Difference between revisions of "Battalgazi"
Revision as of 20:54, 5 June 2011
Battalgazi was the original location of Malatya, as implied by its local (and formerly official) name, Eski Malatya (i.e., "Old Malatya").
The settlement in the vicinity—the Arslantepe mound (Arslantepe Höyüğü) in particular, which lies to the southeast of Battalgazi, close to the town of Orduzu—dates back to the 4th millenium BCE. However, it was the Hittites, originated from Central Anatolia and conquered the area in 14th century BCE, who gave the area its name—Malidiya, possibly related to the Hittite word of melid, which means "honey".
The area was subsequently ruled by Assyrians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Armenians, Crusaders, Seljuk Turks, Mamluk Turks, and Ottoman Turks.
In 1838, during a war between Ottoman Empire and the forces of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt, the Ottoman army seized the town, forcing the local population to nearby 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 has later been re-populated, and after being called as Eski Malatya for more than a hundred years, officially renamed as Battalgazi in 1987, after a legendary warrior who is thought to have borned in the region.
Today, with its 14,000 inhabitants, Battalgazi is a typical Turkish provincial town with mostly concrete low rise buildings and some faint remnants from its past.
Battalgazi lies 10 km north of Malatya, and a wide avenue free of potholes and with seperated directions through lush apricot groves connects each other.
It's possible to catch public buses (run by Malatya City Council–Malatya Belediyesi, lines #B1, #25, #251) and minibuses (recognizable by large banners saying Battalgazi Koop in front of them, which is the name of the company that runs them), which depart every 15 minutes, from various stops in downtown Malatya. However, to avoid long de-tours through the city, it is best to wait for them in the stop just off the roundabout where the road to Battalgazi branches off the main highway. (Directions from the central square: walk east along Cumhuriyet Caddesi and Kışla Caddesi for 500 mt. You will arrive at an intersection, turn left into Sivas Caddesi here; look for the sign saying Aslantepe Höyüğü in the centre of that intersection. After a walk of about a kilometre along Sivas Caddesi, past a stadium, you will arrive at a large roundabout with traffic lights on the main intercity highway. Cross the highway at those traffic lights, and there you have the bus stop on the right, 50 metres down the street.)
A one-way ride on both the buses and minibuses costs 1.25 TL. Minibuses can be a little crowded on the weekends, but it's a 15-minute ride maximum anyway.
Once you step out of the bus/minibus at the town's central square, you have no other option but to walk. But note that while signage for street names is adequate (usually on small blue signs on the walls of the buildings on the corners of the streets), the signage for interesting sights is woefully rare or even totally non-existant, so either have a print-out of a detailed map of the area before you go, or trust your luck on finding the sights.
You will see lots of local kids around the main sights of interest, and be ready to be shouted at by them ("hello, tourist!" seems to be their favourite phrase). Some will (persistently) try their broken and limited English on you, and might recite what the buildings were used for, etc. You may accept their guidance but keep in mind that they are doing this in the expectation of a tip, so do return the favour if you chose to take a tour with them.
They may keep following you for a while even if you are clearly disinterested, but be patient and they will give up sooner or later. A kind "good bye!" might help.
The town is littered by many historic structures, most of which date back to Seljuk era, and some of which were renovated recently, while others waiting for the same favour half-ruinously.
Of these, "must-see"s include:
A neighbourhood between the Great Mosque and the central square consists of whitewashed houses and streets surfaced by large stones, creating a nice but faux preserved townscape, as none of those buildings are actually historic.
Ruins of Roman-built city walls, including a re-built arch gate, can be seen just off the road from Malatya.
The area code of the town is (+90) 422.
There is a small postoffice (PTT) in the town, open M-F 8:30AM-5PM.