After making our way back from old Hasankeyf, we reached the region of Tur Abdin at the Syrian border with nearly 70 Syriac Orthodox monasteries, the earliest surviving Christian buildings dating from the 6th century. We first came past the monastery of Mor Jakup and then reached the town of Midyat.
The monastery founded by St. Jacob, who died in approximately 419, is considered to be one of the oldest. It is one of the few monasteries of the “Turabdins” (Mountain of the Servants of God) that are still inhabited today. Supported by emigrants, the monastery seems to do well. The old church was distinguishable different from any church we had seen so far, with a long and high nave from south to north and a much smaller apsis to the east. A curtain with a scene from the old testament is used to close the apsis.
Midyat is an historic centre of the Assyrians in Turkey, and as late as the genocide in 1915, they constituted the majority of the city’s population. There are still many churches and crosses to be found in the city.
The history of Midyat can be traced back to the 3rd millennium BC. Many different empires had ruled over Midyat including the Assyrians, Arameans, Armenians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Abbasids, Seljuks and Ottomans.
We just took a stroll through the bazar and the old town, admiring the houses built of the bright lime stone of this area.
We will explore the Tur Abdin, the region of the servants of God, a little bit further – more on the following post!