After Mardin, we decided to carry on our trip by following the traces of prophets from the Bible. Not that we are particularly into religion, but I remember my grandmother telling me all the great stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jakob. These were my favorites to go to bed when I was sleeping at her house. The Bible is actually an incredible book full of action and adventure. The author of Games of Thrones didn’t invent anything, the authors of the Old Testament already talked about wars, people being eaten by lions, and unfaithful spouses and husbands.
Urfa is known to be the place of birth of prophet Abraham. Or at least Muslims and Jews think it is, because Christians think it’s in another place. Anyway we went to the cave were Abraham is supposed to be born. It’s now a sanctuary where women and men have a separated space to pray with a view on the cave behind a window pane. Next to the cave, there is also a sacred pond which is located where Abraham was set on fire by the King Nimrod. Indeed the king accused Abraham to destroy several statues of different gods. Abraham was saved from the flames because God made some water coming from the ground! It is said that the braises of Abraham’s body are now the sacred carps that live in the pond created by the water of God. People come there to drink the holy water in a very peaceful atmosphere.
Like Mardin, Urfa was totally off the foreign tourist track. We saw a few Turkish tourists but not so much. Well the city is not far from the Syrian border. However we felt totally safe. We only had a small issue with the local police…
Actually one day we decided to follow Abraham even further to the little town of Harran, 20 kilometers away from Syria, where he allegedly lived. It was nearly noon when we arrived at Urfa bus station to get a minibus to Harran. As we hurried to reach the minibus stop, a man followed us and tried to stop us. He said he was from the police! But he was not wearing any uniform. So we told him he was a fake policeman. We were suspicious about fake policemen asking us to give them money. He showed us a police ID which looked blurry that confirmed our mistrust. Alex told him to bring us to the police station if he was a real policeman! On my side, I turned back to ask the people from the bus station if that man was a policeman. The man called someone on his phone and two soldiers arrived with heavy guns! “Ok so they must be real!” we thought. They took our passports and we waited for a long time in the middle of the bus station. But actually it was a simple check and after a while they gave us back our passports and let us go!
Our visit of Harran was quite interesting. We saw one of the oldest continuously inhabited city on Earth! like Varanasi in India. There were impressive ruins of the oldest Islamic university of the world. We also saw interesting old houses with the shape of beehives. Apart from that, the city was empty, I guess mostly due to the heat and Ramadan. After 2 hours we went back to Urfa and we ended the fast of the day with a delicious dinner of Turkish delicacies at Cevahir.
We were eager to carry on our trip to a destination we had been dreaming of for a long time: Cappadocia!