Heading south from Sanliurfa (Urfa) towards the Syrian border, we drive towards the town of Harran. We’re going there to see the beehive houses that Harran is known for. They date back to the 3rd Century BC though the houses that people live in today were only built in the last two hundred years.
Guide books mention that ‘Harran is reputed to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited spots on earth’
Harran is also mentioned in the bible… ‘Abraham stayed here for a few years in 1900BC’
I’m not sure what we were expecting but we were greeted by crumbling walls and the ruins of old houses.
As we drove into the town we were stopped by men offering their service as guides. There is really no need for this…you will see many of the beehive houses on a drive around the village.
Apart from the houses, Harran’s castle is the only other sight to see and even that is in a state of disrepair. More guides were waiting for us here but they were happy with a no!
Two of the houses have been opened so visitors can see inside. We stopped at Harran Küitûr Evi. It is really a tourist shop but it does give you an idea of how the houses are constructed and what life would be like living in one.
A view of the town can be seen from the nearby hill. The town was once surrounded by stone walls, towers and four gates but these are now crumbled ruins. Only one gate that has been restored can be seen.
The community does have hope. The nearby Atatürk Dam has bought water to an otherwise desolate area and cotton fields now flourish. There is work for the community and with it a future.
Close to Syria
The town of Akçakale, on the Syrian border, is only 15 kms from Harran. On the outskirts of the town, Syrian refugee camps have been erected. Row upon row of white tents form a small city. Light poles seemingly divide these tents into streets!
We drove into Akçakale, fully expecting to be stopped at any moment but no one was interested in us. It was just like any other town…the streets busy with people going about the daily chores.
As we drove through, the railway tracks stopped us going any further. We were now standing on the Syrian border. The barbed wire fences in front of us separate Turkey from Syria.
And still no one came up to us…not even the soldiers in the armoured vehicle not far from us.
Needless to say, we didn’t linger…it had been a surreal moment. I had had dreams of visiting Syria not that long ago but no more. This was a close as we were going to get to Syria in my lifetime!
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