Your Complete Guide To Exploring Sanliurfa


Sanliurfa is a beautiful Turkish city in Europe with a rich history dating back to almost 9000 BCE, but on official records, it is 4th century BCE. Placed near the popular Mesopotamian settlements of Nevali Cori and Harran. The “city of prophets” is popularly referred to in the tourist population due to its ancient roots in Christianity, Jewish, and Islam. Connect with the reliable travel partner who will act as your Sanliurfa Travel Guide and provide much-needed insights about the rich cultural heritage of this amazing hometown of Abraham. There are several renowned transactions like the Neolithic site of Gobekli Tepe, a 10th millennium BCE structure.

Sanliurfa was made up of a beautiful mix of Arabs, Kurds, and Turks. This place was earlier known as Edessa. The locals refer to this destination as Urfa to celebrate the resistance to the French Invasion and occupation from 1918-20. This pilgrimage is the birthplace of many religions as the prophet Abraham was born here. The mosque complex and the Middle Eastern ambiance of this place are its highlights. Get the first-hand feel of the offbeat culture, authentic Middle Eastern ambiance, rich cultural heritage, and friendly locals. Lazy city walks, a round of chatting with the locals, vibrant markets, and exotic locale are distinguishing experiences you should indulge in during your Sanliurfa holiday.

Best places to visit

The historic site of Gobeklitepe is among the top tourist attractions and a great way to start your Sanlirufa tour. There is a religious belief that humanity began its existence on the city’s outskirts. Therefore, we bought you some of the best destinations you should look to explore in Sanliurfa that will act like a Sanliurfa tour guide if you land up in this part of the world.

The first temple at Gobeklitepe

This destination stands among the top archaeological sites globally, where it was discovered almost 10,000+ years back in the 1990s, sending shocking waves through the archaeological population and beyond. Many researchers have also claimed that it is the biblical Garden of Eden. It is believed that this stands to be the oldest religious temple globally. The Neolithic pillars depicting animals have been carved to perfection, offering deeper insight into the Neolithic culture, making it one of the key elements of the site’s history.

Shopping at the Bazaar

Any Turkish holiday is incomplete without shopping at the authentic Turkish Bazaar. There are plenty to choose from fine spices, grilled meat, leather, carpets, apparel, antiques, household goods, ancient metalworks, and much more. Fulfill all your shopping desires in the region. You can enjoy some tea and quick bites between your shopping arcade, which also houses a well-preserved han within this Bazaar.If you are not in the mood to shop, roaming around the bazaar is one of the free things to do in Turkey, and you can just soak in the hustle-bustle of this place.

Dig into historical elements at the Sanliurfa Archaeological Museum

This museum is devoted to the region’s rich cultural heritage and is one of the best places to visit for history buffs. Mind-blowing artifacts are displayed through interactive mediums near the excavation sites. The museum shares untold stories about human evolution from the Neolithic to the Ottoman era over its three levels. Most of the artifacts here are devoted to Gobeklitepe, along with many pre-potteries Neolithic archaeological sites dotting the neighboring countryside. The Urfa Man Statue is among the highlights of this museum. You can also look to explore the adjacent Haleplibahce Mosaic Museum, decorated with Roman-era mosaic floors that were unearthed in 2006.

Explore the Dergah Complex

The grand Dergah complex houses the Hazreti Ibrahim Halilullah, a cave from the prophet Abraham’s birth, whose birth was kept secret because of a widely spread prophecy that a great leader would be born, which led to mass killings of all Urf’s newborns by King Nimrod. You should not miss out on the regal façade of the Mevlid-I Halil Mosque across the central courtyard. Many religious pilgrims gathered here before the hajj’s invention to Mecca to seek the blessings of the almighty.

Feed the fish at Golbasi

A set of sacred fish ponds is nestled among the gorgeous Rizvaniye Vakfi Mosque, the Medrese complex, and the Halilur Rahman Mosque from its three sides. These sacred carp had played an important role in the untold stories about Prophet Abraham being burnt due to its altercation with King Nimrod and the idol worshippers of Ur before God came to his rescue to save him through a violent storm sweeping prophet Abraham off the ground in thin air. He landed at this destination with the fire transforming into the water and the embers into fish. Many tourists and visitors often feed these sacred carp.

Explore the grand Sanliurfa Castle

This historic fortress overlooks the city center and is easily accessible via trails from Golbasi Park. Perched on the Nimrud Kursesi hill, colonies of hermit ibises are placed on the steep rock faces. A 12m wide human-made ditch separates the hinterland and the castle. It is said that King Nimrud has built the funerary pyre of the prophet Abraham here. The hill fortifications are written in either Crusader, Greek, Byzantine, or Ottoman. The entry to this castle is through three gates where you can witness the 25 fortified tower ruins.

Other key attractions include the Grand Mosque – a 12th-century classic, a day trip to Harran, the beautiful Selahaddin Eyubi Mosque, historic Sogmatar, and the Cave & Complex of prophet Job.

Best time to visit

best time to visit

Avoid the summers here as it becomes very hot. October to February experiences cooler weather here, making it a better time to explore Turkish culture. The days can be a bit warm, but that can easily be covered using a headscarf, a pair of sunglasses, and some sunscreen.

How to reach here

How to reach Turkey

Sanliurfa is well connected via flights from Istanbul and Ankara, but the number of flights landing here is comparatively low. You can get here by road easily by driving down. If time is the essence in your trip, travel via Ankara or Mardin to cover the short highlights of this unique Turkish destination within a short period.

Where to stay

You will easily find several village homestays, hotels, and traditional guest houses that offer an authentic Turkish hospitality experience. The Yuvacali village homestays are among the best-recommended ones for exploring the rustic Kurdish lifestyle.

Where to eat

Turkish Pizza

The Turkish Pizza known as Lahmajun, pistachio Kunefe desserts, cig kofte, raw kebabs, and liver kebabs is hot favorites among locals and tourists alike. Zaheer Kahvalti has quickly risen to prominence among the tourist population due to its delightful local culinary menu and wonderful service.

Is Sanliurfa worth visiting?

Yes, Sanliurfa is worth visiting because it is peaceful and safe. There are plenty of tourist attractions that can be witnessed in a few days. The history of Urfa turkey can be seen in Gobekli Tepe. It is better to give yourself to rest; otherwise, you wouldn’t be energized enough to roam this place in Turkey.

Things to do around Sanliurfa

1. Feed fish at the pool of Abraham

Abraham Sanliurfa

The pool of Abraham has a legendary belief behind it. The Islamic culture tells a story about King Nimrod, who forced Prophet Abraham to worship him. Prophet Abraham refused, and so he was thrown into a well of fire. But God replaced it with a pool, flames and burning embers with fish. It is considered sacred to feed the fish in this pool. This also lets you know about the cultural aspect of the town.
Price: Free to explore; fish food costs 5 Lira ($0.45 US).
Hours: 24/7

2. Gobekli Tepe Visit

The Gobekli Tepe in Sanliurfa can’t be skipped because of its interesting past. This place has been dug up and they found an old temple that is about 11,000 years old. People thought that before farming was found, there was no human society. However, this temple showed that it was false since the building of the temple must have required an immense amount of organization. Thus, Gobekli Tepe in Urfa, Turkey, is known as the ground zero of human civilization.
Hours: 8:30 am to 5 pm

3. Try Sanliurfa’s Most Popular Dish, Çig Köfte

Sanliurfa is known for many dishes like lahmacun. But the visit to Urfa is not complete without trying Çig Köfte. This unique dish contains raw ground beef, kneaded bulgar wheat, tomato paste, onion, garlic, and spices all shaped into a beef-tartare-style meatball. It is served with lettuce. Also, a vegan option is available.

4. Visit the Cave Where Prophet Abraham was Born

Cave Abraham
Image Courtesy :

Sanliurfa is Prophet Abraham’s birthplace. He was born in a cave. The reason behind this is that it was a prophecy that King Nimrod would be killed by a boy. So, all the boys born were killed. To save Prophet Abraham, he was secretly brought up in a cave until the age of 7. This cave is located in Mevlid-I Halil’s Complex. This prophecy is why people come to visit this cave.

5. Spend The Afternoon In The Dargah Complex

The Dargah Complex consists of Abraham’s pool and birthplace. The complex also has a park and restaurants. There is also street food available. It is a perfect place to sit and relax for some time after the hectic sightseeing.

6. Admire The Views from The Top Of Urfa Castle

The steps behind the cave at Mevlid I Halil Mosque will take you to a height above the ground into the Urfa Castle. Although it is not very well maintained, the views from the top and the history of the place will mesmerize you.

7. Visit Prophet Job’s Cave, Tomb and Holy Well

Apart from Prophet Abraham, even Prophet Job spent 7 years of his life in the cave and got healed by the sacred water. For people on a religious pilgrimage, you can learn about his life and visit his tomb in Urfa, Turkey.

8. Sanliurfa’s Bazaar

Sanliurfa's Bazaar

The market at Urfa is very different. Here, you will see shops selling loose tobacco, ship skins, and pigeons too. There is also a courtyard named Gumruk Han where locals come together and play games.
Hours: 9 am to 5 pm
Closed on Sundays

9. Relish Sanliurfa’s famous sweet Şillik

Şillik is a very popular sweet dish. It consists of a crepe-like dough filled with dry fruits like walnuts and a sugar syrup is drizzled on top. It is not a vegan dish since the crepe is greased with animal fat.

10. Experience Traditional music at Sira Nights.

Sira nights are full of energy. During these nights, you will see traditional performers playing classic string instruments and drums on stage. There are several venues where these shows take place, and you need to book tickets in advance as these events are viral.
Price: 250 Lira for dinner and a show ($20 US). Prices may vary by venue.
Hours: 8 pm to 11 pm

11. Day trip to Harran

Harran Sanliurfa

Going to Harran will make you feel like you are in an old Islamic city. There are some old mosque remains and many good-looking mud houses that were used as homes. If you are traveling to Turkey to see old ruins, then a quick trip to Harran should be on your things-to-do list in Sanliurfa.

12. Historical tour of Sanliurfa’s Archaeological Museum

Sanliurfa’s Archeological Museum is a big place with lots of old things from the nearby area, including Gobekli Tepe and Harran. The museum shows people from different times in history by using old objects from different cultures that lived in this part of Turkey.
Price-25 Lira per ticket. 25 Lira extra for an audio guide
Hours-8:30 am to 4:30 pm

13. Tour of Ulu Camii

Ulu Camii means ‘big mosque’ and it’s one of the top places to see in Urfa. Finished near the end of the 1200s, Ulu Camii is the oldest mosque in Urfa. The mosque has a beautiful, tall clock tower on the minaret. This makes it look different from the usual ones seen in Turkey.
You can go into the nice yard to look at the buildings, and you can also visit inside. Remember, Ulu Camii is a working mosque. Dress modestly and act nicely when you go inside.

Is Sanliurfa safe to visit?

It is believed that eastern Turkey must be avoided as it is close to unstable countries like Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Also, since Islam is prevalent here, it is assumed that the place is very conservative. Also, the current situation in Sanliurfa is sometimes rumored and unknown. But Sanliurfa is a good place to visit because the people are quite welcoming. It is also safer because their faith does not allow them to practice crime. The news headlines are sometimes exaggerated, so it is better to not stop yourself from visiting the beautiful city of Sanliurfa, Turkey.

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