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ELBİSTAN

                                                                    Population: 95,000

elbis1Old names: Plasta, Ablastha

Midway between Kahramanmaraş (Maraş) and Malatya, Elbistan is a town whose un-Turkish-sounding name inevitably conjures up thoughts of the wild Central Asia plains. Reality is somewhat different with most of the town a rather messy betonville with little to distract a visitor. The two exceptions are both mosques: the Ulu Cami and the Çarşı Cami, close together in the town centre near the market. 

Just enough of the old kerpiç (adobe) houses still moulder away in the back streets to remind you of the days when this was a small community living a simple life in a remote location amid the Anti-Taurus Mountains. As so often, those living in them appear to be the poorest of the poor. One couldn't wish such a lifestyle on them for a moment longer than necessary.

Around town

Servis buses from the otogar will drop you off near the stone-built Ulu Cami whose precise date of construction is unknown. It's a curious hybrid of a building with steps leading down into a portico where a fine Selçuk-style portal offer access to the interior. This, however, is an early Ottoman style affair with a dome supported on four arches.

It appears that the work was begun during the reign of the Dulkadiroğulları Beylik whose capital moved around the Elbistan region. It probably achieved its final form during the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent.elbis2

Look closely at the portal as you leave and you'll see what appear to be reused Corinthian capitals from a lost Roman settlement.

Immediately behind the mosque are a few of the old adobe houses as well as a small stretch of original cobbled street

If you look across from the portico to the right you should be able to pick out the brick minaret topped off with a wooden cap in typically Maraş style that stands beside the Çarşı Cami. This, too, appears to incorporate marble from an older Roman site, this time in the form of two column bases in its long wooden portico. Internally this mosque is more typically Selçuk, with a succession of stone arches supporting a flat roof. It was built in 1490 for the Dulkadir Bey Alaüddevle Bozkurt (1480-1515).

Eating

Just down the road from the Ulu Cami a plane-tree-shaded canal runs through town. A handful of small fish and grill restaurants hang over one of the banks in pictureque style. I tried the one that was furthest from the bridge with lots of potted plants and striped umbrellas to shade diners from the sun. The fried hamsi (anchovies) they served was a delight.

Afterwards you should look for an ice-cream parlour serving the famous Maraş ice-cream. One possibility is the Edem Pastanesi on Malatya Caddesi but never fear if you don't find it - there's a stand in the otogar where you can get your ice-cream packed in ice in a polystyrene container guaranteed to keep it fresh for up to 72 hours. 

Sleeping

Elbistan has plenty of hotels aimed at the business market. None of them will win any prizes for beauty.

Samanyolu Otel. Tel: 0344-412 0101

Swords Hotel. Tel: 0344-415 1700

Transport info

The otogar is on the eastern side of town and connected to the centre by servis buses.

Very few buses travel between Malatya and Elbistan so you might want to check times ahead of travelling. There are likely to be more services from Maraş.

One dolmuş service a day links Elbistan with Darende.

The road to Elbistan from Malatya forks from the road to Kayseri at Kozluca where there is some spectacular mountainous scenery. That alone makes the journey worth making. 

Nearby areas

Balaban

Darende

Kahramanmaraş (Maraş)

Malatya

 

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