(Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included)
After breakfast, we walk around the town of Mardin which is a poetic city located at 1,300 m high on a hill topped by a citadel. It was known at first as Marida and built on the rocks. But it has since then lost its population of Catholic Armenians.
According to the English historian Arnold Toynbee, this would be the most beautiful town in the world thanks to its typical Arab architecture. The small streets of Mardin display highly decorated houses with chalky stones with a typical arab style. The medrese of the Sultan Isa Bey (1385) is one of the most important sites of Mardin. This medrese is a mosque with a school of astronomy, medicine and Coranics containing a door decorated with wonderful bas-relief.
From the Medrese roof, we have a beautiful view on the city and on the plains of Mesopotamia. After the visit to the Big Mosque, we head towards Deir-Az-Zafaran or Deyrulzaferan which is located in the middle of vines and gardens in an inhospitable landscape.
The majority of the Syrian-Orthodox patriarches is buried here. Until 1933, this monastery was also under the siege of the patriarcate, now transferred to Damas. It was founded at the time of the ancestors of Mary and Ananie in the 6th century.
Lunch in Urfa, the old Edesse, historical city of the bible where Abraham, Job, Jacob and even St Gregory lived. The most well-known restaurant of Edesse, named Göl, with its typical Mesopotamian dishes, is in the Abraham garden.
We visit the houses of Abraham in Urfa, named Ursu, Orkai and Edesse. It is said that the Assyrian King Nemrut had a dream in which it was mentioned that he would have to give his kingdom to a person born during the year. Therefore, he ordered to kill all newborn children of the year as well as pregnant women.
Nona concealed her pregnancy and hid her son Abraham in a cave where he lived in until he was 7. Once grown up, Abraham fought against Nemrut but was trapped and condemned to be burnt at the stake. Then God intervened and transformed fire into water, sparks and ashes into carps. This water now flows in 2 ponds where Holy carps are swimming.
Edesse played also an important role during the first Christianism centuries as it was named the ‘City of Apostle St Thomas’ and was the centre of the Armenian Christendom as well as the home of the oriental Syrian Church.
We know also the legend of the King Abgar from Edesse and of ‘Mandylion’, a Jesus icon created miraculously when Abgar was suffering from leprosy, an ambassador was sent to Jesus to ask for healing. Jesus dried his forehead with a cloth (mandylion) which was given to the ambassador. This cloth, found back in 544, was hidden in a wall of the city and became the priceless possession of Edesse. In 944, this relic was transferred to Constantinople and was then stolen by the Crusaders in 1204 to be brought back to the West, where it disappeared. For the orthodox Christians, this icon represents the real face of Jesus.
At the end of the day, we arrive in Harran, the warmest spot in Turkey but also one of the most picturesque villages in the region. This city, where Abraham lived during his trip towards Canaan, is also considered traditionally as the place where the old Testament was written. This village, located at the crossroads of the caravans, was an important trading place with a large international traffic and had also a significant religious activity.
The Mesopotamian, Greek and Roman divinities were venerated over there. This era ended in the 13th century when the Mongols razed the city. We can admire there the typical houses (Trulli) ant-hill shaped and built with clay, with a roof as a painted dome. They were barns permitting to keep foodstuffs in a cool place in the summer and in a hot place in the winter. Harran was surroundered by a wall, which is now in ruins but which is still recognizable with its 7 doors to get into the city.
After that visit, we head towards our final destination Kâhta at the foot of Nemrut Dagi and towards after drive back to hotel. Dinner and overnight Kahta