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A beautiful and mysterious landscape full of tradition
A city of mixed Cultures and Peoples

The history of Sanliurfa dates back to at least 9000BC. The Neolithic site known as Gobekli Tepe is located outside the city and is now the most famous of all archeological sites in Turkey. Urfa, as it is known commonly, is purported to be the birthplace of Abraham and Job. For Armenians Urfa is a holy place and it is believed that the Armenian alphabet was invented here.

Throughout history Urfa has been ruled by many civilizations including Akkadians, Sumerians, Babylonians Hittites, Armenians, Assyrians Chaldeans, Persians, Macedonians (under Alexander the Great), Seleudids, Arameans, Romans, Sassarids, Byzantiums and Crusaders, Seljuks   and finally the Ottoman Empire from 1516AD. There was a very small population of Jewish people, however in late 19th century most fled to Aleppo and Jerusalem. Most Assyrian Christians left for Aleppo after the Republic of Turkey was founded at the end of WWI. The British and French occupied Urfa until 1920 when they were defeated by local Turkish forces.

Modern Şanliurfa has contrasts between the new and the old city Much of the old city retains its Arabic feel and Middle Eastern houses, The newer districts sprawl with modern apartment blocks, restaurants, and sports facilities. Like any modern towns in Turkey since the 1990s, Urfa has enjoyed great development and growth thanks to the South Eastern Anatolia Project that has provided supplies of water for local farmers and created an agricultural boom mainly in cotton production

What to See

The best known attraction in Urfa is the Balikigul or the Holy Lake. A beautiful oblong lake, surrounded by buildings, and filled with carp. It is religious site for Muslims because of its connection with Abraham. Nearby is the Cave of Abraham where it is purported that the prophet was born, this is a place of prayer for Muslims.

Harran, south of Urfa is the place where Abraham was purported to have spent his early life.   Famous for its bee hive houses and also its city walls, museum, castle, and ancient university.

Gobeklitepe is a recently uncovered Neolithic site located near Sanliurfa. It has become a focus for archaeologists worldwide. The site is now open to the public and is one of the ‘must dos’ on the itineraries of nearly all people who visit Urfa.

What to Buy

The old town is one of the most evocative and romantic in Turkey with its vast ancient bazaar. You can purchase traditional crafts, hand woven textiles, leather saddles, hand beaten copper-ware, wooden carvings, and gold and silver jewellery.

What to Eat

The cuisine of Urfa is a mix of the many civilizations that have passed through. Dishes have names in Kurdish, Arabic, Armenian, Syrciac and Turkish. Cig Kofte (raw meat) according to legend was prepared by the Prophet Abraham from whatever he had at hand. It also has a rich kebab culture. Mostly lamb and offal hold a special place with liver being prominent. Urfas meze are very rich and varied, some of which are unknown in other parts of  Turkey, such as Agzi Yumuk and Semsek. Urfa is a big user of clarified butter made from sheep’s milk called Urfabutter. Among its sweets are Sillik and sweet pastry filled with round walnuts.

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