Not far from Mardin, the lovely old town of Midyat is an architectural gem that has remained largely untouched by the blight of concrete—although the new part of the city is dismal. Formerly almost an exclusively Assyrian Christian town, old Midyat is filled with an astonishing number of beautiful homes built of stone the color of honey or golden sand. Walking through Midyat's narrow streets reveals house after beautiful house, many of them with gorgeous ornamental carving work on their exteriors. Many of Midyat's Christians left during the violence of the 1980s and ’90s, and Kurdish has become the dominant language of the old town. The homes and churches remain, and now that a relative calm has returned to the region, some of them are even being renovated for use as summer homes by Assyrians who used to reside here but currently have their primary residences in Western Europe. Midyat now has some excellent hotels, and you can spend a quiet day or two exploring the city and visiting some of the nearby Assyrian churches and monasteries; this is also a good base for visiting the historical monuments at the nearby riverside town of Hasankeyf.