A day’s walk east of Harran at the edge of the rolling hills of the Tektek plateau, the landscape around a tiny village suddenly gapes open with enormous caverns. Although this type of limestone terrain is often prone to large cave systems, these are not the work of nature. According to inscriptions found in the area, a thirteenth-century quarrying operation extracted huge quantities of stone from the area’s hills in order to build towns nearby along the road running east from Harran to Han al-Barur, Suayip Sehri, and beyond. While many of the ancient structures built from this stone now lie in pieces, the old route is still in use – one of the only paved roads still connecting the historic sites scattered throughout the Tektek Mountains.
Unlike many limestone quarries in the region, the quarry at Bazda did not completely remove interfering hills; instead of carting away large sections of the landscape, the workers here excavated an elaborate series of chambers and galleries that they connected in mazelike fashion and punctuated with occasional skylights, high-set alcoves, and open pits.
Surrounded by this fascinating network of caves, the modern village of Bazda is a tiny one, inhabited by a few families and, seasonally, by nomad shepherds; the size of the cave system easily dwarfs that of the hamlet beside it.
Although a bit of signage and a few walkways have been installed by the local government’s tourism initiative, locals here are still rather unaccustomed to seeing many visitors; and the village children will likely run out to eagerly escort you through the caves. Follow their sure steps over the tricky terrain and bring a headlamp or flashlight to be safe!