger on Birinci Caddesi, midway between the Meydan and the PTT, is favoured by the local youth, and is good for burgers and köfte. The Serbest Muhasebeci Mali Müavirler Lokal, halfway along Birinci Caddesi on the south side, is a restaurant/club for local accountants. This makes it sound very dull, but it's friendly, and the best place in town for a beer, also serving kebabs and mezes. For upmarket dining, the ACercis Murat Konağı to the west of the Meydan on Birinci Caddesi, is the best choice. Set in a restored Süriyani house, with great views from the terrace, it specializes in local dishes. It serves alcohol too, but on the downside is expensive (around 10YTL for a main and 6YTL for a beer).
Opposite the PTT is a small and leafy terrace tea garden, where you can watch the sun set over Syria.