The great pilgrimage city of Şanlıurfa is a fabulous place if you want to dive into Turkey’s rich culture and heritage. This is said to be Biblical where the Prophet Abraham was born and from where he began his monotheistic teachings.
With its long history, it’s no wonder there’s much to see in Urfa itself as well as in the surrounding countryside. These days the main sightseeing draw-card is the archaeological site of Göbeklitepe, just on the city outskirts, where humanity may have first began religious belief.
1-GOBEKLITEPE: Although the ruins themselves are scant, the importance of this site for our understanding of human history cannot be overstated. When excavations began here in the mid-1990s archaeologists discovered what is believed to be the worlds oldest religious site.
2-BALIKLI GOL: Right in the center of the city is the Gölbaşı area, a well-tended park where Şanlıurfa’s most important attractions lay. The Sacred Fish Ponds are surrounded by the beautiful Rızvaniye Vakfı Mosque and Medrese complex on their North side, and the Halilur Rahman Mosque to their West. Swimming in the ponds are hundreds of sacred carp which play a central role in the story of the Prophet Abraham.
3-BAZAAR: The city’s bazaar area is one of the most authentic in Turkey. Here, amid winding alleyways crammed with stalls, the aromas of spice, leather and grilled meat from the kebab vendors all mix in the air.
4-HARRAN: This ancient town is thought to have been settled from the 3rd millennium. Although most famous for its distinctive mud-brick beehive houses, Harran is also home to two important ruins. The fortified remnants on the kale (castle) settlement mound date from the Fatimid period of the 11th century although there is evidence that some kind of fortress building has stood on this spot since the Hittite era. On the other side of the village are the Ulu Camii ruins where the first Islamic university once stood. The complex was built by the Umayyad Caliph Marwan II in the 8th century. Near the modern district of Harran, you can also see the remnants of the City Walls which once ran for 4 km around the town.
5-DERGAH COMPLEX: Within the grand Dergah Complex is the Hazreti Ibrahim Hallilullah; the cave where the Prophet Abraham is said to have been born. Local legend tells that the prophet’s mother gave birth to him here in secret because King Nimrod had been warned in a prophesy that a great leader would soon be born and so set out to kill all of the newborns.