The Pool of Abraham : Balikli Göl in Sanliurfa

Sanliurfa is one of my favorite cities in Turkey, even though I originally went there for one reason only.

That was to see the pool of Abraham, known as Balikli Göl in Turkish.  As a major landmark of the region, it is visited by many Turks as well as foreign tourists.

Pool of Abraham

What is the Pool of Abraham aka Balikli Göl?

This pool is believed by Muslims to be the place where Abraham was thrown into the fire by Nimrod. Abraham is mentioned in three major religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism but in Islam, he is called Ibrahim.

The pool is a special place for practicing Muslims because of the importance of Ibrahim. He was the same prophet who was prepared to sacrifice his son for Allah.

The story says that when Ibrahim landed in the fire, Allah turned the flames to water and the burning logs into fish, hence the translation of the Turkish name into “lake of fish”.

Since Abraham / Ibrahim is also a prominent figure of Christianity, the pool is on the agenda of most Christian tours throughout Turkey.

Pool of Abraham in Sanliurfa

The Fish of Balikli Göl

Forget any thoughts about fishing because the carp fish are considered sacred. Due to their protected status, it is no surprise that reproduction now means there are hundreds of them in Balikli Göl and the nearby Ayn Zeliha Lake.

Carp fish at Balikli gol

Every visitor is encouraged to feed the fish so I purchased a few bags of fish food from one of the vendors. Within minutes all food had gone. When it was thrown into the water, there was a frenzy of fish, splashing around to compete for their next meal.

All the fish were dark grey or black but one local said there is also white carp fish and if you see one of them, it is a sign that you are truly blessed in life.

He also said the only time  they have been spotted was in the early hours of the morning. During daylight, they just disappear.

Balikli gol fish

 How to get to Balikli Göl

The pool is in the old town of Sanliurfa and I was pleased to discover I had booked a hotel immediately opposite the park where the pool is located. I had allocated a full afternoon to spend at the pool but an hour was enough. See the map below for directions.

From the entrance of the park, there is a fifty meter walk past a mosque before you enter under the archway to the pool. It is a long oblong construction and also includes the Halilurrahman mosque on its premises.

Balikli Gol in Sanliurfa

The architecture seemed typical Middle Eastern with decorative archways, three domes and a mosque minaret but  I do wish there was an English speaking guide who could have told me more about the surrounding buildings.

There is no entrance fee so that leaves you free to spend all your money on fish food!

Readers Question : I enjoyed Balikli Göl even though I am not religious. Do you like visiting religious places as well?

Balikli gol Urfa

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Hi. My name is Natalie Sayin and I am the author of The Turkish Travel Blog. I am an Internet addict with a passion for history. Read my story here or leave a comment below to join the discussions.
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  1. says

    Beautiful! Somehow we totally missed this in Urfa as we were racing to get to Gobeklitepe, which actually was a HUGE disappointment. I’ve been wanting to do a post about how Gobeklitepe and Catalhoyuk – 2 important sites but don’t really offer a lot to see. Hopefully, we will make it back to Urfa someday.
    Joy @My Turkish Joys wrote about..Eminönü Cookies – AKA Turklish Monster Cookies

    • says

      Joy – I am so glad to find someone else who also thought Gobeklitepe was a disappointment. Everyone raves about it and I wondered if I had missed something!
      Natalie wrote about..The Telkari Master of Beypazari

    • says

      I never saw any Syrians Corinne. Did you visit before the war because I heard that border tourism was good then but as soon as the war started, it dropped.

      Re the Kunefe. Hubby has been trying to get me to eat it for years but I just don’t like it. Same as Baklava! So I passed while he tucked into a big plate full with icecream!
      Natalie wrote about..17 Tilt Shift Photos From Turkey

  2. says

    Yes I love visiting sacred or religious sites, although often for their historical and cultural value rather than any spiritual reason. This sounds really fascinating – great post. I love hearing about places I’ve never heard of!

    • says

      Thanks Jennifer : Hope you make it here one day because it really is a magnificent country

  3. says

    Even though I am not religous, I love vising religious sites. Religion is very important in cultures around the world, so you need to sort of understand it, if you want to understand the place you are visiting

  4. says

    Urfa was one of my favorite places in Turkey! Actually one of my best moments in 2 1/2 years of travel happened in that town. Thanks for the flashback!
    Alexandra wrote about..932 Days On The Road

    • says

      You are welcome Alexandra – it is one of my favourite places as well

  5. alan mckee says

    hi! this is great. anyways i’hve heard that ,if we eat those fish we will be cursed or doomed.. is that true? i’hve never seen black carps before… and these are too small.
    plz answer my question. thx :)

    • says

      Hi Alan, yes, I have heard that too however think it is just urban myths.

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