Türkiye’s Midyat district meeting point for Assyrian expats

MARDIN, Türkiye

Türkiye’s Midyat district is a meeting point for Assyrian expats who left their homeland many years ago.

The historical district in the southeastern province of Mardin is a melting pot of different cultures and languages — Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, and Syriac.

The expats and tourists from different parts of the world breathe new life into Midyat during the summer season.

The top attractions in the region are the thousands of years old stone houses, inns, mosques, churches, and monasteries.

Türkiye’s Assyrian expats, who are predominantly Christian, travel miles from Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, and Lebanon to spend their summer holidays in Midyat, their hometown.

The population of Assyrians in Midyat increases manifold with the arrival of the expats in the summers.

Assyrian expats stay in detached houses built from famous Midyat stones.

They enjoy being able to converse in their native language, Syriac.

The community has seen its numbers rise again in recent years with those who emigrated to other countries returning.

Revisiting our roots

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Nebil Celik, 57, who is settled in Giessen, Germany, said: “Although we live in Germany, we are so excited to come here every year. Do people ever forget where they were born? Our roots are here, we grew up here.”

Celik went on to say: “Syriac is our mother tongue, we speak Syriac with our friends here in Midyat.”

Zeki Arsan, who is also visiting from Germany, said his family completed the house they were building in the rural neighborhood of Elbegendi this year.

Syriac expat Ercan Methe said he visits his hometown every three years to catch up with his loved ones.

Expressing his admiration for the culture, Methe said: “Here, Muslims and Christians live together. That is why Midyat is so beautiful.

“I miss everything about Midyat. When I come here, I remember the old days. We forget everything when we come here. We visit churches and monasteries. People don’t want to leave here, but we have to do so.”

Nuri Ergin, an artisan in Midyat, said Assyrian expats buy and build houses in the district and also repair their old houses.

Deputy mayor Abdurrahim Celik said: “Assyrians living abroad spend their summer holidays in the district in peace. The historical district is at the crossroads of religions, languages, cultures, and tolerance among Midyat residents has never faltered.”

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