Halfeti

Halfeti

Halfeti is a small farming district on the east bank of the river Euphrates in Şanlıurfa Province in Turkey, 120km from the city of Şanlıurfa. Population (2000 census) 33,467 (of which 2,608 were in the town of Halfeti, the majority being in the surrounding villages).

Most of the villages were submerged in the 1990s under the waters behind the dam on the Euphrates at Birecik. The town was therefore removed to the village of Karaotlak, the building of the new town is now complete.

The Turkish guitar virtuoso Ahmet Kanneci, born to a Halfeti family, plays fund-raising concerts for the town 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.




History

The Assyrian King Shalmaneser 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 conquer the outlying Christian villages but were unable to break into the fortress, which eventually fell to Sultan Eshref in 1290. The Mameluks 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 rule by Selim I.

Halfeti has been a part of Turkey as of 1923.


Post-Dam Settlement

As part of the Southeastern Anatolia Project, aka GAP, several dams were constructed in the area and surrounding regions as part of a larger agricultural and economic initiative by the Turkish Government. The town of Halfeti was among those settlements, ancient and contemporary, that would remain under the rising water levels of the local dams and rivers following the execution of the GAP.

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 Kale Meydanı, which was also submerged, but the large landowners house was taken and reconstructed in the grounds of Harran University.

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