Symposium City – Malatya
Malatya: World’s Capital of Apricot Culture
“General Information about Malatya”
Malatya is a relatively new city by Turkish standards, although its ancient name, Malidiya, dates back to Hittites, a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.
In 1838, during a war between Ottoman Empire and the forces of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt, the Ottoman army seized what was then the town of Malatya, forcing the local population to Aspuzu, then a collection of cottages amidst the orchards in the outskirts of the town. After the war, the people decided not to return to their battered town, settling permanently in Aspuzu, and renaming it to Malatya (the abandoned old town, 10 km north of the current city, has later been re-populated, and is now called Battalgazi, covered in its seperate article).
Today, with its population of more than 400,000 inhabitants, Malatya is the largest city of central-eastern Anatolia, where gently rolling steppes of Central Anatolia give way to heavily-rugged terrain of Eastern Anatolia. The plateau on which Malatya lies is surrounded by higher mountains, some of which are covered with orchards that produce the apricots, for which the city is famous.
Unlike rest of Eastern Anatolia, much of the urban population speak a non-dialectical standard Turkish, sometimes with a slight accent.
Local people are generally friendly and helpful.
A semi-arid continental climate reigns in the area. In summers (May onwards), daytimes are sunny and hot, enough to walk around comfortably in just a t-shirt, however, nights and early mornings are cool enough that you will want to pack along a jacket or a sweater.
New Mosque (Yeni Cami), (at the central square). A beautiful mosque built in 1912, and perhaps the only one in Turkey featuring three minarets. The one on the side—top of which was demolished long ago—was perhaps the minaret of an older mosque on site. Free
Just across the street from the New Mosque at the front yard of Governer’s Office is the last standing statue of İsmet İnönü, a native of the city and the second president of Turkey (in office 1938-1950), who was later blamed for instituting a cult of personality for himself after the death of Turkish Republic’s founder, Kemal Atatürk.
From the central square, a stroll of 800 metres along the Fuzuli Caddesi (Street) will bring you to Kernek Square (Kernek Meydanı).
Waterfalls Park (Şelale Parkı), Kernek Meydanı. A park on the side of a hill with lots of water features. A man-made waterfall running through a concrete canal and getting stronger at each upper cascade is the main attraction. The park surrounds a small hydropower plant harnessing the power of the waterfall—which, actually why the waterfall exists in the first place—although the plant is not open for visits. Some open-air cafes line the cascading water canal. Free.
The waters of the waterfalls park keep runing along a canal spanned by pleasant foot bridges in the leafy median strip of Hamit Feritoğlu Caddesi, unofficially known as Kanalboyu (literally “along the canal”). A stroll of about 500 metres along the Kanalboyu will bring you to another square.
On the side of the square is Hürriyet Park, the largest in the city.
At the side of the entrance of the park is a statue of Kemal Atatürk, complete with his cloak, next to a guy, presumably symbolizing Turkish youth, who is wearing nothing but a fig leaf.
Heading back to northwest from here along Kışla Caddesi—which has a beautifully landscaped wide median strip, which includes benches and palm trees (yes, palm trees. Like those that are found in tropical paradises. All thanks to legendary cold hardiness of Trachycarpus fortunei species)—you will arrive back at the central square; drawing a triangle in the city. However, there are a few more sights on the way, which might slow down your pace a bit.
Atatürk Museum (Atatürk Evi Müzesi), Kışla Caddesi (very close to Hürriyet Park). Tu-Su 9AM-noon 1PM-5PM. The historic mansion in which Kemal Atatürk stayed during his visits to the city.
There are also a number of other historic stone buildings along the Kışla Caddesi from the late Ottoman or early Republic eras, which look quite stately and impressive.
At yet another square on your way, there is an old-looking clock tower, which actually was built recently but is nice anyway.