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Hotels of Şanlıurfa
A hotel in Şanlıurfa is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Şanlıurfa hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Şanlıurfa are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Şanlıurfa hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Şanlıurfa hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Şanlıurfa have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:
Upscale luxury hotels in Şanlıurfa
An upscale full service hotel facility in Şanlıurfa that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Şanlıurfa hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.
Full service hotels in Şanlıurfa
Full service Şanlıurfa hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.
Historic inns and boutique hotels in Şanlıurfa
Boutique hotels of Şanlıurfa are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Şanlıurfa boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Şanlıurfa may be classified as luxury hotels.
Focused or select service hotels in Şanlıurfa
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Şanlıurfa travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Şanlıurfa focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.
Economy and limited service hotels in Şanlıurfa
Small to medium-sized Şanlıurfa hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Şanlıurfa traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Şanlıurfa hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.
Guest houses and B&Bs in Şanlıurfa
A bed and breakfast in Şanlıurfa is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Şanlıurfa bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Şanlıurfa B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.
Hostels in Şanlıurfa
Şanlıurfa hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Şanlıurfa hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.
Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Şanlıurfa
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Şanlıurfa hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Şanlıurfa lack an on-site restaurant.
Timeshare and destination clubs in Şanlıurfa
Şanlıurfa timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Şanlıurfa often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Şanlıurfa on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.
Motels in Şanlıurfa
A Şanlıurfa motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Şanlıurfa for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Şanlıurfa motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.
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Şanlıurfa, pronounced [ʃanˈlɯuɾfa], often simply known as Urfa or Al-Ruha(Arabic: الرها ar-Ruhā Kurdish: Riha, Syriac: ܐܘܪܗ Urhoy), in ancient times Edessa (Έδεσσα in Greek), is a city with 561,465 inhabitants in south-eastern Turkey, and the capital of Şanlıurfa Province. It is a city with a primarily Arabic, Kurdish and Turkmen population. Urfa is situated on a plain about eighty kilometres east of the Euphrates River. Urfa's climate features extremely hot, dry summers and cool, moist winters.
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.
Costumes of the wealthy women of Urfa in the early 20th century.
According to tradition, Nimrod had Abraham immolated on a funeral pyre, but God turned the fire into water and the burning coals into fish. The pool of sacred fish remains to this day.
Abraham's Pool in Şanlıurfa
Old drawing of Abraham's Fountain.
The history of Şanlıurfa 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 statue" was found during an excavation in Balıklıgöl. 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.
For the Armenians, Urfa is considered a holy place since it is believed that the Armenian alphabet was invented there.
Urfa was conquered repeatedly throughout history, and has been dominated by many civilizations, including the Ebla, Akkadians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Hittites, Armenians, Hurri-Mitannis (Armeno-Aryans), Assyrians, Chaldeans, Medes, Persians, Ancient Macedonians (under Alexander the Great), Seleucids, Arameans, Osrhoenes, Romans, Sassanids, Byzantines, and Crusaders.
Şanlıurfa: City of Edessa
Main article: Edessa, Mesopotamia
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 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.
Şanlıurfa: Age of Islam
Islam had first arrived in Urfa around 638 AD, when the region surrendered to the Rashidun army without resisting, and had become 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").
Şanlıurfa: First World War and after
In 1914 Urfa was estimated to have 75,000 inhabitants: 45,000 Muslims, 25,000 Armenians and 5,000 Syriac/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.
The skyline of Şanlıurfa as viewed from the Castle which dominates the City Centre.
Modern Şanlıurfa presents stark contrasts between its old and new quarters.
It is a stronghold of the governing Justice and Development Party. However, in the 2009 local elections, the city elected an independent, Ahmet Eşref Fakibaba, as mayor.
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.
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.
With roughly 500,000 Syrian refugees currently living in Urfa.
Şanlıurfa has a hot summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa). Şanlıurfa 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.
Climate data for Şanlıurfa (1960-2012)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average rainy days
Average relative humidity (%)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source #1: Devlet Meteoroloji İşleri Genel Müdürlüğü
Source #2: Weatherbase
Şanlıurfa: Places of interest
Main courtyard of the Mevlid-i Halil Mosque
Urfa castle – built in antiquity, the current walls were constructed by the Abbasids in 814 AD.
The legendary Pool of Sacred Fish (Balıklıgöl) where Abraham was thrown into the fire by Nimrod. The pool is in the courtyard of the mosque of Halil-ur-Rahman, built by the Ayyubids in 1211 and now surrounded by the attractive Gölbaşı-gardens designed by architect Merih Karaaslan. The courtyard is where the fishes thrive. A local legend says seeing a white fish will open the door to the heavens.
Rızvaniye Mosque – a more recent (1716) Ottoman mosque, adjoining the Balıkligöl complex.
'Ayn Zelîha – A source nearby the historical center, named after Zulaykha, a follower of Abraham.
The Great Mosque of Urfa was built in 1170, on the site of a Christian church the Arabs called the "Red Church," probably incorporating some Roman masonry. Contemporary tradition at the site identifies the well of the mosque as that into which the towel or burial cloth (mendil) of Jesus was thrown (see Image of Edessa and Shroud of Turin). In the south wall of the medrese adjoining the mosque is the fountain of Firuz Bey (1781).
Ruins of the ancient city walls.
Eight Turkish baths built in the Ottoman period.
The traditional Urfa houses were split into sections for family (harem) and visitors (selâm). There is an example open to the public next to the post office in the district of Kara Meydan.
The Temple of Nevali Çori – Neolithic settlement dating back to 8000BC, now buried under the waters behind the Atatürk Dam, with some artefacts relocated above the waterline.
Göbekli Tepe – The world's oldest known temple, dated 10th millennium BC (ca 11,500 years ago).
Mevlid-i Halil Mosque, built next to the site where prophet Abraham is believed to have been born.
'Ayn Zelîha Lake
Ruins of Urfa-castle
Traditional bazaar of Urfa
Şanlıurfa's old town
Surrounding fields of Göbekli Tepe, the site of the oldest temple in the world.
Şanlıurfa: Famous people
Matthew of Edessa – Historian
Yusuf Nabi – 17th-century Ottoman poet
Aysel Özakın - Turkish-British writer, born 1942
İbrahim Tatlıses (Ibo) – Famous Arabesque singer
Bekir Coşkun – Columnist in Sözcü
Ahmet Özhan – Singer of Turkish Sufi music, and movie actor
Müslüm Gürses- Turkish singer.
Seyyal Taner- Turkish pop singer.
Şanlıurfa: See also
Chronology of the Turkish War of Independence
Cities of the ancient Near East
"Area of regions (including lakes), km²". Regional Statistics Database. Turkish Statistical Institute. 2002. Retrieved 2013-03-05.
"Population of province/district centers and towns/villages by districts - 2012". Address Based Population Registration System (ABPRS) Database. Turkish Statistical Institute. Retrieved 2013-02-27.
"Turkey: Major cities and provinces". citypopulation.de. Retrieved 2015-02-08.
ISBN 0-9713097-1-X. 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.
Öktem, Kerem (2003). Creating the Turk's Homeland: Modernization, Nationalism and Geography in Southeast Turkey in the late 19th and 20th Centuries (PDF). Harvard: University of Oxford, School of Geography and the Environment, Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB, UK. 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
Roberts, J. M. (1996). "II/4. Frontiers and neighbours". The Penguin History of Europe. ISBN 978-0-14-026561-3.
"Edessa". Jewish Encyclopedia. 1906.
"Interview with Harun Bozo". The Library of Rescued Memories. Central Europe Center for Research and Documentation.