The internet is flooded with information on Halfeti and there are all kinds of stories relating to Halfeti being the land of the rare black Rose. There are also posts that talk about the back Rose being a rumour started by the locals to attract tourist. After exploring Gaziantep for a day, I made my way to see the quaint town of Halfeti located in the east of river Euphrates in Şanlıurfa province and here is what I did on a day trip to Halfeti in Turkey.
As soon as the chauffeur of our mini bus stopped at the ‘I love Halfeti’ sign I knew that this place is going to be beautiful! Established during the Assyrian Kingdom, Halfeti has been a place for many kingdoms since 855BC. It has come under the rule of Assyrian, Byzantine Greeks, Mameluks and Ottoman Turks. In 1990, most of the villages in this town were submerged under water because of which the town was moved to the village of Karaotlak. Due to the town being submerged, New Halfeti was formed.
A boat trip on river Euphrates is a must if you want to explore Old Halfeti. Due to the construction of dams across the river this town was submerged under water and hence can only be visited on a ferry or a boat. While enjoying Turkish music during your ride you will see the ruins of several small houses where once people lived.
You can either take a private tour which will cost somewhere around 50 Liras (INR 600 approximately) or take the public boat for 5 to 10 Liras (INR 60 to INR 120 approximately). The boat trip lasts for an hour and half where you will also see the famous Rumkale.
Rumkale is a powerful fortress located in the bank of river Euphrates. In the past, it had been occupied by kingdoms ranging from Assyrians, Armenians, Greeks and Mamluks due to its location and accessibility to water. Now, this place is situated in the peninsula created by Birecik Dam. There are several floating restaurants on the banks of the river where you can relish delicious Turkish dishes after the boat ride. I ate a vegetarian dish with bread at Yuzer Restaurant.
This plate comprised a yogurt dip, green olives and eggplant. At the entrance of the restaurant there was a man selling Turkish ice cream (in Turkish ice cream is called Dondurma) so I was tempted to try before I left this place. To my surprise this was the best gelato I have ever had till now! I thought I’d stop after one spoon but I ended up finishing the entire bowl.
In the hope of seeing the black Rose, I must add that I did get to apply the fragrance of back Rose that was being sold at the floating restaurant. Authentic or not will always be a mystery! After a hearty meal, we were headed to Adiyaman and on the way we stopped at the Ataturk Baraji Dam. This Dam was built to provide electricity and irrigation in the region.
Located just an hour drive from Şanlıurfa, Halfeti can be reached by road.
How to reach Halfeti
Fly to Sanliurfa Airport, which enjoys daily nonstop service form Istanbul and Ankara. It will be difficult to find public transport between Sanliurfa and Halfeti, so make sure that you hire a driver to take you or rent your own car.