ŞANLIURFA – Anadolu Agency
The ancient city of Jethro in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa doesn’t get as much as attention as nearby Harran, but locals and visitors are hoping that will soon change.
“Şanlıurfa is known as the city of prophets; there is the trace of a prophet everywhere. People find peace here but is it really neglected. Officials should clean this place,” said a visitor to the town, Ali Kaya, adding that people from neighboring villages often drop by to visit.
Locals believe that the prophet Jethro, known as Shoaib in the Qur’an, lived and met the prophet Moses in the ancient city.
Traces of the walls of the ancient city, where many rock tombs and stone structures draw attention, can still be seen in a large field as well as many other caves and tunnels. Later, a Roman city was also built on the site.
Acting as volunteer guides, local children living in the area recount the history of the ancient city and the story of the prophet Jethro to tourists.
Dubbed the “Ephesus of the southeast,” Jethro has also drawn the attention of photographers, but the ancient city requires work and promotion if it is going to attract more tourists, such as the site of Balıklıgöl in the center of Şanlıurfa, according to visitor Abdurrezak Seyitoğlu.
Visitors have also asked that guesthouses and washroom facilities be established in the area.
Areas rich in history
“The Bazada Inns, Han el-Barur Caravanserai, the ancient city of Jethro and the ancient city of Soğmatar are rich in history. These places are not well-known but they are worth a visit,” said Harran District Gov. Temel Ayca, emphasizing that rural areas of Harran district, such as Jethro, also had much to offer visitors.
Harran is already famous for the ruins of the first Islamic University, Ulu Mosque from the Umayyad period and domed houses.
“We have important projects for these places. The most important one is a tourism road project. Thanks to this project, people will be able to reach historic places on this route. The project is almost finished. Visitors from Mardin will be able to respectively visit Soğmatar, Jethro, the Han el-Barur Caravanserai and the Bazda Inns and then arrive in Harran. This is an expensive project and once it is finished, it will make a great contribution to Harran tourism,” said Ayca.
He said that excavations will also increase the importance of the ancient city of Jethro.
“Locals believe that the prophet Jethro lived here but since no excavations have been carried out here, we don’t have exact information. I hope future excavations will provide us more information about the city. Bu we can say that it looks like a Roman city and experts say this is a Roman city. There is a large field and there are inns. Even an underground city could be found in the excavations. This is a very beautiful city and very good photos can be taken between sunrise and sunset, so the city welcomes photographers. We got very nice photos at an international photography competition that we organized last year. I hope the city will be the focus of more interest with excavation works,” Ayca said.