Urfa Castle and Mevlid-i Halil Mosque

Urfa Castle and Mevlid-i Halil Mosque

Urfa Castle is believed to have been built on a site dating back to the Neolithic Age, around 10,000 years B.C., showcasing the depth of history in the Balikligol basin. The discovery of the 12,000-year-old Balikligol Statue, unearthed near the castle and now displayed in the Sanliurfa Museum, alongside the findings on the castle grounds, narrates the ancient story of the area.

Historical records from the 6th century make no mention of the castle, with the earliest documents surfacing from the 11th century. Based on this information, the castle’s construction is estimated to have occurred sometime between the 6th and 11th centuries. It is widely believed that the castle was erected during the Abbasid reign in 812-814 A.D. Two Corinthian pillar heads were installed as monumental pillars during the rule of Edessa King MANU IX in 240-242 A.D.

An Assyrian tablet on the east pillar proclaims, “I am Aftuha, the son of the military commander Barshamas (Son of the Sun). I built this pillar and the statue in the name of the Crown Prince Daughter of Manu, wife of King Manu, my lady and Queen Shalmeth.” The castle is fortified with ditches on three sides, and there is a passage through the Aynzeliha Tunnel connecting the castle to Aynzeliha Lake.

Mevlid-i Halil Mosque (Devish Lodge)

Mevlid-i Halil Mosque, located near Balikligol within the Dervish Lodge Plateau, is named after the “holy birth” of Prophet Ibrahim, believed to have occurred in the nearby cave, hence the name Mevlid-I Halil Mosque.

The construction of the mosque has seen five phases according to existing records. Initially, a pagan temple was constructed in the area during the Seleucid period, followed by a synagogue in the Jewish era.

Early Christianity saw the establishment of a Christian Church in 150 A.D., and during the Byzantine era, the Urfa Hagia Sophia was built on the same site. Ultimately, in the Ottoman period, Muhammed Saleh Pasha erected a mosque in the same location in 1523. The water from the Mevlid-I Halil Cave is considered to be the second most beneficial for health, after zamzam water.

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