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.
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
Australia's Foreign Minister has said that to allegations that Australian navy official paid migrant boat to return to Indonesian shores
Mural-Ist Festival has brought together 10 mural artists from around the world, and will enliven older walls in Istanbul. The festival will run until September.
One of the most famous monuments of Turkish and Islamic art, the Blue mosque is visited by all who come to Istanbul and gains their admiration.
An Ottoman-era banknote has appeared after 139 years, in a lot sent by a collector in Germany for evaluation.
Maram al-Masri, a well-known Syrian poet, has said the Syrian crisis broke out because democratic revolutionaries have not been supported
Nasruddin Hodja was populist philosopher and wise man who is remembered across many cultures for his funny stories and anecdotes.
Afghans welcome in spring with a season of poetry events as they look to revive old traditions.
Egypt also expects to receive 235 additional artifacts seized earlier in France.
The historic Uzbek grand square of Registan built by Timur consists of three Madrassah: Ulugbek Madrassah (15th century), Sher – Dor Madrassah (17th century) and Tilla-Kari Madrassah (gold covered)(17th century).
A thousand years before the Wright brothers, astronomer Abbas ibn Firnas made several attempts to construct a flying machine. In 852 he jumped from the minaret of the Grand Mosque in Cordoba using a loose cloak stiffened with wooden struts. The Islamic Museum of Australia has honoured his work a real life scale model of his flying machine
Islamic inscription on ancient ring is first proof of its kind in Scandinavia of contact between Muslims and Viking centuries ago, Swedish scientists say.
According to Spanish news agency EFE, the mystery tomb belongs to 'Don Quixote' author, Miguel de Cervantes
The theme of this year will be the Battle of Canakkale, also known as the Dardenelles Campaign, which marks its 100 year anniversary on 2015.