Elazığ is a small city located in the Eastern part of Turkey, in the region called Anatolia. If you take a look from above, the city seems as an inland peninsula, surrounded by lakes and reservoirs. It is a city covered in history, legends and beautiful landscapes. If you plan to go there, try to eat everything you can, I promise, you won’t regret it. The cuisine is simply amazing, especially if you are a lover of spicy food and besides, you have a sweet tooth.
What to visit?
First and the most important place to go, where you can delight yourself with an amazing view of the city, special food and amazing coffee is Harput Castle. This Harput aria is like a small city that takes away all of your cares. Also, there is a legend surrounding the castle. By locals, it is known also as The Milk Castle. It is said that, while the mortar was prepared, they ran out of water. Instead of giving up, they started using milk to finish up the castle.
If you are hungry and thirsty, there are plenty of terraces where you can relax with a glass of wine and eat traditional Turkish food. A MUST try are Harput köfte. With your first bite, you will feel your mouth flooded with a variety of flavors. Harput köfte are meatballs which are made from a special mixture of minced meat, cracked wheat, seasoned with traditional herbs and spices and boiled in tomato sauce all together. Also, the vine is great! You must try the wines made from Öküzgözü and Boğazkere grapes.
Hazar Lake and Hazar Baba
Located at 22 km from Elazığ, Hazar Lake and the mountain Hazar Baba are the perfect places to go by day or by night. By day, you can enjoy the sun, take a swim or just lay on the terrace enjoying a Turkish tea or a Turkish coffee. By night, everything changes. You can also go for a swim in the night time, but this place turns into one of the most romantics landscapes in the world. The lights are reflected in the water, the sky is starry the whole surrounding is an oasis of peace and quiet.
This place has also a legend of its own. It is very interesting how the mountain is rising above the lake, but the legend talks about a love story. Once upon a time, on one side of the lake was a kingdom. The king had a daughter that was in love with a poor boy, that lived on the other side of the lake. As their love was forbidden, they found a way to be together: every night, the princess lighted a candle on the edge of the lake and the boy was swimming his way to the princess. The king found out about this love story and decided to put it to an end. So, he grounded his daughter, went by the river, lighted a candle and started to move from one side to the other. The boy followed the light until he had no more power to go on and drowned. The princess found out about this and cursed her father to relive the moment of her lover’s death over and over again, so the king turned into a mountain. Baba, translated into English, means Father.
Keban Dam is one of the biggest projects from Elazığ area. Located on Euphrates river, with a 675 squares kilometers surface, Keban Dam is the fourth largest lake in Turkey. This hydroelectric dam was built to help the economy of the country, that’s why they are very careful with who is visiting the Dam.
Fun Fact: If you are not a Turkish citizen, you are not allowed to enter in this area. There are protocol regulations that must be respected and this place has a very good security.
One of the largest campuses of Turkey, Fırat University, became one the most complex academic institutions in the Eastern Turkey. The campus is huge, it took me 20 minutes by bus to go from one end to the other. The students there are very friendly, but the sad part was that few of them are speaking English. The University Campus has for entrances very well guarded. Every time you are passing by, they are asking you how you are and where are you going. And if you enter the campus by car, they use a facial recognition system.
Fun Fact: Not only students live on campus. Beside them, the professors and their families live there too.
I have lived there for three months during summer time. As an East European, the cultural shock was huge. Even if the differences are big, people there are very friendly, they want to talk to you, even if they don’t speak English, they are very helpful and very curious about yourself and your country.
Some of the things I have learned:
- in the moment that you’ve stepped inside a Turkish house, you are considered a part of the family, they treat you with respect and they expect the same attitude from your side;
- the food is absolutely amazing! They don’t eat pig, but they replace it with lamb.
- if you are at home and you want to enjoy a day off, chilling, be aware, you might have unexpected guests. Don’t expect a phone call, it might not happen;
- if you are a girl and you want to go swimming, do not take your swimming suit. You might consider swimming in shorts and a tank top, otherwise, everyone will look at you as if you were a clown. the guys will enjoy the view, but the women might not like it.
- they love to predict your future by reading in your cup of coffee. Some might be right, some might be not, it’s up to you if you decide to believe it or not;
In conclusion, Elazığ is a very beautiful city with beautiful people and beautiful history! You might consider visit it and enjoy its story!