Sanliurfa is a very special Anatolian city which has figured in all the Holy Books. The history of Sanliurfa is recorded from the 4th century BC, but may date back to 9000 BC. Urfa was conquered repeatedly throughout history and has been dominated by many civilizations. It has a very deep-rooted history and traces a wide range of cultural, religious and architectural remarks from the city past.
According to both the Bible and Quran, it is the birthplace of Abraham before his migration to Canaan, now Palestine. It was first in Sanliurfa that early Christians were permitted to worship freely, and the first churches were constructed openly. Pagan temples were converted to synagogues, synagogues to churches, churches to mosques, and this resulted in a unique eclectic architecture.
Sanlıurfa is a city of ancient traditions, friendships and mystical associations as bringing together people sharing the same pleasures, world views and ideas. Today, Urfa is a surprising mix of the Turkish, Arab and Kurdish population, with both peasants haggling in the traditional bazaar and also young technocrats and engineers in modern section. The city has an oriental atmosphere with a very rich cultural fabric reflecting many customs and traditions.
The old trading centres, today serving as touristic bazaars, Kazzaz Bazaar, Sipahi Bazaar and Huseyniye Bazaars are worth to visit with an authentic value and local commodities, dresses, kilims etc. You can also meet many artizans of traditional handicrafts like felt making, tannery, stone working, weaving, woodworks, copper works, saddle making, fur making and jewelry works.
Harran, which is a town an hour away distance from the city center, is standing in the desert with its beehive-like dwellings and its great castle. You can visit Harran Fortress and the ruins of the mysterious Temple of Sin (known as the first university in the world).
As the city of Urfa is such a deeply rooted in history, it has also a unique cuisine, an amalgamation of the cuisines of several civilizations that ruled in Urfa. The city is mostly famous for its very rich kebab culture made of lamb meat, fat, offal and hot.It is also widely believed that the city is the birthplace of many dishes including Raw Kibbé. According to the legend, it was crafted by Abraham from the ingredients he had in hand.
Gobeklitepe is a pre-historic site, about 15 km away from the city of Sanliurfa. What makes Gobeklitepe unique in its class is the date it was built, which is roughly twelve thousand years ago, circa 10,000 BC.
Archaeologically categorised as a site of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A Period (c. 9600–7300 BC) Göbeklitepe is a series of mainly circular and oval-shaped structures set on the top of a hill. Excavations began in 1995 by Prof. Klaus Schmidt with the help of the German Archeological Institute. There is archelological proof that these installations were not used for domestic use, but predominantly for ritual or religous purposes. Subsequently it became apparent that Gobeklitepe consists of not only one, but many of such stone age temples. Furthermore, both excavations and geo magnetic results revealed that there are at least 20 installations, which in archeological terms can be called a temple. Based on what has been unearthed so far, the pattern principle seems to be that there are two huge monumental pillars in the center of each installation, surrounded by enclosures and walls, featuring more pillars in those set-ups.
All pillars are T-shaped with heights changing from 3 to 6 meters. Archeologists interpret those T-shapes as stylized human beings, mainly because of the depiction of human extremities that appear on some of the pillars. What also appears on these mystical rock statues, are carvings of animals as well as abstract symbols, sometimes picturing a combination of scenes.
Foxes, snakes, wild boars, cranes, wild ducks are most common. Most of these were carved into the flat surfaces of these pillars. Then again, we also come across some three-dimensional sculptures, in shape of a predator depicting a lion, descending on the side of a T-pillar.
The unique method used for the preservation of Gobeklitepe has really been the key to the survival of this amazing site. Whoever built this magnificent monument, made sure of its survival along thousands of years, by simply backfilling the various sites and burying them deep under, by using an incredible amount of material and all these led to an excellent preservation.
Each T-shaped pillar varies between 40 to 60 tonnes, leaving us scratching our heads as to how on earth they accomplished such a monumental feat. In a time when even simple hand tools were hard to come by, how did they get these stone blocks there, and how did they erect them? With no settlement or society to speak of, with farming still a far cry away, in a world of only roaming hunter-gatherers, the complexity and developed blueprints of these temples represented another enigma for archeologists. Do we have to change our vision of how and when civilized human history began? The plot thickens..
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