Anıtlı, formerly known as “Hah” in the Syriac language, is located in Mardin’s Midyat district, of South-Eastern Türkiye. The Village, where early Christian societies were established and where many still do survive to this day, was also a significant trade center on the Silk Road. Midyat, a settlement with a reputation of peace and tolerance with a history dating back to the Syriacs, has become a home for the Syriacs, Muslims, Ezidis and other Christian communities. The oldest Syriac Orthodox monastery of the world “Mor (Saint) Gabriel” is located here in Midyat, in the centre of “Tur Abdin” (meaning “the mountain of the servants of God” in Syriac) region. The region is bounded by the River Tigris to the North and East, by the Mesopotamian plain to the South, and by Mardin Metropolitan City to the West where one feels the vibe of a fantastic Medieval time-zone with various cultures, languages, religions and delicacies. Thanks to the close distance between Anıtlı and Midyat, visitors enjoy both the destinations through the same cultural routes.
Dive Into the World of Historical Monasteries and Churches
“Late Antique and Medieval Churches and Monasteries of Midyat and Surrounding Area (Tur Abdin)”, where Anıtlı is located, got enlisted in the UNESCO’s “World Heritage Tentative List” in April 2021. Tur Abdin, a limestone plateau, is a unique cultural landscape populated by around 80 villages and 70 monasteries dating back to various periods of history. Most of the churches and the monasteries in the region are still active and the ones from Late Antique period have been preserved to a large extent and they retain their authenticity and integrity in terms of architecture and construction techniques.
The Churches and Monasteries of Tur Abdin from early Byzantine provide significant examples of monastic architecture. 2 of them located in Anıtlı, included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage Tentative List still witness centuries-old traditions and liturgies performed in their ancient Syriac, the Edessan dialect of Aramaic and is considered as a bridge language from Greek to Arabic. Today, a neo-Aramaic dialect of Syriac, named “Turoyo” is still alive here and considered as a severely endangered language in the UNESCO Atlas. Dating back to the 6th to 8th centuries, the churches have common features and provide an understanding of the character of the region as a whole. Together with the surrounding terraced vineyards, olive and almond trees, the monasteries and churches form a dramatic landscape. They have retained their original characteristics through many centuries of Islamic rule and still form the majority of the population in Anıtlı village.
Anıtlı is a significant tourist attraction for its liturgies, evening prayers and morning masses, regularly held every 15 days in the Virgin Mary Church. Christmas and Easter holidays are the other main attractions for the tourists who visit the village only for its religious rituals or travellers who join the various Midyat tours. In addition to faith tourism, visitors also enjoy culture, arts, gastronomy events and festivals organized regularly in the region. A few examples being SineMardin (International Film Festival), Midyat International Culture and Arts Festival, Harire Grape Feast, Mardin International Children and Youth Festival, Mardin Biennial.
Where to Stay: In a Modern Hotel, In a Stone House or In a Church Complex?
Visitors to Anıtlı usually stay in Midyat (20 km away from the village) that has 15 certified hotels and 1 guesthouse or in Mardin Metropolitan city (70 km away) with more various options for the accommodation and budgets. The hotels in Midyat vary from 5 to 3 stars, both with old cultural stone architecture or modern western style amenities. Midyat Guest House (Konuk Evi), one of the symbolic structures in the area, has also been a feature on a number of Turkish TV series. This 3-storey stone house offers a terrace with a spectacular view of Midyat, definitely worth seeing.
If you want to have the ultimate authentic experience in Anıtlı, we highly recommend you book a room at the Virgin Mary church’s guesthouse located in the complex. So that you can enhance the spiritual experience even further in such a mystical and historic sanctuary. The Virgin Mary church is the attraction for Orthodox Christians from all over the world and Anıtlı gets flooded with thousands of visitors especially before and after the day of Virgin Mary on August 15th. Visitors have a multitude of choices catering to different tastes and budgets, ranging from hotels, local homes, and even the guesthouse in the heart of the church.
Ready for Some Local Delicacies and Rural Experience with the Villagers?
For sure, you will love having breakfast with locals in their homes, tasting the local wine, almond and milk products, shopping for traditional souvenirs as in bracelets, shawls, magnets made by the local youth. Participating in some quaint rural activities as in sheep-milking, fruit-picking together with the villagers will take you back to a time where the world was simpler and more satisfying. Anıtlı offers a rare opportunity to taste homemade Syriac wine, produced by the local community, as well as breads made from the flour of ancient seeds and techniques that are centuries old.
The food in Anıtlı reflects the local culinary culture, as in homemade sour pomegranate concentrates, black chickpea dish, hot Alluciye with plums, stuffed meatballs “ikbibet”, Syriac pastry, pickled cucumber and almond candies. These candies differ in taste and colour as they are produced using locally grown almonds, coated with sugar dyed in an edible blue dye extracted from local trees, unique to the region.