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Mardin

This ancient Turkish city enjoys a wonderful mix of culture and history.  Here you will discover minarets emerging from a baked brown labyrinth of meandering lanes, a castle that dominates the old city, and stone houses cascading down the hillside above the Mesopotamian plains. Sounds utterly charming? Well the reality is even more magical and waiting to be explored. Mardin is also a fascinating melting pot of Kurdish, Yezidi, Christian and Syrian cultures. This means you’re bound to hear the Islamic call to prayer echo with church bells at the same time. It also means it has a vibrant food scene with lots of local restaurants willing to tickle your tastebuds with a variety of cuisines on offer. A must-see landmark is Sakip Sabanci Mardin City Museum, which is housed in former army barracks, and showcases the fascinating history and culture of Mardin. Excellent English translations and effective use of audio and video reinforce how cosmopolitan and multi-cultural the city's past was. Downstairs is used as an art gallery for a rotating series of exhibitions, often including images by iconic Turkish photographers.It is also worth visiting Forty Martyrs Church, which dates back to the 4th century. A caretaker is usually on hand to provide access to the church's compact, but beautiful, interior. If you love to shop, then head straight to the Bazaar, where donkeys still remain the main form of transport. Mardin's honey-coloured collage of old buildings and markets ooze such charm that it is now attracting more visitors every day. With regular flights from Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara, you'll see lots of local visitors when you decide to visit.