Sanliurfa

Overview

Introduction

Situated near the border with Syria 400 mi/650 km southeast of Ankara, Sanliurfa is Turkey's most Arabic city.

More commonly called Urfa, it's a place of religious pilgrimage for Muslims and is extremely conservative—visitors should be aware that it is almost impossible to purchase alcohol there. Sacred sites include the Cave of Abraham (where the prophet was said to have been born and was hidden for 10 years) and numerous pools, full of red carp that some say functioned as a type of oracle. Around the carp pools are a number of ancient mosques.

You should also see the Archaeological Museum, which contains artifacts rescued from the Euphrates floodplain during the building of a massive irrigation project that is once more turning Mesopotamia into the fertile lands described in the Bible. Urfa is a good place to stay if you want to visit the beehive houses at Harran, one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited places.

Sanliurfa's airport offers daily flights to Istanbul and Ankara. It is dubbed the GAP Airport after a regional development project nearby.

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