Turkey's Mardin, Spain's Madrid

Russian tourists travelled to Madrid… but ended up in Mardin, Turkey

Russian tourists organized a trip to Madrid, and ended up in Mardin, a small city in southeastern Turkey… And it’s not the first time this happens.

Can be Madrid, one of the largest and most touristic cities in Europe, be confused with Mardin, a historic town of just over 80,000 inhabitants in the far southeast of Turkey? Well, that is what has happened to some Russian tourists who organized a trip to the Spanish capital… and ended up, to their surprise, in a corner of Anatolia.

The story, published today by the Habertürk news portal, begins in Russia itself, where some Russian customers went to a tourist agency to hire a trip to Madrid. Since European airspace is closed to Russian aircrafts due to the sanctions imposed because of the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian agency had to establish an alternative route, which is why it finally booked an indirect flight from Moscow to Madrid with a stopover in Istanbul, as Turkey still allows flights from Russia.

However, as happened in the popular Turkish comedy Recep İvedik 6 (a film in which the main character wants to go to Konya, but ends up in Kenya), it seems that the managers of the Russian tourist agency made a mistake when booking the tickets; they correctly made the reservation from Moscow to Istanbul, but from the Turkish metropolis, instead of choosing Madrid as their destination, they chose Mardin, a small town in southeastern Anatolia.

According to Habertürk, the tourists, who arrived in Istanbul on a Turkish Airlines flight from Moscow, took the second plane at the airport as the Russian agency had indicated, and after only two hours of flight they landed and got quite a surprise: The modest Mardin airport did not look like the Barajas airport, nor did that place just a few kilometers away from the border with Syria look like the big Spanish city they imagined.

After arguing with the agency, the tourists spent the night in Mardin

After an initial discussion with the flight attendants, the airport managers tried to calm them down and confirmed to the Russian tourists that they were not in Madrid, but in Mardin, and that the plane they had taken was not headed to Spain, but to the southeast of Turkey. The tourists, finally, after unsuccessfully discussing with the Russian agency that had sent them to a far corner of Turkey, decided to buy on their own a ticket with Turkish Airlines from Istanbul to Madrid, and spent that night in Mardin.

Bekir Falay, manager of a hotel in central Mardin where Russian tourists stayed overnight, confirmed the story, adding that “it’s actually the second time something like this has happened this year. The other time there were 3 tourists, in the end they stayed 2 or 3 days, they liked Mardin a lot and said they would come back”. “We accommodated them very well in our hotel, they had a good day. I heard how they argued with the Russian agency, but when the agency said that they were not going to correct the problem, they bought tickets to Madrid via Istanbul themselves,” he said.

“We are glad to have hosted them. After breakfast, there was plenty of time to catch the plane, so we offered them a tour for Mardin… We offered them good hospitality, and they enjoyed their stopover here,” Falay said.

With its unique architecture and historic buildings, including several mosques, churches and monasteries, Mardin is a candidate for World Heritage Site, and has been visited by 2 million tourists this year. The case of these Russian tourists who travelled to Madrid and ended up in Mardin is not unique, however; in fact, the resemblance between the two names has been the subject of many jokes, and even an Istanbul amateur soccer team made up of emigrants from Mardin bears the name “Real Mardin”, similarly to the famous Real Madrid.