Halfeti (Rumkale)

A Historical Treasure, Rumkale

Rumkale is to the north of the Birecik Plain, to the east of the Euphrates, on a hill overlooking the highway leading to Sanliurfa.


Rumkale is believed to be the antic city Sitamrat conquered in 885 BC by Salmanasar III, the Assyrian King. However, the issue is somewhat disputed. While some researchers consider Urum (Horum) to the north of the present Belkis village on the Euphrates as the original settlement, others maintain that Urima is Rumkale. Rumkale was known as Kal'a Rhomayta by the Syriac, and Hromklay by the Armenians.

From 1113 to 1166 AD Rumkale was used as the post of the catholicos. This status continued even after that, until 1292 when the city was taken by Melik el-Esref of Egypt. Also serving to the Yakubid as a Patriarchate in the 13th century, it was annexed by the Ottoman Empire after Mercidabik Battle (1516) and administratively attached to Aleppo.


Rumkale overlooks the Euphrates which forms the boundary between the provinces of Sanliurfa and Gaziantep. If this fortress is followed on a line along the river down to the south up to Crablus in Syria, many other fortresses are also seen. On the other hand, when the line is extended from the same spot to the north, one can observe major fortifications up to Samsun, including the fortresses of Amasya, Tokat and Sivas. As such, Rumkale is the most important link in this chain of fortifications.

The fortress is build on solid calcareous rocks on the west bank slopes of the Euphrates. Wall to the east, north and west are surrounded by high rocks. The fortress is build on solid calcareous rocks on the west bank slopes of the Euphrates. Walls to the east, north and west are surrounded by high rocks. The fortress is presently in a much damaged status. Built by large cut out pieces of stone, it has only one gate opening to the southeast. What remained up to our day include the reains of the mansion of the commander, the Armenian Church St.Nerses belonging to the second half of the 17th century, water storage and a well.

The cultural assets


The cultural assets of Rumkale were protected and managed within the scope of the project for the Documentation of Immovable Cultural Assets of the Townships of Birecik, Halfeti and Suruc”implemented jointly by Hacettepe University and the GAP Administration.

Rumkale which is located within the area of the village of Kalemeydani of the Nizip township of Gaziantep is among the historical remains which are to be affected by the Birecik Dam whose construction is under way. Since its elevation is about 500metres, the fortress will not be submerged by the dam lake whose water elevation will be 385metres. However, its access will be more difficult than it is today.

Presently there are three routes providing access to Rumkale. In the first route, one has to cross the Euphrates from Halfeti to the village of Kalemeydani on a raft, and then have a rather difficult climb for 45minutes. The second route is over the village of Kasaba of the Yavuzeli township of Gaziantep. In this route, one has to walk for 45minutes again and cross the Merzimen brook. The third route requires an hour of walking from the Kamisli village of Nizip.

It is possible to reach Rumkale from these three routes to photograph the magnificent scenery awaiting the visitor. Of course, climbing up to the fortress requires additional efforts.