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ELAZIĞ

Population: 350,000

elazig1Old name: Mamuret el-Aziz, Alaziz

Right in the heart of Anatolia in an area surrounded by lakes created by giant dams, Elazığ, the capital of the province of the same name, is not an easy city for an outsider to love. Dusty, crowded and modern, it was built here after a series of earthquakes destroyed the much older Harput to the north. The only reason you're likely to come here is if you want to visit the historic sites of Harput.

Otherwise there's little to detain a visitor here. Even the Elazığ Müzesi (closed Mondays) is inconveniently located out of the town centre on the university campus beside the main entrance (don't let the bus carry you inside - it's a huge campus).

Not surprisingly given the location it doesn't seem to be anticipating a rush of visitors although the collection of finds from sites drowned by the local dams and the ethnography section upstairs with many local carpets on show is much better displayed an labelled than it used to be.

With time on your hands the best place to head is the bazaar area which is colourful and interesting. Even the large undercover Buğday Pazarı (Grain Market) repays a visit although you'll probably find the area selling sweets such as pestil ("fruit leather") and köme ("fruit sausage", here called "orcik") more inviting. Look out too for chunky lake fish - aynalı sazan (carp) and turna (pike).sazan

This is where you'll also be able to watch künefe and kadayıf being made. Avoid the meat section if you don't want to come face to face with severed sheep's heads.

The most conspicuous building in town is the externally ugly but internally rather lovely İzzet Paşa Cami, built in 1972 on the site of an earlier 19th-century mosque. It looms over the centre of town and stands above an entire arasta (bazaar) of gold shops.

elazigchIf you walk up İzzetpaşa Caddesi beside the huge mosque you will eventually come to a car park housed in and around what was once a very large brick-built church complete with integral fireplaces. I took it to be Armenian despite the man on the gate assuring me it was Suryani. A local Suryani later told me it was French Catholic!

If you can manage to find it Kazım Efendi Sokak, south of the main drag in the Nailbey Mahallesi, is still lined with modest townhouses with cumbas (bay windows) a littl like those of Alsancak in İzmir. elazig2

Eating and drinking

Elazıg has its fair share of small lokantas offering standard fare but it's a little low on inviting places for women to sit and have a tea or coffee. There is nothing, for example, to compare with Malatya's cafe-lined Kanalboyu Caddesi and such tea gardens as there are for the most bleakly masculine.

The Harput Konağı on Şehit Ilhanlar Caddesi beside Carrefour is trying hard with fountains running down the middle of what is really an outdoor tea and coffee shop. When I visited it was also acting as an unofficial tourism information office. Already it's picking up a young female clientele.

Sleeping

This is a town with a sizeable business community for whom there are decent hotels in all price brackets, many of them gathered together near the junction between Gazi and Harput Caddesis.

Akgün Hotel. Tel: 0424-248 2000

Hotel Grand 23

İlbey Hotel

Marathon Hotel. Tel: 0424-238 8686

elaziggrapeElazığ's red öküzgözü grapesTransport info

Elazığ airport (EZS) is south of the Bingöl road east of the city and is served by direct flights from İstanbul, İzmir and Antalya. 

Dolmuşes to local destinations leave from all around town making it particularly difficult for visitors to find their way about.

Fortunately the dolmuşes to Harput and the city buses to the university (for the museum) leave from the same place in Harput Caddesi which strikes north from beside the İzzet Paşa Cami on Gazi Caddesi, the main drag. Minibuses to te Doğu Garaj also leave from here. 

Dolmuşes to Tunceli leave from across the road from the Harput buses. The journey involves a short but enjoyable ride on the Pertek ferry.

Midibuses to Malatya and and dolmuşes to Palu leave from the Doğu Garajı (Eastern Terminal) which is near the main intercity bus terminal. Free minibuses to the Doğu Garajı leave from opposite the Orduevi taxi rank near the eastern end of Gazi Caddesi. This is also where the midibuses from Diyarbakır will deposit you.

Dolmuşes to Çemişgedek leave from behind the Harput bus station - to find the ticket office walk up İzzetpaşa Caddesi beside the mosque until you reach the ruined church, then turn right. 

Day trip destinations

Ağin

Çemişgezek

Ergani

Harput

Kemaliye 

Malatya

Palu

Pertek

Tunceli

Read more about the Elazığ area: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-333265-elazig-to-tunceli-the-road-least-traveled.html

elazig3The "also-rans" of Elazığ Museum

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