Top choice in Şanlıurfa

Legend claims that the Prophet Abraham (father of the three major monotheistic religions) was confronted by Nimrod, the local Assyrian king, while destroying pagan idols. Nimrod had Abraham immolated on a funeral pyre but God turned the fire into water and the burning coals into fish. Abraham was hurled into the air from where the castle stands, landing safely in a bed of roses. Urfa's picturesque Gölbaşı area of fish-filled pools and rose gardens is a symbolic recreation of this story.

Two rectangular pools of water, Balıklı Göl and Ayn-i Zeliha, are filled with supposedly sacred carp, while the area to the east is planted with blooming rose gardens. Local legend has it that anyone catching the carp will go blind.

On the northern side of Balıklı Göl is the elegant Rızvaniye Vakfı Cami & Medresesi, with a much-photographed arcaded wall, while at the western end is the Halilur Rahman Cami. 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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Şanlıurfa attractions

1. Dergah Complex

0.04 MILES

Southeast of Gölbaşı is the Dergah mosque complex, Urfa's major pilgrimage destination. From the gate, you enter the colonnaded courtyard in front of the…

2. Mevlid-i Halil Cami

0.05 MILES

This Ottoman-style mosque commands the western section of the Dergah Complex. The prayer hall interior includes some beautiful calligraphy and arabesque…

4. Hasan Padişah Cami

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The eastern entrance to the Gölbaşı area is marked by this mosque, which was built in the 15th century.

5. Mevlid-i Halil Cave

0.07 MILES

This small cave in the southern side of the Dergah Complex is one of Turkey's most important pilgrimage sites. It's believed by many Muslims to be the…

6. Şurkav

0.08 MILES

To admire some typical local architecture, pop into the Şurkav, a local government building near the entrance to Hotel Edessa, where the courtyard is…

7. Narıncı Cami

0.11 MILES

This little mosque, with its entrance squeezed between market stalls, was built in the mid-18th century.

8. Halilur Rahman Cami

0.11 MILES

According to local lore, this mosque, dating to the 13th century, is built upon the spot where Abraham fell safely back to ground after God saved him from…