When I was asked this morning to go on a day tour from Sanliurfa to Harran I was slightly hesitant. Harran sits only 19km from the Syrian border and with the conflict going on now it seemed slightly sketchy. I thought about for about half a minute, said why the hell not and away we went.

Those of you who read my last post would know I was on the fence about eastern Turkey, I ended up just straight up skipping the flight and hopping on a metro bus from Gaziantep to Sanliufa. Sometimes you gotta just trust your gut and go where it tells you. True FTF style.

 Making the decision to go from Sanliurfa to Harran

I woke up early this morning and was sitting in the lobby of my guest house when a couple of ladies from Poland cruised in looking for a room. We got to chatting and they said they planned to go from Sanliurfa to Harran today and asked if I wanted to join. Of course I said yes, and although my guest house may have been a little bit too budget for them and they went off to find a place of higher standard, we agreed to meet back in an hour and make the journey from Sanliurfa to Harran. As planned we met about an hour later, and sat down for an amazing Turkish breakfast, while we were enjoying the delicious feast of various eastern Turkish delights a couple that I met on the bus yesterday cruised up and I invited them along. We were now a multicultural group of 5 and ready to set off from Sanliurfa to Harran.

Harran

The local city bus ride in Sanliurfa

We wandered around the streets of Sanliurfa trying to locate the local bus to the main bus station where we would be able to catch a shared minibus from Sanliurfa to Harran. We were pointed in all different directions as the time ticked on and the temperature ticked upwards. We are into October now and still hitting over 30 degrees in the afternoon. I was told in July and August it can reach a scorching temperature of 57 degrees! Eventually we were on the local city bus #72 heading to the main station. Eastern Turkey is extremely friendly and we didn’t have to pay for the bus, on top of that we were given little candies.. A pleasant surprise.

Harran

Shared mini bus from Sanliurfa to Harran

We arrived at the main bus station and headed downstairs to catch the mini bus from Sanliurfa to Harran. The bus was basically about to leave so we were in luck as they run once and hour and if we had missed this bus from Sanliurfa to Harran we would be sitting around waiting for the next. The bus cost 6 Lira (approx $3) each way and takes roughly an hour. We began our journey from Sanliurfa to Harran heading south towards Syria. I was slightly apprehensive but I needed not be as everyone was going about business as usual and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

Sanliurfa to Harran

The bus on the way from Sanliurfa to Harran was over packed as they do in places like this and it was a pretty hot and uncomfortable trip. Sat next to me was a young mother with a small baby who she was breastfeeding pressed up beside me. I thought they were conservative here.. She was talking to one member of our crew who spoke Turkish and then turned to me and spoke in words that I could not understand. Our team translator said she was asking where I was from, I happily replied “Canada!” then she said something else. When I asked what she said I was told that she commented I have very beautiful eyes. This really made my day and just melted my heart. Bless her.

Sanliurfa to Harran

Cruising around the ruins of Harran

When our bus journey from Sanliurfa to Harran had ended and we hopped out we headed off towards the old city that we had come to see. It was a dusty area and hot as hell out. We headed up a little hill past sheep herders and friendly locals. We came to the ruins of the old city of Harran. The earliest record of Harran dates back to the 3rd millennium BC. This is a site of biblical proportions.

Harran

In the Book of Genesis (Chapter 11, Verse 31) it says the Patriarch Abraham lived here for a while:

“And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Harran, and dwelt there.”

I have absolutely no idea what that is about and this isn’t going to turn into a history lesson so check out Harran on Wikipedia for more info on it.

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Harran

The beehive houses of Harran

About 200 – 300 years ago the people of the area began to take pieces from the crumbling city of Harran and construct “beehive houses”. We sat down with a man who owned one of these strange structures that had been passed down to him through the generations. He led us inside to check the place out. It was remarkably cool in there and a welcome escape from the scorching heat. I went for a little walk around Harran to have a look at the rest of the town. Realistically it is in a state of disrepair. Couple that with the relentless children harassing and asking for “1 Lira” and the verdict is out on whether or not I would recommend coming here. I think perhaps 15-20 years ago this place would have been a hidden gem. But this gem has been over polished and has definitely faded. That said, the history is fascinating and it’s not too far or too much of a hassle to get from Sanliurfa to Harran so it’s a toss-up. If only those damn kids weren’t around it would be a definite yes to check out.

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Harran

The return journey from Sanliurfa to Harran

After hanging out and drinking tea for a while it was time to get out of there. Our tea host was nice enough to call the mini bus directly into the old city to pick us up. The ride home was much faster, way less crowded and overall a lot more pleasant than the initial ride from Sanliurfa to Harran. After I got back I had another amazing meal for under $10 and a stroll around Sanliurfa. I am looking forward to getting out in this city over the next couple days and really seeing what it has to offer.

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