Malatya, located in the Upper Basin of Firat River, has been chosen as the settlement place by many people for not only its geographical situation and abundant water resources but also for being on the route of Silk Road, King’s Road since the Neolithic Era.
Malatya has an elevated and mountainous terrain form. Expansive orchards are spread over the villages and provincial regions, apricot being the chief. It has a continental climate; hot and arid in the summertime while cold and mostly snowy in the winters. The most downfalls are observed in spring and fall.
The researches and archeological excavations reveal that settling in Malatya, whose history dates back to the Paleolithic Period, began around B.C. 7000 The region has witnessed the reigns of the Hittites, Assyrians, Urartu, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabians, Seljuks, and the Ottomans.
The Districts of Malatya Province are Akcadag, Arguvan, Battalgazi, Darende, Dogansehir, Doganyol, Hekimhan, Kale, Kuluncak, Poturge, Yazihan and Yesilyut.
Turkey’s well-known race horses are bred in Sultan Suyu Breeding Ranch which is located within the district. The Levent Valley is the distict’s most valuable tourism center. Rock reliefs pertaining to the late Hittite Period are found in various sized caves around the valley.
The district is abundant with historical monuments. Among the most important historical monuments are Ulu Cami, Cafer Pasha Mosque, Mirliva Ahmet Pasha Mosque, Molla Eyup Mescid, Gumrukcu Osman Pasha Mosque and Hamam, Cobanoglu Mansion.
The district features Karahoyuk Village, Isa Village, Morhamam Tumulus located in Horumhan Hamlet dependent on Tarlacik Village, and Holy Fish Park located in Kizik Village.
The district is the old Centrum of Malatya. It is known as “the old Malatya” among people. The Malatya folks had chosen Battalgazi District as the city center starting from the Roman times until 1892. Today’s Malatya as known as the “Aspuzu Baglari-Gardens” would be used for summery purposes. The historical monuments in Battalgazi district are the primary centers of attraction for tourism. The district is abounding with mosques and mausoleums. The district’s proximity to the Karakaya Dam Lake has brought many advantages for tourism. Besides aqua sports and fishing, you can have a boat tour on the dam lake.
The district offers a combination of historical and tourism opportunities, especially monuments like mosques and kulliyes (complex of buildings adjacent to a mosque) and Gurpinar Waterfall are well worth seeing. Precious paleography can be found in Mehmet Pasha Public Library, Somuncubaba Library, Es Seyyid Osman Hulusi Efendi Private Library and Balaban Seyh Abdurrahman Erzincani Library. Also scenic beauties and promenades stretch through the Tohma Brook.
The district is prosperous with historical buildings and promenades. Historical rampart ruins are found in the Centrum. Surgu Tumulus surface ruins date back to B.C. 2 – 4 thousand years. The waterfall and promenades located on the Erkenek Valley along with the Pinarbasi located in Surgu Town attract many visitors.
It is 74 km away from Malatya. The must see sites are Peri-Es (Dilbersen) Castle built in A.D. 450 located in Uzuntas Village, Mt. Nemrut whose eastern sides remain in the district’s borders, Gerar Castle and Battalgazi.
It is 40 km away from Malatya. Among the historical buildings are; Hasan Basri Mosque located in Fethiye Village, Fethiye Tumulus, Ansur (Buzluk) Caves, Hacı Tumulus, and Unur Mezrasi Castle in Iriagac Village .
The museum exhibits fossils found around Malatya, especially in sand quarries or sand rocks; Neolithic, Chalcolitic, Bronze Age antiques; Hittite, Urartu, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman Period works and artifacts.
The sites to be bordered by the Malatya Province and that would be submerged by Karakaya Dam Lake waters such as Pirot, Caferhoyuk, Koskerbaba, Imamoglu, Degirmentepe and Arslantepe Hoyuk were excavated in order to save artifacts and such important works as Neolithic statuettes (B.C. 8000); obsidian knife, sickle, arrow head, chisel and drills; sword and spearheads (B.C. 3200-3000); tombs (B.C. 4000); seal imprints (B.C. 3200-3000); ryton (B.C. 1200-1700), statue and rock inscriptions were found.
Old Malataya Castle
The Castle covers a large area. Its construction began during the Roman Emperor I. Titus period. It was renewed later during Byzantine Emperor Justinianus’ period (522 – 565).
Old Arapgir Castle
Built on hard rocks, the Castle’s base parts were constructed with block stones, while the other parts by hewn stones. It belonged to the 14th century Anatolian sultanates and only the wall traces remained to our time.
Located in Dogansehir district, the Castle has a pentagonal structure and was built during the Romans.
Namazgah Mosque ( Battalgazi)
Built out of the Battalgazi district’s city walls, on a rectangular surface in 1243 by Seljuk Empire. Mihrab’s surface was ornately decorated by Seljuk ornaments.
It is the last Ottoman period building constructed in 1912- 1913. The mosque, in which religious exercises can still be practiced, was constructed single-domed by hewn stone. The mosque has three minarets, two of them fixed within the mosque and the other situated on the eastern courtyard. Its mihrab was built outward.
Yusuf Ziya Pasha Mosque
The inscribed stone panel on the entrance door states that the mosque was built in 1792. It was constructed by Sadi Pasha. The walls of the rectangular mosque are made of stones and its top is wooden. Its minaret was built later. Two mausoleums are situated next to the last congregation place. Religious practice is still available.
Ulu Mosque (Arapgir)
It has been believed to be built in 1334 by Ilhanli State. It has a massive mihrab. Its stone panel and minaret collapsed.
Among the other important mosques of Malatya such as Ulu Mosque, Carsi Mosque, Melik Sunullah Mosque (Battalgazi), Somuncu Baba Mosque (Darende), Molla Eyup Mescid (Arapkir) are worth to see as well.
Emir Omer Mausoleum, Siddi Zeynep Kumbet (Battalgazi), and Kanli Kumbet (Battalgazi) are among the most important kumbets (dome-shaped mausoleums).
Silahtar Mustafa Pasha Caravanserai
Built on a rectangular surface in Old Malatya. It was constructed in 1632 by Bosnali Mustafa Pasha, the weapon keeper of IV Murat Khan. Consisting of two parts for summer and winter, the building was made of hewn stone.
Located in Hekimhan district, en route Malatya-Sivas road, in Eski Darende. The building features the traditional Seljuk Inns construction styles. The inscribed stone panel written in three languages notes that it was built in 615 of Hegira and 1218 of Gregorian calendar. Accordingly, it was during the Seljukian Erabuilt by Ebu Salim Bin Ebul Hasan with the decree of 1st Izettin Keykavus. The inn which has been repaired many times during the Ottoman period, can be categorized as rectangular-planned, having a courtyard and a vaulted room with one side open to the court (iwan).
It is a rectangular-planned construction in Eski Darende district. It has a similar style with the Classical Ottoman covered bazaar plans. The large court in the middle is surrounded by chambers. The bearing walls of the construction are made of hewn stone; the other parts and top are covered with rubble stones. The tops of the chambers are gable vaulted.
Civilian Architecture Samples
In the construction group known as Bes Konaklar and in the same street structure there are thirteen (13) houses. In addition, karakas Mansion in Niyazi Quarter, İstanbulluoglu Mansion behind Merkez Tekke Mosque, the house in the Merkez Mustafa Pahsa Quarter are among the most important civilian architectural samples. Of these buildings, Serafettin Arpacı House has been renovated by the property owner. These buildings totaling to 16 have been constructed during 1930 – 1940 and are the best samples of the civilian architecture.
It is one of the ten tumulus covered with piled soil located 6 km northeast of Malatya in Orduzu. It has been a densely accommodated Hittite settlement between B.C. 1900 and 1200. During the excavations in the region; traces of ancient times such as Bronze Age, Hittite Empire Era, Hellenistic Era, Roman and Byzantine periods have been found. In the site, traces of palaces, embossing, lion statues and decorated vases belonging to Hittite and Assyrian rulers have also been found. Most of these artifacts have been exhibited in Ankara Archeology Museum.
Nemrut, stands on the crossroads of the borders of Kahta district of Adiyaman and Poturge district of Malatya, with an elevation of 2150 m. It is 94 km away from Malatya. The hill which seems like the peak of the mountain is a tumulus of 50 m. height and 150 m. diameters. On the east and west of this tumulus, fascinating statues and a temple can be found which were built by the command of 1st Antiochos the Commagene King. Built with the piled up stones, the tumulus is one of the rare treasures to be extant today. The giant statues on the west, pyramidal and throne bottoms on the east, lower walls on the north and south stretches along.
The height of the statues varies between 8 and 10 m. The inscriptions behind the thrones, which were be built by 8 hewn stones piled over in blocks, give information about the gods and commands of King I. Antiochos.
According to the inscriptions on the statues, such a clockwise order is seen: 1. Apollon (The sun of God), 2. Fortuna (The goddess of prosperity), 3.Zeus (The principal god), 4. Heracles (The god of might), 5. On the Northern Side, the first king, I. Antiochos of Commagene. (B.C. 69 – 38) On both sides of the god and goddess statues, an oriental eagle and lion statue have been placed as a symbol of power and might. Mt. Nemrut is an open air temple built by the command of Commagene King I.Antiochos.
Mt. Nemrut can be accessed through May to November. The harsh climate and geographical conditions peculiar to the region disable the climbing opportunities in other months. Nemrut Mountain is not only recommendable for the statues and reliefs, but also the sunset and sundown render the region quite an alluring site.
OTHER TOURISTIC, NATURAL AND CULTURAL VALUES
The area surrounding Malatya has lots of “well worth seeing” places. As well as thoroughbred Arab horses bred in Sultansuyu, the proximate Dam Lake of Sultansuyu offers a beatific picnic opportunity near the lake accompanied by an enchanting landscape. The lake formed by Karakaya Dam is 15 km away from the city. This place is also one of the favorite sites for picnic. Fishing is allowed in this lake. Gurpinar Waterfall, 10 km away from Darende, is also an ideal place for feasting your eyes with the natural beauties, picnicking and having a rest.
Among the city’s close-by resort places, Gunduzbey Pinarbasi, Orduzu Pinarbasi, Yesilyurt and Horata Suyu in Konak Towns can be mentioned as worthy of seeing. Of these, Yesilyurt and Gunduzbey are well-known due to the cherries produced in the region. During the cherry harvesting season (June), Cherry Festival is held in Yesilyurt.
Kizik Village of Arguvan district is a site of tranquility with its natural beauty. The fish in the village’s protection pool amaze the visitors. The water resource and the fish in the spring are accepted as holy. Therefore, the fish are not allowed to be eaten. Local citizens call these fish as “dishwasher”, because they clean away the dirty dish the peasants leave.
It is 6 km away from Dogansehir District, Polat Town. There are stalactites and stalagmites in the cave. It is a must-see natural cave.
It is 10 km west of Darende District. Rising from its spring, Gurpinar Brook falls over the side of a steep slope between rocks. The sound of the waterfall creates splendiferous scenery of flowing water over rocks by the powder-like spreading of water drops. The trees surrounding the waterfall render the outlook of Gurpinar more magnificent. The waterfall is frequented by many visitors every year.
Somuncu Baba and Environs:
The fish pool in front of the Somuncu Baba Mosque located in the old Darende site in Darende district, the spring where the fish come, the valley where the water of Tohma Brook flows through next to the mosque, and the Kudret Hamam are the centers of attraction.
Nemrut Mountain, Sultan Suyu Valley, Levent Valley and Poturge Plateaus are ideal places for trekkers.
The ancestor sport of Turks, javelin, is one of the indispensable activities of Malatya festivals. Performed with the specially bred horses in Malatya, this sport creates a great attention among local and foreign tourists.
For the ones who enjoy fishing, angling is very common in Karakaya Dam Lake, Sultansuyu Dam Lake and Surgu Dam Lake. The recreation sites around offer nice facilities for the visitors as well.
Inonu University Aviation Branch arranges paragliding training and launching courses.
Meat and bulgur (boiled and pounded wheat) has a special place in Malatya cuisine which is famous for its great taste. There are 70 different types of “Kofte” (meatball) specially prepared with a mixture of bulgur and other ingredients. Bulgur is also used in Sarma (wrapped leafs stuffed with rise) prepared with bean leaf, cherry, quince, grape and mulberry leaves.
Moreover, apricot and apricot products which are used in kebabs and desserts have great importance in the local gusto. Kagit Kebabi (Meat and peas wrapped in paper) and Icli Kofte (bulgur balls filled with seasoned minced meat) are among the favorite delicious meals of the local cuisine. High quality restaurants downtown serve such local food. The magnificently delicious apricot flavor is highly recommendable in your journey to Malatya.
Among the most interesting and original souvenirs one can buy in Malatya are: table clothes, curtains, weavings decorated with wooden patterns and printing technique, carpets, colorful kilims (rugs), cicim: bronze kitchenware made of techniques like forging, pulling, extending, wooden churns called “gum gum”, spinning wheels and spoons.
World’s finest and most delicious apricots are produced in Malatya. As well as fresh and dried apricots, there are delicious local flavors worth to taste and buy such as frozen apricot made of different apricot assortments, canned apricot, apricot jelly, jam, marmalade, cream, paste, and green apricot pickle.
The covered bazaar, Sire Bazaar, Bakircilar Bazaar, Dried Apricot Bazaar in Malatya downtown and Ataturk, Inonu and Milli Egemenlik Avenues are important shopping centers. www.malatya-bel.gov.tr www.malatya.gov.tr