Şanlıurfa is a city surrounded by the fertile soils of Mesopotamia. These soils have preserved the unique wonders of nature, endemic plants and animals just as they preserved thousands of years of old mysteries of humanity.
The Tektek Mountains, Kızılkuyu and Karacadağ are the three important steppe ecosystems of Şanlıurfa, which are extremely rich in terms of biological diversity. There are wild relatives of many plants we use as food, such as grains and legumes, as well as species used for health purposes here.
As you walk among these natural beauties, these steppes surrounding the city reveal their archaeological remains merged with history and civilization, and take you to an existential questioning based on the relationship between nature and human.
Tektek Mountains National Park
It is possible to observe 272 plant and 172 animal species identified here while walking in the national park, which includes archaeological ruins such as Shuaib City Ruins, Soğmatar Ruins, and Senem Cave. You can see gazelles or rabbits wandering among turpentine trees, poppies, dazzling thymes and daisies. By the way, if you look carefully at the sky, you can observe many bird species including the great and the little bustard, grey partridge, crane, hawk, sparrow hawk, rock dove, turtle dove, teewit, lapwing, crested lark, calandra lark, sand grouse, crow, hoopoe, stork, starling and sparrow...
After walking in the national park and visiting the Rüstüm Dere Canyon Valley, you can enjoy the panoramic view from the higher parts of the valley and take beautiful photographs. In addition, the caves in the park will be an interesting tour route, since they were used for accommodation and religious purposes from time to time.
Takoran Valley, formed by the Euphrates River, fascinates its visitors with its unique views accompanying its canyon, waterfall, mill, rock tombs, historical bridges as well as its rich vegetation over approximately 20 kilometers. It is believed that the silhouette of the Virgin Mary is also found in the region.
It is possible to do nature sports such as camping, angling, trekking, canoeing, and boating in Takoran, which has been discovered recently. Before or after a boat tour, where you will feel the coldness of the Euphrates River on hot summer days, the delicious taste of the pomegranates grown by the villagers and the smell of the tea brewed on ash will take their place among your best memories from Takoran experience.
Kızılkuyu National Park Wildlife Area
Kızılkuyu National Park, one of Şanlıurfa’s most important steppe ecosystems, is home to preserved gazelles and endangered sociable lapwings. Through the “Şanlıurfa Ceylan Settlement Project”, which is been conducted since 2005, a self-sufficient gazelle population has been generated in nature.
As in almost every point of Şanlıurfa, the region is full of archaeological remains, particularly rock-cut tombs and ancient churches.
Having one of the most special ecosystems in the world, Şanlıurfa has mountain, steppe and semi-desert ecosystems, as it is a transition zone between continental and desert climates. Thus, it hosts various plant and animal species.
Ceylanpınar, the living space of three different great mullein plants, is the only single place in the world, where great the mullein plant, named “verbascum stepporum”, grows. Şanlıurfa cornflower is also only grown in Şanlıurfa Tektek Mountains in the world. The Mesopotamian Hyacinth and the Karacadağ Crocus are also endemic plants of Şanlıurfa. Jurinea mesopotamica is grown only in Şanlıurfa in Türkiye.
However, the most striking and intriguing one among the endemic flowers is the Karagül (Black Rose). This rose variety, which grows only in Halfeti in the world, owes this extraordinary color to the microclimate in and around Halfeti, and to the pH-values of the underground waters, formed by the Euphrates River. Outside Halfeti, Halfeti’s black rose blooms red like all other roses. The rose which is black in Halfeti takes a dark maroon color when it blooms. Its tree is shrub-sized and rather dwarf compared to other rose varieties. Length of the rose bush is up to 1-1.5 meters and the width of its body is up to 6-7 centimeters. The black rose, which also fascinates people with its scent, means mourning and bad news as well as mystery, hope and passion in the local culture.
If you want to get lost in the smell of a place where thousands of spices are sold in one place, you should definitely visit the historical Attar Bazaar. This bazaar will attract you with its rich and striking aromatic smells as you get closer. This bazaar where you can find the most natural and fresh varieties of all kinds of spices, especially black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, pimento, clove, isot, haspir and zahter, which are the most used spices in the Şanlıurfa cuisine, was also an important stopover point for herbal solutions to heal health problems by the public in times when the medical methods were not as advanced as today.