Harran and Sanliurfa

Photo by Can Sarica.

Harran and Sanliurfa is part of the Tentative list of Turkey in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

Harran and Sanliurfa are two ancient places mentioned in the Bible. Sanliurfa has origins that date back to the Neolithic, and it is named in both Uruk and biblical historical records. Harran is known for its beehive houses and early Islamic scholarly center.

Map of Harran and Sanliurfa

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The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.

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Els Slots

The Netherlands - 19-Mar-19 -

Harran and Sanliurfa (T) by Els Slots

The investment in my ‘All Turkey Tour’ of 1991 keeps on giving gifts. With a friend I had joined a 3 week group tour by bus all across Turkey. During that trip I visited 8 sites that are nowadays WHS. Also we touched upon numerous interesting TWHS. One lingering on Turkey’s Tentative List is Harran and Sanliurfa. These two ancient cities (located 40km apart) were among the highlights of the 1991 tour. This was mostly because of their very remote and oriental setting: I had not been outside of Europe at the time and Harran lies only some 25km north of the Syrian border.

Sanliurfa is a city of 2 million inhabitants. It is marketed as a Holy City and pilgrimage town. Old Testament prophets such as Jethro, Job, Elijah and Abraham are believed to have lived in this city. In ancient times it was known as Edessa.

Central to the city is The Pool of Sacred Fish, believed in Islamic tradition to have been the place where Abraham was thrown into the fire by Nimrod. This is also the only place that I remember of my visit – it obviously is tourist attraction #1.

Harran actually ticks so many boxes, there cannot be another outcome than that it will be a WHS somewhere in the future:

  • It’s very very old: first inhabited in the Early Bronze Age III (3rd millennium BCE).
  • It had a sanctuary to the Mesopotamian moon god Sin.
  • It was located on an ancient trade route along between the Mediterranean and the plains of the middle Tigris & further into Persia.
  • It was the site of the Siege of Harran in 609 BC by the Babylonian Empire upon the Assyrian Empire.
  • Pliny the Elder wrote about it.
  • It is mentioned in the Bible, as Haran, “where Terah, his son Abram (Abraham), his nephew Lot, and Abram's wife Sarai settled en route to Canaan, coming from Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 11:26–32).”
  • It held the first Islamic University and its remains are still visible.
  • It once was the capital of the Umayyad Dynasty.
  • T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) surveyed the ancient Harran archaeological site.
  • Its modern inhabitants used to live in adobe beehive houses with conic roofs until the 1980s

There were precisely 3 photos of Sanliurfa and Harran present in my 1991 photobook. They coincidentally show the main aspects that give the sites their value: Sanliurfa's Pool of Sacred Fish, Harran's adobe beehive houses and (attached here) a view on some of the archaeological remains at Harran.

Full Name
Harran and Sanliurfa
2000 Added to Tentative List

Unesco Website: Harran and Sanliurfa

The site has 2 locations

Harran and Sanliurfa: Sanliurfa (T)
Harran and Sanliurfa: Harran (T)
WHS 1997-2021