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.
Divisions extend to views on Obama, Black Lives Matter movement
Masjid al-Haram, Mevlana's Tomb, the Pool of Sacred Fish, Al-Masjid an-Nabawi are sacred sites that attract millions every year
Muslim holy books span nearly millennium of Islamic history
The exhibition, the first of its kind in the US, is set to run from October 15 through Feb 20, 2017
What started as a small-scale project has generated a growing interest with more than 100 public iftars already being planned
Fasting during Ramadan is compulsory once people reach puberty, anything before should be a choice they make.
A pilot from US air forces at İncirlik Air Base in southern Turkey converted to Islam
The San, also known as the Basarwa or Khwe, have deep roots in Namibia going back some 20,000 years
A book fair in Kosovo's capital city of Pristina has put on show books that have been translated into Albanian with a great amount of interest shown by students.
The spiritual enthusiasm that prevails in the Muslim world with the arrival of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting has it own challenges for many refugees. Food hampers, community dinners and daily prayers help relieve the burden of many.
The trees are selling out at $7,500, or 22,000 Turkish lira, typically the price of a second-hand car
Modesty is big business for British brands who are targeting British Muslims for Ramadan sales
Over half a million Muslims mark the Islamic holy month in Turkey’s Aegean neighbor Greece
Residents prepare for month of fasting which starts Monday by visiting graves, cleaning, and throwing boiled rice around
The Republic of Dagestan set on the Caspian Sea between the staggering Greater Caucasus mountains is a wonderland of ethnic and cultural diversity.
The Spanish Murabitun community, the Comunidad Islámica en España, that is based in Granada in Spain, has the strongest ties to the Chiapas community in Mexico