SANLIURFA

On the great plain of High Mesopotamia, Sanli Urfa, known in ancient times first as Ur and later as Edessa, proudly exhibits the legacy of all the civilizations that have prospered in this region. In the second millennium B.C., it was a city of a Hurrite state. Tradition relates that Abraham was born in a cave near the area where the Mevlid Halil Mosque now stands. Today the cave is a pilgrimage site and flocks of pigeons don't seem to disturb the elderly men praying around the entrance. The remains of a castle with two lane Corinthian columns rising above the ruined walls, stands a top a small crest. At the foot of the hill, the lovely Halil Rahman Mosque is built around a quiet pool in which sacred carps swim.
The 17th century Ottoman Ridvaniye Mosque and the Firfirli Mosque, formerly the Church of the Apostles, are worth a detour. The archaeology and ethnography museum houses important Neolithic and Chalcolithic finds from the Lower Euphrates region. To capture the spirit of Sanli Urfa, wander through the vaulted eastern bazaar and linger in the courtyards of the old hans (inns); try to find Gumruk Hani and Barutcu Hani. They are the the most interesting.

Recent excavations at Gobeklitepe brought to light a Neolithic hilltop sanctuary erected at the top of a mountain ridge 15km from Sanliurfa .  It is the oldest known human-made religious structure.  The site was most likely erected in the 10th millenium BC and has been under excavation since 1994 by German and Turkish archaeologists.  Together with Nevali Cori, it has revolutionized understanding of the Eurasian Neolithic.