One of the integral parts of Şanlıurfa’s culture is music. The written history of music in Şanlıurfa goes back to the early Christian period. Şanlıurfa Academy bishop Bardaisan is the founder of Syriac poetry. Later, bishop Ephraim improved this poem, formed choirs of nuns and singing the melodies hymns, and duets he wrote. Ephraim’s famous Nsibin Hymns were written in Şanlıurfa. Performing Syriac hymns during rituals has been a traditional habit since the early days of Christianity.
This music culture in Şanlıurfa, which dates back thousands of years, is maintained in different ways until today. The development, spreading, popularity and preservation of Şanlıurfa’s music, as well as the emerging of new songs and new artists are undoubtedly ensured through the “Sıra nights”. And, of course, isot! Because it is believed that the beauty of the voice of the local artists is caused by the spiciness of isot.
Who knows, maybe the secret of Şanlıurfa’s talented craftsmen is also isot. Watching these craftsmen create their artworks in Şanlıurfa’s bazaars and listening to rhythmic melodies in such as magnificent harmony is a completely different experience.
Şanlıurfa has not only been the crossing point of cultures and civilizations for many years, in addition, many bird species other than the ones endemic to Şanlıurfa migrated from nearby hometowns to Şanlıurfa to make it their home. Taking photographs of birds while listening to their happy chirps is a very enjoyable activity, and Şanlıurfa is very promising for this hobby.
Sıra nights are weekly gatherings of peer groups, usually during the winter months, at another group member’s home. Since these meetings are held in a certain order, they have been named sıra (sequence, queue, order) nights. In these meetings, which are a kind of assembly, young people learn about tradition, social life rules, respect, tolerance, hospitality and solidarity, as those who participate in the nights must obey the rules. Adherence to the beginning time is obligatory, and those who do not adhere are punished. Guests or senior visitors are seated higher as a sign of respect, while the host sits close to the door. Talking and chatting are not welcomed during the music performance. The group has one elected president. The president takes over the administration of the night, and imposes penalties on those who break the rules.
In these meetings, folk songs are sung and local dishes are served. The most preferred dish of sıra nights is çiğköfte. With these charasteristics, sıra night is not completely a musical event in essence. However, music is an important part of the sıra night.
Sıra night is actually like a conservatory. There is a master-apprentice relationship. Young people learn from their masters to play an instrument, maqams and manners. Ears, hands and tongues are trained. On these nights, odes and folk songs are sung. Bağlama, pipe, oud, tambour, qanun and violin are the main instruments.
In many of the historical Şanlıurfa houses, which serve as guesthouses today, touristic sıra nights are organized in the evenings. You can attend these nights and listen to music performed while eating local dishes.
Birds of Şanlıurfa
One of the most popular occupations in Şanlıurfa is birding. People of Şanlıurfa love birds a lot. Although birding is practiced as a hobby, it is also seen as a profession with its own characteristics, and people who breed and fly birds are called “Kuşçu” (Birdmen). The number of birds breed in houses is around 25,000.
On the other hand, birds constitute an important part of the wildlife that Mesopotamia gave life to. Other than Geranticus eremita which is endangered and preserved in Şanlıurfa Birecik, Turdoides altirostris, Ammoperdix griseogularis, Merops persicus, Cursorius cursor, Vanellus gregarius, Otis tarda, Otus brucei, Ceryle rudis, Francolinus francolinus and Ammomanes desertii live in Şanlıurfa. For this reason, it is possible to hear the sounds of different species of birds in every corner of the city.
Historical Şanlıurfa Streets
Streets and houses constitute an important part of Şanlıurfa’s historical architectural texture. It is a great treasure that a significant part of this texture, which consists of hundreds of beautiful houses and streets, has survived to our days. Şanlıurfa, one of the rare cities that has survived to our day by preserving a significant part of its civil architecture and monumental architectural texture, is a candidate province for UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage List with its historical city center. In addition to all these features, Şanlıurfa’s streets are full of Şanlıurfa’s sounds. It is quite possible to hear locals of Şanlıurfa who speak various local languages and dialects while walking on a street, or to hear folk songs in diverse languages.
Şanlıurfa is a city famous for and living with its bazaars. There are bazaars for almost every sector or product in Şanlıurfa. Perhaps the most famous of these bazaars is Bakırcılar Bazaar. The fact that copper products are still used in Şanlıurfa culture and especially in gastronomy ensures the continuity of the coppersmith profession. Copper objects are also very popular souvenirs among tourists. However, the magic of Bakırcılar Bazaar is neither the traditional shopping experience of tourists nor the sparkle of copper. The magic is in the sounds of the hammer, which the masters, who opened the morning shop, skillfully hit the copper one after another to create magnificent works. This is such a symphony that its notes, which have been transferred from master to apprentice for hundreds of years, are inspired by an endless cycle that passes from human to copper and from copper to human. Even though there is no conductor around, copper masters know which notes to hit hard or soft, and turn that gentle copper material into a wonderful artwork with their experienced hits.