• Bazda

    Head underground to probe the innards of a set of enormous caves carved out by a quarrying operation centuries ago.

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!

Along the Abraham Path in the:

HARRAN REGION


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Sites in the Harran Region:

Harran

Deep in the dust of the uninhabited wilderness, a prosperous caravan city rose up, appearing like a mirage to early travelers like Abraham and Sarah. They made their home in Harran, which would become a world-renowned center for religion and learning.

Sogmatar

Deep in the barren hills of Anatolia near a remote village, seven temples adorn seven hilltops with rock carvings and writings dedicated to the sun, moon, and planets.

Jethro’s City

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Jethro’s City (Suayib Sehri), a former Roman town, is revered as the dwelling place of Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses. It is here that Moses met his wife, Zipporah, and received the staff with which he would part the Red Sea.

Karahan Tepe

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Buried under timeless hills, one of the first religious structures ever built by humans remains almost entirely a mystery.

Beehive Houses

Harran’s ingenious conical mud-brick structures, whose form may date from biblical times, provided shelter (and natural climate-control) to Harran’s families for generations.

Great Mosque

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The crumbling tower of Harran’s Great Mosque, visible from a distance, stands vigil over the ruins of one of Turkey’s first mosques and once-illustrious university.

Han al-Barur

A ruined medieval waystation reminds walkers that these quiet plains once hosted a busy trade route heading east from Harran.

Harran University

When the classical academies at Athens and Alexandria were closed down under Christian rule, Harran’s world-famous center of learning became a refuge for scholars from across the ancient world with over 8,000 students gathering here.