Balıklıgöl - Atlas Obscura

This lake in Urfa, Turkey has many stories associated with its name. Some believe that it was the site of a story from the Old Testament where God tested the prophet Job. Others tell of a ruler who was cured by a handkerchief that had wiped the brow of Jesus. But Urfa’s most famous tale concerns the prophet Abraham.

According to Jewish and Islamic tradition, Abraham was born and raised in Urfa. He incurred the wrath of King Nimrod when he declared war on idolatry and also won the heart of the king’s daughter, Zeliha. Nimrod sentenced Abraham to death, and a huge pyre was built in the middle of the city. Miraculously, just as Abraham was tossed into the fire, the flames were transformed into water and the logs into fish.

Since then, Balıklıgöl, or the Pool of Abraham, has been considered sacred, along with the carp that swim in its waters. The Pool of Ayn-Zeliha is said to have been formed by Zeliha’s tears and it is said that anyone who eats them will be struck blind.

Feeding the fish is not only encouraged but necessary, as the masses of swarming fish depend on the food of pilgrims, visitors, and tourists of Balikli Gol to keep them fed.

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September 17, 2009

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