Shrine of Jethro

ayb1Heading east from Harran towards Soğmater in the southeast of Turkey you will come first to the partially troglodytic settlement of Şuayb Şehri (39km), universally known as Şuayb City.

Despite its remote location Şuayb City has one big claim to fame which is that it is believed to have some unspecified link with the man who appears in the Koran as the Prophet Şuayb and in the Bible as Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law.

However, as soon as you pull into the village you will realize that this is one of those curious erstwhile important places that has since been bypassed by time because the fields that cling to the bottom of the hill in its centre are full of curious structures approachable via rock-cut steps.

At first glance it’s easy to assume that this was some vast Roman necropolis. Only later does it dawn on you that they might perhaps have been underground dwellings, reminiscent of the great underground cities of Cappadocia.

On the summit of the hill stands what might perhaps have been a temple, but the sad fact is that not much seems to be known about Şuayb City beyond the Jethro story. However, the structures here seem to date back mainly to the late Roman-early Byzantine period.

No sooner do you get out of your car than you will probably be approached by a youthful local keen to tell you that you're in the wrong place, by which they mean, of course, that you are nowhere near the shrine of Jethro. This turns out to be even more closely reminiscent of Cappadocia since the rock-cut steps open into a cave consisting of two rooms, one of them set up for prayer.ayb2

Şuayb City is an extraordinary place where you could easily poke about in the caves for a couple of hours while dreaming of the forgotten past but it has no facilities so brings snacks and water with you.


The best choice of accommodation locallly is in Urfa, although you could also stay in Harran or even at the unique home-stay in Yuvacalı village.

Transport info

There's no public transport to get you here but tour operators in Urfa should be able to organise a visit for you.




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