The Saffron Monastery

deyrul1The monastery at Deyrulzafaran near Mardin was built in 495 above a site originally used by sun worshippers – their slab-ceilinged temple still exists beneath the monastery. 

From 1160 to 1932 it was the seat of the Syriac Orthodox patriarch, now removed to Damascus, and the complex contains the tombs of many past patriarchs and bishops. DSC03624

The monastery church is surprisingly small but very atmospheric.

Recipient of an EU grant for a snazzy new visitor centre, Deyrulzafaran is today a far happier place than it was just in the 1990s when it was stranded in the middle of troubled land.

It would be nice to think that you could attend a service so that you could hear the sound of Aramaic being spoken. This is believed to have been the language spoken by Jesus. Unfortunately visitors other than tourists don't appear to be very welcome here. Even the compulsory guided tours are a rushed affair. 

The visitor centre offers a good selection of books about Mardin and the Tur Abdin which are not easy to find elsewhere. 

Transport info

Most visitors to Mardin take a taxi to the monastery (6km).

If you do this you can pause on the way to inspect the newly restored Syrian Orthodox Church of Mor Gervegis  (St George) on the way. Make sure to agree a price for a return trip including waiting time.DSC03655

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