Legendary Balıklıgöl

Balıklıgöl (Halil ur-Rahman Lake)

One of the most interesting places in Şanlıurfa is, without any doubt, the Halil ur-Rahman Lake, also known as Balıklıgöl. Within the Balıklıgöl complex, there are the Halil-ur Rahman and the Ayn Zeliha lakes, canals connecting these two lakes, historical mosques and madrasas. Balıklıgöl is Şanlıurfa’s coolest, greenest and biggest wetland in the region. It also has a mystical and spiritual atmosphere. The fish in the Halil-ur Rahman Lake are considered sacred, respected by the people and cannot be eaten. According to narrations, Prophet Ibrahim’s mother had to hide in a cave near the lake to give birth to him, because the cruel ruler Nimrod slaughtered baby boys by sword. Afterwards, Prophet Ibrahim was fed and raised sometimes by his mother and sometimes by gazelles. When Prophet Ibrahim started to teach the monotheistic belief, he entered into a tough struggle with the Nimrod and the pagans. And when he destroyed the idols in the temple, Nimrod wanted to burn him on a large pile of wood as an exemplary punishment. The moment Prophet Ibrahim was set on fire, the fire turned into a clear pool. The burning wood turned into fish. This is why we call this lake Balıklıgöl today, and why the fish are considered sacred.

Upon this, Zeliha, the daughter of Nimrod also believed in the God of Prophet Ibrahim.  Thus, Nimrod also threw his daughter to the fire. For this reason, the small pond right next to Balıklıgöl is popularly known as Ayn-ı Zeliha.

The Şanlıurfa Castle rises with all its majesty right to the south of the Balıklıgöl complex. It is an extraordinary experience to climb the steep stairs up to the top of the castle and overlook Şanlıurfa from a bird’s eye view. Do not leave Balıklıgöl without feeding the fish, sitting and resting on the grass, drinking tea, coffee and Mırra (bitter coffee) in the tea gardens next to the Ayn-ı Zeliha Lake, and taking a photo by the Balıklıgöl in local clothes, and seeing the cave where Abraham is believed to be born in.

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