Mardin is located on a hill in the Mesopotamia region, overlooking its plains. Since it lies along major trade routes, ancient civilizations have continually conquered and ruled the town to make it part of their empire. The city was ruled by the Hurri-Mitani, Hittites, Surs, Babylonians, Persians, Romans, Arabs and the Seljuks respectively. The Artuklu Kingdom established their Mardin branch and made it flourish during this time.
Within the city there are several important historic buildings worth visiting. These include Kasimiye Medresse, Zinciriye Medresse and Grand Mosque. Other sites historically noteworthy in the area includes Dayrul-Zeferan Monastery and Harizm Medresse. The Zeynel Bey Mausoleum is also nearby; it is decorated with blue tiles on the outside of its walls.
The most famous examples of Artutid architecture can be seen in the 13th century Ulu Mosque at Kiziltepe, which is 12 miles south-east of Mardin.
The Dara Ancient City is one of the most intriguing discoveries found in recent excavations near Mardin. It's located along the way to Nusaybin, close to the Syrian border.
Mar Yakup Monastery derives its name from a priest (Marislium). It was later known as "Marevgan Monastery". According to a hearsay, Marbinyamin, one of the heralds of the east had the bones of his oldest disciple buried here. The monastery was also knows as "Marhonesya" for a time.