Urfa, officially known as Şanlıurfa (pronounced [ʃanˈlɯuɾfa]; Kurdish: Riha) (; Ուռհա Uṙha in Armenian, ܐܘܪܗܝ Ūrhay in Syriac) and known in ancient times as Edessa, is a city with a population of over 2 million residents in south-eastern Turkey, and the capital of Şanlıurfa Province. Urfa is a multiethnic city with a Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and Arab population. Urfa is situated on a plain about eighty kilometres east of the Euphrates River. Its climate features extremely hot, dry summers and cool, moist winters.
|• Mayor||Nihat Çiftçi (AKP)|
|• Governor||Abdullah Erin|
|• District||3,668.76 km2 (1,416.52 sq mi)|
|Elevation||477 m (1,565 ft)|
The city has been known by many names in history: Ուռհա Uṙha in Armenian, ܐܘܪܗܝ Urhai in Syriac, الرها Ar-Ruhā in Arabic and Ορρα, Orrha in Greek (also Ορροα, Orrhoa). For a while during the rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175 - 164 BCE) it was named Callirrhoe or Antiochia on the Callirhoe (Ancient Greek: Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Καλλιρρόης). During Byzantine rule it was named Justinopolis. Prior to Turkish rule, it was often best known by the name given it by the Seleucids, Ἔδεσσα, Edessa.
Şanlı means "great, glorious, dignified" in Turkish, and Urfa was officially renamed Şanlıurfa (Urfa the Glorious) by the Turkish Grand National Assembly in 1984, in recognition of the local resistance in the Turkish War of Independence. The title was achieved following repeated requests by the city's members of parliament, desirous to earn a title similar to those of neighbouring cities 'Gazi' (veteran) Antep and 'Kahraman' (Heroic) Maraş.
The history of Urfa is recorded from the 4th century BC, but may date back at least to 9000 BC, when there is ample evidence for the surrounding sites at Duru, Harran and Nevali Cori. Within the further area of the city are three Neolithic sites known: Göbekli Tepe, Gürcütepe and the city itself, where the life-sized limestone "Urfa Man" statue was found during an excavation in Balıklıgöl and is now on display at the Şanlıurfa Archaeology and Mosaic Museum. The city was one of several in the upper Euphrates-Tigris basin, the fertile crescent where agriculture began.
According to Jewish and Muslim tradition, Urfa is Ur Kasdim, the hometown of Abraham. This identification was disputed by Leonard Woolley, the excavator of the Sumerian city of Ur in 1927 and scholars remain divided on the issue. Urfa is also one of several cities that have traditions associated with Job.
Urfa was conquered repeatedly throughout history, and has been dominated by many civilizations, including the Ebla, Akkadians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Hittites, Armenians, Hurri-Mitannis, Assyrians, Medes, Persians, Ancient Macedonians (under Alexander the Great), Seleucids, Arameans, the Neo-Assyrian Osrhoenes, Romans, Sassanids, Byzantines, and Arabs
Although the site of Urfa has been inhabited since prehistoric times, the modern city was founded in 304 B.C by Seleucus I Nicator and named after the ancient capital of Macedonia. In the late 2nd century, as the Seleucid dynasty disintegrated, it became the capital of the Arab Nabataean Abgar dynasty, which was successively a Parthian, Armenian, and Roman client state and eventually a Roman province. Its location on the eastern frontier of the Empire meant it was frequently conquered during periods when the Byzantine central government was weak, and for centuries, it was alternately conquered by Arab, Byzantine, Armenian, Turkish rulers. In 1098, the Crusader Baldwin of Boulogne induced the final Armenian ruler to adopt him and then seized power, establishing the first Crusader State known as the County of Edessa and imposing Latin Christianity on the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic majority of the population.
Islam first arrived in Urfa around 638 AD, when the region surrendered to the Rashidun army without resisting, and became a significant presence under the Ayyubids (see: Saladin Ayubbi), Seljuks. In 1144, the Crusader state fell to the Turkish Abassid general Zengui, who had most of the Christian inhabitants slaughtered together with the Latin archbishop (see Siege of Edessa) and the subsequent Second Crusade failed to recapture the city. Subsequently, Urfa was ruled by Zengids, Ayyubids, Sultanate of Rum, Ilkhanids, Memluks, Akkoyunlu and Safavids before Ottoman conquest in 1516.
Under the Ottomans Urfa was part (Sanjak) of the Aleppo Vilayet. The area became a centre of trade in cotton, leather, and jewellery. There was a small but ancient Jewish community in Urfa, with a population of about 1,000 by the 19th century. Most of the Jews emigrated in 1896, fleeing the Hamidian massacres, and settling mainly in Aleppo, Tiberias and Jerusalem. There were three Christian communities: Syriac, Armenian, and Latin. According to Lord Kinross, 8,000 Armenians were massacred in Urfa in 1895. The last Neo-Aramaic Christians left in 1924 and went to Aleppo (where they settled in a place that was later called Hay al-Suryan "The Syriac Quarter").
In 1914 Urfa was estimated to have 75,000 inhabitants: 45,000 Muslims, 25,000 Armenians and 5,000 Assyrian Christians. There was also a Jewish presence in the town. During the First World War, Urfa was a site of the Armenian and Assyrian Genocides, beginning in August 1915. By the end of the war, the entire Christian population had been killed, had fled, or was in hiding.
The British occupation of the city of Urfa started de facto on 7 March 1919 and officially de jure as of 24 March 1919, and lasted until 30 October 1919. French forces took over the next day and lasted until 11 April 1920, when they were defeated by local resistance forces before the formal declaration of the Republic of Turkey on 23 April 1920).
The French retreat from the city of Urfa was conducted under an agreement reached between the occupying forces and the representatives of the local forces, commanded by Captain Ali Saip Bey assigned from Ankara. The withdrawal was meant to take place peacefully, but was disrupted by an ambush on the French units by irregular Kuva-yi Milliye Şebeke Pass on the way to Syria, leading to 296 casualties among the French.
Modern Urfa presents stark contrasts between its old and new quarters.
As the city of Urfa is deeply rooted in history, so its unique cuisine is an amalgamation of the cuisines of the many civilizations that have ruled in Urfa . Dishes carry names in Kurdish, Arabic, Armenian, Syriac, and Turkish, and are often prepared in a spicy manner. It is widely believed that Urfa is the birthplace of many dishes, including Raw Kibbé (Çiğ Köfte), that according to the legend, was crafted by the Prophet Abraham from ingredients he had at hand. The walnut-stuffed Turkish dessert crepe (called şıllık) is a regional specialty.
Many vegetables are used in the Urfa cuisine, such as the "'Ecır," the "Kenger," and the "İsot", the legendary local red capsicum that is a smaller and darker cultivar of the Aleppo pepper that takes a purplish black hue when dried and cured.
Unlike most of the Turkish cities that use different versions of regular butter in their regional cuisine, Urfa is, together with Antep, Mardin and Siirt a big user of clarified butter, made exclusively from sheep's milk, called locally "Urfayağı" ("Urfabutter").
Şanlıurfa GAP Airport is located about 34 km (21 mi) northeast of the city and has direct flights to Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.
The first 7.7km section, connecting the city centre with the museum quarter, of a planned 4-route, 78km network of trolleybus lines opened on 16 October 2018. An initial fleet of 10 bi-articulated trolleybuses, together with all fixed equipment, has been supplied by manufacturer Bozankaya.
Urfa has a hot summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa). Urfa is very hot during the summer months. Temperatures in the height of summer usually reach 39 °C (102 °F). Rainfall is almost non-existent during the summer months. Winters are cool and wet. Frost is common and there is sporadic snowfall. Spring and autumn are mild and also wet.
It is certainly surprising that no obvious reference to Orhay has been found so far in the early historical texts dealing with the region, and that, unlike Harran, its name does not occur in cuneiform itineraries. This may be accidental, or Orhay may be alluded to under a different name which has not been identified. Perhaps it was not fortified, and therefore at this time a place of no great military significance. With the Seleucid period, however, we are on firm historical ground. Seleucus I founded—or rather re-founded—a number of cities in the region. Among them, probably in 303 or 302 BC, was Orhay.
For Armenians, the city has a great symbolic value, as the Armenian alphabet was invented there, thanks to a group of scholars and clergy headed by Mesrop Mashtots in the 5th century
Turkey held local elections on 29 March 2009. The overall winner was the ruling party Justice and Development Party, although the party saw a decline in its vote relative to the 2007 general election. The leading opposition party, the social democratic Kemalist CHP, increased its vote share, as did a number of smaller parties including the SP, DTP and BBP, whose party leader Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu had died in a helicopter crash four days before the election. The third largest party, the Turkish nationalist MHP, enjoyed a more modest vote surge. The election was not contested by Cem Uzan's GP. The AKP failed to take certain provinces it had publicly targeted, such as Diyarbakır, İzmir and Urfa, and did not achieve its goal of exceeding 47% of the overall vote.
There was localized election-related fighting in southeastern Turkey, in which five people were reported to have been killed and about a hundred injured.Aleppo Vilayet
The Vilayet of Aleppo (Ottoman Turkish: ولايت حالب, translit. Vilâyet-i Halep; Arabic: ولاية حلب) was a first-level administrative division (vilayet) of the Ottoman Empire, centered on the city of Aleppo.Arpachshad
Arpachshad, alternatively spelled Arphaxad or Arphacsad, is one of the postdiluvian men in the Shem–Terah genealogy. According to the Book of Genesis he was one of the five sons of Shem (the son of Noah). He is the twelfth name of the Genesis genealogy that traces Abraham's ancestry from Adam to Terah. Beginning with Adam, nine Antediluvian names are given that predate Noah and the Flood, and nine postdiluvian, beginning with Noah's eldest son Shem and ending with Terah.Arpachshad's brothers were Elam, Asshur, Lud and Aram. Arpachshad's son is called Shelah, except in the Septuagint, where his son is Cainan, Shelah being Arpachshad's grandson. Cainan is also identified as Arpachshad's son in Luke 3:36 and Jubilees 8:1. The Book of Jubilees additionally identifies Arpachshad's wife as Rasu'aya, the daughter of Susan, who was the son (or daughter in some versions) of Shem's older son Elam. (Arpachshad's mother is named in this source as Sedeqetelebab; for competing traditions on the name of Shem's wife see wives aboard the Ark.)
Some ancient Jewish sources, particularly Jubilees, point to Arpachshad as the immediate progenitor of Ura and Kesed, who allegedly founded the city of Ur Kesdim (Ur of the Chaldees) on the west bank of the Euphrates (Jub. 9:4; 11:1-7) — the same bank where Ur, identified by Leonard Woolley in 1927 as Ur of the Chaldees, is located.Until Woolley's identification of Ur, Arpachshad was understood by many Jewish and Muslim scholars to be an area in northern Mesopotamia, Urfa of the Yazidis. This led to the identification of Arpachshad with Urfa-Kasid (due to similarities in the names ארפ־כשד and כשדים) - a land associated with the Khaldis, whom Josephus confused with the Chaldeans. Donald B. Redford asserted that Arpachshad is to be identified with Babylon.Another Arpaxad is referenced in the deuterocanonical Book of Judith as a king of the Medes, and if this supposed Median king is contemporary with the conquest of the Assyrians, he could be identified with Phraortes (c. 665 - 633 BC). If he is contemporary with Nebuchadnezzar II (named as king of the Assyrians in Judith), he might be identified with Cyaxares (r. 625–585 BC).Battle of Urfa
The Battle of Urfa (Turkish: Urfa Muharebesi, French: Le guet-apens d'Ourfa) was an uprising in the spring of 1920 against the French army occupying the city of Urfa (modern Şanlıurfa) by the Turkish National Forces. The French garrison of Urfa held out for two months until it sued for negotiations with the Turks for safe conduct out of the city. However, after the French commander Hauger covertly attempted to contact its British allies in order to buy time, an armed conflict arose which left most of the French forces and an unknown number of Turkish soldiers dead.Crushed red pepper
Crushed red pepper or red pepper flakes is a condiment consisting of dried and crushed (as opposed to ground) red chili peppers.
This condiment is most often produced from cayenne-type peppers, although commercial producers may use a variety of different cultivars, usually within the 30,000–50,000 Scoville unit range.The town of Bukovo in the Republic of Macedonia is credited with the creation of crushed red pepper. The name of the village—or a derivative of it—is now used as a name for crushed red pepper in general in a number of Southeast European languages: "буковка" (bukovka, Macedonian), "bukovka" (Serbo-Croatian and Slovene) and "μπούκοβο" (búkovo, Greek).
Crushed red pepper shakers have become a standard on tables at Mediterranean restaurants and especially pizza parlors around the world. Often there is a high ratio of seeds, which are popularly believed to contain the most spice. Crushed red pepper is used by food manufacturers in pickling blends, chowders, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, soups and sausage.
Crushed red pepper in Turkey, served as a common condiment with very few seeds, is known as pul biber in English. One specially prepared variety of it is the Urfa pul biber (isot).Edessa
Edessa (Ancient Greek: Ἔδεσσα; Arabic: الرها ar-Ruhā; Turkish: Şanlıurfa; Kurdish: Riha) was a city in Upper Mesopotamia, founded on an earlier site by Seleucus I Nicator ca. 302 BC. It was also known as Antiochia on the Callirhoe from the 2nd century BC. It was the capital of the semi-independent kingdom of Osroene from c. 132 BC and fell under direct Roman rule in ca. 242. It became an important early centre of Syriac Christianity.
It fell to the Muslim conquest in 638, was briefly retaken by Byzantium in 1031 and became the center of the Crusader state of the County of Edessa from 1098–1144. It fell to the Turkic Zengid dynasty in 1144 and was eventually absorbed by the Ottoman Empire in 1517. The modern name of the city is Urfa and it is located in Şanlıurfa Province in the Southeast Anatolia Region of Turkey.Euphrates Viaduct
The Euphrates Viaduct is a motorway bridge across the Euphrates between Belkıs, Nizip, Gaziantep Province and Birecik, Şanlıurfa Province in Turkey. Built up to 2007, it is the longest river bridge in Turkey. Buses and other cars going from the three big cities (Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir) to Diyarbakır, play an important role on this viaduct. Cars going to Diyarbakır can also use the Kömürhan Bridge which carries state roadway between Malatya and Elazığ.Jakob Künzler
Jakob Künzler (March 8, 1871 – January 15, 1949) was a Swiss who resided in an oriental mission in Urfa and who witnessed the Armenian Genocide.Born in Hundwil, Switzerland, he worked in the canton Appenzell and made a living as a carpenter. Afterwards he was trained in Basel as an evangelist deacon (Krankenpfleger). In 1899 he traveled to Urfa in Turkey, where he found his own place to work. He continued to study medicine until he became an independent operating surgeon, and later in 1905 he married Elizabeth Bender, daughter of a Christian missionary and granddaughter of an Ethiopian princess.
From 1915 to 1917 Künzler became an eyewitness to the Armenian Genocide, the subject of his 1921 book In the Land of Blood and Tears. Despite mortal danger he helped provide, when he could, for thousands of Armenian orphans and resumed his hospital enterprise in Urfa.
He was a Swiss pharmacist who had remained in Turkey serving the sick and wounded, non-Muslims and Muslims alike, in a hospital in Urfa who documented accounts of massacres of various Armenian labor battalion companies.In October 1922 he closed his hospital he worked in and moved his family to Ghazir, near Beirut, where later he opened a center for orphans. Later he established a settlement for Armenian widows in Beirut and a lung sanatorium in Azounieh.
Jakob Künzler observed in August 1915:
... two Turkish officials who appeared in Urfa. The rumor was that they hurried out in order to drive forward the extermination of the Armenian people with all their might, and they had the sanction of the highest state authority for doing so. They ordered on this basis, scarcely the moment they arrived in Urfa, the killing of all gathered prisoners. 'Why should we feed them any longer?' they said.
He died in Ghazir, Lebanon. He was buried in the French Protestant Cemetery of Beirut in which still lies his graveyard.Pestil
Pestil, a Turkish word meaning dried fruit pulp, is best exemplified in the English term "fruit leather." Fruit leather is made from mechanically pulverizing fruit, then spreading it out to dry into a tough, yet flexible and edible material which can be kept preserved for several months in an airtight container. Pestil is an Armenian loanword from pastel. In Greek it is called pastilos. In some regions of Turkey, including the southeastern city of Urfa, this fruit dessert is also called bastık.Rakka Eyalet
The eyalet of Rakka or Urfa (Ottoman Turkish: ایالت رقه; Eyālet-i Raqqa) was an eyalet of the Ottoman Empire. Its reported area in the 19th century was 24,062 square miles (62,320 km2).The eyalet was created in 1586 on territory previously under the jurisdiction of Diyarbekir. In the 16th century, the town of Raqqa again entered the historical record as an Ottoman customs post on the Euphrates. However, the capital of this eyalet and seat of the vali was not Raqqa but ar-Ruha about 200 kilometres (120 mi) north of Raqqa.Sultantepe
The ancient temple-complex, perhaps of Huzirina, now represented by the tell of Sultantepe, is a Late Assyrian archeological site at the edge of the Neo-Assyrian empire, now in Şanlıurfa Province, Turkey. Sultantepe is about 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) south of Urfa on the road to Harran. The modern village of Sultantepe Köyü lies at the base of the tell.Urfa Resistance
Urfa Resistance (Armenian: Ուրֆայի հերոսամարտի) or Urfa Rebellion (Turkish: Urfa İsyanı) was the Armenian resistance in Urfa during World War I developed as a reaction to actions of the Ottoman government (see Armenian Genocide). The resistance was quelled following German intervention.In Urfa massacres had begun in the middle of August, during August 15–19, 400 people were driven outside the town and killed, Armenians in Urfa rather being deported and killed preferred to put up a resistance.On May 27, 1915, several hundred Armenians were held captive by Ottoman authorities in Urfa. The community held a meeting in order to adopt a solution. The participants thought of many different tactics. Mgrdich Yotneghparian and his partisans were among the few who preferred to fight to the death rather than yielding to the Ottomans. The Adana massacre of 1909 had made Yotneghparian increasingly cautious of the new Young Turk government and the Turkish constitution.Led by the charismatic Mgerdich, the resistance of the Armenian fighters in the heavily fortified stone houses lasted sixteen days and was eventually broken only with the help of a reinforcement contingent of six thousand Turkish troops, reportedly equipped with heavy artillery.Urfa biber
Urfa biber (also known as isot pepper) is a dried Turkish chili pepper of the type Capsicum annuum cultivated in the Urfa region of Turkey. It is often described as having a smoky, raisin-like taste. Urfa biber is technically a red pepper, ripening to a dark maroon on the plant. The peppers go through a two-part process, where they are sun-dried during the day and wrapped tightly at night. The night process is called 'sweating', and works to infuse the dried flesh with the remaining moisture of the pepper. The result is an appearance ranging from deep purple to a dark, purplish black. Urfa biber is less spicy than many other chili peppers, but provides a more lasting build of heat.
The pungency of the urfa biber is 30,000–50,000 SHU on the Scoville scale.Traditionally used in Turkey in meat and savoury foods.Yezda Urfa
Yezda Urfa was an American progressive rock band founded in the fall of 1973. The band recorded two albums before breaking up in the spring of 1981. The band's music is currently distributed by Syn-Phonic.Şanlıurfa Archaeology and Mosaic Museum
Şanlıurfa Archaeology and Mosaic Museum is a museum in Şanlıurfa (also known as Urfa), Turkey. The museum contains remains of Şanlıurfa (known as Edessa in antiquity), Harran (another ancient city which lies 44 kilometres (27 mi) southeast of Şanlıurfa), and ruins found in the hydroelectric dam reservoirs of Atatürk Dam, Birecik Dam and Karkamış Dam.Şanlıurfa Castle
Şanlıurfa Castle, or Urfa Castle in short, is a castle overlooking the city center of Şanlıurfa (previously Edessa), Turkey. The castle was built by the Osroene in antiquity and the current walls were constructed by the Abbasids in 814 AD. Today, the castle functions as an open-air museum.Şanlıurfa Province
Şanlıurfa Province (Turkish: Şanlıurfa ili) or simply Urfa Province is a province in southeastern Turkey. The city of Şanlıurfa is the capital of the province which bears its name. The population is 1,845,667 (2014).
The province is famous for its Abrahamic sites such as Balıklıgöl, where Prophet Abraham was cast by Nimrod into fire that is believed to have turned to water, and Mevlid-i Halil Mosque where Abraham was born in the cave next to the mosque. Also lying within the district, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa, is the pre-historic site of Göbekli Tepe, where continuing excavations have unearthed 12,000-year-old sanctuaries dating from the early Neolithic period, considered to be the oldest temples in the world, predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years.
Population in 1990 was 1,001,455; 551,124 in the district centers, 450,331 in rural villages. By 2000, the population of Şanlıurfa province had grown to 1,436,956 and that of Urfa city, 829,000. Its provincial capital is the city of Urfa, the traffic code is 63.Şıllık
Şıllık is a Turkish dessert crepe that is a specialty of the southeastern Urfa province. It is a thin dough made of milk and flour, similar to a crepe, filled with ground walnuts and topped with simple syrup and chopped pistachio. Some versions of the filling may include a mix of walnut and pistachio. Butter or Turkish grape molasses may optionally be added to the simple syrup sauce. Traditionally, lamb tail fat was used to fry the crepes. In Turkish the word şıllık means slut or hussy, so some women in the conservative province of Urfa are not comfortable ordering the dessert by name, preferring instead to allow a male relative to order it for them or simply asking for "that dessert".
|Climate data for Urfa (1960-2012)|
|Average high °C (°F)||10.0
|Daily mean °C (°F)||5.6
|Average low °C (°F)||2.3
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||86.5
|Average rainy days||12.4||11.3||10.9||9.8||6.5||1.5||0.3||0.2||2.9||5.3||8.1||11.2||80.4|
|Average relative humidity (%)||74||72||61||51||43||27||22||24||28||43||57||72||48|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||127.1||137.2||195.3||228||310||363||381.3||350.3||303||238.7||174||124||2,931.9|
|Source #1: Devlet Meteoroloji İşleri Genel Müdürlüğü|
|Source #2: Weatherbase|
Metropolitan municipalities are bolded.