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.
Thailands annual bird singing contest where competitors pitch their singing birds against other has drawn thousands of people to the unique competition
Matrakci Nasuh was 16th century intellectual, soldier during the Sultan Suleymans rule.
A Palestinian artist Shadi Alzaqouq was ordered to leave after after placing a bed sheet over his work advocating the boycott of Israel protesting the illegal occupation.
Cave of Arts works to connect new generation with old by collecting past and presenting it in an elegant way, says owner
A new exhibition Sultans of Deccan India, 1500–1700: Opulence and Fantasy, which opened April 20 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, brings together some 200 of the finest works from major international, private, and royal collections.
Channel 4 presenter Jon Snow smuggled artwork by a Palestinian artist when she was unable to get a permit to leave Gaza.
The singer was "banned by his own" after giving a performance in Nazareth, Occupied Palestine. Iran does not recognise Israel and artists who perform there become "persona non grata" in Iran.
Launched in 2004, MuslimFest showcases the talents of local and international Muslim artists with comedy shows, concerts and a childrens carnival
Accidental find reveals two-foil manuscript dating back 1,370 years, to founding years of Islam
Yusuf Islam, the world famous musician formerly known as Cat Stevens has penned a beautiful instrumental piece in honor of the victims of Srebrenica.
Greg Constantine, a self taught award-winning photographer has an exhibition in Istanbul on the Rohingya Muslims, hoping to provide a better understanding of plight of Southeast Asia’s stateless Muslim group
The Courtauld Institute of Art Summer School in London will present a wide-ranging course on 14th–19th- century Ottoman art and architecture as part of its annual Summer School in art history.
World Heritage Committee add Ephesus on Turkey's western coast on list as 15th Turkish property
Naomi Matsubara, a teacher of Japanese and karate has had a picture book published that depicts Muslim life, challenging stereotypes.
In an ode to Naji al-Ali's Handala, the orphan who became the iconic symbol of Palestinian identity, Germany has printed stamps depicting him in honor