Gölbaşı

Lonely Planet review

Legend had it that Abraham (İbrahim), a great Islamic prophet, was in old Urfa destroying pagan gods one day when Nimrod, the local Assyrian king, took offence at this rash behaviour. Nimrod had Abraham immolated on a funeral pyre, but God turned the fire into water and the burning coals into fish. Abraham himself was hurled into the air from the hill where the fortress stands, but landed safely in a bed of roses.

The picturesque Gölbaşı area of Urfa is a symbolic re-creation of this story. Two rectangular pools of water (Balıklı Göl and Ayn-i Zeliha ) are filled with supposedly sacred carp, while the area west of the Hasan Padişah Camii is a gorgeous rose garden. Local legend has it that anyone catching the carp will go blind. Consequently, these appear to be the most pampered, portly fish in Turkey.

On the northern side of Balıklı Göl is the elegant Rızvaniye Vakfı Camii & Medresesi , with a much-photographed arcaded wall, while at the western end is the Halilur Rahman Camii . This 13th-century building, replacing an earlier Byzantine church, marks the site where Abraham fell to the ground. The two pools are fed by a spring at the base of Damlacık hill, on which the castle is built.