World Bulletin / News Desk
Viewers of one of Turkey's most popular soap operas are mesmerized not by the beauty of the protagists or the intricate plot but by Halfeti, the breathtakingly beautiful town in which it is set.
Located along the banks of the river Euphrates in the southeastern Turkish district of Sanlıurfa, Halfeti was partialy flooded in 1999 to create the Birecik dam. Viewers of the soap, entitled 'Karagul' (black rose), see characters coming in and out of their old stone houses, looking pensively into the bright blue waters of the lake.
Like an underwater museum - the flooded half of Halfeti can be clearly seen under the crystal waters of the lake - roofs of sunken houses and walls surrounding a garden, hinting at its rural past and only adding to the towns beauty.
Until the area was flooded in 1999, the people lived from fishing in the Euphrates and farming on the riverbank, especially growing peanuts and the area's famous black roses (hence the title of the soap). Then the waters came and 'new' Halfeti was built.
Halfeti now attracts nearly two hundred thousand visitors a year from around the world, most of them arriving in spring and autumn - but avoiding the searing heat of the summer. Trekking and water-sports are offered in the town where there is also a quad bike track. Restaurants serve traditional meat and fish dishes. However, accommodation is limited since new buildings are not welcomed by the local community.
The town is also a member of the 'slow city' movement, "Cittaslow" that advocates a cultural shift toward slowing down the pace of life.
Halfeti is one of the "unique'' members of this movement because of its "substantial history, distinctive architectural identity and cultural diversity", says 30-year-old Halfeti native Nihat Ozdal, who coordinated the project for the town's 'slow city' membership.
"Halfeti is a blessed mixture of Bodrum (a coastal town on the Aegean) and Mardin (southeastern Turkish city famous for its ancient architecture). You can not distinguish, here in Halfeti, where the water ends and where life begins" says Ozdal.
Adjacent to the town is Rumkale, an ancient fortress first built by Assyrians, later occupied by various Byzantine and Armenian warlords during the Middle Ages. It once served as the seat of an Armenian patriarch. The Memluks of Egypt, Seljuks and finally Ottomans retained the fortress securing Anatolia under Islamic rule.
Bordering Halfeti, is the uninhabited village of Savasan Koy, flooded as part of the same development project - Southeastern Anatolia Project - which includes a chain of 21 hydroelectric and irrigation dams bringing water to the poor arid southeast region of Turkey.
To the visitors amazement, only half of a minaret seen above the water level offers in Savasan Koy, an eerie reminder of what the dam took away from the people's life around the lake.
Direcor Steven Spielberg was talking to Holocaust survivors in the southern Polish city of Krakow
Cafcaf magazine responds to Hebdo in the same language, saying that nothing will be forgiven by those who have been oppressed and blood still being spilt.
One of Asia's largest photo festivals aims to rebalance image of the developing world
Political complications in the Ottoman Empire made way for new power centres with Ottoman soldiers at their head.
Painters in Lok Virsa street reflect the daily life and culturel beauties of Pakistan in their paintings.
After decades of conflict, Afghans poets are finding their inspiration in their collective hope for peace.
Istanbul night owls are travelling tens of kilometers to use the city's first all-night library which houses more than half million publications.
The 'Lamentoso for Srebrenica' will be played across 5 continents
The urban renewal works near Nevsehir Castle in Nevsehir province in central Turkey have revealed one of the biggest underground cities in the world
With Senegals capital city Dakar being the most Western point of Africa, it has become a focal point for business and the face of modern Africa, drawing attention to its architecture, and cultural art heritage.
Turkish enthusiasts of the world’s self-proclaimed 'easiest' language – Esperanto – tell their stories
Balkan medieval tombstones dating from the 12th century have been nominated for inclusion in UNESCO's World Heritage list
It has been recently discovered that there have been dozens of newspaper printed to distribute to Ottoman soldiers that were captured prisoners in the First World War to keep up their morale.
Historical doors that date back to the Ottoman Empire are being used in five star hotels and used as decorative pieces in homes.
Prince Mehmet Orhan Osmanoglu was grandson of Abdul Hamid II, the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
Turkey has bought back many mosques that have been closed after a law passed in 1935 giving permission for sales and over the past 12 years have restored over 4,000 historic buildings including mosques, prayer halls, hostels and public baths.