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Dara was an important Early Byzantine city build in 505 AD by Emperor Anastasius I 30 years later the Fall of the Western Roman Empire. Another names of this city were Daras, Anastasiopolis and Iustiniana Nova (after reconstruction by Emperor Justinian I). It was abandoned just after about 200 years since its establishment.
Anastasiopolis was a well-fortified city which played an important role in protection of the eastern Byzantine Empire’s borders. In 530 AD the crucial Battle of Dara between Byzantines and Sasanian army took place near its walls. The Persians were defeated thoroughly but after a short period of peace they continued attempts to capture the fortress.
In the years that followed Dara repeatedly passed from hand to hand. But the city continued to develop both under Byzantines and Persians due to its strategic location. Dara fell to decay after the Muslim conquest in 639 because the fortress lost its military significance. The inhabitants left the city little by little and it was emptied out.
At the present time there is a small village at the place of Byzantine Dara where Arabs and Kurds live. Most of the houses in this village are built of yellow stone and these stones was taken from the ruins of the ancient city. Visiting the territory of Dara is for free.
Let’s make a small virtual tour through the streets of the ancient city
Sarnıç Zindan (first underground water cistern)
Second cistern near the Dara necropolis
How to get to Dara from Mardin
- The most comfortable: by car. If you don’t have your own car you can rent it in Mardin or grab a taxi.
- The cheap: by minibus (dolmuş). There is a minibus going to Nusaybin from Mardin central bus station. You should ask a driver to stop in Tilkitepe village near Syrian border. The price of one way ticket is about 10 Turkish liras. After Tilkitepe you should walk about 5 km to Dara or catch a car.
- The cheapest: hitch-hiking. It’s also possible to get to Dara from Mardin by hitch-hiking. But you need to be lucky because there are not a lot of cars going to the side of this ancient city. Maybe you will change two or even three cars like me (Mardin-Ortaköy-Tilkitepe-Dara).