Elazığ: A Surprise Awaits

Trip Start Feb 08, 2008
Trip End Sep 11, 2009

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Flag of Turkey  , Elazig,
Thursday, July 2, 2009

I went to Elazığ (el-a-zuh) for no express purpose. Well, I wanted to go to Van for my second time by a different route, to see some different scenery.

It was different. And I get some pleasure from that. Viewing was a bit reduced by having to see the scenery from an aisle seat, however. This comes from coming late to a full--but for one seat-- bus; for yet again a bus I wished to take--showing up at the bus station at a random time--was just about to depart.

The first phase was a trip to Diyarbakır, which I had been to before. I had no strong inclination to revisit Diyarbakır itself, though there was a section of the city that in May of 2008 was under construction for a large culture park, and I would have liked to see the progress there. But the otogar was seemingly a new one since my previous visit. And much further out of town. I was completely disoriented, and so didn't even try to stash my bags for a run into town to see the site.

Rather, I just hung out in the terminal for about a half an hour after spotting a bus with a sign in the front window indicating it was going to Elazığ.

There was one main scenic sight as we passed Hazar Gölu (Hazar Lake) just before arriving in Elazığ.

Coming into town from the otogar I asked the bus driver--or that is, I said to the bus driver in my simple Turkish that I wanted a certain hotel. He nodded. At the city center he inturn asked a young man to guide me to the hotel. After dropping, I assumed, his young niece and nephew at his older brother's barber shop (also my made-up scenario), he took me to the end of the short alley and pointed to the hotel across the street.

As stated above, I had no specific agenda in mind for Elazığ itself other than as an alternate route to Van. But the LP guidebood had a couple of notes of things worth seeing. So I set out in the morning to check them out.

First was the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum on the campus of Fırat (Euphrates) University. A bus came bearing a sign for the university, and a large added one upon which the word Müze was boldly written. However, when we got to the campus the driver didn't seem to know what I was talking about. Now, I have been told by some people that my Turkish is "very good." Well, if it is just not the barest of flatteries; if there is any truth to it, it would be due to my pronounciation of some of the few words I do know, not my extensive vocabulary or knowledge of verb forms. So, müze (moo-zay), I mean, how tough is that!? But, I get that response at other times, too. (The Turkish response is a quick shudder of the head from side to side, meaning "What!?")

Well, the driver told me to get off at the library. I walked in there and addressed the first student I saw at a computer in the lobby, asking if he spoke English. A little. Did he know about the museum. He did, and walked me down a block and pointed it out to me.

I walked in the front door--into the darkened lobby, a guard following to tell me the museum was closed! And a shrug.

I went out and waited for the next bus back to the city center.

The second  suggestion was to go to a nearby village of Harput, there to find the castle. Harput is a village near and high atop the hills above Elazığ. The castle itself wasn't much to see, but it did provide a fine view over the surrounding country, including the lake (background) seen in the first picture of this series.

The askew mineret of the nearby Ulu Camii gave me a Proustian flash-back to an old high school classmate who was known around the locker room as Captain Hook.

Then, walking up the street from there I chanced upon my big find, the Harput Sefik Community Center of Culture. I didn't know that's what it was at first. It just looked sort of like a public place, what with the flags. So I stuck my head in the door and hand gestured to a woman near inside if I could come in. She nodded yes. And when I had descended to the entry court she presented me with a handfull of cherries, indicating a fountain where they could be rinsed. When I got back to the table she had set out the center brochure, done in very fine English. (A lot of these tourist things have been translated by the local tourist office guy's high school son or daughter).

Well, I don't know how much was "restoration," or recreation, for I didn't see any pictures of it in a prior occupancy condition. Only in a completely wasted, gutted condition. But, it is sure a beauty now! It is one of the finest things I've seen in Turkey. The pictures will speak for themselves. Well, there are some additional comments along with them.

However, as there is more space here I am inclined to quote from the Center brochure, since my sentiments are with them:

The cultural identity of the Upper Euphrates is in a hightly vulnerable condition today when compared to the magnificent times in the Seljuk and Ottoman periods. Like many other regions elsewhere, cultural amnesia, neglect and  decades of decay have endangered this  region, rendering  it  in dire need of  urgent conservation. Seriously deteriorated by the years, the historical milieu still is deprived of the  restoration works that are urgently required.

In order to carry out the restoration in the best possible manner, the  mansion and the hinterland it was built upon were examined together. In the  long run, this project is expected to meet with larger interest and participation and will include a bazaar project as well. The main target here  is to reanimate the  antique focal point alongside the Ulu Mosque and the photogenic Harput Castle and carry it through the whole city.

This particular project was undertaken in order to revitalize Harput as a cultural and historical attraction. Thus special attention and consideration were administered. Sefik Gul Community Center of Culture is a living example of our cultural heritage and it is waiting to be saved by the execution of
various meticulous restoration projects. This historical land interacted on  many levels with civilizations of the Orient and Occident and it can be restored for the generations to come.

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geezergal on

Keep on keepin on
Surely one day you will have a very fine book, with a little work to be done. Your adventures and the places you have visited are awesome by anyones standard. That perhaps is something to look forward to doing when you return to a very boring life in Portland. Love Sis

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