Firdevs Kasrı/Qasr al Firdaws


ca. 1294–1363 AD

MMM Documentation Dates
Spring 2015
Site Type
Civic, Commercial, and Domestic Buildings
Mardin (Turkey)
Mardin Province (Turkey)

    Surrounding Landscape

    Southern Elevation & Reflecting Pool

    Interior Details

    Surrounding Landscape

    Firdevs Kasri/Qasr al Firdaws is a historical house located on the eastern outskirts of the city of Mardin. Although it has been modified since its construction in the 13th century, it exemplifies a type of country house popular among Mardin’s elite during the Artuqid period.

    Firdevs Kasri/Qasr al Firdaws is built of finely cut ashlar blocks of a local, rose-yellow limestone. It is oriented with its facade to the south, as is typical of houses in Mardin, with a view over the foothills toward the Mesopotamian plain (see the panorama). The design of its main wing centers on a pointed iwan fronted with a wider, paved court and beyond this, an even larger pool. This type of layout is common to most of Mardin’s country houses. 

    The central iwan, providing a shady area for leisure and relaxation, measures 6.7 m wide by 7.5 m tall (the size of the iwan serving as a marker of wealth at this time; Firdevs’ is the largest of its kind). The deep iwan features three pointed niches on its rear wall. A fountain situated at the bottom of the central niche spouts water into a slender interior pool, known as a selsebil, running down the center of the space. The water descends into a stone basin (cırın) before being channeled through a small pool in the forecourt and emptying into the large pool (birke).

    The house’s main wing was originally symmetrical, with two smaller iwans flanking the larger one. Both of these were later walled, transforming them into interior spaces opened only with small doors and windows; the western iwan has also been divided off from the rest of the facade by a wall built along the forecourt. Both of the flanking iwans have second floors—the living quarters of the house—now accessed by way of staircases on the building’s sides and rear. 

    A second wing of the house runs south along the west side of the grounds; this is a service and stable area. Together, the solid exterior walls of the two inward-facing wings comprised the north and west sides the complex’s perimeter; its fortification was completed by a separate wall that ran along the south and east sides of the grounds. This perimeter wall was leveled at some time subsequent to the original construction, most likely to open up the house’s spectacular views.

    “Description & Iconography” general sources: Gabriel 1940, 41; Çağlayan 2010, esp. 54–55, 70; Çağlayan 2014; Çağlayan and Dalkılıç 2012.

    This type of country house developed around Mardin during the period of the Artuqid dynasts, who counted Mardin as one of their regional capitals. The houses were commissioned by the city’s elites, including the members of the ruling family itself. Specifically, the 14th-century historian Katip Ferdi attributes the Firdevs Kasri/Qasr al Firdaws to Melik Mansur Necmeddin [al-Malik al-Manṣūr Najm al-Dīn] (r. 1294–1312); it is here claimed that the sultan sought to occupy a different residence in every season, this house being one of them. However, the early-20th-century historian Ali Emiri, who discovered and published Katip Ferdi’s manuscript, refers to a then-extant inscription attributing Firdevs’ construction to the succeeding ruler, Malik Salih Semseddin Mahmud [al-Malik al-Ṣāliḥ Shams al-Dīn Maḥmūd] (r. 1312–1363).1 

    • 1. Emiri 2006 [1912/1913], 26–27.

    “History” general sources: Çağlayan 2010, 39; Çağlayan and Dalkılıç 2012, 270-272.

    Çağlayan, Murat. 2010. “Geleneksel Mardin kasırlarının mimari özellikleri ve korunması üzerine Bir yöntem araştırması.” Ph.D. Diss., Dicle Üniversitesi. 

    Çağlayan, Murat. 2014. “The Model of Vernacular Countryside from Turkey: Mardin Pavilions.” In Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Structural Analysis of Historical Constructions, SAHC2014, edited by F. Peña and M. Chavez. Mexico City: Instituto de Ingenieria UNAM.

    Çağlayan, Murat, and Neslihan Dalkılıç. 2012. “The Architectural Features of Traditional Pavilions in Mardin – Southeastern Anatolia.” International Journal of Academic Research 4 (3): 270–294.

    Emiri, Ali, ed. 2006. Mardin Artuklu melikleri tarihi by Kâtip Ferdi, prepared for publication by Metin Yardımcı. Istanbul: Mardin Tarihi İhtisas Kütüphanesi. [Original publication: Ali Emiri, ed. 1912/1913. Mardin mülûk-i Artukiye tarihi ve kitabeleri ve sair vesaik-i mühimme. Istanbul: Kader Matbaası.]

    Gabriel, Albert. 1940. Voyages archéologiques dans la Turquie orientale. Paris: E. de Boccard.

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    Matthew Peebles and Erhan Tamur (2019)