The City That Whispers To The Souls Of People
Cities are like people. They are born, they grow up, and they develop. Şanlıurfa, however, is different. It was born grown-up.
There are many cities that, even if you have never been, you try to acquaint yourself with by reading books and articles about them. You can succeed in this to some extent too. However, if it is Urfa in question, you are faced with a difficult task. You cannot get to know it without getting there and experiencing the color of its soil, smelling the streets that hide thousands of stories, listening to its people and tasting the heat of its peppers.
This city promises a magnificent experience not to be postponed and to be included in your list of places to be visited before it is too late. Urfa is a city that was Abraham to Nimrud and to Abraham, it was a rose garden. In Birecik, the color of the soil changes.
The nightingales chirp in a distinct manner, and the taste and aroma of the tea gets better and more refined. Nobody knows why, but you immediately begin to feel at home here. When you listen to the sounds around you, you are listening to songs of brotherhood, in all languages. What makes Urfa glorious is, to some extent, this wealth of culture.
THE PERPETUAL CAPITAL OF CULTURE
It is very difficult to give an exact date as to when Urfa’s history began. Göbeklitepe, dating back to the 11th century BC, is like a tunnel through time stretching back to the first signs of settled life. Şanlıurfa has not only produced culture throughout history, it has also been a huge school.
What we could refer to as the first university in the world was established in Harran. Assyrian scholars at the School of Urfa (then named Edessa) translated valuable works of the Classical Greek era into Assyrian. These works were first translated into Arabic, then into Latin during the Umayyad and Abbasid period, and were sent to Europe through Sicily and Spain.
Europe, in fact, owes a lot to Urfa for its Renaissance. After Antioch, the Crusaders’ second earldom in Anatolia was established in Urfa. In short, the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic cultures have all occupied these lands at some point. Culture and civilization have been conveyed up to our time, as if in a relay race. Urfa has always generated unique value with its accumulation in architecture, gastronomy, and art.
THE FORTRESS OF BELIEF
When speaking of Şanlıurfa, one naturally remembers Abraham, the namesake of the Abrahamic religions and the symbol of monotheistic religions.
He was also the neighbor of the prophet Job, who exemplified the virtue of patience. Other great prophets, Joseph, Jacob, Moses, Jethro, and Elyssa, have also lived in this city for some time. Urfa is not just significant for the Abrahamic religions; temples dedicated to the moon, sun, and various other gods were built in abundance during pagan times.
A group known as the Sabians, who were known for their vast knowledge in the field of astronomy, dwelled in the region as well. Saints, monks, and Jewish and Islamic scholars have enlightened believers in this region for centuries.
If you are fond of buying local products, Urfa is at top of the list of places you should visit. There are many varieties of cheese, herbs and spices, fabric, copper works, carpets, and rugs in Urfa’s bazaars. Here, you can find something for every taste, and something appealing even to those hardest to please. Even if you don’t buy anything, the honest and joyful merchants will surely make you smile. Don’t leave without trying their coffee.
BİRECİK, HARRAN, HALFETİ
You cannot truly say you visited Urfa unless you have spent time in some of its foremost districts. The houses of Harran with their authentic architecture and the traditions of the people who live there, Rumkale in Halfeti, and the ibises in Birecik that were considered holy creatures in ancient Egypt are among the symbols of Urfa.
The Sheikh Muslim and Ahmed-i Bican mosques in Suruç are characteristic examples of the traditional local architecture. The antelopes in Ceylanpınarı are undoubtedly one of nature’s greatest gifts to Anatolia. You can obtain a lot of satisfying information from young guides offering their knowledge in return for pocket money. Don’t forget to enjoy the sunset from a point in Halfeti overlooking the Euphrates.
UNIQUE SIRA NIGHTS
Şanlıurfa has a different type of musical wealth in local folk songs. It is a privilege to listen to the folk songs, odes, and gazelles of Urfa – which also play an important role in passing on the oral culture – on sıra nights. Local poets and performers get together to sing songs and read poems on sıra nights, during which you may also sample the peerless delicacies of Urfa.
It is very difficult to resist Şanlıurfa’s alluring delicacies. Urfa kebab, liver kebab, lahmacun (Turkish pizza), çiğköfte (raw meatballs) are among the dishes you absolutely must taste.
The local outfits of Şanlıurfa show the region’s cultural wealth.
THE GLORY OF URFA
The people of Urfa, who put up a heroic struggle against the invasion of their city during the years of the national resistance days under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, set a fine example for all Anatolia.
For the bravery and courage shown against invasion by the people of Urfa to be remembered forever, the Turkish Grand National Assembly passed a resolution for Urfa to be given the title of “Şanlı” (Glorious) on June 12, 1984.