It was a long and tiring but uneventful trip from Nice to Istanbul and then from Istanbul to Sanliurfa.
On the bus ride from the airport to the Grand Babil Hotel, I found myself talking to a lovely young woman who is a resident of Sanliurfa. Filiz works for an international aid agency who is involved with helping Syrian refugees. When I asked about the earthquake last February she spoke on detail about how scared she was. She also told me that the archaeological museum was still closed which I hadn’t known. Very disappointed.
There’s nothing Grand about the hotel but it is well located.
I was astonished to find this NYTimes article appeared on the day I arrived!
Sanliurfa is a dry town. I was glad I picked up a jagermeister at the airport. I would have slept better if the call to prayer hadn’t woken me up at 5am.
After picking up a map at the tourist office this morning I was able to finally arrange my excursion to Gobleki tepe and Karahan tepe tomorrow.
The head of the tourist agency informed me that tensions are quite high right now and there are bad feelings towards Americans. Anyway I’ll be taking a private taxi tour with someone else tomorrow.
Time to explore Sanliurfa!
First stop was Golbasi. Below is the Baliki Gol and the Rizvaniye Vakfi mosque and Madrassa.
According to legend, King Nimrod was so burned up that Abraham was destroying his idols that he tossed him into a pit of fire. But God turned the fire into water and the burning coals into fish which are still in this beautiful pool, Baliki Gol, today. They are considered holy.
The second pool in the complex is
Zeliha, the king’s daughter seeing the miracle in which Prophet Abraham was rescued from fire, accepted the invitation to Islam and rejected the claim that her father was God before him. Nimrod reacted with anger and threw his daughter into a fire. Nimrod watched his daughter’s burning and death with an attitude of indifference. A lake formed in the place where Zeliha fell and fish appeared in the lake. The place is called “the spring of Zeliha” or “the tears of Zeliha” (Zeliha’s Lake). The fish are not eaten because they are believed to be holy.
Mevlid I Halil Cave
“Mevlid” means “the birth of prophet”. The cave was called Mevlid-i Halil Cave because people believe that the prophet Abraham was born there. According to tradition, when King Nimrod’s soothsayer informed him that he would have a child that would wipe out his religion and demolish his kingdom, he ordered all children to be killed. Nuna, the mother of Abraham, was pregnant when she learned of the king’s decree. So, she dared not share the good news of her pregnancy. Instead, as the day of delivery grew near, she hid in cave. It was there that she gave birth to Abraham. After the delivery, she came secretly every day and suckled him. Tradition holds that a gazelle also came every day on the order of Allah and suckled him. Abraham stayed in the cave for years, only leaving when he was a 15 year- old boy.
Most but not all women here do cover their heads. Sometimes more. Lots of chadors but I didn’t go that far!
The lakes, parks and mosque had such a peaceful vibe. The Bazar was much livelier. As Sanliurfa is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, the narrow stone streets were indeed evocative of Abraham’s time.
Ate at the famous Cevahir Han.Amid all the lamb I managed to extract a delicious chopped salad with walnuts and pomegranate syrup along with a thin crust cheese pizza.