URFA, ancient EDESSA, is - according to Biblical accounts - the first city in the world that was found after the Great Flood which destroyed humanity.
HARRAN, where Prophet ABRAHAM lived for several years after leaving the ancient city of Ur, is a district of Urfa.
The modern name derives from the early Aramaic name, "URHAI", which was changed to "EDESSA" when the town was refounded as a military settlement in the 3rd century BC. Edessa, as capital of the principality of Osroëne, was a major center of Syriac culture; it figured prominently in the conflicts between Parthia and Rome.
Christianity reached Edessa in about 150 AD, and the city became the seat of the most important bishopric in the Roman province of Syria. A sizable body of early Christian literature in the Syriac language was produced at Edessa.
After being captured by the Sasanid Persians on more than one occasion, Edessa was taken by the Arabs in 638. Thereafter it saw many changes of rule, including occupation by the Crusaders in 1098, until it was annexed to the Ottoman Empire in 1516.
Today, SANLIURFA is the largest city of southeastern Turkey ( the ancient Upper Mesopotamia ) and the region's most important economic and cultural center.