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The SouthEast Trip

April 4, 2010

I took a trip with my friends to the Southeastern Anatolia region of Turkey on this weekend. 3 cities at total: Şanlıurfa, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaraş. All that are named differently after the Turkish war of Independence: Şanlı (glorious) Urfa, Gazi (veteran) Antep, Kahraman (heroic) Maraş.

Şanlıurfa

First stop was Şanlıurfa. It took about 8 hours us to reach to the city from Kayseri. Let me tell you one thing, I never though Şanlıurfa would be so beautiful honestly. GAP worked really miracles on this region of Turkey so it seems.

Weather was good during the trip thank Allah. As we were heading to the center of the city, the sun rised and it got pretty warm in the van. We were all really happy when we stopped close to the Balıklı Göl (Pool of Sacred Fish) to have breakfast.

According to tradition, Nimrod had Abraham immolated on a funeral pyre, but Allah turned the fire into water and the burning coals into fish. It’s believed like that everywhere. So do i. Since the ayat goes like that:

We said, “O Fire! be thou cool, and (a means of) safety for Abraham!”

He was catapulted from the catapults you see above the castle to the ground which there is the Pool of Sacred Fish on our left where he landed on a big fire.

And then we took the way up to the castle.

Then you use not the stairs to go down but the tiny tunnel which was pretty claustrophobic.

Then we saw the birth place of Prophet Abraham which they built a mosque around it. We considered the mosque to be pretty old but it was only 20 years old. They made a good job to make it look like at home.

But the mosque was closed. I guess it was because it wasn’t the pray time when we were there. But it’s a mosque for Allah’s sake. I mean, they should be open 7/24 =s

The Patience place of Hz. Eyyüb (a.s.) (known as Job (p.b.u.h.) in English) is also located in Şanlıurfa. He is the symbol of patience in Islam. We use idioms in daily life like “He should have Ayyub’s patience.” is he/she was really patient about something like illness, bad financal conditions, someone’s death etc.

He never became against Allah as he slowly lost his children, his wealth and then his health. He got Hansen. His body was being eaten by small worms from inside and then outside but he never gave up on his believes. Just prayed. The only time he prayed for health was when he was so sick that he couldn’t even pray any more. And Allah accepted his pray and told him to hit to the ground, he did and there came water from that place. And he washed in that water and found health again.

(where he isolated himself from everyone as his sickness got worse)

Now there is a well where the water came from. And you can drink from the fountains that comes the same water. People usually ask for health as they drink. So did i =)

And there was a mosque here too.

Şanlıurfa is a really strange city if you ask me. I never felt OK while i was there. The city and the people who live in it were so different from each other that it was like they didn’t actually belong there. People are still traditional so i respect but it looks weird. Well, it’s probably because they were all very dark-skinned. I didn’t feel home. There are many homeless children on the streets and around the touristic places. They start talking about the place’s history both in English and Turkish as they memorised and then ask for money. Or they sell holy stuff and beg you to buy.

The city’s people are either too rich or too poor as far as i saw.

We reached to Gaziantep around noon. We went to a friend’s Aunt’s house to have lunch. She was very kind. There were lots of food. I dunno if you’ve ever heard of the Çiğ Köfte‘s story, but it goes like that. When Nimrod ordered his people to bring all the wood they had to make the fire bigger, there never left a single wood to burn for cooking and it was also forbidden to light any kind of fire. So they kneaded the raw meat with wheat and red pepper. The Çiğ Köfte was born like that.

Gaziantep is famous for its Zoo. Its largeness is world-class so they say. But since i’m never up to put animals into cages, i didn’t like the place at all. It was all green, yeah, and the animals are in much better conditions than they could be in many other zoos, but that doesn’t mean that they’re happy to be like that. I didn’t feel any happiness radiating from them, not at all =s

Gaziantep is never like an Eastern city. It was more like Istanbul in both ways, the city and its people. I also never thought it would be like that. Shopkeepers were cheerful and helpful. We bought baklava from the city centre which Gaziantep is famous for. The shopkeeper gave a big discount since we were students. And he also made the day with us. We bought about 5 kgs of baklava =) .. it was reaally delicious as we tasted on the bus. Then we bought Antepfıstığı (pistachio-nut) which is used in baklava, so the Gaziantep is also famous for. There were lots of big pistachio-nut fields next to roads as we were heading to Gaziantep.

Then we had dinner in a big restaurant called The İmam Çağdaş restaurant. I ordered like many others did too, half-portion Patlıcan Kebabı and half Adana Kebap. There also were a famous soccerclub’s players who came to have match in the city who were having dinner there. It was Samsunspor if you know.

The Covered Bazaar of Gaziantep was open only until 10 pm, but we couldn’t make it on time, only a few of shops were open and i couldn’t find anything to buy as a souveneir. A shopkeeper was trying to convince a friend of mine to buy some soap which he insestently told it was good for skin. All the girls except her bought =)

Then we went back to the van to go to Kahramanmaraş which is famous for its Dondurma. Went to Mado (Maraş Dondurması). They also made discount =) .. we bought half or one kg of icecream to bring home. They had a technique to keep it from melting which they called “şoklamak” (quickfreezing). So they were safe for about 12 hours.

(from the castle, the city)

There wasn’t much to see in Maraş. It was late at night anyway, like 11.30 pm. We went to the Kahramanmaraş Castle which is built on about a century b.c. It’s not for sure though. It was above the city and wasn’t so big. But it’s always good for a city to have castle if you ask me. It’s like the city actually worked its best to stay alive and ground.

It was a tiring and fun trip and pretty educational. Everybody was deeply sleeping on the way home.


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From → Turkey

4 Comments
  1. aditya permalink

    wow… beautiful.. (=

  2. Yup, sightseeing is fun =)

  3. aditya permalink

    it would be more fun if you could take me with you doing sightseeing. hahaha. just kidding. =P

  4. If you ever come to Turkey, why not.
    I had American visitors before.

    But I can’t take you to Southeast, it’s way too far away. Only Istanbul =)

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