I learned about the old Syriac village of Dereici in “Lonely Planet” where 3 or 4 sentences were devoted to it. I was leading a group in the Mardin area of southeastern Turkey and decided that people would be interested in seeing this place off the beaten path.
We travelled there on a beautiful road that crossed a lush green valley as if we were not in the heart of Anatolia. Maybe that’s why the name of the village (Dereici) means “Inner Valley”.
My first reaction to the village was a mild shock – massive stone houses, narrow cobblestone streets, two churches (a Syriac Orthodox, one Syriac 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 facades of the houses indicate a prosperous past. In the 1960s, the population was about 800 people, 600 of whom were Syriac. It seems that the Syriac people were happy in this tiny Christian oasis in the middle of Anatolia.
Today it has become a surreal ghost town with about 10 people left. Another interesting fact is that here was the only winery in this part of Anatolia.
The Syriacs are an ancient Christian community from the first century. Later, in the 4th century, they moved into northern Mesopotamia, now parts of southeastern Turkey, Syria and Iraq. They founded most of the monasteries that can be visited today.
Two churches in the village have been restored. Unfortunately, they are so well fenced in with barbed wire that we could only see the outside facades and the towers. Our guide at Mor Gabrel Monastery said this was because of the frequent raids, especially by Kurds, with whom the Syriacs do not get along well.
There is no public transportation to Dereichi. The easiest way is to get to Savur from Mardin first and then find a taxi or someone to drive you to the village. If you have a car, you can stop in Savur and take a short walk through the streets of the old town.
My Dereici photo collection of high-quality photos is available for licensing or open edition prints.
More information about southeast Turkey
Accommodation in Mardin
Hostels and budget hotels: Old City Mardin Hotel & Hostel;
Accomodation in Sanliurfa
Accommodation in оther cities in southeast Turkey
Accommodation in Gaziantep
Please check here also a nice collection of hotels in Gaziantep to choose from.
The VisaHQ world service we use will provide full assistance in applying and obtaining a visa for Turkey if you need one.
Do not travel without travel insurance! We have an excellent experience with World Nomads, as it is the only company that covers an unlimited budget, provides coverage of a massive bunch of adventure activities and you can purchase it while on the road. Get a free quote using the form.
Books about Turkey
Free delivery worldwide (with no minimum spend) from Book Depository (Amazon), a leading international book retailer. Please click on the title of the book to read the full description and to buy it.