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Culture 17

Travel to Turabdin

Syriacs consider Turabdin to be one of their historical homelands. ‘Turabdin’ means ‘Mountain of the servants [of God]’. It is believed that this name refers to the rich monastic life in the history of this region. In the early centuries of Christianity, thousands of monks lived a monastic life in the numerous monasteries and as hermits in hermitages, generally referred to as cabode ܥܰܒܳܕܶܐ ‘servants of God‘.

Some of these monasteries are still active today and play a major role in people's spiritual lives, including the Mor Gabriel Monastery near Midyat, the Zaafaran Monastery near Mardin and the Mor Augin Monastery in southern Turabdin. Despite the low rainfall, the soil in Turabdin is very fertile, which explains why most people continue to live as farmers from agriculture and livestock.

Syriacs who have settled in western countries visit Turabdin when they get the chance to do so. Depending on the season, they can participate in various activities.

In the winter, you can chat or listen to stories indoors by the fireplace while enjoying snacks prepared in the summer season and stored for the winter, such as bastiq ܒܰܣܬܝܩ, coliqe ܥܳܠܝܩܶܐ and ḥalile ܚܰܠܝܠܶܐ (see chapter 12, Culture). These winter snacks are all made from grape syrup and dried for the winter.

During the summer season, visitors enjoy the many local fruits and vegetables such as grapes, pomegranates, figs, peaches, fresh almonds and much more; all available for them to pick in the fields themselves. In the past, Turabdin was also known for its wine production, a tradition that dates back at least 3000 years. Syriacs who returned to Turabdin have revived this wine tradition and market their wine under the label Süryani Şarabı in Turkish. This wine has become very popular and is also exported to Europe.

While the generations born in Turabdin like to visit their native village or town and refresh their childhood memories, the generations born in the diaspora can connect with their historical cultural heritage for the first time.

Among the most visited sights are the Zaafaran Monastery near Mardin, the Mor Gabriel Monastery near Midyat, 

the Virgin Mary Church in Ḥaḥ and more recently, the Mor Augin Monastery on Mount Izlo near the town of Nusaybin (Nṣiwën ܢܨܝܘܷܢ).