Sogmatar - "The City of the Seven Temples" in southeastern Turkey

Sogmatar - "The City of the Seven Temples" in southeastern Turkey

adventure travel & photography

Destinations: Pakistan ◦◦ India ◦◦Turkey ◦◦ Egypt ◦◦ Bulgaria ◦◦ Mongolia ◦◦ Bangladesh ◦◦ Jordan ◦◦ Russia ◦◦ Turkmenistan ◦◦ Iran ◦◦ Kazakhstan ◦◦ Japan ◦◦ Hong Kong ◦◦ Greece ◦◦ Ukraine

Type: Photo stories ◦◦ Places ◦◦ Documentary ◦◦ Black and White ◦◦ Fine Art Prints ◦◦ Seascapes ◦◦ Urban

About the place

In May 2021, I led a small group of enthusiasts to southeastern Turkey. Not far from Harran, near the Syrian-Turkish border, we came across a small village - the ancient Sogmatar or present-day Yagmurlu. We were amazed at what we found in this village. The information on the internet was not very descriptive, so I did not know what to expect. We spent about 2 hours walking around, but it deserved more. I would spend at least a whole day there.

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Sogmatar was an ancient pagan city. Archaeologists have discovered remains of a civilisation dating back to the 2nd century. In addition, sacrifices were made here to the sun and moon gods, whose images are carved into the rocks. Like Harran, Soğmatar was a centre for the cultic worship of the moon god Sin from about AD 150 to 200. Further research revealed that the entire area was sacred. It was believed to represent Mare-late (Lord of Gods), whose prayers were directed toward the centre of the hill, much as modern prayers are directed toward Mecca.

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Seven temples were discovered in the area, so the place became famous as the "city of the seven temples".

A bus converted into a shop had arrived in the village. A group of women and children were queuing in front of it. I didn't go closer to see what they were buying, but probably household goods and food.

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A crowd of children of all ages joined us as we walked through the village. They wanted money or candy. We gave what we could, but it wasn't enough. The whole situation was strange - the children, the heat, the stone houses, the ruins in the middle of nowhere.

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Six mausoleums and 120 graves were discovered around the village, including family graves with burial chambers for children. In these chambers, archaeologists found a horse and chariots made of clay. The villagers now use many of these caves and tombs as sheepfolds.

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The place is unique. Most tourists reach Harran, where they make a brief stop without knowing what awaits them beyond it.

Digital downloads and prints available

Practical information

The ruins of Sogmatar are located about 57 kilometres from Harran in southeastern Anatolia. It's not hard to find it, just follow the signs on the road from Harran. You would need a car to reach this place. Taxi would be too expensive. There are no organised tours to join. The place is really remote, but all the efforts are worth it in my opinion.

Location

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Travel to southeast Turkey

We usually have one or two small groups (max 7/8 participants) per year travelling to southeast Turkey. If you are interested in joining a group setting out from Europe, please drop me a line. We will provide more information, like dates, a program, and other details.

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