In Sanliurfa, the Silk Road Meets the Stone Age

The city in southeastern Turkey resounds with music, food and culture — and echoes with more than 11,000 years of human history.

A short flight from Istanbul, Sanliurfa is an ancient Mesopotamian Silk Road city, richly textured with multicultural tradition and history. It has important religious pilgrimage sites, a vivid food culture and a historic bazaar quarter that resounds with Kurdish, Arabic and Turkish.

The city is a palimpsest of civilizations as well. It was called Urhai under the Aramaeans; Edessa under Alexander the Great, the Romans, Byzantines and Arabs; and then renamed Urfa by the Ottomans in 1607. Its honorific title, Sanli, meaning “glorious” in Turkish, was bestowed in 1984 for itsheroics in the Turkish War of Independence, but locals still call it Urfa.

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