The semi-abandoned Syriac village of Dereici in southeastern Turkey

The semi-abandoned Syriac village of Dereici in southeastern Turkey

adventure travel & photography

Destinations: Pakistan ◦◦ India ◦◦Turkey ◦◦ Egypt ◦◦ Bulgaria ◦◦ Mongolia ◦◦ Bangladesh ◦◦ Jordan ◦◦ Russia ◦◦ Turkmenistan ◦◦ Iran ◦◦ Kazakhstan ◦◦ Japan ◦◦ Hong Kong ◦◦ Greece ◦◦ Ukraine

Type: Photo stories ◦◦ Places ◦◦ Documentary ◦◦ Black and White ◦◦ Fine Art Prints ◦◦ Seascapes ◦◦ Urban

About the place

I learned about the Syriac village of Dereici in "Lonely Planet." I led a group in the Mardin region of southeastern Turkey and decided people would be interested in seeing this place off the beaten path. We drove there on a beautiful road that crossed a lush green valley as if we were not in the heart of Anatolia. Perhaps that is why the name of the village (Dereici) means "Inner Valley”.

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My first reaction was a mild shock - massive stone houses, narrow cobblestone streets, two churches (one Syriac and one Catholic) and a ruined monastery. Most of the homes serve as stables, including the old monastery. The sight of a herd of goats passing between the walls of the ruined monastery is probably the image I will remember most from this place. The streets are in relatively good condition, and the house facades suggest a prosperous past. In the 1960s, about 800 people lived here, mainly Syriac people. The Syriac population seemed happy in this small Christian oasis in the middle of Anatolia.

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It is now a ghost town with only about ten people. Another interesting fact is that the only winery in this part of Anatolia was located here.

Syriacs have been around since the first century. In the 4th century, they moved to northern Mesopotamia, which includes parts of southeastern Turkey, Syria, and Iraq.

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Even though two churches have been restored, they are so well fenced with barbed wire that we can only see their outer facades and towers. At Mor Gabrel monastery, our guide explained that this is due to frequent raids, especially by Kurds, with whom Syriacs do not get along well.

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Digital downloads and prints available

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Practical information

There is no public transportation to Dereichi. The easiest way is to drive from Mardin to Savur and then take a cab to the village. If you have a car, you can stop in Savur and take a short walk through the old town.

Location

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