I have to wander for a while along Şanlıurfa’s beautiful yet narrow and confusing old city alleyways until I find my hostel. For some reason these are very rare in Eastern Turkey and after having spent the last few weeks Couchsurfing I embrace the opportunity to spend some time alone. The place turns out to be the former home of an Armenian merchant. An indication of the city’s more cosmopolitan past.
I’ve heard that the city is ancient, far older than even the city’s old center would indicate. I visit a cave where local allege Abraham was hid as a baby. I join the women and children in the left half of the cave, have a sip of water from the holy source. Some women are praying alone, others are listening to an elderly woman’s chants others still are there seemingly to do no more than hang out perhaps hiding from the outside’s scorching sun.
But outside Şanlıurfa. a far more ancient site was found. I have to take a bus, hitchhike and walk to get to a fascinating archaeological site, though the theories around the structures are more interesting than the actual remains themselves which thanks to some fence work I don’t get to see up close. So I’m happy when a Turkish couple on holiday offer me a ride back into town where I visit some museums and get a chance to see detailed replicas of what I tried to see in the morning before buying some new clothing in a brand new shopping mall. Time does not stand still in Şanlıurfa.