The first university of the world? Check. These wastelands have actually hosted one of the first ancient civilizations in history. In fact, Harran means "green lands". Well, it was, long, long time ago. Let's take a trip through time, shall we?
We traveled by a small bus with no air conditioning, down to Şanlıurfa (Urfa) passing from Malatya and Adıyaman (Pordonnium, where you can see the Mount Nemrut). The best time to go is spring / fall, not the middle of summer as we did – it was 45 degrees !
Harran is so close to the border of Syria, like an hour by walking. Locals have families across the border, so they pass and bring “mırra” (the most hardcore coffee I’ve ever had), black tea and tobacco. Contrary to popular belief, Kurdish population is almost zero down here. Arabic sounds really great, and interesting, especially when a girl sings a song to you. They’re self confident on any language as they see thousands of tourists in every season of every year. “I speak 8 languages” a girl says. “Turkish (is it foreign anyway?), English, Japanese, French etc.” Their father rolled a fine tobacco to me while telling the story of how he refused dozens of men ready to pay for his daughters. There are people still fighting against the patriarchal traditions like “paying for a woman to get married”.
“He said if my daughter was 45 kilos (yeah, it’s a 15 years old girl’s weight, unfortunately) he was going to give me 45 kilos of gold. And i said NO ! If she doesn’t love him, i won’t give her away.”
While walking under the wild sun with the “poşu” rolled on my head, a boy studies tourism told us every story of every stone with a great passion. The little girls i saw answered me “There is no war in here, no bad things. But people kill and eat animals, which is so bad.” A good veggy. I’m so glad that she has no idea about America.
Şanlıurfa is the great place to start a middle east tour, the history hiding in old architecture is quite stunning, and the foods are amazing. People put these all together in Sıra nights, which is a very old tradition filled with endless music, food and chat.