Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Turkey | Mardin | Deyrulzafaran Monastery

Deyrulzafaran Monastery is located about three and half miles from downtown Mardin. Every travel agent in town offers a stop at the monastery on one their tours of the local sites, but there does not seem to be any public transportation. A taxi costs 25 lira ($11.77), which seemed rather exorbitant. I tried to bargain the price down to 20 lira with several different taxi drivers but to no avail. The last one got a bit huffy and unleashed a barrage of Turkish at me that didn’t seem all that friendly. So I decided to walk. If I can’t walk three and a half miles in an hour it is time to hang up my walking cane. At ten on the morning it was still fairly cool and the walk out of town went quickly. I soon arrived at the turnoff to the monastery at the village of Eskikale. From here it about a mile to the monastery through sparsely vegetated hills inhabited by flocks of sheep and the occasional horse and frolicking colt.  

Outside of the monastery were half a dozen big tour buses, dozen or more minivans with tour groups, and a sprinkling of private vehicles. Just outside of the monastery grounds is a new visitors center with an extensive gift shop and a cafe with abundant patio seating. After quaffing down two liters of water I bought a six lira ticket and entered the monastery. 

Deyrulzafaran is one of the oldest monasteries in the world. It was founded in 439 on the site of a former sun-worshippers’ temple, as was the Mor Behnam and Mort Sara Church. Unfortunately only the main courtyard and several rooms fronting on it, including a small chapel, are open to the public. 
Deyrulzafaran Monastery (click on photos for enlargements)
Deyrulzafaran Monastery
Main entrance to Deyrulzafaran Monastery
Gateway leading to the inner courtyard
The inner courtyard
The inner courtyard
Walkway fronting on the courtyard
Walkway fronting on the courtyard
Dining Hall in the monastery
Chapel in the monastery
View of the plains of Mesopotamia from the monastery
It was quite a bit warmer by the time I started walking back to Mardin. I did not have a hat, and the sun was uncomfortably hot on my head, freshly shaven just this morning. I was just about out of steam by the time I reached the main road back to Mardin. Maybe it was time for me to hang up my walking cane. Then a car stopped. Inside were three downright gorgeous women who looked to be in their twenties or early thirties. The driver asked me in a strong French accent if I needed a ride. The women were from France but were working in Istanbul. They had flown to Mardin the evening before, rented a car, and were taking in the sites. They planned to fly back to Istanbul tonight. They were now on their way to Midyat. We drove to the edge of town and they dropped me off at the cutoff to Midyat. Back in the Mardin town square I saw one of the taxi drivers who had turned down my offer of 20 lira earlier. “Manastir—yirmi besh! (monastery—twenty-five lira),” he offered, I held out my ticket stub to the monastery and made walking motions with my fingers. He snorted, clearly not believing I had walked to the monastery and was back in time for lunch. 

5 comments:

  1. What happened to your exclusive admiration and appreciation of Sogdian women, Don? I sense you weakening your position, here.

    -a mes

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am an equal opportunity cad.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I thought so!

    BTW, I'm not into product advertising, but a Tilley Airflo hat (which is super packable) might come in handy for those moments when the sun beats down on your shaved head a little too much for your comfort. In fact, the top of one's head is an often overlooked spot for skin cancer.

    -a mes

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think I lived here once upon a time.

    ReplyDelete

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