The ancient and sacred cities of the earth were the cradles of human civilisation and culture, instrumental in developing history, the sciences, law, the arts and letters. Among these cities are Athens and Rome in the West, and Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem (al-Quds) and Urfa (Edessa) in the East…
Archaeological finds indicate that Urfa is the oldest city in the world, the cradle of the human history and the common ancestral hearth of humanity. Urfa is a city where every pile of dust or stone is a witness to history, marked by each successive age. Urfa is also a source of history, a rich vein for archaeologists, each new find causing an old chapter to be rewritten. Urfa’s history is too grand for the library shelf: you must search history out in Urfa itself.
Archaeological evidence tells us that Urfa has been the stage for many historical “firsts”. Archaeologists have uncovered numerous artefacts from the Palaeolithic Age, including the first stone quarry, the first temple, the first sculpture, the first wheel, the first settlement, the first architectural structure, evidence of the first animal husbandry, the first agriculture (as witnessed by the depiction of agricultural scenes in Harran), the first writing, the first seal, the first measuring and weighing instruments, and the first library.
“The Oldest Statue in the World”, carved over 11,500 years ago, and unearthed at an archaeological excavation site near the Balikligol (Pool of Abraham), is now on display at the Archaeology Museum of Sanliurfa. “The Oldest Temple in the World”, erected 11,500 years ago at a site 17 km from the city centre, was recently unearthed and is regarded as the most important archaeological find of the century. Other important archeological finds include evidence of the first wheat and lentil crop and the first carved stone figures, early developments in the plastic arts that would lead to painting and architecture. Animal lovers will be interested in the ancient ruins at Gobeklitepe, where the earliest domestication of animals occurred. Other similar sites dating to the era of Gobeklitepe still await exploration.
Urfa is among the top three cities in Turkey in its number of listed cultural heritage sites. Further, it is regarded as “the locality with the greatest number of sites awaiting archaeological excavations in the world.”
In that context, the centres of four county seats have been declared Protected Sites by their respective municipalities, and the District of Eyyubnebi has been declared a Tourism Development Zone. The Harran County seat has been taken into the Tentative List of World Heritage. Urfa is an open air museum, where extraordinary stone carvings decorate inns, bathhouses, fountains, mosques, churches, monasteries, mansion houses, streets and arcades. The town is built with the dressed cream-coloured limestone blocks locally known as the Hevara or Urfa Stone. Therefore, the city is also known as the “Museum City Urfa”. The historical city saw the development of diverse cultures and belief systems, from the primitive religions, through polytheism to the monotheist faiths. Urfa is therefore also a centre of pilgrimage. The birthplace of several prophets and the sanctuary where notable sermons were delivered, Urfa has a special place on the faith tourism trail.
Aside from being a city bearing the traces of all religions and having a pluralist culture, Urfa is also one of those rare cities of tolerance where civilisations rose, met, merged, and created structures to address the spiritual needs of each individual (Custom’s Inn / Gumruk Hani – Historical bazaars). Urfa is the home of many prophets, saints, and honoured altruists and ascetics. Consequently the city is also called the seat of sultans of hearths, or the capital of affection.
In Urfa our prayers assume a new dimension. The sound of the dhikr (the repetitive chant of the 99 Names of Allah, and associated devotional texts) that that has rung out for centuries at the Makam-ı İbrahim (Abraham’s Station) does truly purify the heart and soul.
According to the oral and written sources, Adam and Eve settled in the region and, on Harran Plain, sowed the first wheat, so beginning the history of farming. Today Urfa is renowned as a gene store for poaceae (agricultural grasses) and fabaceae (legume family). According to the famous historian Bar-Hebraeus (Abu’l Faraj in Arabic) Urfa was one of the first cities founded after Noah’s Flood.
The prophet Abraham was born in Urfa, and found himself in a legendary fight with Nimrod. The miracle of Abraham converted the pyre into a “cool and peaceful” rose garden. The last wish of Abraham was that his son Isaac come to Harran and marry. Abraham’s grandson Jacob escaped the wrath of his brother Esau and came to Harran. Jacob was married to the daughter of his paternal uncle in Harran, and became a shepherd for 15 years. When his son Joseph was two years old, he moved with his family to Canaan.
The Mizrahi Jews and Eastern Christians regard visitors to Urfa as “pilgrims”. The Jews regard Urfa as one of the significant centres of the Promised Land, home to Abraham, Jacob and Moses. Christians see Urfa as a city sanctified by Jesus Christ. An important relic, “the Holy Mandylion (Image of Edessa) and the Holy Shroud” is from Urfa. This invaluable relic is on display at a museum in Turin as “the shroud from Edessa (Urfa)”. For Christians Urfa also meant the first kingdom, the first church, the first Bible and the first Liturgical Music of Ephrem the Syrian.
For Muslims Urfa is the city of Abraham and Job. Job, a descendant of Abraham, arrived from Damascus and settled in the Eyyupnebi (Prophet Job) District. Job became a master of perseverance in suffering. Job died before the arrival of Elisha (al-Yasa in Arabic) who was travelling to see him, and was buried in the Eyyubnebi District.
The ancient cities of Jethro (Shoaib in Arabic / Suayp in Turkish) and Urfa inherited the perseverance of Job. Moses, who had fled Egypt after killing an Egyptian, took sanctuary with Jethro. Moses lived as a shepherd and received his famous staff from Jethro before climbing Mount Sinai. Jesus Christ also sanctified Urfa, and sent one of his disciples, St. Jude Thaddeus to spread religion in the region. So many religious leaders were born and bred in Urfa, and the region is so closely associated with the prophets, that the city has been called the “City of Prophets” or “Realm of Prophets” throughout its history.
The ancient city of Harran is 44 km from the centre of Urfa. Recent archaeological finds indicate that Harran dates to 7000 BC. Harran has been recognised by the three major monotheistic religions as the motherland of Abraham. In its long past Harran was the home of principal Sin (the Semitic name ascribed to Nanna, the Moon Deity of the Sumerians) Sanctuary E khul khul (House of Joys), and served as the capital of the Babylonians, Assyrians, and of the Umayyad Dynasty. The city’s standing remains comprise an earthen mound, university, mosque, mud brick corbelled beehive-houses, 3-storey fortress, and city walls that run for 4km, strengthened with bastions and watchtowers.
Besides its architectural heritage, Harran was also a significant centre of religion, culture, arts, philosophy and astrology. Historians have identified around 200 scientists, including 20 women, who lived in Harran and played an important role in conveying the ancient knowledge, arts, and sciences to the European civilisations through authoring and publishing compendia and translations. In this context Harran played a role in Mesopotamia and Anatolia that was similar to the role ascribed to Andalusia in Europe. It was Jabir ibn Hayyan, the famous physicist from Harran, who first proposed idea of the divisibility of an atom. Algebra spread to the world from Harran.
Harran extended as far as The Tomb of Sheikh Hayat ibn Qays Al-Harrani (Seyh Hayat El-Harrani Türbesi) and the Jacob’s Well (Hz. Yakub Kuyusu) at one end of the city, and the Tomb of Imam Muhammed Al-Baqir (Iman Bakir Turbesi) at the other. For its architectural, historical, cultural and scientific importance, Harran is nominated for the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage, and should be inscribed to the “World Heritage List”. Harran is an exotic city where visitors feel the sun, moon and stars watching from above.
The Eyyubnebi District is the other important destination in the Harran region. Along the tourist route between Harran and Eyyubnebi are the Shepherd’s Caves (Coban Magaralari), Bazda Caves, Han al Barur Caravanserai, and the Jethro (Shoaib/Şuayp) Ancient City, which is regarded as the Ephesus of the South-eastern Turkey. The Souk al-Matar (Sogmatar) Ancient City as an important cultural centre for people who used to worship stars, planets, moon and sun. The Well of Moses in the Souk al-Matar ancient city is located along the same route. Further on the route, are the Fortress of Cimdin, and the Palace of Maidens (Qasr al-Banat/Kızlar Sarayı). The tombs of Rahme, the nameless wife of Job in Christianity, and Elishe (Al-Yasa) are also in the same district.
Urfa is famous for its scientists, religious leaders, philosophers, scholars, essayists, poets, travellers, painters, artists, and singers. Many poems, legends and laments about the city have been composed. Urfa and its cultural heritage are still mystical and authentic sources of inspiration for many people. Urfa was renowned for its Academy where Jewish, Christian and Sabian scholars studied between the 2nd and 5th centuries AD, and the Harran School which was famous as a centre of learning and sciences between the 6th and 13th centuries. Harran made its major contributions to the development of Western civilisation by providing translations from Latin and Syriac into Arabic and it is where the Syriac language, writing, and literature were born. On the merits of such rich heritage, it is also known as the “Culture Capital Urfa”.
At the centre of modern Urfa, near the Lake of Khalil al-Rahman (Halil’ür-Rahman Gölü) is ancient Edessa City. Here, Roman era cave tombs and other structures are decorated by Syriak and Greek inscriptions, reliefs and floor mosaics. One mosaic, which was unearthed in the Hasek Village of Siverek County, was dated to 3400 BC, and is regarded as the oldest mosaic of the world by the archaeological literature. Mosaics, then, are also children of Urfa. There are so many magnificent mosaics awaiting archeological attention at sites scattered around the province of Urfa that together they would fill a specialist museum. In 2005 plans were laid for a park oriented towards religious tourism. The park was to occupy a plot at the Haleplibahce (Alleppian Gardens), along the Daysan Stream, an inspiration for many folk songs. The park, to be within the boudaries of Edessa Ancient City, would surround the Khalil al-Rahman Lake, and reach up to the Fortress of Urfa. When the ground work commenced in 2006 a floor mosaic was found. An archaeological excavation was undertaken by the Directorate of the Museum of Sanlıurfa, and a thirteen-room palace was unearthed, every floor paved with mosaics. The excavations also unearthed a row of villas along the banks of Daysan Stream and a bathhouse with under-floor heating. The Haleplibahce did not accept the themed park as planned and revealed its own theme through the unearthed mosaics. The Haleplibahce Mosaics are believed to be from the 5th century AD. One of the mosaics depicts the hunting scene of the four Amazon queens. This is the “first example of mosaics depicting the warrior queens of the Amazon using their Greek names.”
The first of the floor mosaics of the Palace of Edessa depicts the KTICIC. The word literally means creation, but a common motif, as here, is a lady personifying the foundation of a building. The second mosaic shows Achilles, the great hero of the Trojan War. A third mosaic shows KENTAUROI KHEIRON, the mythological centaur who educated Achilles. THETIS, the water-goddess mother of Achilles, is shown in a fourth mosaic. A final mosaic shows ODYESSUS, the hero brought the Trogan War to an end with his plan of building the Trojan Horse. The mosaics are among the most elaborate and valuable mosaics in the world, each containing over 5,000 tiny pieces per square meter, each individual stone ranging from 1 to 5 mm. The masterful workmanship, the artistic design, and interest of the scenes depicted make these mosaics worthy of an Emperor’s palace. Urfa could appropriately be known as the “City of Mosaics”.
Urfa sits on some of the most fertile soil in Turkey, and has developed as both an agricultural and industrial city. An international airport serves the city, which offers diverse opportunities for visitors: The Karacadag Skiing Centre for “Winter Sports”, Karaali Springs and Baths for “Thermal Tourism”, the unique and rich flora and fauna of Karacadağ and Tek Tek Mountains for “Hunting and Trekking in High Pastures”; The Atatürk Dam Reservoir Lake and Halfeti Town for “Water Sports”; the newly formed beaches along the shores of the lake behind the dam where the cool and serene waters of the Euphrates merge with the waters of heaven “Lake and Shore Tourism”; the endemic Northern Bald Ibis, partridge and doves of Urfa for “Ornithological Tourism”; traditional handcrafts, rich cuisine to satisfy the most discriminating palate, world renowned musicians, and the authentic mysteries of local folklore for “Cultural and Folklore Tours”. Urfa is the heart of Northern Mesopotamia, and is the gateway to Mesopotamia and the Middle East. It has the potential to maintain its past strategic importance into the future.
Urfa is renowned in the history of the Turkish Republic for its legendary resistance and made its mark as the “city that liberated itself” on the 11th of April 1920. The liberation of Urfa was an inspiration for the national struggle, and the city became a symbol of national unity and solidarity. The city represents the sacrifice undertaken for the independence of the country, a struggle that brought together heroes and numerous martyrs who left their blood on the land. For its legendary resistance the Grand National Assembly of Turkey added the title “Glorious” to Urfa Province in 1984.
If you wish to see your ancestral land, the land where human history begun, the oldest city of the world, the 11,500 years old Statue of Balıklıgöl, the archaeological find of the century, the Temple of Göbeklitepe, the most heavily excavated province in Turkey, the fifth largest museum in Turkey in terms of number of artefacts, and the world renowned mosaics, then you must visit Urfa…
If you wish to see the historical city of Harran, a centre of culture and learning that housed the first University in the world, or the Jethro (Shoaib/Şuayp) Ancient City which is considered the Ephesus of South-eastern Turkey, or the Souk al-Matar (Sogmatar) ancient settlement, site of moon, sun and star worship, then you must visit Urfa…
If you wish to follow the traces of the cultures and beliefs of the primitive, polytheist, and monotheist religions, the tolerant and pluralist culture of the three Abrahamic religions, the sacred localities of the prophets and holy persons, the generosity and hospitability inherited from Abraham, the perseverance under suffering inherited from Job, the capital of affection and tolerance that was sanctified by Jesus Christ, where civilisations met and intermingled, then you must visit Urfa …
If you wish to see the magnificent buildings of Turkish Islamic architecture where the stone was carved with the intricacy of lace, the traditional handcrafts, to enjoy the rich cuisine, a world renowned musical tradition, and a living authentic mystical culture, then you must visit Urfa …
If you wish to see the fertile land where agriculture was first practiced, the capital of the old Mesopotamia and the present day GAP (South-eastern Anatolian Project, the project of damming the waters of Euphrates and Tigris for hydroelectric generation and irrigation), the Ataturk Dam and the largest reservoir lake in Turkey, the sixth largest in the world, the Halfeti town, a hidden paradise from where boat tours set out on the lake, then you must visit Urfa.
A THREE-DAY TRIP TO URFA
First Day: EXCURSION TO THE HEART OF URFA
(Museum of Urfa, Liberation Museum, Frilly Mosque (Church of the Holy Apostles), Saladin Mosque, Cevahir Guest House, Mosaics of Aleppian Gardens, Khalil al-Rahman Lake (Fish Lake), Tears of Zelikha Lake, Fortress of Urfa, Friend’s Nativity Cave (Birthplace of Abraham), Cavaliers’ Bazaar, Kazzaz Bazaar, Customs Inn, Huseyniye Bazaar (Coppersmiths’ Bazaar), Tannery, Commission House, Mawlavi House Mosque, Historic Streets of Urfa, 58 Square, Church of St. Peter & St. Paul, Nimetullah Mosque, Quiltmakers’ Street, Star Palace, Grand Mosque, Gallery of the Fine Arts, Garden of Cultures, Gobekli Tepe (Potbelly Hill).
MUSEUM OF SANLIURFA
Plans for a museum in Sanliurfa go back to 1948 when artefacts began to be collected and stored in Ataturk Primary School. Later this collection was moved to Sehit Nusret Primary School. The foundation stone of the present museum was laid in 1965, and the building opened to the public in 1969.
The basis of the museum’s collection is artefacts recovered from excavations in the province along with items collected from the local population. The Archaeology Museum of Sanliurfa houses 74,000 artefacts, the fifth largest collection of its type in Turkey. However, the historical and cultural qualities of the artefacts displayed in the Museum are far more important that the quantity. The collection contains artefacts of exceptional quality dating to 11,500 years ago, making the Museum of Sanliurfa one of the most important museums in the world. The Statue of Balikligol, the oldest statue in the world, is on permanent display. There are four galleries in the Museum of Sanliurfa, three of them devoted to archaeology, and the fourth to ethnographical artefacts. The museum also has a multipurpose hall, library, administrative departments, storage space, a laboratory, and photographic facilities.
Many of Turkey’s provinces have museums boasting fine collections that display the cultural and historical splendor of the locale. However, the heritage of Sanliurfa overflows the capacity of any single museum. Sanliurfa is the most archeologically active province in Turkey. The centres of Urfa and two other towns have been declared protected sites. In short, Sanliurfa is an “Open Air Museum”.
MAHMUD NEDIM MANSION HOUSE (SANLIURFA LIBERATION MUSEUM)
Located near the Old State Hospital, Mahmud Nedim Mansion House was built in 1903. The mansion house merged the architectural features of a European city house and traditional Urfa house. The dressed stone masonry mansion house has a substantial floor area and is divided into two separate sections, harem and selamlik. The Public Theatre used the mansion house as its performance hall during the 1940s.
The French army occupied Urfa following Turkey’s defeat in the First World War. The walls of the mansion house still bear the marks of cannon balls and bullets from those years. The Governorship of Sanliurfa renovated the mansion and put it back in public use on 11 Nisan 2009 as the “Liberation Museum of Sanliurfa”.
FRILLY MOSQUE – CHURCH OF THE HOLY APOSTLES (FIRFIRLI CAMII – AZIZ HAVARILER KILISESI)
Frilly Mosque, on Vali Fuat Bey High Street (Yeniyol), is also known as the Church of the Holy Apostles. During Ottoman times the building was colloquially known as the “Frilly Church” because of the pilaster style wall-buttresses topped with ornate capitals, blind ogee arches, and archivolts. The structure was built as a church. Sources tell how the “Holy Cross of Varak” (a relic of the True Cross) was brought to Urfa in 1092 and placed in the church. The Holy Cross of Varak used to be kept in the Holy Cross Monastery of Mount Varak (Vargavank) in Van, and had a great significance for Christianity. The inscription plate above the mihrab of the mosque states that the structure was converted into a mosque in 1956.
The structure was built with dressed stone masonry on a three-nave basilica plan. The western facade and towers adorning four corners have exceptionally fine stone masonry. The central nave or Naos (central worshipping space) is spanned with a dome. The other naves are covered with vaults.
One of the striking aspects of the structure is the pilasters and stone decorations on the external facades of the walls.
SALADIN MOSQUE (SELAHADDIN EYYUBI CAMII) (ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST- ST. ADDAI CHURCH)
Saladin Mosque is on the Vali Fuat Bey Caddesi High Street in Sanliurfa. The site was originally occupied by the St. John the Baptist Church, which was commissioned in 457. The first church building, which was used as a mosque during the era of Saladin, was demolished, and in the mid-18th century the present structure was built over the old foundations as the St. Addai Church. During the 20th century the building became disused and fell into ruin, even being used as an electricity supply switchyard. Following a renovation it was re-opened as a mosque on the 28 Th of May 1993.
The entrance is on the west facing facade, and the late congregation section was built over the narthex of the previous church. The worshipping hall was illuminated by large windows. The windows of the main structural walls contain half columns and intertwined dragon reliefs.
KUCUK HADJI MUSTAFA HACIKAMILOGLU MANSION HOUSE (CEVAHIR GUESTHOUSE)
This mansion house is across from the Saladin Mosque on Vali Fuat Bey Caddesi High Street in the centre of Sanliurfa, near the Khalil al-Rahman Lake.
The historical mansion house was built in the second half of the 19th century. The dressed stone masonry mansion has harem and selamlik sections. Also known as the Mansion House of Kuçuk Haci Mustafa Hacikâmiloglu, the structure was purchased by the Provincial Administration in 1991 with the financial and moral support provided by Cemal Mirkelamoglu, a retired governor representing all inheritors. After a renovation the mansion reopened as a guest house.
CITY OF MOSAICS URFA
MOSAICS OF THE ALEPPIAN GARDENS
The ruins of the ancient city of Edessa are near Khalil al-Rahman Lake, and have remained buried under the irregular housing quarter for a long while. The most important finds related to the Greek culture of the city are the mosaics of the Aleppian Gardens (Haleplibahce), wonderful examples of the colourful and masterful Greek style. The art of mosaics also continued in a more local style during the rule of the Osroene Kingdom in the region between 132 BC and 244 AD.
The Aleppian Gardens were part of the ancient city. In 2007 excavations uncovered mosaics depicting a hunting scene showing women fighting against male domination over 3000 years ago in the region between the coast of Aegean Sea and the coast of Black Sea, extending deep into the Anatolian plains. The mosaics were first recognised and identified by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Bahattin CELIK and Archaeologist Ali UYGUN. The Aleppian Garden Mosaics contain the “First Mosaic Examples in the World Depicting the Warrior Queens of the Amazons”. Experts regard the Aleppian Garden Mosaics as one of the most significant mosaics in the world. The intricate mosaic contains tesserae up to 4 mm square made of stones from the riverbed of the Euphrates.
Archaeologists attached to the Archaeology Museum of Sanliurfa conducted the first phase of excavations at the Aleppian Gardens with funds provided by the Governorship of Sanliurfa. These excavations uncovered about 100 square metres of floor mosaics. The mosaics depicting a hunting scene have borders containing geometric patterns, plant motifs, and figures of a dove, an Eros without wings, a squirrel, a duck, a partridge, a gazelle, and a saluki hound.
Further excavations in the Aleppian Gardens unearthed other floor mosaics. One of the most important depicts the life of Achilles, a hero of the Trojan War. This mosaic was also discovered by archaeologists attached to the Museum of Sanliurfa.
During the excavations the ruins of a Roman bathhouse with a hypocaust (under floor heating system) were unearthed. The presence of this structure indicates the sophistication of the ancient city.
WHERE FIRE TURNED COOL AND PEACEFUL
KHALIL AL-RAHMAN (HALIL-UR RAHMAN) LAKE (FISH LAKE-BALIKLIGOL)
The Fish Lake is next to the historical and religious structures of the city to the north of the fortress, in front of Rizvaniye Mosque. A 150 metres long, 30 metres wide pool, with a depth of 3.5 metres, the lake contains a school of carp fish. The fish are considered holy by the local population, and eating one of them is considered a sacrilege.
According the Islamic interpretation of an ancient legend, Abraham was thrown into the burning pyre on this site but a miracle took place and the fire turned into a cool and peaceful rose garden. The lake is believed to have been formed by the miracle.
HALIL Al-RAHMAN MOSQUE
The mosque is situated next to Halil al-Rahman Lake (the Fish Lake). The mosque, colloquially known as the “Furnished (Doseme) Mosque”, was commissioned in 504 by the Priest Urbisius in the name of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. The records refer to the structure as the Church of the Virgin Mary, and it was converted into a mosque during the reign of Abbasid Caliph al-Ma’mun (813-833). Repairs to the minaret were commissioned by al-Malik al-Ashraf Muzaffar ad-Din Musa, the nephew of Saladin in 1211-1212. The structure assumed its present day form during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566). The mosque was repaired substantially in 1810. The Book of Travels of Evliya Chelebi refers to the mosque as the Dervish Lodge of Ibrahim Halil.
The mosque, situated along the north edge of Khalil al-Rahman Lake (Fish Lake), was commissioned in 1736 (Hijri 1149) by Ridvan Ahmet Pasha, the Governor of ar-Raqqah. The mosque has an oblong plan. Three domes parallel to the wall bearing the mihrab span the main hall. On the eastern corner of the mosque there is a minaret with a single adhan platform (sherefe). The entrance portal to the main hall was built with two tones of stones. The main hall receives ample light from windows on all four walls.
The most interesting decorative element is the wooden door of the entrance hall which was constructed by using kundekari (panelling built with tongue-and-groove joined polygons), a technique of Ottoman woodworking. The wooden door was built with small wood panels forming an elaborate pattern with tongue and groove joins. Not a single nail or fastener was used. The panelling is further decorated with carved and inlaid floral and geometric patterns.
TEARS OF ZELIKHA (AYNZELIHA) LAKE
Aynzeliha Lake (1,500 square meters) is situated to the south of Khalil al-Rahman Lake, in front of the Fortress of Urfa. The fish are considered holy by the local population, and eating them is a sacrilege. The legend of Aynzeliha Lake relates to the legend of Nimrod and Abraham. According to the legend Zelikha was the daughter of Nimrod, but she believed in the truth faith of Abraham. Distressed at the punishment meted out to Abraham, she threw herself from the ramparts of the Fortress of Urfa into the pyre. A lake formed where she fell, and since that time it has been known as the Tears of Zelikha Lake.
FORTRESS OF URFA
The Fortress of Urfa is believed to have been built on an earlier Neolithic earthen mound settlement from 9500 BC. The 11,500 years old Statue of Balikligol, found at the foot of the fortress and displayed at the Museum of Sanliurfa, provides a scientific estimate of the region’s history, including the age of the fortress.
The records of the 6th century do not mention the fortress at all. The first records mentioning the fortress date to the 11th century. Accordingly the fortress is through to have been built between the 6th and 11th centuries. The generally accepted theory is that the fortress was build during the Abbasid era in 812-814 AD. The two columns with Corinthian capitals were erected as monuments by MANU IX, the King of Edessa in 240-242 AD. These columns are 17.25 metres high, with circumferences of 4.60 metres. The eastern column has a Syriac inscription about 3 meters above the ground which reads as follows: “I am AFTUNA, son of the military commander BARSAMAS (son of the Sun). I erected this column and the statue atop it for Queen SALMETH, my lady, and my benefactor, the daughter of Crown Prince MANU, the wife of king MANU”. The Fortress of Urfa was surrounded on its three sides by a moat hewn into the rock, and the north face leans on an insurmountable escarpment. Ruins discovered during subsequent excavations in the Fortress of Urfa would reveal the cultural heritage of many civilisations between 9500 BC and Ottoman era.
One of the inscriptions on the walls of the fortress is only partially legible, but states that the fortress was built in 1462 (Hijri 867) by Sultan Hassan of the Ak Koyunlu Dynasty. Another undated inscription states that repairs were commissioned by the same person. Another inscription plaque dated 865 (Hijri) refers to Sultan Hassan as the person who commissioned the repairs. Consequently Sultan Hassan the Tall of the Ak Koyunlu Dynasty appears to be the person who undertook a massive renovation of the fortress rather than the initial construction.
FRIEND’S NATIVITY (MEVLID-I HALIL) CAVE
Mevlid-i Halil Cave is situated on the level field which is called the Dergah (Dervishes’ Lodge) Platform, near the Balikligol. ‘Mevlid’ means “holy nativity”. The belief is that Abraham was born in the cave. The spring in the cave is believed to be one of the most healing fonts in the world, second only to the Zamzam Well in Mecca.
HASSAN PADISAH MOSQUE
Hassan Padisah mosque is situated near Fish Lake (Balikligol), at Akarbasi (Head of the River). According to the Governmental Yearbook of Urfa (1926) the Hassan Padisah Mosque was commissioned by Sultan Hassan the Tall of the Ak Koyunlu dynasty in the second half of the 15th century, at a site next to the Masjid of Tok Temur, believed to have been built in the 14th century.
According to the inscription plaque the repairs of Hassan Padisah Mosque in 1574 were commissioned by Hadji Yakup, son of Sheikh Abd al-Qadir, during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Selim II, the Sot. The structure was also repaired in 1575, 1585, 1796, and 1859. The minaret with single adhan platform stands on the northern corner of the courtyard. The overflowing stream of the Khalil al-Rahman Lake passes through the courtyard of the mosque.
HUSEYNIYE BAZAAR (COPPERSMITHS’ BAZAAR)HUSEYNIYE BAZAAR (COPPERSMITHS’ BAZAAR)
Huseyniye Bazaar lies between Cadirci (Tent Makers’) and Kazanci (Caldron Makers’) Bazaars, and consists of two aisles set on the north-south axis covered with 15 groin vaults. The bazaar was commissioned by Hartavizâde Huseyin Fedidettin in 1887. The windows in the groin vaults illuminate the aisles between the shop fronts.
When it was first completed the bazaar was used as a market place for carpets, kilim, felt and similar products. Later it was used as a bazaar for slipper makers and sellers, and then one of its sections was assigned to the coppersmiths, and the other to the jewellers.
CUSTOMS INN (GUMRUK HANI)
The Customs Inn, near the Hasimiye Square, was commissioned during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1563 by Halhalli Behram Pasha who was the governor (Bey) of Urfa Sanjak. The Customs Inn is referred to by Evliya Chelebi in the Book of Travels as “Yetmis Inn”, and it is the most monumental example of the inns of Sanliurfa. It is also known as the “Alaca Han” (Speckled Inn) because of two colour stone masonry used in the external walls.
The stream feeding the Khalil al-Rahman Lake passes through the inn’s courtyard. The building has two storeys and the courtyard contains cafes and tea-houses. The floor above the entrance iwan has been used as a masjid. In 2001 it was renovated by SURKAV–Urfa Culture, Arts and Research Foundation, with the contributions of The Rizvaniye Foundation.
CAVALIER’S (SIPAHI) BAZAAR
This covered bazaar was built abutting the western wall of the Customs Inn. It is believed to have been built as a stable for visitors to the Customs Inn. The bazaar was built with dressed stone masonry with a central aisle spanned by a vault along the north-south axis. The bazaar has four gates. The deed of Rizvan Ahmet Pasha Foundations of 1741 explains that the gate to the Kazzaz Bazaar was opened through the wall by demolishing a cell.
The structure was restored in 1997 by the Governorship of Sanliurfa and opened as a carpet sellers’ bazaar.
KAZZAZ BAZAAR (BEDESTEN-THE STRONGHOLD FOR VALUABLE GOODS)
Kazzaz Bazaar, built in 1562, abuts the south wall of Customs Inn. The deed of Rizvan Ahmet Pasha Foundations of 1740 refers to the bazaar as Bezzazistan, and mentions repair work. The Bedesten was built as a stronghold, making use of dressed stone masonry. It has four gates: the main gate is to the East and opens to the Han Onu Bazaar; the west gate opens to Sipahi (Cavalier’s) Market; the south gate opens to the Pamukcu (Cotton-sellers’) Market, and the north gate opens to the Gumruk (Customs’) Inn. The Foundation Deed explains that the west gate was opened by demolishing a cell in the Cavalier’s Bazaar.
The floor of the shops lining the left and right side of the central aisle was about 1 meter above the aisle. During the renovation undertaken in 1998 by SURKAV–Urfa Culture, Arts and Research Foundation, the floors were lowered to the ground level. Today the bazaar caters to shoppers seeking local clothing items and accessories. The Sanliurfa Bedesten is one of those rare buildings that retain their authentic texture.
Sanliurfa has a long history of cattle husbandry and the art of tanning was practiced for centuries. However, the handicraft has been superceded by factory tanned leathers and practically disappeared.
Skin and leather tanning used to be two distinct trades, practiced by separate masters and separate lodges. The lower tannery was for skin and the upper tannery was for leather tanning. An 1883 Government Yearbook of Aleppo refers to both tanneries.
COMMISSION HOUSE (SAHAP BAKIR HOUSE– ISA BEDEN HOUSE)
The house, at the Koleler (Slaves) Street in the Pinarbasi neighbourhood, is also known as the House of Arabizade Resit Effendi.
The entrance is located at the end of a cul-de-sac. Like other traditional Urfa houses the Commission House has a double door. There is a medallion shaped inscription plaque above the entrance gate bearing the date of 1192 Hijri (1778 AD). This probably refers to the date when construction was completed. The historical house has harem and selamlik sections, and has all the characteristic features of Urfa houses such as an entrance hall, courtyard, pool, parterre, cellar, in-built wood burning oven, wall niches, iwan, and a rotating cabinet that provided a covert means of transferring food and crockery between ladies’ and gentlemen’s sections.
The Commission House is owned by the Provincial Administration, and has two storeys and two sections. With the approval of the Governor’s Office it was assigned to the province’s “Commission for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage”.
MAWLAVI HOUSE (MEVLEVIHANE) MOSQUE
The structure, situated to the east of Hasimiye Square, was built as a Sema (Ritual Whirling) House for the members of the Mawlavi Order, in the 18th century. The drum of the dome contains a symbol of the Mawlavi Order, the “Mawlavi Headstone”. The building was converted into a mosque following the banning of order lodges in the 1920s. The structure was renovated by the General Directorate of Religious Foundations.
The mosque has a square plan spanned by a single dome. The bazaar abutting the west side of the mosque used to be a butchers’ market. Following compulsory purchases the building became a market selling souvenirs and gift items.
HISTORICAL STREETS OF URFA
Streets and houses weave the historical and architectural texture of Sanliurfa. Hundreds of beautiful houses and streets that made up the original architectural texture have survived in excellent condition and form an important part of our heritage, ready to be enjoyed by our visitors. Sanliurfa has managed to maintain its civic architectural heritage as well as its monumental architecture, and on these merits it was nominated to the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage.
Numerous historical streets have typical features such as the tall exterior walls of the houses lining narrow streets, overhanging upper floors, bay windows projecting over the streets, and passageways covered with pointed barrel vaults, locally called kabalti. Among the numerous historical streets are Arabi Camii (Arabian Mosque) Street, At Pazari (Horse Market) Street, Gulluoglu Street, Huseyin Pasha Street, Irfaniye Street, Karanlik Kapi (Dark Gateway) Street, Madenli Street, Yorganci (Quiltmaker’s) Street and Zincirli (Chained) Street.
ELLISEKIZ (FIFTY EIGHT) SQUARE
Ellisekiz Square is a junction of four Ottoman era streets in the Nimetullah (Blessing of Allah) neighbourhood, surrounded by important historical structures. The Kurtulus (Liberation) Primary School on the south side of the square was built at the end of the 19th century as a “Model School”. The Dervish Lodge of Sheikh Saffet (1892), the Fountain of Sheikh Saffet (1891), and the Tomb of Mohammad Muhyi ad-Din (1795) line the east side of the square. On the north edge stands the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul (1861), and to the northeast lies the Nimetullah Mosque, dating to the 15th century. In a sense the square is a “Plaza of Tolerance”.
REGIE CHURCH (CHURCH OF ST. PETER AND ST. PAUL)
The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul Church is located in the Ellisekiz Square. It was built in 1861 over the ruins of a 6th century church and was in constant use until 1924 when the Assyrians of Urfa moved to Aleppo in Syria. The church was devoted to the two apostles of Jesus Christ.
After 1924 the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul was used as a cigarette factory. Later the State Monopoly on Alcohol and Tobacco took the building over and used it as a grape warehouse. The State Monopoly was first run by the French and called by the French name for state owned companies, “Regie”. Hence the building came to be known as “Regie Church”. The historical grave stones of the old church were moved to the Museum of Urfa. The building was renovated by the Governor’s Office in 1998, and opened to the public as the “Governor Kemalettin Gazezoglu Cultural Centre” on 24 May 2002.
NIMETULLAH MOSQUE (WHITE MOSQUE)
The Nimetullah Mosque is situated at Ellisekiz Square in the Nimetullah neighbourhood. The mosque is believed to have been commissioned by Nimetullah Bey, who was governor of Urfa Sanjak in the 1500s. Records tell that in 1721 Hadji Nimetullah bin Asker, and in 1755 Hadji Haydar Agha, devoted considerable resources to repairing the mosque. An undated inscription plaque in the mosque states, “This old and ruined church was repaired and converted into a mosque”. The inscription also refers to an unknown Firuz Bey, and was most probably carved between 1779 and 1781.
The main worshipping hall of the mosque is a classic example of Ottoman Stone Portals. The plan of the structure resembles the plan of Uc Serefeli Mosque in Edirne. The central space is covered with a dome. Two semi-dome covered side-spaces to the east and west enlarge the main worshipping space to accommodate a larger congregation. The mihrab of the mosque is decorated with stone carved geometric pattern based on octagons.
The mosque’s cylindrical minaret is the tallest minaret of all Urfa mosques, and has a single adhan platform (sherefe). The madrasah cells delineating the courtyard were commissioned by Abbas Agha in 1695. On the northern corner of the courtyard there are three graves. Two of the graves are known to be the resting places of Ruz Bey, son of Nimetullah (?-1520) and Ali Bey, son of Lutfu (?-1594).
QUILTMAKERS’ STREET (YORGANCI SOKAK)
This street forms the northernmost edge of the old quarter where the well-preserved historical texture of Urfa is now being developed as a “Heritage Zone”. The Quiltmakers’ Street connects Nimetullah Mosque to Yildiz Square. A number of houses along the street have been renovated and converted into guest houses where the guests enjoy the local customs of hospitality.
STAR PALACE (YILDIZ SARAYI) GUESTHOUSE
The historical house is one of the best examples of traditional domestic architecture and is divided into harem and selamlik sections. The building is remarkable for its large courtyard and elaborate stone masonry. Now renovated, the Star Palace (Yildiz Sarayi) Guesthouse boasts a famous restaurant, and is a venue for traditional sira gecesi (evenings in turn) entertainments.
GRAND MOSQUE (ULU CAMI)
The Grand Mosque is situated on Divanyolu Caddesi High Street. The mosque was built over the ruins of a church known as “Red Church” (Kizil Kilise). The date of the church’s construction is unknown. The courtyard and its walls, the columns, capitals, and bell tower of the old structure, are still standing.
The mosque has no inscription plaque indicating its date or the identities of its benefactors. The mosque is thought to have been built by the Zengid Dynasty in 1170-1175. Other inscription plaques indicate that the Grand Mosque underwent substantial repairs in 1684, 1779, 1780, and 1870.
The main hall was separated into three sections by two archways running parallel to the wall bearing the mihrab. There is a dome above the space before the mihrab. The main hall has four entrance gates. The main hall and late congregation section were spanned with vaults. The plan of the Urfa Grand Mosque resembles the Grand Mosque of Aleppo, which assumed its present day form during the repairs commissioned by Nur ad-Din Mahmud Zengi, ruler of Aleppo. The Urfa building is therefore thought to date to the same era. Following the Islamic conquest the mosque came to be known as the “Red Mosque” (Masjid al-Hamra). The congregation hall of the Grand Mosque of Urfa was spanned by groin vaults carried by fourteen pointed arches sitting on pillars, the first example of such an elaborate building system in Anatolia.
The congregation hall contains a well. According to popular belief Jesus Christ sent the Apostle Thaddaeus to bear the Holy Mandylion to King Abgar of Eddassa. However, the Holy Mandylion fell into the well. The well water is therefore believed to possess healing properties.
During the republican era a clock was added to the minaret, which became the first and only clock-tower in the city.
The courtyard of the mosque is surrounded by the thick walls of the old Red Church. Its northwest section is a graveyard. Among the graves is the Tomb of Sahabah ad-Din Ahmad, who died in 1923. He was the younger son of Mawlana Halid Ziya ad-Din, the founder of the Khalidi Sufi Order. The tomb has recently been restored by SURKAV–Urfa Culture, Arts and Research Foundation.
HOUSE OF HADJI HAFIZ AHMET EFFENDI (STATE FINE ARTS GALLERY)
On Divanyolu High Street, next to the Post Office, is the house of Hadji Hafiz Ahmet Effendi. The house, built around two courtyards, was erected in 1889, according to its inscription plaque. The structure was built with dressed stone masonry, and has harem and selamlik sections. It is one of the best examples of traditional Urfa houses. The elaborate decorations of the door and window frames, and the niches in the walls containing wooden shelves and dividers are the best examples of Urfa woodcarving.
The house was purchased by the Ministry of Culture in 1979 and restored. In 1998 the house opened to the public as the State Fine Arts Gallery. It was the first historical building purchased by the state for preservation in Sanliurfa.
LODGING SCHOOL FOR VILLAGERS (THE GARDENS OF THE PROVINCIAL DIRECTORATE OF CULTURE AND TOURISM)
The original building date remains unclear, but the half-finished structure was brought to its present form in 1930 by Governor Munir Bey. The building was originally designed to house the Industrial Vocational School. However, it was used as a boarding school for girls from the local villages.
As the building’s architectural features and style resembles the Mansion House of Yusuf Ziya Effendi (the former Ottoman Bank building), which was built in 1903, it could be contemporaneous. It is a two-storey structure built with dressed stone masonry on a “U” shaped plan. The structure was restored in 1993 by the Governorship of Sanliurfa, and briefly housed the Provincial Administration. In 2005 it was transferred to the Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism. The building has 4200 square metres of floor space. Both the main building and annex were renovated. During the renovation, the garden was redesigned as a “Culture Garden”, suitable for social functions. Replicas of many artefacts such as the Amazon Mosaics of the Aleppian Gardens, Stelae of Gobeklitepe, and the Mosaics of Edessa were built in the garden. One of the fine examples of Urfa architecture, the building continues to serve as the Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism.
MONUMENTAL FOUNTAIN OF MUSTAFA KEMAL PASHA
The Monumental Fountain of Mustafa Kemal Pasha is situated in a park at the junction of the roads to Gaziantep, Diyarbakir, and Mardin. Popularly it is also known as the Leading Fountain or the Monument to the Martyrs of Gallipoli.
The monumental fountain was commissioned by Governor Sheet Nusret Bey in 1917 to commemorate the solders of Urfa who served, were wounded and died under the command of Mustafa Kemal Pasha in the Battle of Gallipoli during the First Wold War. The fountain was originally erected in front of the Governor’s Mansion. However, in 1972 the Governor Turgut Sayin transferred it to its present site. The monument is 9 metres tall and contains road signs for the Caucasia, Ankara and Bagdad roads, and the Mustafa Kemal Pasha High Street leading to the city centre.
The monument was the first monument erected for Mustafa Kemal Pasha, dedicated before he was granted the title of Ataturk (Father of Turks) as his surname.
ARCHAEOLOGICALLY THE OLDEST TEMPLE IN THE WORLD: GOBEKLITEPE
The Gobeklitepe (Potbelly Hill) is “Archaeologically the Oldest Temple in the World”, erected in 10,000 BC, some 12,000 years ago. The archaeological site covering 80 donums (one donum: one thousand square metres) was declared a First Degree Protected Zone in 2005 by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. In the Neolithic era, humans turned to agriculture along with hunting and gathering. The wild wheat, barley and lentil were taken into cultivation. Through trial and error better harvests were achieved. The domestication of animals and animal husbandry also appeared during the same era, along with the first religious and civic architecture.
The Gobeklitepe site is situated 3 km north of Orencik (Karaharabe) Village, which is 17 km from the city centre of Sanliurfa. Its present name is associated with a tomb which is considered holy and visited by locals. The tomb was discovered in 1963 by Prof. Dr. Halet CAMBEL, Director of the Prehistory Department of Istanbul University, and Prof Dr. Robert BRAIDWOOD of Chicago University. The discovery was made during the surface survey conducted within the framework of “South Eastern Anatolian Research Project” organised as collaboration between the Universities of Istanbul and Chicago.
In 1995, further surface surveys were conducted by the Sanliurfa Museum Directorate while archaeologist Herald HAUPTMANN of the German Archaeological Institute acted as a consultant. Further excavations took place between 1996 and 2006, under the auspices of the Sanliurfa Museum Directorate, while archaeologist Klaus Schmidt of the German Archaeological Institute acting as the consultant.
Since 2007, excavations at the Gobeklitepe site have been conducted under the direction of archaeologist Klaus Schmidt of the German Archaeological Institute, following a decision by the Council of Ministers.
Among the interesting finds at the Gobeklitepe site are reliefs of desert monitor, wild boar, crane, stork, fox, gazelle, onager, snake, scorpion, mouflon, lion, spider, headless humanoid figures and male figures with exaggerated genitalia. These finds provided deep insights into the belief systems of the humans who passed into a sedentary lifestyle 12 thousand years ago.
The history of architecture began when humanity passed from a hunter gatherer to a settled society. The 12,000 years old buildings unearthed in Gobeklitepe have been accepted as harbingers of the dawn of architecture. Before the find, the first known temple of humankind, ages before the advent of the monotheist religions, was believed to be one of the Megalithic Temples of Malta, dated to 5000 BC. With the excavation of the Gobeklitepe settlement, all these assumptions became obsolete, and human knowledge was expanded to include the “Gobeklitepe Temple”, humankind’s earliest temple.
The accepted archaeological wisdom was that the drive to escape hunger, and seek security led the hunter-gatherers to a settled life. The discovery of Gobeklitepe changed this analysis, demonstrating the role of religious belief in the transition to the settled life.
Second Day: EXCURSION FROM THE HEART OF URFA TO THE SUNRISE
Station of Job (Ordeal Cave and Healing Water), Monastery of Jacob, Harran Excursion (Tomb of Sheikh Hayat al-Harrani, Jacob’s Well, Citadel of Harran, Earthen Mound of Harran, Harran University and Grand Mosque, Beehive Houses of Harran, Tomb of Imam al-Bakir), Bazda Caves, Han al-Bar’ur Caravanserai, Ancient City of Jethro, Ancient City of Souk al-Matar and Eyyubnebi District (Tombs of Job and Elisha).
SULTAN OF PERSEVERANCE
STATION OF JOB
Sanliurfa is the land of Job. The written sources of the three major monotheist religions tell his life story in detail, bearing on the Eyyubnebi District and the centre of Sanliurfa. The “Cave of the Ordeal” and the “Healing Well” are part of the religious complex known as Station of the Prophet Job, situated to the south of the city centre of Sanliurfa.
The story of Job is one of the popular legends of Urfa, and the oft repeated and written legend goes as follows: God appointed Job who was a leading citizen of the region as a prophet. God made Job so rich spiritually and materially, and blessed him with such fertility that he had many children, and his animals bred copiously. Job owned many villages, fertile lands and many flocks of cattle. He became one the most important and richest people in the region.
In order to test Job God first took his belongings and cattle. Than, He took his offspring. Job’s wealth gave way to destitution. However Job neither rebelled nor lamented. Instead he praised God, saying “God Giveth and God taketh away” in perseverance. Job maintained his stoicism and staunch belief, and continued his worship. In his old age, he became severely ill. All of his body was covered with painful wounds. Believing that this was a contagious disease, first his distant relatives, then his close relatives, and at the end even his wife abandoned him. Job resented only the behaviour of Rahme, vowing to punish her with a hundred sticks. When Job was cast out of the village his wife Rahme left him in a cave far away from the village and returned home.
Rahme occasionally visited her husband in the cave, which later became known as the “Ordeal Cave”, and brought him food. However, she eventually left him to his own resources. Despite all these deprivations, neither abandonment nor the devil’s temptations shook the beliefs of the holy man. He continued to worship and prays to God. Worms infested his wounds. When the worms dropped from his body he collected them and placed them back in his flesh, saying, in perseverance and submission to God, “Please continue to eat what God has provided”. When the worms found his heart, Job sought refuge in God and prayed: “My God! My body is weak and exhausted with disease. I have no more energy to pray to you and chant your name. I am in need of your mercy. I seek refuge in you, show me your mercy! You are the most benevolent and the most compassionate!”
The Ordeal Cave is in the settlement that the old sources refer to as the “Village of Eyyubniye”.
The merciful God accepted Job’s prayers. God ordered Job to strike the ground with his heel and drink of the cool water that emerged, and wash his wounds. Job struck his heel on the ground, and miraculously a spring appeared. He drank to cleanse his inside, and washed his external wounds. His disease disappeared. Today the site, known as the Station of the Prophet Job, is near the city centre of Urfa. It has been a site of pilgrimage for centuries. The spring is known as the “Healing Well”, and its cool water never ceases. Throughout history many commanders and kings bathed in the water to cure their ailments. Both Christians and Muslims seek the healing powers of the well. Old written sources tell that a bathhouse, hewn out of the rocks 100-200 metres to the west of the well helped cure many leprosy and rheumatism sufferers.
MONASTERY OF JACOB (DEYR YAKUP)
The Monastery of Jacob is in the foothills 10 km south of the city centre… Popular belief was that King Nimrod, who struggled with Abraham, used the place as a summer retreat. A structure in the region is popularly known as the “Throne of Nimrod” or the “Mill of Jinns”.
To the north-west of the monastery is a monumental grave. Under the eastern window of this monumental funerary structure is a two line inscription. The first line is in Greek, the second line is in Palmyra Syriac. Both lines say the same thing: “Amassemes, wife of Sardu Bar Ma’nu”. The inscription is believed to refer to the person who commissioned the structure.
The inscription is most probably from late 2nd or early 3rd century. It is believed that the monastery dates to the same era.
HARRAN CITY OF CIVILISATIONS
Etymologically Harran means, in the languages of the ancient civilisations, “a junction of roads”, “and a crossroads”. In the Akkadian language of the ancient Near East, “Harranu” means “travelling” or “caravan”. In terms of the sociological and historical context it means, the city where civilisations are born and meet. Harran is not just a town, but should be considered together with the adjacent plains. Harran was a key staging post for the Assyrian trading caravans plying the Anatolian plain during the era of the Assyrian Trading Colonies.
SHEIKH HAYAT AL-HARRANI
Hayat al-Harrani was born in Harran. His true name was Sheikh Yahya Hayat Abd al-Aziz, but he was renowned as Hayat al-Harrani. His presence as a holy man continued to be felt long after his death. Most of the contemporaneous rulers of the region visited the holy man, conversed with his wisdom, and received his blessings.
Among the powerful conquering Islamic rulers who visited the Sheikh were Saladin, and Nur ad-Din Mahmud Zengi, the ruler of Aleppo and conqueror of Urfa.
Local legend tells that during seasons of drought Sheikh Hayat al-Harrani brought his companions out and prayed for rain, and each time God, in his grace, made it rain. Sheikh Hayat al-Harrani died in 1185 and was buried near the Masjid. Ten years after the Sheikh’s death the tomb was built. The mosque and tomb are outside the city walls of Harran.
A historic well situated to the north of the Tomb of Sheikh Hayat al-Harrani is known as the Well of Jacob (Bir-i Yakup).
CITADEL OF HARRAN
The Citadel of Harran abuts the southern walls of the city. Some Islamic sources referred to an older Sabian temple that stood there before the citadel was built. The Umayyad Caliph Marwan II commissioned a palace and spent 10 million dirham (1 dirham=3.2 g) of gold for its construction. It is believed that the citadel was later built on its foundations. The three storey structure has the dimensions of 90×130 metres. It was laid on an irregular quadrilateral plan with dodecagon towers on each corner.
EARTHEN MOUND OF HARRAN
Excavations at the earthen mound have been ongoing since 2003 under the supervision of archaeologist Dr. Nurettin Yardimci. Artefacts discovered include Early Bronze age figurines and figurine heads of the Halaf Period, from the 7th millennia BC; cylindrical seals from the Old Assyrian Period, from 1950 BC; a terracotta tablet with cuneiform writing mentioning the King Nabunaid and the Temple of Sin, the moon god; and devotional inscriptions from the 6th century BC. The earthen mound and its environs have housed significant civilisations and cultures since prehistory, such as Halaf, Ubaid, Uruk, in the Bronze Ages, Hittite, Hurrian, Mitanni, Assyrian, Babylonian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic cultures including the Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid, Zengid, Ayyubid, and Seljuk states. The artefacts unearthed in the excavations are on display at the Museum of Sanliurfa. The ruins of the city from the Islamic era consist of domestic architectural structures built along the narrow, interconnected streets. These homes were laid on a rectangular or square plan with courtyards surrounded by rooms. Among the architectonic artefacts are flour mills turned by human power which provide an insight into the industrial technology of the period. The unearthed ruins of the city also provide insight into the highly developed city planning as well as the socio-economic life of era.
Research suggests that the first university in the world was founded in Harran. Harran appears to be the city where the are civilisations born and meet, and was the school to such renowned figures as the physician and mathematician al-Sâbi Thabit ibn Qurra al-Harrani, the astronomer Muhammad ibn Jabir al Harrani al Battani, who was the first to calculate correctly the distance between moon and earth, Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan, who established the science of the atom and algebra, Taqi ad-Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyah al-Harrani, the Islamic scholar revered as the Sheikh al-Islam (superior authority on Islamic knowledge). Other lesser lights have educated and inspired generations of scholars. Harran was the centre of the Harran School of Philosophy, which was one of the three principal philosophical schools of the world. Two schools of philosophy dominated the intellectual history of Urfa: “The Harran Philosophy School” and “Urfa (Edessa) Philosophy School”. The translators of the Harran school translated the Latin manuscripts of the Greek Philosophy of the Academia into Arabic. This reinterpretation of western philosophy was highly influential in Islamic civilization. Then, during the European Enlightenment, the western philosophy that had been digested by Islamic scholars was translated back into the European languages, serving as the foundation for western civilization. Even today western universities study the books of scholars trained in the historical Harran University, and there are institutes dedicated to these studies.
GRAND MOSQUE OF HARRAN
Harran came under Islamic rule during the reign of the Righteous Caliph Umar in 639 AD. Harran served as the capital during the last Umayyad Caliph Marwan II. One of the great buildings that remain from the Islamic period is the Grand Mosque or Mosque of Heaven, which is situated on the north eastern slopes of the Harran earthen mound. The eastern wall, mihrab, ablution fountain, and a substantial part of the minaret are still upright. The Grand Mosque of Harran (104×107 meters) is the earliest Islamic religious structure within the present day boundaries of Turkey, commissioned by the Umayyad Caliph Marwan II, and completed between 744 and 750. The lost timber staircase of the minaret was rebuilt as a replica with 105 steps.
BEEHIVE HOUSES OF HARRAN
The famous beehive houses of Harran can also be seen in other villages of Suruc and Birecik counties. However, the unique feature of the Harran houses is the conical corbelled-domes constructed with bricks. The development of the corbelled brick dome is associated with the lack of timber for construction and the abundance of bricks in the area. The houses are up to 5 metres high on the inside, and the conical corbelled domes were built with 30-40 courses of brick. Mud mortar binds the brick corbelled dome and walls, which are rendered with mud plaster inside and out. The Harran houses are renowned for being warm in the winters and cool in summers.
MOSQUE AND TOMB OF IMAM BAKIR
The tomb and mosque at the Imam Bakir Village, 3 km northeast of Harran, is associated with Abu Jafer Muhammad al-Bakir, fifth of the Twelve Imams of Shia Islam. During the Caliphate of Umar ibn al Khattab (in 639 AD), Abu Jafer Muhammad al-Bakir took part in the conquest of Urfa and Harran, and lost a finger during the battle. According to the legend a village bearing his name, “Imam Bakir”, was formed where his finger was buried.
On the 16th km and onwards along the road between Harran and Han al-Barur there are historical natural stone quarries. Inscriptions on the rocks indicate that these quarries were used in the 13th century. Bazda Caves are on the 19th km of the road. They were known as “Bazda”, “Albazdu”, “Elbazde” or “Bozdag Caves”. The Arabic inscriptions over the rocks state that the quarries were operated by “Abd al-Rahman al-Hakkari”, “Muhammed ibn-i Bakir”, and “Muhammed al-Uzzar” in the 13th century. Centuries of stone extraction for the settlements at Harran, Jethro’s City and Han al-Barur left many caves, galleries, tunnels and intersections in the rock-face. The largest gallery has two stories, the ceiling supported by 10-15 meter pillars. The galleries and tunnels lead on to other openings.
HAN AL-BARUR CARAVANSERAI
This structure, believed to date to the Umayyad era, is situated in Goktas Village, 26 km from Harran. The caravanserai was built along the road between Harran and Baghdad in the mountainous region called Tektek Hills. The structure has all the features of caravanserais of Seljuk of Rum, comprising a Masjid, guardhouse, stables, bathhouse, and summer rooms. The rectangular courtyard is almost a square with dimensions of 43.30×44.80 meters and there are two inscriptions on the north and west walls. The inscriptions above the entrance portal indicate that the caravanserai was commissioned in 1128-1129 by al-Hajj Hussam ad-Din Ali Bey, son of Isa. The Arabic word “Barur” means “Goat Manure”. According to the legend, the benefactor of the caravanserai used the space to warehouse his dried grape crop. Extremely hospitable, he offered his prize raisins to visitors saying “Those who come after me would store here only the goat droppings”. This premonition proved true. During the Mongol occupation the structure was badly damaged, and the local people used the caravanserai as a stable.
ANCIENT CITY OF JETHRO (SHOAIB/SUAYB)
The Ancient City of Jethro is 13 km from Han al-Barur and 39 km from Harran town. It is a settlement from the Late Roman period (4th – 5th centuries AD). The settlement is known as the Ephesus of the Southeast, and bares a strong architectural resemblance to that city. The legend says that Jethro used one of the caves as an abode and worshipping space.
The ancient city takes its name from that legend. The Cave of Jethro is a site of pilgrimage. The scientific consensus is that the name of the settlement came from the Arabic and meant “Old City of People”, and that the dwellings were actually the summer residences of people living in Harran Plains.
The houses were built in typical Roman style, with triangular pediments and roofs built around a courtyard surrounded by high walls. There are cellars carved into the rock under the houses. Every house had a well. There were entrance portals on the walls surrounding the courtyards. The streets follow a grid plan.
ANCIENT CITY SOUK AL-MATAR (SOGMATAR)
The ancient city of Souk al-Matar is 18 km from the ancient city of Jethro and 57 km from Harran. During the Roman era (2nd century AD) the region was ruled by the Syriac Kingdom of Abgar and the city was a cult centre for the moon and planet worshipping people of the Tektek Hills. At the Souk al-Matar cult centre there is the Cave of Sin, the moon deity, which is also known as the Pognon’s Cave after the archaeologist Henri Pognon; a Sacred Hill with slopes bearing reliefs of deities and inscriptions engraved in the surface; six stone masonry mausoleums, some with square, others with round layouts; a citadel, and many tombs hewn into the rock.
Souk al-Matar was founded (around 165 AD) by people migrating to the Urfa region to escape the Parthian (Persian) raids. The site remained a cult centre until the Islamic Era. The religious motifs found in Souk al-Matar indicate that the people living in the City of Jethro used Souk al-Matar as graveyard as well as a worshipping centre. Souk al-Matar had many wells carved into rocks like the ones in the City of Jethro. One of the old wells in the Ancient City of Souk al-Matar is believed to be the Well of Moses.
The road continues 35 km after Souk al-Matar and brings you to the junction of the Urfa-Viransehir road. The Viransehir road leads east for 29 km and brings you the junction with the road to the Eyyupnebi district. 16 km after the junction you reach the sacred Eyyupnebi district, where the Prophet Job, the Sultan of Perseverance, was buried …
EYYUBNEBI DISTRICT – Tomb of Job
The District of Eyyubnebi is 101 km from the city centre of Urfa, and it can be reached by a 16 km asphalt road branching off at the 85th km of the highway between Urfa and Mardin. The tombs of Job, his wife Rahme, and Elisha (Al-Yasa), as well as the rock where Job rested his back while enjoying sun, are believed to be in the area.
The Foundation’s four hundred years old deeds prove that the district was known as Eyyupnebi (Prophet Job). Thousands visit the tombs every year during the holy days and their eves. According to the legend Job sat on the ground and rested his back on a stone during his perseverance. A large basalt stone is believed to be the “Perseverance Stone” and is visited accordingly.
The legend tells that the Prophet Job was cured in Urfa, and returned to the Eyyupnebi district. He lived a long life there, blessed with wealth and offspring. He became wealthier than before his ordeal. When Job died he was buried in the Eyyupnebi District. A station 50 metres from the earthen mound is believed to be the tomb of his wife Rahme. Elisha, a contemporary of Job, died in the Eyyupnebi District on his journey to meet the prophet. Elisha died just before he reached Job. His tomb is 500 metres outside the village.
The Foundation’s deed indicates that the region has been known as Eyyupnebi District for 400 years. During the Bagdad campaign, the Ottoman Sultan Murad IV visited the village, prayed at the tombs, and created the Foundation to maintain the tombs on the taxes of 17 local villages. During religious festivities thousands visit the tombs on pilgrimage. According to the legend, the large basalt rock to the west of the tomb is known as the “Stone of perseverance”, and it was believed to be the place where Job sat and rested his back. It is visited accordingly.
Job returned to Eyyubnebi District after he was cured in Urfa. He continued to live there for a long while, became rich and had children. He became as rich as he had been before his trials. According to one legend Job died when he was 93 years old while another legend claims that he lived to his 164th year. He was buried in the Eyyûbnebî District.
Tomb of Rahme, Job’s Wife
The spot 50 metres to the north-west of the earthen mound in Eyyupnebi Village is revered as the Tomb of Rahme, Job’s wife. Rahme abandoned Job when her husband had gaping wounds all over his body, leaving him alone in the Cave of the Ordeal and returning home to the village. . Job was greatly saddened by this abandonment, for he loved his wife. However, he sought solace in his God. In response to her abandonment Job wowed, “I would beat her with a hundred sticks if God in his grace cures my diseases!” When Job was better his God showed him a way out of his vow.
According to the verses of the Quran, Allah said: “O Job, take in your hand a bundle of thin grass and strike therewith your wife, and break not your oath!” Truly we found him perseverant. What an excellent human being he was! In every case he turned in repentance to Allah.” (Surat: Sad, verse: 44)
Tomb of Elisha (Al-Yasa)
Elisha (al-Yasa) was a contemporary of Job. Like many other holy men he was always on the move. He left Damascus to visit Job and when he arrived in the Eyyûbnebi Village, the devil appeared before him in the disguise of an old person. The devil tried to thwart his pilgrimage by saying, “Old man, do not try in vain, you will not find Job here. He long ago left here for distant lands. At such advanced years you cannot reach him.” Elisha was deceived and as he has no more will to move forward he sought refuge in his God, asking him to take his life. As the legend goes Elisha died almost within sight of Job. According to another legend, Elisha ascended to heaven like the Prophet Idris and Jesus Christ. A tomb 500 metres to the south-west of Job’s Tomb is believed to be the Tomb of Elisha. Pilgrims have visited this tomb for centuries.
Day Three: EXCURSION FROM THE HEART OF URFA TO THE SUNSET
Ataturk Dam, Deyr Sebek, Halfeti (Excursion along the Coast and in the Historical Streets; Boat trip on Euphrates River), Birecik (Northern Bald Ibis Breeding and Protection Centre),
PRIDE OF TURKEY THE ATATURK DAM
The dam project was begun in 1960 and was completed on the 10th of January 1991. In June 1992 electricity generation and irrigation of Harran plains began.
In 1958 a decision was reached to build a dam on the Euphrates River in order to increase hydroelectricity generation in Turkey and to irrigate nine provinces in the Southeastern Anatolia Region. The project was started in 1960 by the General Directorate of Electricity Works Research Institution. The dam was ready by the 10th of January 1991 and the lake began to hold water. In June 1992 electricity generation began. The whole work was designed and built by the Turkish engineering companies, and the reservoir lake of Ataturk Dam then started to irrigate the Harran Plains, some of the most fertile farmland in the world.
The irrigation has changed farming in Harran, and nowadays 2 or 3 crops are harvested each year where previously the annual crop was at the mercy of the climate. Also the range of produce has increased and new cash crops such as cotton, soya beans, laurel, maize, and sunflower are cultivated. The Ataturk Dam is the largest dam in Turkey. The dam’s rock-fill core is the third largest in the world. The dam is the ninth tallest in the world, and its reservoir lake is the eighth largest in the world.
As a boon to visitors various facilities for water sports such as swimming, sailing, canoeing have been built on the reservoir lake, and many competitions are hosted at these facilities.
The Deyr Sebek is situated in the Inceler Village of Birecik County. It is locally known as “Kelosk” which means a small fortress. The ruin site dates to the Roman Period and contains two structures and a rock hewn tomb. The structure built on a position with commanding views is believed to be a fortified Roman station similar to the ‘Keçiburcu’ and ‘Harapsor’ ruins.
HIDDEN PARADISE HALFETI
The Halfeti County Seat is 112 km from Sanliurfa city centre. The surface area of the county is 646 km², and there are 35 villages and 34 hamlets attached to a district and the county seat. Its neighbours to the west are the Araban, Yavuzeli Nizip counties of Gaziantep province; to the north is the Besni County of Adiyaman; to the east is Bozova County; and to the South is the Birecik County of Urfa province. The altitude of Halfwit is 535 m above sea level. Halfwit County lies along the green clad banks of the Euphrates River. The county seat is also on the banks of the river, nestled on a steeply sloping hillside. The main agricultural produce of the county are cereals and pistachio nuts.
The limited availability of fertile land for cultivation means that the local population raises sheep and goats on the stony, barren grounds. The Euphrates River gives the county a climate resembling that of the Mediterranean.
When the town was captured in 855 BC by the Assyrian King Shalmanesser III it was known as the “Shitamrat.” The Greeks changed the name to “Urima”. The Assyrians used the names of “Kal‘a Rhomeyta” and “Hesna d’Romaye” for the region. When it was captured by the Arabs it was renamed “Kal‘at-ul Rum”. The town was conquered by the Byzantines in the 11th century and renamed as “Romaion Koyla”. In 1290 it was conquered by Mamluk Sultan al-Ashraf, and renamed “Kal‘at-ul Muslimin”. The town came under Ottoman domination during the reign of Sultan Selim the Grim, and received the name “Urumgala” or “Rumkale”, varients which are still used.
A large section of the county including low laying parts of the town was submerged under the reservoir lake of Birecik Dam. The new settlement area for the county seat was planned to be at Karaotlak, 7 km from the old town. Once infrastructure works were completed the town opened for business. The symbol of the town is the attractive dark-red coloured rose known as the ‘black rose’. Boat tours depart to Rumkale (Qalat ar-Rum) where St. Nerses Church, Barsauma Monastery, and many other historic buildings are situated, and also go to the Savasan Village where rock tombs can be seen.
Rumkale lies along the eastern banks of the Euphrates River, on the northern borders of Birecik Plains and Halfeti County. It was built on a hilltop overlooking the road to Sanliurfa, and forms the northern and north-eastern borders of Birecik. Rumkale was known as Shitamrat during the Assyrian era. Later its name was changed to Urima and became the seat of the Armenian Catholicos (Archbishop) and was conquered by Mamluk Sultan al-Malik al-Ashraf in 1292. Following the Battle of Marj Dabiq in 1516 Rumkale came under Ottoman domination, and was attached to the Province of Aleppo. Later in 1737 it became a province ruled by lords and local administrators. At the start of the 20th century it became a county and Halfeti Town became the county seat. During that period the population of the county seat consisted of Turks and Kurds while the village population was formed by Armenians and Yazidis. The oft visited principal structures of Rumkale are the fortress, the St. Nerses Church, and the ruins of Barsauma Monastery.
MANSION HOUSE OF FEYZULLAH EFFENDI
The mansion house was commissioned by Feyzullah Effendi, a leading person of the Halfeti region in 1901 (Hijri 1319). The building took two years to complete. The 14-room two-storey structure was built over a 1,000 square meters plan, with 10 rooms on the ground floor and 4 rooms on the second floor. The mansion house was originally located in the area set to be inundated by the Birecik Dam reservoir lake, and University of Harran undertook an operation to move it to its newly built Osman Bey Campus on the Mardin Road. The structure was minutely dismantled, each stone was marked, and the house was rebuilt in its original glory at the new site.
Birecik County is 80 km from Sanliurfa city centre and has a surface area of 852 sq km. The county has the county seat, three districts, 69 villages and 84 hamlets. The neighbours of Birecik County are Halfeti County to the north, Bozova County to the northeast, Bozova County to the east, Gaziantep Province to the west, and Syria to the south. Birecik county seat has been a settlement since the prehistoric times, strategically placed at a crossing over the Euphrates River.
During the Hittite period the region is thought to have been known as “Birthe”. The Assyrians ruled the region after the 9th century BC, and later it came under the domination of the Persian, Macedonian, Roman and Byzantine empires. The Arabs conquered the region in 780, and the Seljuk Empire ruled it in the 11th century. However, the region once again fell under Byzantine domination. The region was later ruled by Artuqid, Ayyubid, Ak Koyunlu and Kara Koyunlu dynasties, and in 1502 fell under the domination of the Safavid Dynasty. Birecik was conquered by the Ottomans in 1517, and it became a county attached to the Urfa Sanjak of Aleppo Province, part of the Ottoman Empire, towards the end of the 19th century. During 1919 Birecik was briefly was occupied by the British forces.
The strategic crossing over the Euphrates River, and the associated historic trading and industrial activity, left its mark on Birecik Town. The records indicate that there was a shipyard in Birecik building river crafts in the 16th century. In 1956 a major bridge, one of the longest spans in Turkey at the time, was built over the Eurphrates at Birecik. Following this the town received a new impetus to development. The river crossing that had been at the mercy of high and low water, flooding, and other caprices of the natural world, was relieved from those constraints and the local markets were firmly integrated with the rest of the country. Consequently agriculture and trading developed…
Birecik is important as the nesting site of the Northern Bald Ibis which is a rare and endangered species of birds. In 1977 the General Directorate of Forestry established the “Station for Breeding and Preservation of the Northern Bald Ibis” as a part of international efforts to preserve the species. The local names given to the birds are “Kelaynak” and “Keçelaynak”.
FORTRESS OF BIRECIK
The fortress is situated in Bilecik Town, on a steep and craggy limestone hill along the eastern bank of the Euphrates River. There are differing estimates about its original date of construction. The structure has been called White Fortress (Kal’etul Beyza/Beyda) because of the cream coloured limestone hill it was built upon, and the generally accepted view is that the present structure was built in the 13th century. However the Fortress of Birecik was substantially repaired at least three times during the eras of the Romans, (30 BC-395 AD), Franks (1098-1150 AD) and Mamluks (1277-1484).
OTHER PLACES TO SEE
TOMB OF SHEIKH MASOOD (SEYH MESUD TURBESI)
The tomb is the oldest among the tombs of Sanliurfa, and it was originally built as a madrasah in the plan of Seljuk madrasahs, a courtyard enclosed by four iwans. Sheikh Masood, one of the disciples of Hodja Ahmed Yessawi, was buried in a chamber under the eastern iwan of the madrasah and there is a sarcophagus in the iwan. Sheikh Masood was one of the disciples of Hodja Ahmed Yassawi and tasked by him to settle in Anatolia to spread Islam among the local population. This holy man served the muslims of Urfa for many years. The inscription on the cistern about 100 metres west of the structure reads as follows: “This cistern was commissioned to be hewn on 10 Rajab 579 (30 October 1183) by Masood, son of Said Hangal of Nishapur. May Allah show compassion and mercy to those who seek relief from Allah and to all Muslims.”
The St Jacob’s Church is situated in Germus Village, 10 km north-east of the city centre. The current name of the village is Dagetegi. It was believed to have been constructed in the 19th century. The church sits in a field along a stream and the St Jacob’s Church also has a meeting area. The church was built in dressed stone masonry as a two storey structure. Ataturk gave the village as a gift to Uceymi Sumer Pasha, an Iraqi sheik who served as a Pasha in the Hamidiye Irregular Cavalry Regiment. Pasha served with distinction during the First World War on the Syrian Front, and settled in Turkey after the War. His name and title was Uceymi Sadun Pasha, and after the promulgation of the surnames law in 1934, he took “Sumer” as his surname.
KARAALI THERMAL SPRINGS
The Thermal Springs of Karaali Village are situated 40 km south-east of Sanliurfa, and were discovered by chance during a sounding for irrigation water for the cotton crop. The studies conducted in the region revealed that the thermal reserve covers 90 hectares of land. The hotel and closed thermal baths were built by the Provincial Administration. The hotel has 34 double rooms. The flow rate of the thermal springs is 150,000 cubic meters per hour. The facility has been in service since 1997. In February 2000 an apart-hotel with 54 suits was also opened. The water temperature varies between 49 and 55 degrees Celsius, and has alleviating properties for symptoms related to disorders of the nervous system, joints, circulation, and some other ailments. The thermal springs in Karaali also supplies heating for the local greenhouse agriculture.
KARACADAG SKI CENTRE
The Karacadag Mountain is the only place with snow cover in the whole region. The governorship built skiing pistes 600-700 metres long and installed a 250 metre surface lift. The ski centre is 60 km to the Siverek County Seat, and has a 60 square metre cafe and 30 square metre service bungalow.
The skiing season starts November and lasts for four months. The centre also serves Siverek and Diyarbakir provinces.
DIRECTORATE OF CEYLANPINAR AGRICULTURAL ENTERPRISE (TIGEM)
The Agricultural Enterprise of Ceylanpinar started operating in 1943 as the Urfa Group attached to the Agricultural Combines. It assumed the State Production Farms by law no 5433 that came into force on the 1st of March 1950. A new legislation changed the institution’s name to the General Directorate of Agricultural Enterprises on 20 May 1983. The agricultural produce of the Enterprise comprise cotton, sunflower, alfalfa, fodder plants, vegetables and fruits. The animal husbandry activities of the Enterprise comprise breeding gazelles, cattle, sheep, and apiculture, as well as dairy operations.
TOMB OF SHEIKH MUSLUM (ZIYARET VILLAGE RELIGIOUS COMPLEX OF SHEIKH MUSLUM)
This cluster of structures including a mosque, two tombs, a minaret and other ancillary buildings is situated 5 km south east of Suruc County Seat. It was built to honour Sheik Muslum Effendi, son of the great Sufi Na’me es-Seruci, who was born in Ziyaret County. Sheikh Muslum Effendi died in 1168. There is no inscription plaque in the mosque, so the building date of the mosque, the dervish lodge and prayer hall is estimated to be 1168–1169. The inscription plaque of the tomb indicates that the tomb was built in 1538 (Hijri 945) by Sheik Hassan, son of Sheikh Mohammad. The structure was repaired in 1867 (Hijri 1284). Visiting the tomb is believed to help heal many ailments such as infertility and mental disorders, and it is a popular pilgrimage site.
WHAT TO EAT & DRINK
At guest houses: Delicious cig kofte (‘raw’ meatballs) are the indispensable delicacy of the ‘Sıra geceleri’. ‘Sıra geceleri’ were once “evenings-in-turn”, traditional communal meetings hosted in turn by members of the community. Today the term refers to commercial entertainments in which guests partake in the preparation and consumption of the cig kofte served with local kebabs and side dishes, accompanied with music in an ‘authentic’ atmosphere. Cig Kofte is traditionally accompanied by green salads, which include bostana (tomato, pepper, parsley, fresh mint, purslane and onion salsa), ezme (tomato, pepper, parsley and onion salsa, almost pureed), sarımsaklı cacık (grated cucumber pieces in garlic flavoured yoghurt), and çoban salata (chopped tomato, green pepper, onion, parsley salad occasionally topped with cheese cubes or walnuts). Other accompaniments include yaprak sarma (spicy rice filled fig-leave rolls) and peynirli helva (rice-flour, butter and sugar paste flavoured with melting cheese).
Local dishes: Local delicacies include Yumurtalıköfte (bulgur, onion, parsley, dried pepper, papper paste, tomato paste, spring onions, and mashed fried eggs), Bamya (okra in a tomato-onion-pepper-based meat sauce), boranı (turnip and dried black-eyed peas in a minced-meat, onion and tomato sauce), ekşili (pennyroyal, dried chick peas, cracked wheat, tomato and pepper paste), kazan kebabı (slashed aubergines filled with a spicy minced meat mix, boiled in a spicy tomato sauce), sac kebabı (lamb cubes fried and basted over a shallow pan flavoured with tomato and green peppers), çömlek (aubergines, tomatoes, lamb cubes, green peppers, onions, garlic, and butter baked in terracotta pots), içli köfte (spicy paste of cracked wheat and bulgur, rolled into egg-shaped shells filled with a spicy minced meat mix, served fried), ağzı yumuk, fried pastry rolls filled with minced meat and walnut paste), ağzı açık (fried flat dough bits with frilly edges topped with spicy minced lamb mix), söğülme (roasted aubergines and green peppers mashed and mixed with yoghurt flavoured with garlic and red pepper), lahmacun (pizza with spicy minced lamb and tomato), patlıcan (dried aubergines filled with spicy rice and minced lamb, boiled and served hot), and acur dolması (dried Armenian cucumbers filled with spicy rice, boiled and served cold).
Kebab (Grill) dishes: Grilled kebab specialities of the region include Kıyma kebabı (spicy minced lamb pasted, grilled on a skewer and served with a green salad), patlıcanlı (spicy minced lamb meat-balls, spaced with aubergines on a skewer, grilled and served with a green salad), domatesli (spicy minced lamb meat-balls, spaced with tomatoes on a skewer, grilled and served with a green salad), kuşbaşı (marinated lamb cubes, grilled on a skewer, served with parsley over flat bread), sade kebap (minced lamb meat-balls, spaced with tomatoes on a skewer, grilled and served with a green salad, and, according to taste, dried red-peppers known as isot), soğan kebabı (spicy minced lamb meat-balls, spaced with onions on a skewer, roasted and simmered until onions are soft, served with a green salad), ciğer kebabı (lamb liver cubes on a skewer, spaced with tail-fat bits, grilled on a flame, served with sliced onion, parsley salad spiced with sumac and dried red-pepper), sakatat, offal dishes (including tripe, trotters, kidney, intestines, head, brain, tongue, spleen, testicles, heart, and liver prepared in various ways).
Desserts: Dessert choices include sıllık (two leaves of flat bread baked on a hot plate, filled with walnut paste, and dumped into syrup), zingil (fried dough dipped in syrup), sade yağlı peynirli kadayıf (two layers of shredded filo pastry filled with cottage cheese baked in clarified butter, and doused with syrup), fıstıklı kadayıf (two layers of shredded filo pastry filled with crushed pistachio nuts baked in clarified butter, and doused with syrup), cevizli baklava (layers of thin filo pastry filled with crushed walnuts, baked and doused with syrup), fıstıklı baklava (layers of thin filo pastry filled with crushed pistachio nuts, baked and doused with syrup).
Beverages: Choose local beverages such as meyanbalı (liquorice syrup), mırra (bitter coffee spiced with cardamom), menengüç kahvesi (roasted drupes of terebinth (pistacia tebinthus) ground and boiled like Turkish coffee), and çay (tea).
ABRAHAM-THE-FRIEND (IBRAHIM AL-KHALIL) MEETINGS
The International Meetings of Abraham-the-Friend began as a charitable movement that would form bridges of benevolence between nations, and enrich all humanity with the wisdom that emanates from Sanliurfa, the birthplace Abraham, common ancestor of the prophets of the three principal monotheist religions. The aim of the International Meetings of Abraham-the-Friend was to follow in the ancient footsteps of Abraham, travelling in the light of his traits of hospitality, sharing, contentment, benevolence, generosity, and fruitfulness. The International Meetings of Abraham-the-Friend enable all charitable organisations of the world to come together in Sanliurfa, and provides an opportunity to exhibit their activities, and to share their knowledge, expertise, and experiences. The congresses, panels, and symposia organised during the meetings, provide opportunities to make fruitful evaluations and studies on charitable work, solidarity, assistance, love, and tolerance.
Date: Third week of May
WORLD PERSEVERANCE DAY AT EYYUPNEBI
To promote the perseverance trait of Job, the Sultan of Perseverance, an annual event is organised at the Eyyupnebi District of Viransehir County. The event organisers scan far and wide to find nationally and internationally those who displayed the exemplary virtue of perseverance in the face of calamities such as disaster, war, traffic accident, or health failure, and invite them to give speeches about their experiences. Their aim is to share and promote these people’s wisdom and exemplary behaviour as role models to society at large.
Date: In September
INTERNATIONAL CULTURE AND ARTS FESTIVAL OF SANLIURFA, CITY OF PROPHETS
The annual culture and art festival has been held regularly and comprises literary banquets, concerts, isot and cigkofte (ground dried pepper and ‘raw’ meatball) banquets, and contests, including ebru (paper marbling) and khatt al-Yad (Islamic calligraphy) contests and exhibitions, photography and painting exhibitions, shows of national and international folk dances, and various other banquettes.
Date: Second week of October
INTERNATIONAL CULTURE FESTIVAL OF KARAKECILI
This annual festival is held in Karakecili Village in Siverek County, and brings together the members of Kara Kecili (Black Goat), a nomadic tribe of Turcoman who have settled in various parts of Turkey, and around Siverek county, together with national and international guests. The festival aims to improve the association and cohesion between the Turcoman community. During the festivities young girls display the local dresses, and local and tribal folk dances are performed. The folk dance groups from the Central Asian states also demonstrate their traditional dances.
Date: In May
KISAS (ASHURA) FESTIVAL
Every year a commemoration is held in May in order to uphold the Ashura culture and pass it on to new generations. During this commemoration popular troubadours meet with the local people.
Date: In May
Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism
Address : Atatürk Bulvarı No: 49 ŞANLIURFA
Phone : 0 414 312 5332
Fax : 0 414 312 0818
Web : www.urfakultur.gov.tr
E-Mail : email@example.com
Museum of Şanlıurfa
Address : Çamlık Cd. Bahçelievler / ŞANLIURFA
Phone : 0 414 313 1588
Fax : 0 414 314 1642
E-Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Fine Arts Gallery of Şanlıurfa
Address : Divan yolu Cd. Merkez PTT Bitişiği / ŞANLIURFA
Phone : 0 414 215 5126
Fax : ……..
E-Mail : email@example.com
Provincial Public Library
Address : Topçu Meydanı / ŞANLIURFA
Phone : 0 414 313 11 65
Fax : 0 414 312 90 23
E-Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Akçakale County Public Library
Address : Park S. No: 4 Akçakale / ŞANLIURFA
Phone : 0 414 411 2368
Birecik County Public Library Directorate
Address : İskele Çarşısı Eski Belediye Binası Birecik/ ŞANLIURFA
Phone : 0 414 652 1388
Bozova County Public Library
Address : Halk Kütüphanesi Bozova / ŞANLIURFA
Phone : 0 414 711 6300
Halfeti County Public Library Directorate
Address : Halk Eğitim Merkezi Müdürlüğü Binası Halfeti / ŞANLIURFA
Phone : 0 414 751 5052
Harran Fikret Otyam County Public Library
Address : Özel İdare Dükkânları Kat: 2 Harran / ŞANLIURFA
Phone : 0 414 441 3636
Hilvan County Public Library Directorate
Address : İnönü Cad.Kızılay Binası Bşk.lığı Binası Kat: 2 Hilvan / ŞANLIURFA
Phone : 0 414 681 2334
Kısas Public Library
Address : Kısas Beldesi / ŞANLIURFA
Siverek County Public Library Directorate
Address : Eski Hükümet Konağı Emniyet Bitişiği Siverek / ŞANLIURFA
Phone : 0 414 5521708
Suruç County Public Library
Address : Cumhuriyet M. Onbir Nisan C. No: 6 Suruç / ŞANLIURFA
Phone : 0 414 611 4829
Viranşehir County Public Library Directorate
Address : Paşa Konağı Gölbaşı-Viranşehir / ŞANLIURFA
Phone : 0 414 511 3259
IMPORTANT PHONESMedical Emergency 11
Hello Traffi 112
Police Emergenc 155
Gendarmerie Emergency 156
Hello Governor’s Office 179
Emergency Health Advice 184
Governor’s Office 313 12 98 – 313 18 43
Halil Ibrahim Meetings Coordination Centre 215 12 42
Mayor’s Office 313 16 34
Harran University 318 30 00
Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism 312 53 32
Museum of Sanliurfa 313 15 88
Sanliurfa State Gallery of Fine Arts 215 51 26
Provincial Popular Library 313 11 65
State Hospital 313 12 20
Harran Univ. Medical Faculty Hospital 314 11 70-313 79 69
Balikligol State Hospital 351 25 62
Vali K.Gazezoglu Cultural Centre 215 68 48
SURKAV Cultural Centre 215 65 27
Sanliurfa Turkish Folk Music Choir 215 69 90
Ataturk Dam (State Hydrological Institution) 721 21 06
Professional Tourist Guides –
Association (SURED) 314 88 68 – 532 251 95 21