Two distinguished buildings in the centre of Nusaybin which were once representative of tolerance between religions are now counting down the days until they can return to their glorious pasts.
One of these is one of the oldest Christian buildings in the world, the Mor Yakup Church, while the other is the Zeynel Abidin Mosque, which is being restored on a plot of land donated by the church which stands near it.
These two buildings, which at one time shared olive groves and a windmill, are now both within the borders of the Belief and Culture Park, a place which came into being in 1999.
The Zeynel Abidin Mosque and Complex was placed under protection in 1991 due to its cultural characteristics and boasts the tombs of both Zeynel Abidin — a 13th generation grandson of the Prophet Muhammad — and his sister Sitti Zeynep. An inscription above these tombs notes that the mosque was built in 1159.There is little question that the most spectacular of architectural structures in Nusaybin — which is believed by many to have been first populated by the Subaru people around 4,500 B.C. — is the Mor Yakup Church and its surroundings.
The Syriac church, founded by Patriarch Mor Yakup in A.D. 309, boasts intricate stone engravings and has stood the test of time very well. Patriarch Mor Yakup, who also founded the Nusaybin School, one of the world’s first universities, is believed to have educated around 1,000 boarding students at one time. The school offered lessons on philosophy, literature, geometry, astronomy, medicine and law.
All sorts of interesting information exists about the Mor Yakup Church and the nearby Zeynel Abidin Mosque, which basically stand back to back in Nusaybin. According to various sources, the money for the construction of the Zeynel Abidin Mosque was provided by two Christian nuns. Ottoman records note that the two structures have shared the same property.
It is also noticeable that the Syrian master who designed the mosque’s minaret introduced motifs and decorative notes which reflect the characteristics of church’s bell tower.
Like Mardin, Nusaybin has also been home to different religions, cultures and civilizations throughout its history, and local residents are thus pleased to see the restoration efforts which will put a spotlight on these two structures and help give the region the boost it deserves.
The Belief and Culture Park, built by the Nusaybin Municipality, is set to host both foreign and local visitors and show off the rich past that so typifies the region in general.