We left the expensive and beautiful town of Mardin for the very conservative city of Sanliurfa (Urfa). The city is a famous religions pilgrimage site as it’s the birthplace of the prophet Abraham. So when we arrived in the evening and went for a walk around the city we were extremely surprised to find it just as modern, if not more so, than Van. The city seemed full of new fashion clothes, fancy hotels and just well developed. Not something that we had been picturing for Urfa.
The next was going to be our only day to check out the city as our original plan was to leave that afternoon to head towards Mt Nemrut. We ended up finding a great tour based out of Urfa for Mt Nemrut leaving the following morning so that meant that we had all day to explore Urfa before leaving the following morning. Since we now had a whole day to explore Urfa we took our time walking down to the Golba?? which is a picturesque area in Urfa filled with gardens, ponds, and old buildings. The ponds are full of supposedly sacred carp, while surrounding them are rose gardens and the Rizvaniye Vakfi Mosque and Medresei which contains a beautiful wall lining one side of a pool. While we were taking pictures of the ponds and wall we were approached by a young boy who wanted to show us around a bit to practice his English. After agreeing that this was not a guided tour we agreed to follow him to a spot with a great view of the citadel standing above the Golba?? then over to the Dergah. The Dergah was quite interesting as it’s a complex that includes a mosque but more importantly the Hazreti Ibrahim Halilullah (Prophet Abraham’s Birth Cave). After examining the cave we exited to find the young guy’s older brother who wanted to continue taking us around the city.
For the next couple of hours we had a private tour of a couple of the mosques, the bazaar, a carpet shop (of course) and some old buildings. The tour was great although when we went to give this guy a tip for our “free” tour he was insulted and was trying to demand that we pay more for a full tour, something we had never agreed upon. Anyways after a short heated discussion we parted ways with both parties feeling angry with the other I’m sure. The rest of the afternoon was spent just wandering around the bazaar a little more and catching up on some internet usage.
That evening we returned back to the Golba?? to enjoy some dinner while looking out over the lit up castle and the gardens. It was a nice spot even if the food wasn’t the greatest. After spending some more time wandering back through Urfa to our hotel we retired for the night in order to prepare ourselves for our adventure starting the next morning out to Mt Nemrut.
Originally written for Devin’s Travels