Mosaic Museum Şanlıurfa

Mosaic Museum Şanlıurfa

Mosaic Museum Şanlıurfa has several mosaic masterpieces that were found at or close to the spot where the museum is located. The mosaics are relatively recent, dating from the 5th and 6th century AD in the time that Şanlıurfa was called Edessa. I liked especially the mosaic of the Amazons, fearlessly hunting ladies.

urfa 19th century villa
19th century Urfa House
urfa roman baths
Haleplibahce Roman Baths


Mosaic Museum Şanlıurfa lies next to the Arkeoloji Müzesi, the archeological museum. On the other side it lies next to an old 19th century Urfa house and beyond that excavations of Roman baths, both on pictures above. On traffic signs pointing to touristic activities this museum complex is simply referred to as ‘Urfa Müzesi’, ignoring other museums because this is thé one – certainly the largest. Tickets for the Mosaic Museum Şanlıurfa also go for the Arkeoloji Müzesi.

Mosaic Museum Şanlıurfa

Mosaic Museum Şanlıurfa is a large round building. Paths have been made over and in between mosaics. This makes your visit a pleasant walk. As you can see, I was the only visitor: lots of possibilities to watch in detail. All mosaics found are local, deriving from byzantine Edessa: villas with mosaics were excavated on this spot, called Haleplibahce by locals.

Mosaic Museum Şanlıurfa
Orpheus Mosaic, only/oldest one dating from 194 AD. Once smuggled out of the country and recently given back by Dallas Museum.

Like the Arkeoloji Müzesi, extra room on the floor is left for future findings that will certainly be done. In 2013, new pieces were added to the museum.There were three things I particularly liked. One is that the mosaic stones that reportedly derive from the river Euphrate, are much smaller than in mosaics elsewhere. This turns the mosaics in very fine representations. The best artists must have been at work here!

Mosaic Museum Şanlıurfa
Mosaic Museum Şanlıurfa

Mosaic Museum Şanlıurfa

Two is the mosaic of the Amazons, the warrior women from ancient myths that are depicted here while fighting with predators like the lion on the picture. This mosaic was discovered quite recently, in 2007. On the wall the museum shows the mosaic as it must have been when it was complete. A great piece!

Mosaic Museum Şanlıurfa

Three is the ‘zebra whisperer’: the representation of a servant with a zebra. I found that strikingly beautiful and unique in its kind.

To finish, a mosaic with syriac inscriptions, particular for this region only:

Mosaic Museum Şanlıurfa
Mosaic with Syriac inscriptions, general language in byzantine Edessa

Follow this link for more info about the mosaics of this museum (in Turkish)

Read here about Mosaic Museum Bardo in Tunis

And here about mosaics of Agias Trias Basilica in Cyprus

Archaeological Museum Şanlıurfa

archaeological museum Şanlıurfa

Archaeological Museum Şanlıurfa is unique, as it contains the artefacts found in Göbeklitepe, the oldest temple complex ever found (for example way older than the pyramids in Egypt). It is a very rich museum simply because the region is so rich in archaeological findings. All objects shown are ‘local’ and absolutely unique. Moreover, good efforts were made to make historical moments come alive for the visitor. Signs are both in Turkish and English and they offer excellent information.

archaeological museum Şanlıurfa

Archaeological Museum Şanlıurfa in its actual form is brand new (opened in 2015). The museum is large and its space gives a relaxed feeling to visitors. It is almost as if they left lots of space for new objects to come, which will certainly be the case. Unfortunately in this region, several dams were built covering the world’s oldest sites in water (Atatürk Dam, Birecik Dam, Kargamış Dam). There is a clear conflict of interest between conservation of archaeological areas and modern development issues – in that conflict, under actual Turkish politics modern development comes out as the winner. ‘Rescue excavations’ have been made regularly, often under supervision of the Archaeological Museum Şanlıurfa. Artefacts and other findings that could be ‘rescued’ are shown in this museum. All the rest is gone now, maybe to reappear one day from under the water, maybe lost for good.

archaeological museum Şanlıurfa

A ticket for the Archaeological Museum
Şanlıurfa also gives entrance to the Mosaic Museum next to it and vice versa. Anyway you won’t avoid these museums for the price (only € 2,- when I visited December 2018). I will show you some highlights here about things I liked; be aware there is a lot more to see! A visit absolutely recommended…

archaeological museum Şanlıurfa

The oldest statue in the world, found in Urfa center. I thought I saw the oldest statue in Amman Archaeological Museum but this one is older indeed. The figure has a clear expression, maybe because of the black obsidian eyes. At the bottom, it is smaller; most probably the was put into a hole in for example the rocks (like in Sogmatar) to stand upright.





archaeological museum Şanlıurfa

A unique, astonishing picture of a woman giving birth, 10.000 years ago. It was found in Göbeklitepe. Other findings and the temple exposition of that site are mentioned in my blog about Göbeklitepe, a reason in itself to visit this museum.



archaeological museum Şanlıurfa

Statues that mix human heads and animals, found in Nevali Ҫori, one of the sites now lost in the water. I found it astonishing that 10.000 years ago, humans were able to make statues like this.





archaeological museum Şanlıurfa
archaeological museum Şanlıurfa

Clay nails to form mosaic pictures. You see here the nails, and an example of how pictures were made by putting them in the wall. They could be painted in different colors after that, too. They are from the Uruk culture, 4th milennium BC.

archaeological museum Şanlıurfa

Pottery from the Bronze Age, depicting a gate / tower. I saw this after my visit to Harran and I stood there in surprise: doesn’t this pottery resemble the Aleppo Gate I went through? I told myself the gate in Harran is more recent in age but still….



archaeological museum Şanlıurfa
archaeological museum Şanlıurfa

Lovely Bronze Age terracotta. Nice animals, and a stamp seal; never saw such a stamp seal before. The museum has different types.

archaeological museum Şanlıurfa

Statue with Syriac inscriptions, Roman age. Syriac was the common language during a long time in Şanlıurfa, called Edessa in biblical and Byzantine times. The inscription says: “This sculpture is Şamașyahb’s son Lișammaș. His brother, Barnay, made it for him. Who destroys this, will be punished by [the god] Sin”.