Sanlıurfa in Eastern Turkey The City That Changed Human History

Predating Stonehenge by around 6000 years, Şanlıurfa’s Gobekli Tepe upends the widely-held views on the rise of civilisation. With a great history of 12,000 years, Şanlıurfa, thought by some to be the ancient city of Ur, proudly exhibits the legacy of all the civilisations that have prospered in the region.

With a private Şanlıurfa tour, your guide will tell you how the city was initially called Urfa but was later awarded the title "Şanlı", or "glorious", for the role it played during the Turkish War of Independence in the 1920s.  Read More...

Sanlıurfa in Eastern Turkey The City That Changed Human History

In ancient cities like Harran and Soğmatar the history going back a millennium was established through studies and excavations and several other monuments of ancient civilisations, which have been buried for thousands of years, are now been brought to the surface by archaeological workings throughout the city. With a tour to Gobekli Tepe see how these studies have proven that Şanlıurfa is a cradle of civilisations and the numerous ongoing excavations will maybe unveil more historical facts that go further back in time.

Şanlıurfa, with its many biblical associations, is known as the "Jerusalem of Anatolia" and as a holy site by Jews, Muslims and Christians alike. In the Old Testament, it states that the Prophet İbrahim or Abraham who was the father of three monotheistic religions originated in the city of Ur before together with his family, moved to Harran, the "home of the patriarchs".

The lands of the Şanlıurfa area was once a city of a Hurrite state in the second millennium BC, and some say that Abraham was born in a cave near a place where the Mevlid Halil Mosque now stands. The site and the cave are, therefore, regarded as sacred and can be seen on a Şanlıurfa tour.

On a Şanlıurfa city tour see the remains of a castle with two Corinthian columns rising above the ruined walls and standing atop them is a small crest and at the foot of the hills, you will find the lovely Halil-ür Rahman Mosque that is built around Balıklıgöl lake which is the living space of the sacred carps. Visit the Archaeology Museum, one of the best in Turkey which houses significant Neolithic and Chalcolithic finds from the Lower Fırat area. To feel the spirit of Şanlıurfa wander through the Eastern Bazaar and the courtyards of the old hans (inns) and drop into Gümrük Hanı and Barutçu Hanı the most interesting of the old hans!

The city is associated with the Balıklıgöl, which is made up of the Halil-ür Rahman and Ayn-ı Zeliha lakes and adjacent to these lakes stands the Rızvaniye Mosque. On an East Turkey tour to Şanlıurfa hear the legend of how King Nemrut cast the Prophet Abraham away from the castle into the flames and God turned the fire into water and the woods into fish which then created the Halil-ür Rahman Lake. After falling madly in love with Prophet Abraham, Nemrut’s step-daughter Zeliha jumped into the fire, which subsequently changes into the Ayn-ı Zeliha Lake.

Best Time To Visit Sanliurfa

The best time to take a Şanlıurfa city tour is from March until June and September through to November when you will have a pleasant hot temperature and limited rainfall. The highest average temperature in Şanlıurfa is around 41° in August, and the lowest is approximately 12° in January.

Typical Costs in Sanliurfa

The local currency in Sanliurfa is the Turkish Lira (TL), although Euros and US Dollars are widely accepted as well. While you are on a private Sanliurfa tour, you will find the costs very reasonable. Transportation on the local dolmus is exceptionally cheap, and the taxi is also not expensive. Food and drink in Sanliurfa are also well priced but again depends on where you choose to eat.

Know Before Visiting Sanliurfa

Always check before travelling to Sanliurfa and obtain your Visa before entering Turkey. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear to the holy sites. Keep a copy of your passport and always leave all the necessary documentation in your accommodation safe. Still, be aware of your surroundings at all times when on any Sanliurfa tour.

Weather in Sanliurfa

Average temperatures in Sanliurfa can vary; it can be sweltering in the summer and cold in the winter. If you’re looking for the warmest time to visit Sanliurfa on a private tour, the hottest months are July, August, and then June. The warmest time of year is usually late July where highs are around 104°F (40°C) with temperatures not dropping below 72.2°F (22.3°C) at night. In the winter months, the temperature can drop below freezing.

Dining And Nightlife in Sanliurfa

The traditional food of Şanlıurfa is the lahmacun, (hot, thin bread topped with spicy lamb) which is now famous throughout Turkey, originated here. Another speciality of this city is cig kofte (raw minced meat with cracked wheat), and the Urfa kebap (minced spicy lamb on a skewer served with tomatoes and spicy peppers). Nightlife in Sanliurfa is relatively low key, but there are bars where you can enjoy the local beer, raki and wine and maybe listen to some live music.

Shopping in Sanliurfa

The vast area of bazaars in the city specialise in traditional crafts and sells a wide range of goods which you can purchase while on a Sanliurfa tour including hand-woven handicrafts, hand-made leather saddles, carpets with distinctive zigzag designs, hand-beaten copperware, carved wooden crafts, jewellery and textiles and so much more. If you are feeling brave try and barter, it can be a lot of fun once you get used to it and you can get a real bargain.

How to Reach Sanliurfa

By Road: Sanliurfa has a crucial highway route because of its location near Turkey’s southeastern borders with neighbouring Arab countries, and it is also at the centre of GAP (the South-East Anatolia Project). From the central bus station to the west of the city centre, regular buses include Istanbul, Malatya, Erzurum, Ankara and Diyarbakir.

By Rail: The closest station is 50m south at Akcakale, just before the Syrian border and a few kilometres southwest of Harran.

By Air: The airport in Sanliurfa has direct flights to Ankara (daily) and Istanbul (2 weekly).

Let the Sanliurfa activities begin!

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