A coastal town in the middle of the steppe: Halfeti
ŞANLIURFA – Anadolu Agency
AA photoThe southeastern province of Şanlıurfa’s Halfeti district, which has become like a coastal town thanks to the Birecik Dam Lake in the middle of the southeastern steppe, is continuing to welcome thousands of local and foreign tourists despite increasing instability in the region.
Tourism is very active this year in Halfeti, some parts of which are under water due to the Birecik Dam. The town was declared a slow city in 2013 by the Cittaslow General Committee.
Named as the “hidden paradise of the southeast” for its historical stone houses and natural beauty, Halfeti also draws interest from foreign tourists.
Spared from recent clashes in the region, Halfeti draws tourists with its “sunken city” boat tours, which provide a glimpse of the Rumkale Castle, which has been home to many civilizations.
The minaret of a mosque, which remained underwater, as well as the Savaşan neighborhood, home to abandoned old houses, are among the popular places in the district. The “Karagül” plant, which is endemic to the area, is also another attraction for tourists.
Halfeti City Council Chairman Nihat Özdal said Halfeti was a place that could be visited at all times of the year thanks to its natural beauties and calmness.
He said they had carried out works in Turkey and abroad to promote the district and had started to get results, with the number of visitors increasing continually.
“Our district is a place to see. Particularly at weekends, we host almost 40,000 people. We have received great interest from abroad recently. Despite terror events in the region and the war in our border neighbor Syria, we have peak season. I hope Halfeti will become one of the tourism locomotives in Turkey with new investments. We invite everyone here.”
Very safe and calm district
One of business operators in the district, Hasan Şahin, said Halfeti drew great interest from those who wanted to spend quality time in the region.
He said tourists came to Halfeti since it was safe. “Halfeti has nothing to do with terror. It is very safe and calm. Tourism season is continuing right now; we are pleased with the interest. We had problems with accommodation in previous years, but that was solved. People come here and enjoy two-three days.”
A visitor from the Netherlands, Antoine van Sint Fiet, said he had been to Turkey many times and heard about Halfeti from his friends who had visited Şanlıurfa before.
“We were in Şanlıurfa for two days. We will stay here for a few days, too. People are hospitable here; they are very friendly,” he said.