Dergah Park and Mosque Complex
Submitted by: Josh Lerner
An expanse of mosques, rose gardens, pools of sacred carp, tea gardens, and people.
Sanliurfa is a city of contradictions. Beneath the relatively modern, commercial center lies the bazaar district, a mass of market alleys and paths spilling out in all directions, with local merchants hawking anything and everything. Immediately adjacent to these two areas is yet another extreme - Dergah. One of the most visited pilgrimage areas of Turkey, the Dergah district is a complex of mosques and gardens centered around the birth cave of the Prophet Abraham and the pool of sacred carp. The beautifully landscaped gardens are the most popular place in the city - a perfect respite from the chaos of the bazaar and the bustle of the downtown. Dergah creates a strong identity for the city and is a huge tourist draw, but more importantly, it enhances the surrounding neighborhoods and serves a valuable role in the everyday lives of residents.
What Makes Dergah Park and Mosque Complex a Great Place?
Most traffic in Sanliurfa is pedestrian, and Dergah is in the center of the highly walkable city core. There are bus linkages to outlying areas, although the city's road and transit system is not highly developed.
As a sacred pilgrimage area, Dergah is kept immaculately clean and treated with great respect by visitors. The area is beautifully laid out, and the rose gardens, traditional architecture, and abundance of people create a very welcoming atmosphere.
Besides being a destination for pilgrims, the area is also a gathering place for the city. Local workers take tea breaks in the tea gardens, children play by the sacred pool, students study at the adjacent religious schools, and everyone visits the mosques. The only formal tourist activities are at Abraham's birth cave and a small Islamic religion center, although local students have also made a pastime of practicing their English with visiting tourists.
Dergah is the pride of Sanliurfa, and with good reason. It is the social center of the city and is teeming, but not overcrowded, with people. Like the rest of the city center, Dergah is open to and utilized by people of all sorts – Kurds and Turks, locals and visitors, young and old.