Sanliurfa (Urfa) or antique name Edessa, this is a city of great religious and historical importance, map of location. You can find many Islamic pilgrimage sites and this has led Sanliurfa to be called the city of prophecy and prophets. This fame comes from a legend saying that the Patriarch Abraham was born in a cave here. According to the Bible he stayed at Harran, 50 km (31 miles) due south. The cave, and other legendary locations alike, are visited annually by hundred of thousands of Muslim pilgrims.
Walking tour through streets of Urfa may be one of a great experience for those with interests in eastern culture. While you are in Urfa have time to see Dergah (the holly pilgrimage centre), ramble medieval bazaar. Plus the Throne of king Nimrod, the fortress with a large sacred pool at its footing, the little museum and cluster of fine old houses, and also historical Harran in the proximity. Gobekli Tepe
The spring or Autumn are the best times of the year to plan your visit as summers are disturbingly hot.
You can fly by Turkish Airlines twice weekly from Istanbul to Sanliurfa and also daily from Ankara. Other public services may not be comfortable in the hot summer months. No trains are available.
A city where upper Mesopotamian cultures blended.
The history dates back at least 3500 years to Hittite times and cited in Sumerian, Akkadian and Hittites records. After Assyrian rule, Hittites controlled the region around 1370 B.C. The city happens to be right at the crossroads of routes to old continents; Europe, Asia and Africa. Many mighty armies have marched through and left their marks, including the Babylonians, Egyptians, Alexander the Great, Greeks, Romans and Seljuk Turks under Saladin. After Alexander, his general Seleukos named the city Edassa.
Harran and Edessa (Urfa) were important religious centers. In Koran Urfa (Edessa) was mentioned as the birth place of Prophet Abraham. Today the pool of Abraham is full with carp, Sacred Fish. An interesting structure is Ulu Cami built under Syrian influence around 12th century.
One legend tells that the evil king Nimrud wanted to punish Ibrahim, and threw him from the citadel into a pile of wood fire. Miracles of God, the fire, however, changed into a pool of water and the logs of wood changed into fish, which are venerated until the present day.
In the time of the Crusaders, no doubt mercenary armies attracted by the town's easily-defended promontory called the Throne of Nimrod or locally known Nemrut. They called Urfa Edessa and made it the capital of their Latin Kingdom, ruled by Count Baldwin of Boulogne. As it lies on the border with Persia it changed hands frequently between two ruling powers. In the early days of Christianity there was a sizable Jewish community so this was resulted in early and peaceful acceptance of Christianity.
Harran is known for its reputable university where first seeds of Arabian philosophy were planted.
South of Urfa, Harran an interesting place to visit. Amongst to see beehive-styled mud built dwellings. Suitably built to comply with the outside temperature, cool in summers but warm in winters. Another point to mention here, Harran is the place where Abraham decided to move to the land of Canaan.
Harran, architecture reminds us of a bee hive, they are made of soil.
From Islamic sources
The decision to burn Ibrahim to death was affirmed by the priests and the king of Babylon, Nimrod. The news spread like a fire in the kingdom, and people were coming from all places to watch the execution. A huge pit was dug up and a large quantity of wood was piled up. Then the biggest fire people ever witnessed was lit. The fire flames were so high up in the sky that the birds could not fly over it for fear of being burned! Ibrahim's hands and feet were chained, and he was put in a catapult to throw him into the fire. At that time, Angel Jibreel came to him and said: "O Ibrahim! Is there anything you wish for?" Ibrahim could have asked to be saved from the fire, to be taken away, but no, he said: "I only wish that Allah be pleased with me." The catapult was released, and Ibrahim was thrown in the heart of the fire. But Allah would not allow His Prophet to be killed, He ordered the fire: "O fire! Be coolness and safety for Ibrahim!" And the miracle happened. The fire obeyed and burned only his chains. Ibrahim came out from it as if he was coming out from a garden, peaceful, his face illuminated, and not a trace of smoke on his clothes. People watched in shock and said: "Amazing ! Ibrahim' s God has saved him from the fire!"
Only a woman named Sarah and a man named Lot believed in Allah, and followed Ibrahim. He realized that nobody else would listen to him, and decided to emigrate for the cause of Allah, and to spread His Message elsewhere. Before leaving, he tried once again to convert his father to Islam, but to no avail. Ibrahim said to his father and his people: "We are free of you and of whatever you worship besides Allah. We have rejected you and there has arisen between us and you enmity and hatred forever unless you believe in Allah and Him alone."
Ibrahim, Lot and Sarah started their long travel. They crossed Babylon, went through Syria and Palestine calling people to Allah, helping the poor and doing good deeds. By that time Ibrahim married Sarah. Their hope was to have children who would spread the Message of Allah after their death. As for Lot, he emigrated to the land of Sodom and settled there.