Turkey: Sanliurfa

Urfa, officially known as Şanlıurfa (pronounced [ʃanˈlɯuɾfa]; Arabic: الرها‎ ar-Ruhā; Kurdish: Riha, ڕحا‎), and known in ancient times as Edessa, is a city with 561,465 inhabitants in south-eastern Turkey, and the capital of Şanlıurfa Province. Urfa is a multiethnic city with a Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and Arab population. Urfa is situated on a plain about eighty kilometres east of the Euphrates River. Its climate features extremely hot, dry summers and cool, moist winters.

Although the site of Urfa has been inhabited since prehistoric times, the modern city was founded in 304 B.C by Seleucus I Nicator and named after the ancient capital of Macedonia. In the late 2nd century, as the Seleucid dynasty disintegrated, it became the capital of the Arab Nabataean Abgar dynasty, which was successively a Parthian, Armenian, and Roman client state and eventually a Roman province. Its location on the eastern frontier of the Empire meant it was frequently conquered during periods when the Byzantine central government was weak, and for centuries, it was alternately conquered by Arab, Byzantine, Armenian, Turkish rulers. In 1098, the Crusader Baldwin of Boulogne induced the final Armenian ruler to adopt him and then seized power, establishing the first Crusader State known as the County of Edessa and imposing Latin Christianity on the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic majority of the population.

Rızvaniye Mosque – a more recent (1716) Ottoman mosque, adjoining the Balıkligöl complex.
'Ayn Zelîha – A source nearby the historical center, named after Zulaykha, a follower of Abraham.
The Great Mosque of Urfa was built in 1170, on the site of a Christian church the Arabs called the "Red Church," probably incorporating some Roman masonry. Contemporary tradition at the site identifies the well of the mosque as that into which the towel or burial cloth (mendil) of Jesus was thrown (see Image of Edessa and Shroud of Turin). In the south wall of the medrese adjoining the mosque is the fountain of Firuz Bey (1781).
Ruins of the ancient city walls.
Eight Turkish baths built in the Ottoman period

Şanlıurfa Province (Turkish: Şanlıurfa ili) or simply Urfa Province is a province in southeastern Turkey. The city of Urfa or Şanlıurfa is the capital of the province which bears its name. The population is 1,845,667 (2014).

The province is famous for its Abrahamic sites such as Balıklıgöl, where Prophet Abraham was cast by Nimrod into fire that is believed to have turned to water, and Mevlid-i Halil Mosque where Abraham was born in the cave next to the mosque. Also lying within the district, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa, is the pre-historic site of Göbekli Tepe, where continuing excavations have unearthed 12,000-year-old sanctuaries dating from the early Neolithic period, considered to be the oldest temples in the world, predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years.

Population in 1990 was 1,001,455; 551,124 in the district centers, 450,331 in rural villages. By 2000, the population of Şanlıurfa province had grown to 1,436,956 and that of Urfa city, 829,000. Its provincial capital is the city of Urfa, the traffic code is 63.

This very large-scale, state-sponsored development project involved the damming, redirecting, hydroelectric tapping and other utilization of rivers in this broad, semi-arid region. (The rivers then flow into Syria and Iraq). The GAP project includes 22 dams, hundreds of miles of irrigation works.

Even before GAP, Şanlıurfa Province had the largest share of cultivated and cultivable land in the GAP region, due to its flatness and highly fertile, agricultural land. The Şanlıurfa and Harran Plains extend over an area of about 1,500 km² (579 sq. miles). Irrigating these plains is one of the most important components of GAP.

According to the 1990 census, Şanlıurfa Province contained 148,521 households, and the average household size was 6.74 persons. 71% of household heads described their occupation as farming. In 1992, Şanlıurfa had the highest concentration of land ownership in Turkey, with a landless rate of 48%. While 5% of the families in the province owned 65% of the land, the vast majority (70%) owned only 10%.

Şanlıurfa’s average annual growth rate between 1985 and 1990 was 4.6%, considerably higher than both the national and regional averages.

Since the 18th century, Turkish architecture has been increasingly influenced by European styles, and this can be particularly seen in the Tanzimat era buildings of Istanbul like the Dolmabahçe, Çırağan, Feriye, Beylerbeyi, Küçüksu, Ihlamur and Yıldız palaces, which were all designed by members of the Balyan family of Ottoman court architects.[8] The Ottoman era waterfront houses (yalı) on the Bosphorus also reflect the fusion between classical Ottoman and European architectural styles during the aforementioned period. The First National Architectural Movement (Birinci Ulusal Mimarlık Akımı) in the early 20th century sought to create a new architecture, which was based on motifs from Seljuk and Ottoman architecture. The movement was also labelled Turkish Neoclassical or the National Architectural Renaissance.[9] The leading architects of this movement were Vedat Tek (1873–1942), Mimar Kemaleddin Bey (1870–1927), Arif Hikmet Koyunoğlu (1888–1982) and Giulio Mongeri (1873–1953). Notable buildings from this era are the Grand Post Office in Istanbul (1905–1909), Tayyare Apartments (1919–1922), Istanbul 4th Vakıf Han (1911–1926), State Art and Sculpture Museum (1927–1930), Ethnography Museum of Ankara (1925–1928), the first Ziraat Bank headquarters in Ankara (1925–1929), the first Türkiye İş Bankası headquarters in Ankara (1926–1929), Bebek Mosque, and Kamer Hatun Mosque.

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