It is getting late and I have yet to see the Zinciriye Medresesi before I travel back to Midyat where I was staying, and anyone familiar with Mardin knows that it is one of the highlights of the old city.
I was trying to figure out how to go up there, it is almost at the foot of the castle. This place is a labyrinth of narrow winding streets, and I was struggling to avoid getting lost. I walked along the main road looking up the location of the madrasa on the top level of the hill. I stopped in front of “Cig Kofte” – the restaurant building with layers of terraces where one could have a view of the vast plains bordering Syria and the Ulu Camii. With my back at the Cig Kofte which seemed to be perpendicular to the location of the site up the hill, I saw this long wide stairs on the other side of the road. I ascended and there it was, the intricately decorated gate of the madrasa.
The madrasa (Islamic school) is constructed in 1385 by Melik Necmeddin Isa Bin Muzaffer Davud Bin El Melik Salih – Sultan Isa for short. I have couple of friends who bear that name and I know it’s “Jesus” in English, “Isa” in Arabic.
The medresesi is a large complex that includes a mosque, Islamic school, and the tomb of Sultan Isa. The two storey building houses two courtyards in its 2 levels, a mosque, mausoleum and other chambers. There are beautiful ribbed domes on both ends of the roof and a high massive portal to the east. It served also as an observatory owing to its high elevated position. In the middle of the courtyard way passing the arched porticos is a fountain.
The madrasa used to be the old Mardin Museum until it was transferred to the new restored building along the main Cumhuriyet Cad.
At some point in history when Tamerlane – the founder of Timurid Dynasty – conquered Mardin, Sultan Isa was imprisoned in this madrasa.
From the courtyard of the second level, you can have a good view of Mardin castle above it, the city skyline, outlying villages, mountains and the vast plains on the horizon to the border of Syria.
Entry is free.