Mardin, is located in an area, commanding the main road connecting the Diyarbakir to Nusaybin of the region known as Tur Abdin in history. When Anatolia was under the rule of the Seljuks, the city was on the main route linking the southern Anatolian port towns of Antalya and Alanya to Baghdad, and Basra via Mosul. In addition, it became a hub connecting the routes toward Diyarbakir, Urfa, Mesopotamia; Euphrates, Syria; Midyat, Tur Abdin and the Tigris. Since then Mardin has been physically divided into two parts, citadel and fortified town.
The design of the Mardin house—in which houses were enlarged by the repetition of certain spaces—was a reflection of the social and economic structure that was typical of pre-industrial settlements. What distinguished the design of a traditional Mardin house was the fusing, over a period of time, of indoor, outdoor, and semi-outdoor spaces—namely, the living units, iwan, portico, and terrace. The characteristics of this design can be traced to Turkistan in the social, economic and political constitution of the Middle Ages, which often shared a similar infrastructure with countries to its south, such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Egypt. In the melting pot of Mardin, these contrasting factors give its houses a unique nature.
The urban fabric of Mardin is richly decorated with buildings that reflect the social and economic needs of a society comprising of a variety of ethnic groups. It constitutes the shrines of two monotheistic religions, however, the city is primarily composed of houses.