Various hand instruments found during surface explorations testify to the existence of Paleolithic settlements in Sanliurfa. While finds is Hassek Tumulus point out to very early farming practices, Lidar Tumulus, one of the largest in the area show that the area was continuously inhabited starting from Chalcolithic up to Hellenistic age. Sanliurfa occupies a special place in the history of Southeastern Anatolia as a religious center for various creeds. Around 2000 BC, people living in Harran worshipped the Moon Goddess (Sin). This paganist line starting with Sin continued with the Sabiis who developed their creed based upon stars.
Ayn-Zeliha Pond (Balikligöl)
In Harran, once the cultural center of the region, groups of different creeds conducted important scientific researches and produced many documents starting from the 7th century BC. Harran is also accepted as the origin of monotheism led by Abraham. The kingdom of Osrohene once ruled the area has specific importance for Christianity. It is known that Abgar Ukomo, an Osrohone King, was the first ruler of his time to adopt Christianity as official religion. Abgar invited Jesus Christ to Urfa to spread his religion and the latter sent him a handkerchief bearing his facial features and a letter saying that he blessed the city of Urfa. This is why Urfa is known as "Blessed City" even in our times.
Located in Southeastern Anatolia between Anatolian and Arabian peninsulas, the province of Sanliurfa extends over a land of 18,584 km2. Its population is 1,436,956 (2000). Besides the central district, Akcakale, Birecik, Bozova, Ceylanpinar, Halfeti, Harran, Hilvan, Siverek, Suruc and Viransehir are the administrative districts of the province.
The economy in the province is based on crop farming and livestock breeding. Cereals including wheat and barley, lentil, chickpea and pistachio are the main crops. Cotton and sesame are the major industrial crops. Upon the completion of the GAP, textile and garment industries are expected to flourish together with margarine and feed production.
It is assumed that the fortress dates back to 4th century BC. It is up on a hill to the north of the city. The fortress is surrounded by deep ditches in its eastern, southern and western sides and by steep rocks to the north. The main entry is from west. Today there are many remains in the fortress dating back to the times of the Romans, Byzantine and Islam.
The length of the outer walls is about 4km. Harran and Bey Gates, Mahmutoglu watchtower, remains of walls and bastions could survive to our time. According to information derived from various sources, outer walls used to have 8 gates (Sakibin, Su and Bati to the west; Samsat and Saray to the northeast; Bey and Su to the east and Harran to the south).
It is one of the oldest mosques at the center of Sanliurfa. According to available sources, the mosque was built upon the church of St. Stephan, which was known as "red church" for its reddish columns. What remains from this original church include some walls, columns and column heads and an octagonal bell tower now used as minaret. There is no date for the first construction.
HALIL-UR RAHMAN MOSQUE
This mosque is at the southwestern corner of Halil-ur Rahman Pond. It is a part of the complex comprising a medresse, cemetery and the place where Abraham fell after he had been cast to fire. Inscription on a minaret says that the mosque was built in 1211 by Melik Esref Musa. It is known that the mosque was build upon a church.
Ayn-Zeliha Ponds (Balikligöl)
HALIL-UR RAHMAN AND AYN-ZELIHA (BALIKLIGÖL) PONDS
King Nimrod once had a dream witnessing the end of his rule. His oracles interpreted this dream and told the king that a child to be born that year would put an end to both his religion and reign. Then Nimrod decided to kill each and every child to be born that year. Nuna, then pregnant to Abraham, delivers her secretly in a cave. Abraham lives in that cave alone until he becomes 7 and then starts to struggle against the paganistic beliefs of the king and his people. The king catches Abraham and casts him to fire from the hill where the fortress stands today. The god orders the fire "to be cool and saving for Abraham". At that moment, fire turns into water and firewood into fish. Today, Halil-ur Rahman and Ayn-Zeliha ponds are visited by many people from Turkey and abroad.
Ayn-Zeliha Ponds (Balikligöl)
What remains today from this medresse to the east of Grand Mosque is only its inscription dated 1191. The present building was constructed on the older one in 1781 by Haci Ibrahim. This second building is an important medresse with its library and fountain dated 1781.
It was built by Rizvan Ahmet Pasa in 1139. There are porches in front of vaulted rooms surrounding the yard from east, west and north.
Referred to as "Alaca Inn" by some sources, this medresse was built in 1562 as we read it in its inscription on the main gate. The inn has a square-shaped yard surrounded by shops. Up on these shops there are second-story rooms with porches in front. The upper part of the entry was used as praying place.
Since no inscription could be found, there is no information as to the construction date of this inn located to the east of pamukcu bazaar. However, since there is reference to it in a record dated 1716, it is certain that it existed in the early 18th century. In this inn again, there are second-story rooms on shops surrounding a square-shaped yard. Porches of these rooms are with pillars on the eastern side and with columns to the west.
It was built in 1562, the same year with Gumruk Inn. Some sources refer to the inn as "Bezzazistan." The inn has four main gates, the main gate opening up Hanönü Bazaar, west gate opening to Sipahi Bazaar, south gate opening to Pamukcu Bazaar and north gate opening to Gumruk Inn. Today, shops in this bedesten sell local dresses for males and females.
HAN-EL BABUR CARAVANSARY
At a distance of 20 km to Harran, this caravansary was build by Husamettin Ali in 1128 - 1129. With its wide yard, it is a typical caravansary of the Seljuk time. The monumental portal in the northern front leads to cross-vaulted entry liwan. Rooms for winter and summer surround the yard. On the northwestern edge of the yard there is a domed building assumed to be a bath.
Harran Grand Mosque
44 km to the southeast of Sanliurfa, Harran used to be an important cultural center since the early Assyrian rule. It is a site of rich historical-cultural heritage with remains from antiquity, Ulus Mosque where the first university of the Islamic era stood, inner castle, walls and civilian architecture.
The antic city is right at the center of Harran Plain. Since it was located at the crossing point of trade routes leading to west and northwest, it was named "Harran-u", which meant "travel" and "caravan" in Sumerian and Akad languages. Mari and Kultepe inscriptions dating back to 2000 BC refer to the antic settlement as "Harran-na" and "Har-ra-na." As to later civilizations, the Greeks called it "Harran", Romans "Carrhes", Arabs "Arran" and Christians "Hellenopolis".
Harran was inhabited continuously from 5000 BC to 13th century AO. Around 2000 BC it was one of the most important centers of the region. Some sources mention that Abraham lived in Harran, married here and had a house as well as a praying place named after him. Harran maintained its importance during the Islamic period and even became the capital city of Merwan II, the last Caliph of the Emmevid. The settlement enjoyed its brightest days in terms of architecture and arts during the Eyyubi rule. After its destruction in 1260 by the Mongolians, Harran became no more than a modest rural settlement throughout the Ottoman rule.
Harran Grand Mosque
Harran is surrounded by 4 km long and 5 meters high walls. These walls had 6 main gates (Anadolu, Aslanli, Bagdat, Musul, Rakka and Aleppo). Inside these walls, there is a castle of rectangular shape including 4 successive layers starting from the Hittites.
Excavations carried out in the tumulus unearthed coins, glazed and unglazed ceramics, stone-made instruments and metallic items dating back to the Islamic period. There were also idols and figurines from the early Bronze Age, cylindrical bulla from the early Assyrian period and earth panels and inscriptions mentioning King Nabonit and Sin Temple of the late Babylonian period.
Harran Grand Mosque
To the northeastern tip of the tumulus, there is the Grand mosque, known to be the oldest mosque in the present geographical area of Turkey. This mosque was build in 744 - 750 AD by the Emmevid Caliph Merwan II. This building could survive to our time with its eastern part, niche, fountain and large part of its 33.30 meters high minaret.
Another interesting feature of Harran is its conical domed houses. The reason for using mud-bricks for building houses is the unavailability of building wood in this arid area. Now officially declared as historical site, traditional houses of Harran are protected and transfer of materials or new constructions are banned.
This antic city 60 km far from Harran has remains of walls and bastions, presumed to be dating back to the 2nd century AD. Sogmatar was once the cult center of Sabiism and Marilaha, which derived from the Sin culture of Harran. The most important of what remains from the antic city is the open-air temple where people worshipped and sacrificed for planets.
CITY OF SUAYB
This antic city is at a distance of 45 km to Harran and remains of old walls and some buildings are still observable. It is believed that Suayb, a sacred person, once lived here and a cave supposed to be his quarter is still visited.
Cloth weaving is the leading handicraft in Sanliurfa. There are small looms weaving cloth and various dressing items used locally. Also, local products made of felt are much preferred by tourists and valued almost as high as carpets. Jewelry is another traditional line in the city, manifesting itself in such fine products as silver and gold woven bracelets, chains, etc. Other handicrafts include leather, fur, silk, copper, stone etc. works and processing.