Turkey is a place that has structures and attractions that are without a doubt, unique to the country—the mosques, historic streets, impressive architecture of palaces, and of course, a colorful history that weaves so many stories—they all make-up a culture like no other.
One of the many historical spots important to this country is Elazig, a city in the eastern part of the Anatolian Region. Inhabited by only around 250,000 people, this place offers a stunning scenery as well as natural resources of mountains, lakes, plains, and rivers, so visiting this assures all travelers of a relaxing set-up.
This developing city, which was conquered by Romans, Byzantine and Arabians, is about 3,000 feet above sea level, and home to many artificial lakes such as the Keban (the biggest artificial lake in Turkey) and Karakaya Dams on the Euphrates river. There are so many things to see here, but one of the most important and loved attractions is the Byzantine fortress of Harput, an ancient city.
Harput, which is about five kilometers north of Elazig, is an ancient castle city that is still very much alive today, offering amazing structures in the midst of striking scenery. You can catch a view of the whole Elazig from here, so be prepared to have that camera used to its fullest extent.
It was in the 2nd half of the 19th century that the people living in Harput had religious and cultural conflicts with other inhabitants and lack of water supply, and so many of them migrated to another town in the valley, which is the present-day Elazig.
Harput has quite a colorful history to tell-this place used to be a Seljuk-Ottoman academic and cultural center. This is where many artists, academics, scientists, and thinkers, were educated. This place has been referred to as an “open air museum” because walking along any spot in the city will give sights etched with important stories. Because of the many different cultures that have lived there, many marks and reminders of diverse traditions could be seen in the surrounding mosques, churches, castles, and tombs.
Today, the structures still stand, offering reminders of the events that the town has gone through. One of the spots that visitors must not miss is the Harput Kalesi or Harput Castle, which apart from its great structure, also has a great history. It’s known as the Milk Castle, because legend says the builders used milk instead of water for the latter was very scarce at that time. It’s been said that mortar and milk were the key to finishing the castle; the two things that have made them stick together. Also stop by the Sara Hatun Cami, or the Lady Sara Mosque, which was constructed in the 1th century and has some of the most impressive stone art.
This place has a share of amazing natural scenery as well. The Hazar Lake is a great place to go fishing and do some water sports. Make sure to bring your camera here, for the blue waters are simply amazing, and have different kinds of colors at different times of the day. This lake also has a great story: in the 1990s, a sunken ancient city was discovered inside it, and different studies have been conducted since to find out the reasons of how it sank. Another interesting landmark is the Buzluk Cave—here, you’ll see stalactites and stalagmites as well as ice sheets that look incredible. To learn more about their culture, you could visit the Elazığ Archeology and Ethnography Museum.
Visitors are also encouraged to see the Uli Cami (the main mosque) is one of the oldest mosques in Turkey, decorated with impressive brickwork. You can also visit Firat University, one of the biggest academic institutions in east Turkey. Also see the Harput Museum, which houses a wide array of artifacts that will certainly give you more history lessons.
You will love shopping for souvenirs here. All the local items such as carpets, copper, artworks, coffee, orick, and pestil will surely give you an idea of the great talent possessed by people living here. Taking some unique items for your family and friends back home will surely bring some smiles and admiration.
Since this is a small town, it’s best that visitors explore Elazig and Harput by foot. Walking along the great landscapes will definitely not be boring, as there are so many things to see. Surely there is nothing better than witnessing a great piece of history while being surrounded by a great natural landscape.