It is clear today with evidence that Urfa was inhabited 11,000 years ago during the Neolithic Age. For richness of its history and architectural fabric, Urfa, one of the oldest cities in Anatolia is also known as “museum city”.

Urfa is also known as the “CITY OF PROPHETS”. It is the place where Abraham was born and cast into fire by King Nimrod. Job too lived in Urfa and both the cave where he suffered his pains and his tomb is here. Jesus Christ had sent Abgar Ukama, the King of Urfa, the miraculous handkerchief bearing the image of his face and his blessings for the city. Thus there is another name for Urfa: “The BLESSED CITY”

Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque)

The existing inscriptions in the mosque do not give an idea about the exact date of construction of the mosque. Due to the similarity of its plan with the Grand Mosque of Aleppo which took its present shape after having been restored by Nurettin Zengi, it is believed that it was built by the same ruler during the Zengi dynasty. It is one of the oldest mosques at the centre of Urfa.

Halil-Ür Rahman Mosque

It is located on the south-western side of the Halil-ür Rahman Lake as a complex consisting of a mosque, madrasah, cemetery and the place where Abraham was thrown into the fire. The mosque was built upon the order of the Eyyübi ruler Melik Eşref Muzafferüddin Musa in 1211 (608 in Islamic calendar).

The mosque was built upon the Church of Virgin Mary which was built in 504 (Byzantine period) for Monophysites with the material contribution of Urbısyus. Minaret ornaments and acanthus leaves on minaret galleries reflect the Byzantine style and suggest the possibility that it was actually the bell tower of a church dating back to 504 AD.

The inscription on the eastern gate of the mosque says “the mosque of Halil-ür Rahman, the father of prophets, was constructed in 1810.” (1225 in Islamic calendar). On the gate to the west there is another inscription about Abraham being thrown into fire. The mosque must have undergone major restorations starting from 1810.

The mosque is popularly referred to as “Döşeme Mosque” or “Makam Mosque.” Evliya Çelebi refers to the mosque as the “İbrahim Halil Tekkesi”. It is said there is a source within the mosque, which originated from the location of the fire where Abraham was thrown by Nimrod. The Ottoman Sultan Murad IV, while on his military campaign to Baghdad, visited the mosque, caught two fish from the lake and put on them two golden earrings. It is believed that whoever drinks water from this source for seven days and nights he will be safe of any heart problem.

Mevlid-i Halil Mosque

The existing inscriptions in the mosque indicate only the dates of restoration, not construction. The oldest inscription in the complex is above the mouth of the cave where Abraham was born, and is dated 1808 (1223 in Islamic calendar). However, there are records dating back to 1523 suggesting that the place was once used as a centre for Islamic studies.

The mosque was built adjacent to the western side of the cave where Abraham was born. The inscription above the gate informs that the mosque was restored by Mahmud Ağa, son of Mahmud in 1852. Of the two chambers in the courtyard, one was built by Ahmed Bican Pasha in 1855 (1272) and the other by Dervish Musa in 1885 (1305).

Rızvaniye Mosque

In the inscription on the Harim gate of the mosque standing on the northern edge of Lake Halil-ür Rahman it is stated that it was built in 1736 by Rıdvan Ahmet Pascha, Governor of Rakka. Three sides of the mosque are surrounded by madrasah rooms.

The Rızvaniye Mosque was built on the place of St. Thomas Church of the Byzantine period. The structure with a rectangular plan is covered by three domes along the wall. The gathering place is also covered by three domes which are placed on two pillars in front and on walls at sides.

Rızvaniye Madrasah

The madrasah consists of a set of rooms around the mosque yard with colonnades in front. The inscription on the South-looking face of the teaching-praying place to the North of the yard says the madrasah was built by Ahmet Pasha in 1736 (1149). Since the inscription on the mosque gives the same year, it is clear that the mosque and madrasah were both built in the same year.

Smooth cut Stones were used as construction material. With the exception of the domed classroom to the north of the yard, all rooms in the madrasah have cradle vaults. To the right of the mosque and on the south edge of the yard there are 3 such rooms and a larger one to the left. There are 7 rooms to the east of the yard. There are 7 and 8 vaulted rooms to the east of liwan and to the west of prayer place, respectively. Finally, there are 9 rooms to the east of the yard. While the kitchen is located at the north-western corner of the yard, toilets are to the north-east. The madrasah has 34 rooms with cradle vaults, 1 domes classroom-prayer place, a liwan, a kitchen and toilets

The terrace between the mosque and classroom was built for summer time prayers. There is a square-shaped pond to the south. The yard of the Madrasah is decorated as a nursery and flower garden.

The Rızvaniye Mosque and Madrasah were restored in 1992-93 by the Culture, Education and Research Foundation of Şanlıurfa Governorate (ŞURKAV).

Fırfırlı Mosque (Church)

Located on Vali Fuat Bey Avenue and popularly known as “Fırfırlı Church”, this building was originally the “Church of 12 Apostles” and its date of construction is not known since there is no remaining inscription.

The building is a basilica planned with three naves vertical to the abscissa. The central nave is covered with a dome of four tromps and the side naves with four crosswise vaults. The dome and the vaults are built of basalt stones.

The building is a basilica planned with three naves vertical to the abscissa. While the middle nave has a dome with four proboscis, naves at sides are covered with four cross vaults each. The middle nave is wider than side naves and its third dome starting from the entrance has 24 windows. Domes and vaults in the building are placed upon basaltic columns with muqarnas head in the middle and upon half columns at sides adjacent to the wall. Half columns appear as decorative elements in outer faces of the building. 

The abscissa, when converted into a mosque, was filled and turned to a window. The abscissa and pastoforion cells at sides stretch out. The western entrance is half-domed inside and with pointed arch outside, made of pink marble. On the gate, there is a three-faced balcony with three windows reminding the balcony of Dabbakhane Mosque. The narthex and gynacaion sections seen in other churches in Urfa are not seen in this building.

The stone workmanship especially in the western side and the corner towers are fascinating. When converted to a mosque, one of the windows to the south has been turned to a niche and a stone pulpit built before the semi column in the centre of the southern wall. The inscription reads that the mosque was converted to a mosque in 1956 (1376). Before converted to mosque, the church was used as jailhouse for some time.

Eyyübi Madrasah

What remains to our day from the Eyyübi Madrasah adjacent to the eastern part of the Grand Mosque is an inscription dating back to 1191. The single-liwan madrasah standing today at the same place was built by Nakibzade Hacı İbrahim Efendi in 1781 on the building remaining from the Eyyübi period.

Adjacent to southern wall of the madrasah, there is a fountain built by Firuz Bey in 1781. 

Cave and Well of Prophet Eyyüb

The cave where prophet Eyyüb suffered his illness and the well which he used its water for cure is both in the Eyyüb quarter of the city. Eyyüb’s suffering in this cave lasted 7 years.

It was in 460 AD that Bishop Nona found out about the curing property of the pit of Job for those having leprosy and people with leprosy recovered their health after having been washed with the water of this pit.

The place carved into rocks to the east of the well known as “hamam” suggests that it was once a healing centre.

The miraculous handkerchief sent by Jesus Christ to the King of Urfa was stolen by a thief and thrown into Eyyüb’s well. The event was conveyed to İmadeddin Zengi, the commander of Muslims capturing Urfa in 1145, by Basil Bar Şumana, the head of the Syriac Church as follows: "One of the visitors in Urfa steals Jesus Christ’s handkerchief and puts it in his pocket. While he is staying in Kosmas monastery at night, the handkerchief starts to shine very brightly. Afraid of getting burned, the thief throws it to the well of prophet Eyyüb, after which a bright light ascends from the well illuminating the surroundings. So the handkerchief is found and returned to its place in the monastery.” Local people repeat this story for wells in Grand Mosque too.

Karakoyun Stream

The stream originates from the north-eastern part of the province, passes through the city and joints to Cüllap stream on the Harran Plain. It is presently dry.

Bridges on Karakoyun Stream

On Karakoyun stream and starting from the west there are Hızmalı and Millet bridges, aqueduct, Samsat (old bridge) Hacı Kamil, Beg Kapısı and Demir bridges. The last two of these bridges were removed by the State Hydraulic Works after a stream rehabilitation and regulation work.

Hızmalı Bridge

It is one of the most beautiful bridges in Urfa. According to popular saying, it was built by Sakine Sultan, daughter of one of the rulers of Turkish Karakoyunlu during her pilgrimage. An inscription on the bridge says the bridge was restored in 1843. Graves of Sakine Sultan and her children are along the stream to the North of the aqueduct. The bridge is in poor condition and needs restoration.

Karakoyun Aqueduct

It is between Millet and Samsat bridges and assumed to be constructed by the Byzantine emperor Justinianus in 525 AD.

City Walls and Gates

Walls surrounding the city of Urfa were completely standing until 50 years ago. Today, we can see only Harran and Bey Gates with remaining walls and bastions. The year when walls were constructed is not known though there are references to them in sources dating back to the 6th century AD.

It can be inferred from various sources that walls had 7 big Gates including Bu and Batı to the west; Samsat and Saray to the North-east; Beg to the east and Harran to the South.

Urfa Houses

The houses of Urfa reflect the influence of different factors like climate, availability of limestone, Islamic beliefs, local family life, the idea to create a wide space for women who spend most of their time at home, and social traditions.

The hot climate of Urfa explains why houses are built with courtyards, winter and summer sections, liwans, thick walls and vault covered roof made of earth. Stones suitable for carving brought from the

surrounding mountains have made them the dominant elements in architecture. There are antique quarries operated for centuries now.

In line with the Islamic tradition of family privacy, traditional Urfa houses consist of two sections as (for females) and selamlık (for males). In selamlık section, there is a small yard, one or two rooms, a liwan a large stable for the animals of guests and a toilet.

The haremlik section is designed richly. In general, haremlik sections have “winter” and “summer” rooms, located so as to have the former receive sunlight in winter and the latter is protected from sunlight in summer.

House yards are surrounded by “Zerzembe” (cellar), “tandırmık” (kitchen) and bathroom. Bathrooms have their dome-shaped roofs, fountains and hot-cool sections within.

Liwans are very important in Urfa houses, even more than rooms. Some liwans are decorated with “şadırvan” (a small water reservoir with fountains around). Ventilation holes or windows are opened to the front walls of the liwans combined with “wind providers” at the roof. Winds blowing come through this system to cool down the liwan.

Since weather is hot for most of the year in Urfa, liwans are used as cool resorts by household members and as such they constitute an important element determining the house plan. Based on the number of liwans, the houses in Urfa are classified as without liwan, with one, two, three or four liwans.

In traditional Urfa houses, yards locally called ‘hayat” have their important place. In the middle of “hayat” there is a marble pool, well, watering place and a garden with trees of fig, mulberry, pomegranate, orange, kebbat (a kind of citrus fruit), oleander or grape. This garden is also the place where remains of bread are left after meals since their disposal to ordinary garbage cans is considered sinful. Birds nesting in cabins at the top of walls feed on these remains.

Examples of traditional Urfa houses which can be visited include the following:

State Gallery of Fine Arts

It is in “Karameydanı” quarter of the town, adjacent to the southern end of the post office. It bears many characteristics of traditional Urfa houses. Built first in 1888, the building was renovated by the Ministry of Culture and opened as “State Gallery of Fine Arts”.

Şurkav Culture House

Three traditional Urfa houses were combined, renovated and turned into a centre of culture and arts for youth. It is open to public.

Sakıb's Mansion and Halepli Garden

It is inside the Halepli Garden to the west of the Halil-ür Rahman Lake. This historical mansion was built in 1845. The building, together with the garden which appears in the urban development plan as “Fair Area” has been purchased by the Municipality.

The mansion is now being used as “April 11 Directorate of Fairs”. The bath, which is composed of cold, mild and warm sections of the mansion is interesting to see. The building is also known as “Hacı Mustafa Hacıkamil Mansion”.

Gümrük Inn 

It was built by Behram Pasha in 1562 during the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Water stream originating from Halil-ür Rahman Lake flows through its yard. The building has two floors: while the upper floor is used by tailors there are small coffee houses in the courtyard.


(Covered Bazaar)

It is a bazaar just next to the southern face of Gümrük Inn. Local outfits for males and females and head covers such us yaşmak and puşu are sold here.

Sipahi Bazaar

It is adjacent to the Bedesten in its western edge. Items sold in this bazaar include floorings such as carpets and rugs and handicraft products like furs and bags.

Millet Inn

It is out of the Samsat Gate of city walls. It was built at an unknown date for arriving caravans to rest for a while before entering the city. It is one of the largest inns in Turkey in terms of area it covers.

The inn was constructed by using cut stones and in its yard there are wide spaces divided by pillars and covered by interlinked cross vaults. There are zigzag shaped ventilation holes in the ceiling. These spaces are divided into rooms by separation walls. The eastern part of the southern edge of the yard is destroyed and soil filled.

The building was once used as German orphanage. Old photos of the building show that it had two floors and there was an inscription on a portal to the western corner of its southern front, with lion reliefs to the right and left. The second floor is completely ruined today.


In Urfa there are 8 public baths remaining from the Ottoman period: Cıncıklı, Vezir, Şaban Velibey, Eski Arasa, Serçe and Sultan. With the exception of Eski arasa, all baths are open to males from 04:00 to 10:00 and to females from 12:00 to 20:00.

Haşimiye square

t is vacant and about to disappear since the old Arasa bath on the way to lake Halil-ür Rahman is not used any more. Of all baths, the one that is particularly worth seeing is the Sultan Bath near Ucuzluk Bazaar. There is also the Keçeciler Mosque adjacent to the eastern wall of this bath. The latter is used by felt masters for tanning pieces of felt.


Gümrük, Hacı Kamil, Mençek, Topçu, Millet and Barutçu are the best standing examples of many inns dating back to the Ottoman period.


Local legends

Like all historical cities, Şanlurfa has its legends too. For local people living there, they are historically true. Also, the lives of prophets who are believed to have lived in the region are associated with many legends. So it goes that it was the Harran Plain where Adam and Eve first stepped on the earth, first ploughing was made here; it is the place where Abraham was born, smashed idols and was then cast into fire. Job endured his illness and was buried here after his death. It is the place where the holy handkerchief of Jesus Christ was kept. David lived here and Şuayp founded the city bearing his name near Şanlıurfa. Moses too is believed to have lived in the city of Sogmatar. This is why it is called the City of Prophets.

The Name “Urfa” and Legend of Nimrod

Hundreds and hundreds of years ago, Urfa had a ruler named Nimrod, a man of extreme cruelty and denier of God.

To reveal his actual weakness, God informs Nimrod that he will be sending mosquitoes, such weak and tiny creatures against him. Nimrod tries to stand against the army of mosquitoes, but unable to do so because of mosquitoes entering into noses, ears and eyes of both soldiers and their horses. Nimrod barely makes it back to his palace where he tightly shuts all doors and windows. Meanwhile, a lame mosquito begs God for giving him a new mission to cover his failure to join the army in time because of his disability. God tells him, “I give you the mission of destroying Nimrod; go find and destroy him!” The lame mosquito finds Nimrod entering his room from a key hole and attacks. It enters from the nose of the ruler and reaches his brain to eat it. Nimrod is helpless and cannot find a way to get rid of his headache. Then he orders for hammers made of felt to pound on his head. Seeing no cure from felt hammers, he orders for wooden ones. As he receives blows of hammer on his head he finally dies while shouting "Vurha, Vurha".

It is said that the name “Urfa” derives from Nimrod’s last words “Vurha, Vurha”

The Legend of Halil-ür Rahman and Ayn zeliha Lake

Nimrod is a ruler terrifying people with his tyranny and cruelty. One day he has his oracles to interpret his dream a night before. He is told that one child yet to be born is destined to kill him. Nimrod then orders the killing of all children born or to be born that year and his soldiers start to execute the order. Sara, the mother of Abraham seeks hide in a cave and gives birth to Abraham in that cave. After leaving her baby in the cave she returns home and the baby was fed there by a female gazelle. After some time, soldiers find Abraham in the cave and take him to Nimrod. Having no child of his own, Nimrod likes Abraham and keeps him in his palace.

Observing Nimrod’s tyranny, his worship to some idols and the use of force over people to do the same, Abraham says these manmade idols cannot be god. But people are too afraid to speak out. In one ritual day while everybody is out there, Abraham gets an axe and enters the section of the palace where idols are kept. He smashes all idols there and leaves the axe on the largest one. People returning back from the ritual are worried and they inform Nimrod about the case. Some of them are at odds with Abraham and point at him as the heretic. While being tried and questioned, Abraham says, “well, as you see the largest idol has the axe, it suggests that he made it.”

Nimrod is furious saying “How could a piece of rock do it by using an axe?” Abraham’s response is clear: “That is exactly what I was trying to show. You expect pieces of rock you shaped to protect you from harm. You worship, sacrifice for them and expect their assistance when you are in trouble.” Caught in surprise for a moment, Nimrod then orders to punish Abraham by casting him into fire.

Wood collected for fire is placed where Halil-ür Rahman lake is now, fire is set and Abraham is thrown into fire from the hill where the castle stands today with a catapult. Nimrod sticks to his original order against all appeals of pardon by his daughter Zeliha. As soon as Abraham falls into fire, the place turns into a lake and a rose garden while pieces of wood turn into fish. The place is later named as Halil-ür Rahman Lake. The Lake Ayn zeliha is the place where Zeliha, Nimrod’s daughter follows Abraham into the fire.

Local people regard these lakes and fish in these lakes as sacred. It is believed that one who touches these fish will be cursed.

Legend of Abgar and Holy Handkerchief

According to this legend, Abgar Ukkama the 5th is the first Christian king in the region. He adopted Christianity shortly after Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and had his people adopt it too. The legend goes on as follows:

The King of Edessa, Abgar the 5th, suffers badly from leprosy and one day hears of a man named Jesus who is able to cure the sick. But he could not travel to Jerusalem because of his heavy illness. Abgar then sends a messenger, Hannan, with a letter saying that he, the King of Edessa, believes in him and wants to learn about his new teaching. This messenger, who also happens to be a talented painter, tries to draw a picture of Jesus’ face after he hands him Abgar’s letter but just cannot manage it. Jesus, upon seeing this, washes his face and wipes it on a clean handkerchief given to him. Miraculously, a likeness of Jesus’ face appears on the handkerchief. Hannan returns to Edessa bearing both the letter of Jesus and the handkerchief.

Below is what Jesus Christ says in his letter to Abgar Ukkama the 5th, the King of Edessa:

“How happy you are, Abgar, and your city Edessa who believed in me without seeing me for eternal health you are entitled to. As to your writing about me joining you in your place, you must know that I must return to the Father who sent me after finishing my full mission here. I will send you one of my disciples, Thomas, also known as Adday who shall heal all your sufferings, give you health again, and safeguard your city eternally from enemies. Amen...”

King Abgar, regaining his health after rubbing the handkerchief (Hagion Mandylion) on his face, later had it stretched out and placed in a special niche carved in a wall by the main gate to the city. This holy handkerchief later played an important role both in Christian art and in Byzantine-Muslim relations of the Middle Ages. Meanwhile it became a tradition to make copies of the Hagion Mandylion and present them to visitors of Urfa.

This handkerchief, considered sacred, is kept for a long time. When the region is dominated by Islam, the handkerchief too passes to the Muslim. During a battle with Byzantine, some of the Muslims are taken as captives and Byzantines make the return of captives conditional upon the submission of the handkerchief.

Finally, the handkerchief is given, and the captives are set free.

The well where the handkerchief was dropped is considered sacred by the Christians. Every year on the day the handkerchief fell, people visit this well for various acts of ritual. It is believed that one should go to the well with bare-foot. This anniversary of the falling of the handkerchief is on the 20th day of Easter.

Also according to legend, the columns that were used to catapult Abraham into fire were in fact monuments built in commemoration of this well and the handkerchief. Under one of the two, there is uncountable gold and under the other, there is the water of all seas. If the former is destroyed, Urfa will be flushed in with gold and if the latter is destroyed, Urfa will be flushed in with water.

Legend of Çiğköfte

The history of Çiğköfte goes back to the times of Abraham. According to the legend, when Nimrod seizes all the fuel in the city to burn Abraham and forbids local dwellers to make fire, the people start thinking about a way out. The wife of a hunter, who has just hunted an antelope, prepares the primitive form of raw meatballs known as çiğköfte today with antelope meat, cracked wheat and isot. Her husband, the hunter likes this new, uncooked dish and it is believed that çiğköfte of our day has its origins in those times of bans and associated necessities.

Karakoyun Stream and the Legend of Hızmalı Bridge 

Hundreds of years ago there lived a poor mother and her son to the south-eastern part of the town. The son worked by Kasarcı Stream. One day, an itinerant dervish visiting the town keeps watching the young man for few days and says “You seem to be a hardworking and honest person. As far as I see, you’re poor. I’ll return to my country soon. There is a wealthy place. Come with me if you like.” The son takes her mother’s opinion and she allows him to go hoping to see him out of poverty.

The dervish takes the young man to his lodge and teaches him. One day, the young man sees a beautiful girl out it street and falls in love with her. Asking about her, he finds out that she is the daughter of Karakoyunlu ruler. Hopeless, the young man is deeply distressed and noticed by the dervish who said, “Don’t be so sad, we’ll go and ask her father’s consent.” They arrive at the palace next day and tell the ruler the situation. The ruler, although enraged, does not say anything to stay respectful. He tells the dervish he will get his consent for marriage if he brings the gifts and money that he asks for within 40 days.

But it seems impossible to bring all these things together in 40 days. The dervish is quite poor. The young man is sad about the situation and gets weaker and weaker in desperation. Just on the 40th day, he wakes up in the morning and notices mules in the yard loaded with gold and other precious things. He runs to the dervish to give the news and the dervish just smiles. The ruler has now no other choice but letting his daughter marry the young man.

The dervish tells the young man to pray two times before the wedding night and then to pray for him. The groom is so happy and hilarious that he prays but forgets to pray specifically for the dervish. Having forgotten his obligation, next morning he finds himself near Kasarcı stream. It all appears as a dream. He goes to tell his mother what happened. There is nothing they can do but return to their old life.

As to the new bride, not seeing her husband near her when she wakes up, she sends men around to look for him, but no trace is found. By the way, the dervish has gone too. After some time, when her child has grown, she sets out to look for her husband and serve to her obligation of pilgrimage. The city of Urfa is on her way. While having her tent set in front of Samsat Gate she hears people shouting. The stream flowing through the city had overflowed and destroyed many houses and buildings. The princess is determined to save the city from this disaster which is repeated in every two or three years and to invest her pilgrimage fund in this purpose. During rehabilitation works her child starts crying and nobody can soothe him. While the child is passed from hand to hand he suddenly stops crying when in the arms of a young man. So the princess takes this young man out of ditch digging work and assigns him to take care of her child. As these happen, the mother of the young man finds a wedding dress with gold ornaments on. "My son, this dress suits us no more, so let’s give it as a present to that lady who is doing such good things for us”. The dress is taken to the tent of the princess. She recognizes her personal artwork on the dress and orders for the person who brought this present. He is nobody else but the young man she had married. Two lovers eventually meet again and embrace each other.

Meanwhile, the ditch is completed. The stream bed is diverted to avoid any further overflow. A bridge is also constructed on the stream. In order to ensure reconstruction in case of future wear off, the princess has her golden ornament and other precious stones buried under one of the columns of the bridge. From that time on, the stream is known as Karakoyun, referring to the tribe of the bride and the bridge as “Hızmalı” referring to ornaments buried under.

The princess and the young man young lived happily together and were buried near Karakoyun Stream after their death.

Nimrod’s Throne and the Legend of Kazane Village 

The peak rising in mountains to the south of Urfa castle is the point where Nimrod lived and had his throne. The top of the hill is rocky but rather smooth.

Nimrod had some rooms carved into rocks so that he could shelter from the heat of summer. The meals are cooked in the Kazane village in Harran Plains, one hour from the hill and were passed from hand to hand and brought to the hill. Because of the abundance of kazans (big pots for cooking) in its kitchens, the village was called “Kazane”.

The Legend of King’s Daughter

Once there was a scholar of religion in Urfa. As he is about to finish his studies, a war breaks out. Like many other young people, this scholar also joins the war as a volunteer. During the war, he is taken as captive. The non-Muslim fighters take the captives to their country and they kill them one by one since they see no use in letting them stay alive. Just when it’s this scholar’s turn, a messenger comes and asks for a captive to give service to the daughter of the king. So the guards respond by giving the last captive in their hands, which was the scholar.

The scholar is now at the service of king’s daughter, who dresses, rides horse and uses sword just like a man. She is the only child of her father.

She leaves the palace early in the morning and comes back late at night. The scholar finishes his job before she comes in and retires to his room. After a long period of time, one night, while cleaning the princess’s room, the scholar starts to recite the Quran by heart. This recital excites the scholar; he remembers his country and family. So he stops working and recites the Quran, crying. The princess comes into the room and sees him in this state. When she asks him about it, the scholar tells the princess about Islam. Upon grasping the merits and truthfulness of this religion, the princess converts to Islam. From then on the princess receives Islamic knowledge from the scholar every night. She learns about Islam and performs the requirements of the religion. This goes on for couple of years.

One evening, the king’s daughter comes home early. When the scholar asks her why she is so early, she answers “I think I am going to die soon. According to traditions, the dead are buried with all their gold and jewellery. Before I die, I’ll tell my father to set you free. At night you come and open my grave. There is nobody else who knows I am a Moslem. You cannot wash me as you’re intimate to me, so you must perform a tayammum and namaz for me. Then, you should take the jewellery and gold and leave.” She indeed dies a few days later. They bury her according to their traditions. Upon her daughter’s wish, the king sets the scholar free. The scholar comes at night to open the grave but finds in surprise that the dead body does not look like her. Taking a closer look, he notices that the body is nobody else but his teacher back home. He takes the jewellery and gold, cover the grave and leaves for home.

The scholar, amazed at what he had seen, looks for his teacher, but he learns that he died on the same day as when the king’s daughter did. He finds out where his tomb is and opens the tomb one night. To his amazement, he sees that the King’s daughter is lying in the teacher’s tomb. To solve the puzzle, he inquires into the life of the teacher, asking everyone about him. They all say that the teacher was a great, wise person. The scholar, unsatisfied with these answers, goes to the wife of the teacher. The wife, hesitant at the beginning cannot resist scholar’s insistence and explains what the case really is: “He was a good person in every way, but he wouldn’t bother to wash after sexual intercourse. He used to say the Christians don’t have to do this, as if he liked their tradition.” Upon hearing this, the scholar understands how God swopped the tombs of a teacher who approved the traditions of non-Muslims and a good Muslim who managed to be so among many non-Muslims.

The tomb of Seyyid Hacı Ali, son of Seyyid Maksud in Harran Gate Cemetery dating back to 1594 is associated with this legend and thus known as the tomb of “King’s Daughter”.

The legend of Tılfındır Hill

The city of Urfa was taken from the Byzantine without fight in the year 639 by the Islamic army of İyad b. Ganem.

According to the legend, when the army entered the city, everyone was on fast since it was the holy month of Ramadan. The army camped on this hill and soldiers opened their fast there. After that, the hill is known as “Tell Futur” in Arabic which means the evening meal for finishing the fast. This name comes up to our times as “Tılfındır”.