Turkey, ruins of Soğmatar, the City of Prophets

Soğmatar, the Anatolian city where Moses lived

Legend says that Moses came here fleeing from Pharaoh. Full of history and mystery, Soğmatar hast temples dedicated to the stars and the Moon

The ancient city of Soğmatar, located in the province of Şanlıurfa (Southeastern Anatolia), is also called the “City of Prophets” because it is said that the prophet Moses himself, a very important figure for the three great monotheistic religions – Jews, Christians and Muslims – lived in this settlement after escaping from Pharaoh.

Located just 80 kilometres from the centre of the Turkish city of Şanlıurfa, the ruins of Soğmatar still preserve traces of its historical past, including its impressive tombs and rock-cut reliefs, as well as numerous wells; it also stands out for housing remains of temples dedicated to the Sun and the Moon.

Excavations in a mound located in the middle of Soğmatar, considered sacred, have revealed that what today is just a village in the middle of nowhere and about 30 kilometres from the border with Syria, was an important fortified settlement founded centuries before Christ and that it had a castle, of which today remains of walls and towers are preserved.

The city is home to temples dedicated to the stars and the Moon

However, it is the legend about Moses that most attracts the attention of the curious people who come to contemplate its remains. It is said in fact that it was here that Moses met his father-in-law, the prophet Shuaib mentioned in the Muslim Qur’an.

Speaking to Anadolu agency, the president of the Association of Tourist Guides of Şanlıurfa, Müslüm Çoban, stressed that Soğmatar is one of the most important historical places in the region. “Soğmatar is one of the most interesting and mysterious historical sites in Şanlıurfa,” he said.

“There are temples in Soğmatar that are believed to have been built to worship the stars and planets. In addition, there are reliefs and sculptures that are believed to have been made especially for the gods of the Sun and the Moon. This ancient city is a centre of attraction, and stands out as a prominent historical site, especially for astrologers. There are groups of tourists who come to the region just to see Soğmatar,” he said.

For his part, the chairman of the Tourism Commission of the Şanlıurfa Trade and Industry Association, Mehmet Kamil Türkmen, also highlights the historical and religious importance of Soğmatar, not only as an ancient Anatolian city where Moses is believed to have lived, but as an important religious cente indeed also for the ancient polytheistic religions. “A few years ago, a 5,000-year-old toy was found in this area,” says Türkmen, who expresses his confidence that the place will be developed for tourism in the region.