Photographer's Note

This is from Mardin, one of the oldest and most spectacular of the many old and spectacular cities in Turkey, described by Wikipedia as a kind of open-air museum due to its historical architecture. On top of the hill there is a glimpse of a castle said to be 3,000 years old.

Here is a larger version.

I spent one day in Mardin in July 1971 and have to confess I didn't like it very much, even though it was obviously a unique place, not like any other I had ever seen. Stupid circumstances made my short visit less pleasant than I had hoped for, but if I should go back to Turkey once more, Mardin would be very high on my agenda.

I was kind of "kidnapped" by two young men who had been on my bus from Urfa. They were friendly and helpful, but the "nice" hotel they brought me to turned out to be the worst stinking dump I had ever seen. They insisted on showing me the city but never understood why I wanted to stop to admire the many marvellously adorned faades or visit any of the ancient mosques or churches.

I deeply regret that I was too polite to tell them to leave me alone. How I would have liked to explore the winding alleys and dark staircases on my own. And why didn't I look for a better hotel?

But I was also disturbed by the fuss I created in the streets. Lots of people stopped and stared at me, all the small boys came running, trying to borrow my camera or examine my shoulder bag. I also found the city disgustingly dirty.

But what an amazing city it is, filled with medieval buildings and tracing its history thousands of years back. It is a culturally mixed city dominated by Kurds but with a strong influence of Arabs and Chaldeans (Christian Assyrians/Syriacs) unless the latter have all migrated to Sweden. There are about 150,000 Assyrians/Syriacs in Sweden, making them probably the largest Chaldean community outside the Middle East.

I have one nice memory from Mardin. In the evening, when I finally managed to go out alone to have dinner, I found a table next to a group of men who turned out to be policemen off duty. They greeted me and we exchanged a few polite phrases. They continued their meal and I had mine. Before I had finished they left, wishing me goodbye and a pleasant continued journey. When I later asked the waiter for my bill I was told that these men had already paid it.

I had similar experiences in many places on that journey. I will never forget the generosity and hospitality I met all over Turkey.

This photo was scanned from an Agfacolor CT18 slide. I won't post any other of my few photos from Mardin. This one is noisy, but you should have seen the others...

Photo Information
  • Copyright: Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 12407 W: 572 N: 23825] (101946)
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  • Date Taken: 1971-07-26
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  • Date Submitted: 2020-01-19 0:26
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Additional Photos by Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 12407 W: 572 N: 23825] (101946)
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