Drive to Harran and discover its ancient Islamic university, its fortress and its charming beehive houses. Stop for tea in a beehive mud hut. Return to Urfa for lunch. After lunch, visit the historical sites of Urfa including Balikli Gol, the Gumrukhan and the Firfirli and Ulu Mosques. Overnight in Urfa.
Overnight in Hilton Garden Inn, Urfa
Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch
Urfa (a.k.a. Sanliurfa, “the prophet’s city”, or Edessa in ancient times) is the most spiritual city in Eastern Turkey. It is a major centre for pilgrimage and its traditions are very much alive and well. The “Sanli-“ part of its name (meaning “great” or “dignified”) was awarded by the Turkish legislature in 1984 in recognition of the city’s pivotal role in the Turkish war of Independence. Of particular note for visitors are Urfa Castle (the current walls were constructed by the Abbasids in 814AD), the Pool of Sacred Fish where Abraham was thrown in to the fire by Nimrod, the park of mosques, the market area and the Urfa museum.
Visit the ancient city of Harran, once the centre of Egypt's Hermetic tradition. See its ominous "Astrological Tower", citadel and local village and take in one of the most atmospheric sites anywhere in the world. Mentioned in the Book of Genesis, Harran is believed to have once been home to the Prophet Abraham. The site of the first Islamic university in Anatolia, Harran also boasts the remains of an 8th century mosque, a citadel and some 300 year old beehive mud homes which enjoy a constant temperature throughout the year, winter or summer.
The Great Mosque of Urfa meanwhile, was constructed in 1170 on the site of the old Christian church, which Arabs referred to as ‘the Red Church’.
Balikli Gol, or ‘The Legendary Pool of Sacred Fish’, is the site where Nimrod threw Abraham into the fire, located within the grounds of the mosque of Rahil-ur-Rahma and surrounded by ornate gardens. Riddled with a mythical enigma, the fish in the pool are said to thrive and a local legend even terms the pool, ‘the doorway to heaven’.