We left Syria by the border at Qamishle-Nusaybin (the former being the name of the town on the Syrian side, the latter the Turkish town you enter when you leave Syria.) Then it was a short dolmuş ride to Mardin, famous for its architecture and continuing Christianity in an around the town.
To get an overview of Mardin you’ll need to Google it as we couldn’t find a good viewpoint from which to get comprehensive photos.
The architecture is Arab, honey-coloured stone featuring beautiful carving.
Old Mardin was built on a hill with a citadel at the top – that is now occupied by the Turkish Army so is decidedly out of bounds to visitors. But there is still plenty see in the narrow streets that wind up and down the hill: mosques, churches, medrese (theological colleges), palaces, two museums, and a whole range of houses from grand to basic.
About 30 years ago two large cement factories were built quite close to Mardin and suddenly the population started to expand.
A whole new city was built down in the valley below the hill on which old Mardin lies. And the Belediye solved the commuting problem with a wonderful idea: constant shuttle buses that travel a circuit between old and new Mardin, run from 6am to 11.30pm, and have a standard fare of 1TL.
They are all bright blue and you never have to wait for more than 3 minutes for a bus.
We stayed in the new town and used the buses to get up the hill to old Mardin and the system is magic.
As you can see in the first photo, because the time between buses is so short they often catch up with one another. In that case the bus at the back will politely wait for a couple of minutes to let his colleague in front get ahead again.
If only Fethiye had a similar system!