Friday, 28 May 2010

nemrut to urfa

we looked at another site connected to the Commagene kingdom of Antiochos (68BC?) before leaving for Sanliurfa. this one used to be the capital of the small kingdom and was sited in the valley just below the burial mound . This was Arsameia and contained a couple of caves leading down to cisterns and a sizeable stone relief depicting Mithridates (father of Antiochos) shaking hands with Hercules, thus making both father and son both extremely vain. (Keep up Mr.chris and Will you can google the rest of the history!!)
Antiochus had Appollo,Fortuna,Zeus and Hercules surrounding his burial ground!
And here's one for Marsha...his wife was buried further down the valley with a smaller mound and only a couple of eagles for company!
So on to "Glorious" Urfa so called because they put up a magnificent resistance to. the French in 1918-20. We took the ferry across the Attaturk reservoir bit and then down an extremely bad road before finally getting to the city and once again our little (out of date) street map in Rough Guide plus our fantastic sense of direction (I jest not) found the hotel we were aiming for!
If anyone is coming to Turkey with any guide book they all seem to be out of date as the rate of change that is happening here at the moment is phenomenal.
We wandered around the streets for a bit and got lost in the bazaars very reminiscent of Egypt.
the city was once again bigger than i had anticipated and more modern with the old quarter being diminished bit by bit. There are a lot of middle eastern pilgrims especially syrian and Iranian in town to visit the cave of Abraham supposedly where he was born. Also the pools nearby which saved him when King Nemrut had him hurled from the citadel into fire below.
Cath visited the cave this morning which is now included in a mosque complex.
It was quite moving to be in there together with a few turkish women praying and then an invasion of Iranian(?) women in full black chadurs who were obviously overwhelmed to be there and went along touching the walls......I said a little prayer for world peace to whoever was listening and then left.
We made a detour to Harran this morning supposedly one of the oldest settlements on earth. Mud beehive dwellings in a settlement surrounded by a mud outer wall but we didn't stop as it felt uncomfortable to be there staring at the poverty. (martin ..I know they are probably rich in other ways and if i could have spoken to them I would have got out and wandered around...oh for the gift of language)
After an arduous journey due to the state of the roads ..we are now in Mardin and found a hotel at the third attempt.I thought this place was in the middle of nowhere but apparently a lot of other people found it as well though no Brits.
There is supposedly a wonderful view across the syrian plain from the tea gardens at the top of the hill but it just looks like a dust storm at the moment.

PS if anyone was bothered the place where Safak pensiyon was in the mountains (as i posted before filling it in) Camardi......nearest bigger town Nigde.