Sanliurfa Travel Blog› entry 481 of 658 › view all entries
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I got into the bus terminal at Sanliurfa (The Prophets City, or Glorious Urfa) at 15.00, feeling quite exhausted after such a long day. According to the map it was less than a kilometre to walk to my hotel, so i decided that i could make this final push for the day. Not wanting to walk off blindly, i asked some locals which direction i needed to head in and was unanimously shown one road. I was supposed to be heading East into the City and as my shadow was cast directly in front of me, this seemed to be the right way. The roads i was crossing appeared to vaguely match the map, so i didn't bother asking again until about 20 minutes or so later, when i was told that i had been heading North instead of East! Bugger.
Otel Dogu was listed as the cheapest option in the book and i expected to pay 15YTL ($10) a night. The receptionist was a grumpy old git and demanded 20YTL ($13), even if i stayed a number of nights, so i decided that i had best check the room first to make sure it was worth the money. At first glance it looked a bit gloomy and cold, but just about passable, so i made sure that there was hot water in the shower. At this point i was told that the shower was broken, then the guy turned on the hot water in the basin and after a few seconds told me that there was no hot water either. Ok then, this wasn't good, so i asked what price again and said i thought it was worth 10YTL maximum.
Having skimmed through a list of possible options i made up my mind to try Hotel Bakay that was nearby and sounded nice enough. The going rate here was 30YTL, but they knocked it down to 25YTL ($16), as i was staying a few nights. For this price i got an en-suite hot water bathroom, tv, central heating, breakfast and the crowning glory, free wi-fi - i was in heaven! My plan was to go out and get some food, but i was so exhausted that i just lay on my bed, watched some tv and used the internet for the remainder of the evening.
The following morning i was so shattered that i didn't even make it up for breakfast and left the Hotel around midday.
Having walked in Diyarbakir's old narrow streets, i was keen to do the same in Sanliurfa and found these to be just as charming, if not more so. I spent my time discovering Mosques, squares and a number of small curiosities that were dotted all around and also watching the people go about their every day lives. Not having a clue where i was when i exited the district, i decided to just walk where my mood took me, which was initially through a fruit market that was packed with Arabic traders.
Getting lost in Sanliurfa is actually part of the charm of the City and it turned out to be really enjoyable walking in the non tourist areas. People watched me walk by with a look of intrigue and everyone was polite and kind that i interacted with. I decided to stop in one shop to ask for some glue to try and fix my boot and the owner walked me down the street to a man who was sat in front of his shoe repair shop. The guy took my boot, sat me down and went to work and within 10 minutes it was better than new. When i tried to pay him for his time and work, he refused to take my money, so i left him with a hand shake and several 'teshekir edirims' - 'thank you’s'.
After some time i caught a glimpse of the Kale (Citadel) located up on the hill and followed a narrow steep alley that led up to the walls.
Located in front of the Citadel were a number of interesting sites, which i spent the next few hours walking around. First there were two ponds (Balikli Gol & Ayn-i-Zeliha), that were filled with 'sacred carp' and these were set in tranquil gardens. From here i went to the Rizvaniye Vafki Camii and Medresesi, where people fed the hungry carp in front of a stunning arched arcade and Mosque.
A two minute walk from here took me past palm trees, which at first seemed out of place, but when i reconsidered the warm December sunshine, it seemed to fit better in my mind. My next destination was to be the courtyard of the Hazreti Ibrahim Halilullah, which was dominated by the towering Mevlid-i-Halil Camii, a 13th Century Ottoman Mosque. Also in the area was a cave where it is thought that Prophet Abraham was born, although there really wasn't much to see.
I was starting to fall for Sanliufa, with only one exception â�¢ the children. These little monsters would follow you around and pester you non stop, for no apparent reason.
Another funny thing that i find about Turkish people is that they don't realise that the word 'tourist' is universal.
Now i am not usually a big fan of bazaars, in fact i positively dislike them most of the time, but something drew me into Sanliurfa's and i am very glad that it did. The shopkeepers were nice, it was interesting to watch the craftsmen go about their work and the building was also charming. A man selling tobacco invited me to sit down for tea with him and we chatted for a short time. People were keen to have their photos taken, and i emailed them on later like they requested.
I ended up in a courtyard called Gumruk Hani, where men sat around drinking tea and playing backgammon, dominoes and cards.
The day was drawing to a close, so i ambled around waiting for it to get dark for an hour or so and then returned to Rizvaniye Vafki Camii and Medresesi to take some photos whilst it was lit up. It looked stunning and whilst i didn't have my tripod, i did my best to keep a steady hand and i hope my photos do it justice.
The following morning i just made it down in time for a breakfast of eggs, ham, cheese, bread, jam, tea and some other bits and pieces too. It was a good start to the day and i decided that i would spend another night in the hotel as i liked it so much! After jumping in the shower i headed down to the bus terminal and caught a bus to Harran, where i had decided to go to on a day trip.