Harran

In any travel plans for the region a visit to Harran must be included. You can get to the site,
44 kilometers from Urfa, either by minibus or taxi. One of the many Reasons the small town is famous is its unique beehive shaped houses. Built from bricks salvaged from historical ruins in the region, the houses are warm in winter and cool in summer. While placed under a historical protection order in 1960, the beehive houses of Harran are still privately owned, though most of their owners today live in modern homes. They restored these houses and decorated them accordingly, mainly to serve as a tourist attraction. Insistent children surround you on your arrival, hoping to get you to visit one of the houses. There are some that can tell the story of Harran and the houses in several languages. You will get a guide for the price of few chocolate bars here. The signs on the top of the houses saying, “the oldest houses of Harran” have been put there by the owners. They will tell you that in these houses chickens lay more eggs, horses and other animals are calmer and food is preserved better.

Harran is not only famous for its houses. The town has a history of 5,000 years. The first Islamic university was founded here. The distance from the earth to the moon was first calculated in Harran and the books of Greek philosophers were translated. This area was important in the pre- Islamic times as well. In the Old Testament the area was known as Charan. In this mystic place the eastern mythologies found a place to live. It is believed that Adam and Eve, when they were expelled from the Garden of Eden, came to earth here. It has here that cattle were first harnessed to pull equipment for ploughing. And so many more firsts took place in Harran.

There is much to see in Harran, ten km from the border with Syria. The sights include the four km long city wall and its gates; the fortress; the Ulu Cami (the Great Mosque), built in 744- 750; the Şeyh Hayat-EI Harrani Cami and Türbesi (mosque and tomb); the Harran Tumulus, (mound); the Han-EI Ba’rür Kervansarayı (caravanserai); the ruins d Şuayb and Sogmatar and much more…

The Ataturk Barajı (Dam)

There was a time when the Hazar Lake was the largest in the region. Now it has been dwarfed by the lake that has built up behind the man made Atatürk Dam. The Atatürk Dam, the largest in Turkey, is the sixth largest of its type in the world, with the dam’s wall being 169 metres high and 1,600 metres long. Looked at from above, the lake behind the dam appears to be an inland sea.
The dam has had a major impact on both economic and social life of the once arid region. Vast plateaus are irrigated by its water, carried through the area via huge tunnels. In the dam itself, fish are breed and aquatic sporting events stated while around its shores a program of forestation is being carried out.

The Bald Ibis

Birecik, at a distance of one km from Urfa, is a nesting area for the endangered Bald Ibis. These migrating birds come to Birecik in the spring, nest and raise their young before leaving for the long return trip to Africa at the end of summer. Those who want to get to Birecik to see these birds, to be found nowhere else in the world, should check on whether they have migrated if planning their visit either in early spring or late summer.

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