Halfeti, Şanlıurfa Province in Turkey

Halfeti is a small, impoverished district on the east bank of the river Euphrates in Şanlıurfa Province in Turkey 120km from the city of Şanlıurfa, in the central region of Turkey.

A third of this town disappeared under water when the euphrates river was dammed in the 1990's - making one of the worlds bizarre tourist attractions
The building of the new town is now complete.

The Assyrian King Salmanassar III (855 BC) established a settlement here named Shitamrat. The town was subsequently settled by a number of civilisations and known as Urima (in Greek), Kal'a Rhomeyta or Hesna the Romaye (in Aramaic), to the Byzantines it was known as Romaion Koyla, and the Arab conquerors mutated this name to Kal'at-ül Rum.

The town was fortified and was besieged by the Mameluks in 1280, who ravaged the outlying Christian villages but were unable to break into the fortress, which was eventually conquered by the Mameluk Sultan Eshref in 1290. They repaired the city walls and renamed the place Kal'at-ül Müslimin although the names Urumgala and Rumkale persisted. The town was brought under Ottoman control by Selim I.

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. Then the waters came and 'new' Halfeti was built. Some buildings, including the jail, were pulled down and rebuilt in the new town. The old town of Halfeti is only partially submerged and is beginning to attract visitors, especially those who hire a ferry to visit the ruins of the nearby fortress of Rumkale (Qal'at ar-Rum). The countryside is also attractive, although the green valley of the past is now underwater.

Opposite Halfeti stood the village of **** Meydanı, which was also submerged, but the large landowners house was taken and reconstructed in the grounds of Harran University.

The guitar virtuoso Ahmet Kanneci is from a Halfeti family and has played fund-raising concerts in the family home, Kanneci Konağı, one of the buildings in old Halfeti that still stands above the waterline.

The PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was born in the Halfeti village of Ömerli.

A long way to visit but interesting history.

Cheers, Stephen