The Tigris and Euphrates
Beresheet (In the beginning) there were two rivers: the Tigris and Euphrates. They embraced the land known as the birthplace of civilization and the most likely site of the biblical Garden of Eden. So that’s a pretty awesome destination, don’t you think? Well, I thought so and couldn’t wait to get to Mardin and begin the exploration of this most fascinating and historical area known as Mesopotamia, today modern-day Turkey. (Mesopotamia also covered part of Iraq & Syria which I didn’t explore this time.) My sister joined me on this trip. She didn’t research the itinerary in-depth, but she is a curious, adaptable, and super person to travel with.
It’s Like Walking The Bible
I must say, this has been an extraordinary journey. It’s been like reliving history in four days… It is best described by Bruce Feiler in his book “Walking The Bible“. We actually felt as if we were doing just that. Here are some of the highlights of this amazing trip:
Wading in the Tigris in Hasankeyf, a city that was relocated and now almost submerged to accommodate a dam.
Boating the Euphrates to see Halfeti which is now submerged by a large reservoir.
Viewing the vast plains of Mesopotamia from a terrace high above the stone city of Mardin*.
Visiting the Kurdish capital of Diyarbakir on the banks of the Tigris and walking the walls to look over the castle and Havcel Gardens*.
Standing at the pinnacle of Mt Nemrut (7,500 feet) and seeing the tomb of King Antiochus and the gigantic statues of the gods. It’s unimaginable what super-human effort it took to construct these wonders.*
The Pool of Abraham
Sanliurfa, the city of Abraham, is also the site of the legendary Pool of Abraham. (Balikli Gol) This pool holds a special place for practicing Muslims who believe this to be the place where Abraham (known as Ibrahim by Muslims) was thrown into the fire by Nimrod. The pool is filled with sacred fish (Karp) which visitors are encouraged to feed. The fish can only be seen during the night or early morning. The pool is in the courtyard of a mosque across from a beautifully manicured park. And this being Ramadan, the park was filled with families taking a stroll after their late dinner.
And adding to our experience was an amazingly knowledgeable guide making it just a memorable, educational and immersive trip… fit for a culture vulture like me and such fun to be able to share it with my sister.