Where to Visit in Kahramanmaras

Maras, officially Kahramanmaras and historically Germanicea, is a city in the Mediterranean region of Turkey and the administrative centre of Kahramanmaras province. Before 1973, Kahramanmaraş was officially named Maraş, and later, it attained the prefix “Kahraman” (Turkish word meaning “hero”) to commemorate the Battle of Marash. The city lies on a plain at the foot of Mount Ahır. The city is best known for its distinctive ice cream which is thick enough to cut with a knife and fork. Kahramanmaras Airport has flights to İstanbul and Ankara. On 6 February 2023, much of the city was destroyed in the 2023 Turkey–Syria earthquakes which had their epicentre in Pazarcık and Elbistan in Kahramanmaraş province.

In 1913, the town was home to 45 thousand Turks and 30 thousand Armenians, while other ethnic groups had very small representation. The population of the province was 1,112,634 as of 2017, including 513,582 in the city. Kahramanmaraş has a Mediterranean climate. Summers are very hot and dry with a daytime average of 35 °C (95 °F) but temperatures can reach 40 °C (104 °F) quite easily. The highest recorded temperature is 45.2 °C (113.3 °F) on 30 July 2007. Winters are cool and wet with daytime temperatures typically in the 5-10 °C (40-50 °F) range. The coldest temperature recorded is -9.6 °C (14.7 °F) on 6 February 1997.

Several internationally known ice cream companies, like MADO, Yaşar Pastanesi, EDO and Ferah Pastanesi, started their business in Kahramanmaraş, and thousands of people visit the city because of its ice cream.

During Ottoman rule, the city was initially the centre of Eyalet of Dulkadir (also called Eyalet of Zûlkâdiriyye) and then an administrative centre of a sanjak in the Vilayet of Aleppo.

After the First World War, Marash was controlled by British troops between 22 February 1919 and 30 October 1919, then by French troops, after the Armistice of Mudros. It was taken over by the Turkish National Movement after the Battle of Marash on 13 February 1920. Afterward a massacre of Armenian civilians took place. Roving Turkish bands threw kerosene-doused rags on Armenian homes and laid a constant barrage upon the American relief hospital. The Armenians themselves, as in previous times of trouble, sought refuge in their churches and schools. Women and children found momentary shelter in Marash’s six Armenian Apostolic and three Armenian Evangelical churches, and in the city’s sole Catholic cathedral. All the churches, and eventually the entire Armenian districts, were set alight. When the 2,000 Armenians who had taken shelter in the Catholic cathedral attempted to leave, they were shot. Early reports put the number of Armenians dead at no less than 16,000, although this was later revised down to 5,000–12,000.

In 1973, Marash’s name was changed to Kahramanmaraş when the Turkish government added “Kahraman” to the name, in reference to the resistance to the French occupation after the First World War. Kahraman means “heroic” or “brave” in  Turkish.

In December 1978, the Maraş Massacre of leftist Alevis took place in the city. A Turkish nationalist group, the Grey Wolves, incited the violence that left more than 100 dead. The incident was important in the Turkish government’s decision to declare martial law, and the eventual military coup in 1980. In February 2023, a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck near Kahramanmaraş, causing widespread damage to the city.

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