Would you like to get acquainted with the mystical and mysterious atmosphere of the Southeastern Anatolia region? Şanlıurfa, known as the “City of Prophets”, has been for years keeping the historical and cultural secrets you want to discover. The city is a resource of legends that is equivalent to a colorful mosaic. Şanlıurfa is surrounded by Diyarbakır, Mardin, Gaziantep, Adıyaman, and Syria. This city holds great importance because it is on both commercial and military roads.
It is not known exactly when settlement started in Şanlıurfa. However, this city is the home of world’s oldest settlement, Göbeklitepe, where settlements go back to 12,000 years back. The known history of Şanlıurfa mentions that the Hurri and Mitanni states were established around 1.500 BC, and in later periods, this land was used by the Sumerian Civilization, Akkadians, Elams, and the Persians. When Hellenism started, the Kingdom of Osrhône was established in Şanlıurfa. During the early stages of Islam, the city became a center for the Byzantines. History tells us that the city has come under the domination of the Seljuks for the first time in 11th century.
Places to Visit
Şanlurfa is one of the oldest settlements in Mesopotamia. It is a strategic place because it is located on trade routes and water resources. A 12-thousand-year history was proved with excavations in Göbeklitepe, in this region. Şanlıurfa was known as “Urhay” in 3 BC. After Macedonia was captured, it was called “Edessa”, meaning “the place with abundant water resources”. Over time, these words became an Urhai term, which means abundant water in the Arabic language. “Urfa” has received an honor title Şanlı (glorious) for the city after the War of Independence, and became “Şanlıurfa.”
There is no doubt that when you visit the city, the architecture will fascinate you. Mansions, houses and baths, bridges and aqueducts, mosques, walls, shrines, and castles stand as a cultural silhouette. The crossing areas with the haremlik/selamlık names and Şanlıurfa houses with their gazebos and iwans reflect different architecture of Anatolia, e.g. Küçük Hacı Mustafa Hacıkamiloğlu Mansion, Mahmut Nedim Efendi Mansion, and Kürkçüzade Halil Hafız Efendi Mansion should be seen.
The city, which has carried the social and cultural traces of many civilizations to the present day, is located in a place where different religions meet. Fırfırlı Mosque is one of the historical buildings. This structure, located on the Governor Fuat Bey Street, was built as the Twelve Apostles Church in the early periods. As other Anatolian architectural works, stone carving and embroidery have been used in the mosques. You can see different traces on every corner of the city. Hz. İbrahim Cave, known as the place where İbrahim was born, Hz. Eyüp Shrine and Cave in Eyüp Nebi region, and Kılıçaslan the 2nd Shrine are all places where you can find mystical peace.
According to historical findings, Şanlıurfa Castle was built in 812 when the city walls were renewed. Şanlıurfa Castle is in the center of Şanlıurfa. The castle is on the face of a rock. It is known that these rocks came from Byzantine tombs. There are also tablets and inscriptions in the castle. Girls Palace is on the road to Viranşehir. It was built on a rocky hill and offers spectacular views and an underground bazaar.
Balıklı Lake is located in the center of city that is an indispensable place for nature lovers. The region looks like a natural aquarium with its fish, willows, and sycamore trees. Balıklı Lake also has impressive legends.
We can see deep culture even in local cuisine with quite delicious recipes. Hundreds of different flavors from kebab varieties to steak tartar a la turca, from meat dishes to indigenous mırra (known as bitter coffee) are waiting you in Şanlıurfa. Moreover, handcrafts such as sculpture, hand carving, weaving, fur, leather, jewelry, copper working, and stone ornaments have been developed in these historical bazaars and markets. You can find local products in underground bazaars or at indoor markets. The Gümrük Han (Customs Inn) is known as the old trade center where the commercial complex offers bazaars today, dating back to the Ottoman period.
How to Get There
The city is well connected through highways and airways.