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Sanli Urfa, known as the City of Prophets, has a very rich and far reaching background, due to its location in the great fertile plain of upper Mesopotamia. The archaeological and ethnographical museums exhibit finds of the Neolithic and Chalcolithic eras from the lower Euphrates region. You will notice a cave here, with several mosques around it here. This cave is believed to be the birthplace of Abraham. The Meviid Halil Mosque is also of another interest. Sanliurfa was praised as the city of the prophets Hiob, Jethro and St. George, besides Abraham, who were said to have lived here.

It is a holy city with "Balikli Göl" at the foot of a crusader castle and surrounded by mosques. The Halil Rahman Mosque is next to a pool which is full of sacred carp. The story about this pool that a holy person of Islam was about to be burned by non-believers and had stafied a big fire to burn him, but the logs turned into carp and the fire into water, and so the "Balikli Göl" was formed. On the other side of this pool, is the Ottoman Rizvaniye Mosque. The Firfirli Mosque, which was once the church of the Apostles, is worth a visit. A walk by the typical eastern bazaar and the old inns (hans), especially Gumruk Hani and Barutcu Hani, will take you back to the days of 1001 nights. Sanli Urfa Citadel and Ayn-i Zeliha Lake are other historical sites in the city.

Harran, Sanliurfa

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Kelaynak birds from Birecik

Harran, 48 kms. south of Urfa, lets you visit a place directly connected with the Bible. It is said that Abraham spent several years of his life in Harran. Harran is a fascinating little town. The beehive-houses are built here and which are still occupied by families who may invite you for a look inside and to drink something cool. You should also visit the ruins of the biggest, ancient Harran Islamic University at which many great Islamic scientists were educated. In addition the ancient city walls are still standing. Sogmatar and Suayb are other old historical cities. You may find good accommodation with a picturesque view in Birecik where the Kelaynak Bird Festival is held every year.

Cigkofte is the famous local delicacy.

Formerly URFA, or EDESSA, Arabic AR-RUHA, city, southeastern Turkey. It lies in a fertile plain and is ringed by limestone hills on three sides. The city is very old and controls a strategic pass to the south through which runs a road used since antiquity to travel between Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia. The modern name derives from the early Aramaic name, Urhai, which was changed to Edessa when the town was refounded as a military settlement in the 3rd century BC. Freeing itself from imposed Hellenism, Edessa, as capital of the principality of Osroëne, was a major centre of Syrian culture; it figured prominently in the conflicts between Parthia and Rome.

Christianity reached Edessa about AD 150, and the city became the seat of what was soon the most important bishopric in Syria. A sizable body of early Christian literature in the Syriac language was produced at Edessa.


After having been captured by the Sasanid Persians on more than one occasion, Edessa was taken by the Arabs about 638. Thereafter it saw many changes of rule, including occupation by the crusaders in 1098, until it was annexed to the Ottoman Empire at some point between 1516 and 1637. It then remained Turkish, except for a short occupation by forces of the Ottoman governor of Egypt, Muhammad 'Ali Pasha, in the late 1830s.

The city's monuments include the ruins of an ancient citadel situated on one of the hills overlooking the town, part of the old city walls, flood-prevention works built in the 6th century by the Byzantine emperor Justinian, and the 17th-century madrasah (religious school) and mosque of 'Abd ar-Rahman. Modern Sanliurfa is a local market for the agricultural and livestock products of the surrounding region. The main exports are butter and wool. The city is linked by main roads with Gaziantep to the west, Mardin to the northeast, Adiyaman to the northwest, and northern Syria to the south. Pop. (1990) 276,528.


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