Where to Visit in Malatya
Malatya is a large city in the Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey and the capital of Malatya Province. The city has been a human settlement for thousands of years. In Hittite, melid or milit means “honey”, offering a possible etymology for the name, which was mentioned in the contemporary sources of the time under several variations.
Strabo says that the city was known “to the ancients” as Melitene, a name adopted by the Romans following Roman expansion into the east. According to Strabo, the inhabitants of Melitene shared with the nearby Cappadocians and Cataonians the same language and culture.
The site of ancient Melitene lies a few kilometres from the modern city in what is now the village of Arslantepe and near the district center of Battalgazi (Byzantine to Ottoman Empire). Present-day Battalgazi was the location of the city of Malatya until the 19th century, when a gradual move of the city to the present third location began. Battalgazi’s official name was Eskimalatya (Old Malatya); until recently, it was a name used locally. In Turkey the city is renowned for its apricots, as up to 80% of the Turkish apricot production is provided by Malatya, giving Malatya the name kayısı diyarı (“apricot realm”). In February 2023, the city suffered huge damage as a result of the Turkey–Syria earthquake.
The current city of Malatya was founded in 1838, with the old site of Militene now designated as Old Malatya. The reason behind the displacement of the city center was that the Ottoman army settled and stayed, probably by seizing from its settlers, in the previous city center, in the winter of 1838–39, before taking the road for Battle of Nezib in 1849. Because of this, citizens of the Malatya established the new city based on a near town called Aspuzu. The city saw rapid expansion in the 19th century, and by the end of the century it had around 5000 households, 50 mosques, six madrasas, nine inns and five Turkish baths. Ottoman sources also recorded ten churches. In 1889 and 1890, Malatya was struck by two large fires that destroyed thousands of shops. The city was then hit by the 1893 Malatya earthquake, which killed 1300, destroying 1200 houses and four mosques. A cholera outbreak that subsequently took place in 1893 killed 896 people. The destroyed buildings were rebuilt in 1894. Malatya was the scene of anti-Armenian violence during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During the Hamidian Massacres of 1895–1896, 7,500 Armenian civilians were massacred and Armenian villages in the rural countryside of the city were destroyed. In the aftermath, a Red Cross team sent to the city and led by Julian B. Hubbell concluded that 1,500 Armenian houses had been pillaged and 375 burned to the ground. According to the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, The city was inhabited by 30,000 people with a clear ethnic Turkish majority, and an Armenian population of 3,000, of whom 800 were Catholics. Of the five churches in the city, three belonged to the Armenians. In the spring of 1915, the vast majority of the Armenians of the town were rounded up by Ottoman authorities and deported on death marches as part of the Armenian genocide. According to reports of the governor of the Malatya district, of the 6,935 registered Armenians in the city, 197 were left in the town as artisans. In the early Republican era, Malatya became the centre of the city Province and enjoyed a substantial growth in terms of population as well as covered area. This development was further accelerated by the construction of the Adana-Fevzipaşa-Malatya railroad in 1931, and a few years later in 1937, by the construction of the Sivas-Malatya railroad.
Until recently the city was home to departments of the Turkish Aeronautical Association, Turkish Hearths, and Turkish Red Crescent. In 2014 the city became a metropolitan municipality in Turkey, alongside 12 other cities, by a Turkish governmental law that was passed in 2012. Following the 2014 Turkish local elections the new municipality officially took office. Today the city is generally considered to be a notable trade and industrial hub, as well as a cultural centre point thanks to the İnönü University that was established on 28 January 1975.
According to German geographers Georg Hassel and Adam Christian Gaspari, The city was composed of 1200 to 1500 houses in early 19th century, inhabited by Ottomans, Turkmens, Armenians, and Greeks. William Harrison Ainsworth visited the city of the city in 1837, noting a population of 8 thousand Muslims, chiefly Turkomans, and 3 thousand Armenians.
Köfte (meatballs) are used in many meals from kebabs (meat broiled or roasted in small pieces) to desserts. There are over 70 kinds of köfte, usually made with wheat and other ingredients. Kağıt kebabı is a local specialty – a dish made of lamb and vegetables broiled in a wrapper, usually oily paper. Other important dishes are a variety of stuffed specialties, including stuffed mulberry leaves, cabbage, chard, lettuce wraps with olive oil, vine leaves, cherry leaves, bean leaves, grape leaves, beets, onions, and zucchini flowers.
The city region is known for its apricot orchards. About 50% of the fresh apricot production and 95% of the dried apricot production in Turkey, the world’s leading apricot producer, is provided by the city. Overall, about 10–15% of the worldwide crop of fresh apricots, and about 65–80% of the worldwide production of dried apricots comes out of the city. The city apricots are often sun-dried by family-run orchards using traditional methods before export.
The City Fair and Apricot Festivities has been held since 1978, every year in July, to promote the city and apricots and to convene the producers to meet one another. During the festivities, sports activities, concerts and apricot contests are organized.
Near the Apricot Festivities, there are other annual activities in summer. Cherry Festivities at Yeşilyurt District of the city and Grape Festivities at Arapgir District are organized annually.
The city”s initial team is Malatyaspor whose colors are red and yellow. Malatyaspor competes in Malatya First Amateur League. Malatyaspor plays their home games in Malatya İnönü Stadium in the city’s center. Malatya’s other team is Yeni Malatyaspor (formerly Malatya Belediyespor) whose colors are black and yellow (formerly green and orange). They compete in Süper Lig.