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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?