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
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
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
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.