Elâzığ (Turkish pronunciation: [eˈlazɯː], Armenian: Մեզիրե/Խարբերդ, romanizedMezire/Kharberd,[3] Kurdish: Elezîz/Xarpêt[4]), officialy known as Elazığ, formerly Mamuretülaziz or al-'Aziz,[5][6] is a city in the Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey, and the administrative centre of Elâzığ Province. It is located in the uppermost Euphrates valley. The plain on which the city extends has an altitude of 1,067 metres (3,501 ft). Elâzığ resembles an inland peninsula surrounded by the natural Lake Hazar and reservoirs of Keban Dam, Karakaya Dam, Kıralkızı and Özlüce.[7]

A view of İzzet Pasha Mosque in the city centre
A view of İzzet Pasha Mosque in the city centre
Elâzığ is located in Turkey
Location of Elazığ in Turkey
Coordinates: 38°40′28″N 39°13′22″E / 38.67444°N 39.22278°E / 38.67444; 39.22278Coordinates: 38°40′28″N 39°13′22″E / 38.67444°N 39.22278°E / 38.67444; 39.22278
Country Turkey
RegionEastern Anatolia
 • MayorŞahin Şerifoğulları (AKP)
 • District2,211.07 km2 (853.70 sq mi)
1,067 m (3,501 ft)
 • Urban
 • District
 • District density270/km2 (690/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+3 (TRT)
Postal code
23 xxx
Area code(s)(+90) 424
Licence plate23


The historical name of the city is Mezre (also spelled Mezireh, Mezere, etc.), which was once a suburb located on the plain below the ancient fortress town of Harput (Kharput, Kharberd, now a suburb of Elâzığ). Heinrich Hübschmann believed Mezre to be the settlement of Mazara (Μαζάρα) mentioned by Ptolemy, while Nicholas Adontz derived the name from an Arabic word meaning arable land or hamlet (borrowed into Turkish as mezra, "hamlet").[3][8] Mezre may be a shortening of Ağavat Mezrası ("hamlet of the aghas/landlords"), explained by the fact that some notables from Harput had been exiled from the city and settled in nearby villages in the late 18th century.[9] Some Armenians from Harput are said to have settled on the site in 1617, so Mezre was sometimes called Nor Kharberd ("New Harput") in Armenian.[3]

In the 19th century, during the reign of Mahmud II, the governor Reşid Mehmed Pasha started an expansion of Mezre. During the reign of Sultan Abdulaziz (r. 1861–1876), military barracks, a hospital and a governor's mansion were built to accommodate the seat of a new vilayet (province). The town was renamed "Mamuretülaziz" (Ottoman Turkish: معمورة العزيز, lit.'made prosperous by Aziz') in 1866 on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the enthronement of Sultan Abdulaziz, although he was not the initial founder. In time the city became known as "Elâzîz" due to its ease of pronunciation. On November 17, 1937, President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk changed the name of the city to "El'azık". However, since this was hard to pronounce in Turkish, on December 10, 1937, the government changed the city's name to its final form, "Elâzığ".[10]


The town of Mezre (future Elâzığ) was founded on the fertile plain below the hill on which the much older fortress and settlement of Harput was constructed. It was located about 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) to the southwest of Harput. The Hurrians, who settled in this area in c. 2000 B.C., are the earliest known inhabitants of the area. Harput and its surrounding region was part of the kingdom of Urartu at its maximum extent, and the Urartians may have been the first to build a fortress here.[11] Hakob Manandian believed it to have been the main fortress of the earlier Hayasa-Azzi confederation.[12] It is possible that Harput stands on or is near the site of Carcathiocerta (more commonly identified with Eğil[13]), the first capital of the Kingdom of Sophene.[12] The early Muslim geographers knew Harput as Ḥiṣn Ziyād ("the fortress of Ziyād"), but the Armenian name, Khartabirt or Kharbirt, whence Kharput and Harput, was generally adopted in time.

Ottoman Harput and Mamûretü'l-AzîzEdit

Harput and its vicinity fell under Turkish control in the year 1085 as a result of the Battle of Manzikert, which took place on August 26, 1071. The region around the fortress changed hands frequently in the subsequent centuries, coming under the control of the Çubukoğulları, Artuqids, Sultanate of Rum, Ilkhanate, Beylik of Dulkadir, Aq Qoyunlu, Safavids and Ottomans.[14]

According to an official history written in 1883, Mezre was originally small hamlet in the vicinity of Harput which served as the official residence of the Çötelizades, one of the notable families exiled from Harput in the 1780s-90s.[15] In 1834–36, the Çötelizades hosted the governor and military commander Reşid Mehmed Pasha, who turned the hamlet into a garrison for his campaigns in the eastern regions of the empire.[16] In the 1850s and 60s, Mezre grew into a small town or suburb of Harput with a prosperous Armenian bourgeoisie.[17] In 1869, an Armenian named Krikor Ipekjian (later Fabrikatorian) founded a silk factory in Mezre.[3] In 1878, it was made the administrative centre of the Mamuret-ul-Aziz Vilayet (commonly referred to as the Harput Vilayet).[3] According to census data from the 1880s, the population of Mezre consisted of 2,126 non-Muslims and 548 Muslim inhabitants, making it the only vilayet centre with an Armenian majority besides Van.[18] Meanwhile, Harput proper had a population of 12,974 people (5,125 were non-Muslims and 7,849 Muslims).[18] The populous villages on the plain below also had mixed Armenian-Muslim populations.[3] The population of Mezre were mainly merchants, craftsmen and bureaucrats.[3]

In 1892, the Armenian National Central Academy (Azgayin Kedronakan Varzharan) was founded in Mezre. By 1911, there was also an Armenian girls' school and a seminary, as well as two colleges run by French and German missionaries, among other educational institutions.[3] There were four Armenian churches built in Mezre in the 19th (two Armenian Apostolic, one Catholic and one Protestant).[3] Mezre, like Harput, also had a minority population of Syriac Christians.[19] The building of the American consulate in Harput, established in 1901, was in fact located in Mezre.[20]

Harput was an important station of the American missionaries for many years. The missionaries built Euphrates College, a theological seminary, and boys' and girls' schools. It operated until 1915 when its buildings were confiscated and used by the Ottoman army as barracks. In November 1895, government-backed Turks and Kurds massacred, looted and burned the Armenian villages on the plain. In the same month, Harput was attacked and the American schools were burned down.[21][22] During the Armenian genocide, many residents were killed.[23][22]

Turkish Republican eraEdit

Harput is a popular tourism destination in Elazığ

The town was captured by Kurdish rebels during the Sheikh Said rebellion in 1925.[24] It was used as a based of operations by the Turkish army during the Dersim rebellion.

Elâzığ was the seat of the Fourth Inspectorate-General from 1936[25] until 1952.[26] The Inspectorate General included the provinces of Elâzığ, Erzincan, Bingöl and Tunceli and it was governed by a Governor Commander under the military authority. He had wide-ranging power over the civilians and could order the capital punishment without the permission from the Turkish parliament. The office of the Governor Commander was eventually left vacant in 1948[27] but the legal framework for the Inspectorate-Generals was only abolished in 1952.[26]

Elâzığ rapidly developed into a modern city in the Republican era, while Harput was largely an abandoned ruin in the 1930s and 1940s.[28] Efforts began in the 1950s to renovate the old town of Harput: some historic monuments were restored, a new municipality building was built and a museum was opened. Over time, Harput was turned into a suburb of Elâzığ, and facilities were created for tourism and recreation.[29] The ruined Armenian neighborhoods of Harput were levelled in the 1960s and 70s.[30]

Harput is still partly settled today, but due to its high elevation and lack of water, it is slowly in the process of being abandoned, with most of its residents moving to Elâzığ. Harput still has a few thousand inhabitants.


The city has a large Kurdish population, many of which consider them as Zazas, and a similarly populous ethnically Turkish population.[31]

Ecclesiastical historyEdit

Harput has been the seat of a Syrian Orthodox bishop as early as the eleventh century, whose diocese was initially called Ḥiṣn Ziyād and later Harput. Unlike many Christian dioceses in Turkey, this one is still functioning even after the massacres that took place in the city during the Assyrian and Armenian genocides, in which the bishop and most of his flock were killed.[32] The diocese has two priests, with the main church being based in the ancient Merymana Kilisesi next to the wall of the old fortress.[33][34]

An Armenian Catholic diocese of Kharput was created in 1850 but was not re-established as a residential diocese after the Armenian genocide, only as an Armenian Catholic Titular see.

An Armenian Evangelical Church, built in the 19th century, survives as a ruined shell of its former self in the middle of a car park.


In the late 19th and early 20th century, Elâzığ exported raisins, apricots and almonds to Europe. Opium was also grown in the area.[35] Honey was also produced, but not so much exported, but used by locals.[36] Gold was also found in the area in the early 20th century.[37]

More than 30,000 people and at least 212 villages were affected by the construction of the Keban Dam in 1966–1974, which flooded several formerly populated areas. Many of those who were forced to move by the construction of the dam chose to settle in Elâzığ and invested the indemnities paid to them by the state in houses in Elâzığ or in small businesses. However, over 80% of families in zones affected by the Keban dam were landless peasants and thus ineligible to receive compensation or peasants with little land who would receive very little money (Koyunlu 1982: 250)

The dam, industry, and mining accounts for the high level of urbanization (42.7% in 1970) surpassing the average levels for Eastern Anatolia. The main agricultural activity of the area centers around vineyards and Elazığ also serves as a market hub for other agricultural products. The state-run vineyards of Elazığ are notable for its production of Buzbağ, a full-flavored red wine.

Today, Elâzığ is the capital of the Elazığ Province. It is a busy city with a university and an industrial base, although historic monuments are scarce. The exception is the ancient citadel and town of Harput, a dependency of the greater municipality of Elâzığ today situated three miles (4.8 km) to the north of the city centre. Elâzığ is the most developed city (and province) in the region, according to a report carried out by the Ministry of Development, making it the most developed region of Eastern Anatolia Region.[38]


Elâzığ is situated at the northwestern corner of a 30-mile-long valley, known locally as Uluova (literally the Great Valley). The area's Armenians called this valley "Vosgetashd" (the Golden Plain). Its altitude is 3,300 feet (1,000 m), latitude and longitude of 38 degrees and 41 minutes North, and 39 degrees and 14 minutes East. Elâzığ Province is surrounded by the Euphrates in the north, and since the completion of Keban Dam the rivers came to cover almost ten percent of the surface area (826 square kilometres (319 sq mi)) of the province (8,455 square kilometres (3,264 sq mi)). Elâzığ's adjacent province borders are with: Tunceli (North), Erzincan (North-West), Bingöl (East), Diyarbakır (South), and Malatya (West).


Elâzığ has a continental climate (Köppen climate classification: Dsa or Trewartha climate classification: Dca) with cold, snowy winters and hot, dry summers. However, due to the natural and artificial lakes around the city, some variation from this climate is experienced.[citation needed]

Climate data for Elazığ (1991–2020, extremes 1938–2020)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 13.0
Average high °C (°F) 4.0
Daily mean °C (°F) 0.1
Average low °C (°F) −3.1
Record low °C (°F) −22.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 37.8
Average precipitation days 8.03 8.63 9.60 10.53 10.03 3.70 1.47 1.00 2.87 6.73 6.70 8.90 78.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 89.9 101.7 151.9 180.0 251.1 303.0 334.8 303.8 261.0 198.4 132.0 65.1 2,372.7
Mean daily sunshine hours 2.9 3.6 4.9 6.0 8.1 10.1 10.8 9.8 8.7 6.4 4.4 2.1 6.5
Source: Turkish State Meteorological Service[39]


Elâzığ cuisine is the second richest among all cities in Turkey with 154 different types of food and drinks according to a study conducted by Ankara Chamber of Commerce.[40] Particularly those originated in the historic city of Harput have an important fame in the region and the country. Apart from famous meat platters most of which include meatballs, naturally dried fruits and vegetables and using them in main dishes are unique to Elâzığ cuisine. Several examples could include:[7]

  • Kofik dolma - stuffed dried peppers or aubergines
  • Kelecoş - fried meat and onion served over a bed of flatbread pieces softened in yogurt
  • İşkene - a breakfast soup containing broth and vegetables
  • Harput köfte - meatballs made with a mixture of minced meat, cracked wheat, herbs and spices boiled in tomato sauce
  • Taş Ekmeği - unleavened flatbread baked over hot stone or hotplate served with butter and jam
  • Işkın yemeği - a wild rhubarb dish
  • Sırın - pan-broiled handmade filo pastry roundels with a layer of yogurt and tomato sauce on top
  • Kömme - baked handmade filo pastry roundels built with a layer of meat filling and a layer of walnut paste
  • Gaygana - a mixture of eggs, yogurt, bicarbonate, and flour drops fried in oil
  • Orcik - walnut halves sewn in a thread, dipped into deep grape syrup
  • Orcik şekeri - caramelised sugar coated walnut pieces

Elâzığ is also known for its vineyards, and two types of grape varieties Öküzgözü and Boğazkere.


Elâzığ is served by Elazığ Airport which lies about 12 km (7 mi) from the city center. The airport is the 19th busiest airport in Turkey in terms of passenger traffic.[41][42] There are daily domestic flights from/to Ankara, Istanbul and İzmir. During summer months there are some international flights from/to cities such as Düsseldorf and Frankfurt as well as from/to Antalya and Adana.

There are local companies provide coach service to almost all cities in Turkey. Ferryboat services are also present over the reservoir lakes to supplement highway connections to towns such as Ağın, and Pertek and Çemişgezek of Tunceli.

The Blue Train (passenger express) provides connection from Elâzığ to Ankara.[7]


Elâzığ is home to Fırat University, established in 1975 and since has become one of the leading academic institutions in the eastern Turkey.[43]


Harput Castle
Sarayhatun Camii
Mount Hazar Baba rises above Lake Hazar
  • Hazarbaba Ski Centre
  • Historic mosques (Cami in Turkish), churches and shrines (Türbe in Turkish). Do note they are in Harput, on a hill out of town, but near enough to pay them a visit.
    • Ulu Camii: Built by Artuqid Sultan Fahrettin Karaaslan in 1156. It is one of the oldest and important structures in Anatolia
    • Sarahatun Camii (also known as Sarayhatun Cami): Built by Sara Hatun, mother of Aq Qoyunlu (White Sheep Turkomans) Sultan Bahadır Han (also known as Uzun Hassan), in 1465 as a small mosque. It was renovated in 1585 and 1843.
    • Kurşunlu Camii: Built between 1738 and 1739 in Harput during the Ottoman era.
    • Alacalı Camii
    • Ağall Camii: built in 1559.
    • Arap Baba Mescidi ve Türbesi: Built during the reign of Seljuk Sultan Gıyaseddin Keyhüsrev III (son of Kılıçarslan IV) in 1279. The shrine contains a mummified body which is known as Arap Baba among commons.
    • Fetih Ahmet Baba Türbesi (Shrine of Fetih Ahmed)
    • Mansur Baba Türbesi
    • Mary Church
    • Sefik Gul Community Centre of Culture

Twin towns – sister citiesEdit

Elâzığ is twinned with:[44]


Notable peopleEdit


  1. ^ "Area of regions (including lakes), km²". Regional Statistics Database. Turkish Statistical Institute. 2002. Retrieved 2013-03-05.
  2. ^ "Population of province/district centers and towns/villages by districts - 2012". Address Based Population Registration System (ABPRS) Database. Turkish Statistical Institute. Retrieved 2013-02-27.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hakobyan, T. Kh.; Melik-Bakhshyan, St. T.; Barseghyan, H. Kh. (1991). "Mezire". Hayastani ev harakitsʻ shrjanneri teghanunneri baṛaran [Dictionary of toponymy of Armenia and adjacent territories] (in Armenian). Vol. 3. Yerevan State University. p. 754.
  4. ^ Adem Avcıkıran (2009). Kürtçe Anamnez Anamneza bi Kurmancî (PDF) (in Turkish and Kurdish). p. 56. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  5. ^ "Milli Gazete | 2 Years Passed Since The Earthquake… Teachers House Still Unavailable". en.milligazete.com.tr. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  6. ^ "Elazig City In Turkey - Haber Turkey". 2021-04-03. Retrieved 2022-01-20.
  7. ^ a b c "Elâzığ" (PDF). kultur.gov.tr.
  8. ^ M. Th. Houtsma. E. J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936, Volume 4. p. 915.
  9. ^ Sipahi, Ali (2015). At Arm's Length: Historical Ethnography of Proximity in Harput (PhD thesis). University of Michigan. pp. 35–36.
  10. ^ "ELAZIĞ ismi nerden gelmiştir, adını nasıl almıştır, efsanesi hikayesi nedir - BilgilerSitesi.Com". www.bilgilersitesi.com.
  11. ^ Çilingiroğlu, Altan; French, David H. (1991). Anatolian Iron Ages: the proceedings of the second Anatolian Iron Ages Colloquium held at İzmir, 4–8 May 1987. ISBN 9780946897384.
  12. ^ a b Hakobyan, T. Kh.; Melik-Bakhshyan, St. T.; Barseghyan, H. Kh. (1988). "Kharberd". Hayastani ev harakitsʻ shrjanneri teghanunneri baṛaran [Dictionary of toponymy of Armenia and adjacent territories] (in Armenian). Vol. 2. Yerevan State University. pp. 697–699.
  13. ^ Marciak, Michał (2014). "The Historical Geography of Sophene". Acta Antiqua. 52 (4): 295–338. doi:10.1556/aant.52.2012.4.1.
  14. ^ "Republic Of Turkey Ministry Of Culture And Tourism". Kultur.gov.tr. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
  15. ^ Sipahi 2015, p. 45.
  16. ^ Sipahi 2015, p. 49.
  17. ^ Sipahi 2015, pp. 143–144.
  18. ^ a b Sipahi 2015, p. 184.
  19. ^ Akopian, Arman (2020). "The Syriacs of Kharberd (Kharput) on the Eve of the 1915 Genocide". Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies. 23 (1): 279–322. doi:10.31826/hug-2020-230110. S2CID 235465241.
  20. ^ Kévorkian, Raymond (2011). The Armenian Genocide: A Complete History. New York & London: I. B. Tauris. pp. 381–382. ISBN 978-1-84885-561-8.
  21. ^ "History of Elazig". www.turkeyforyou.com.
  22. ^ a b Dadrian, Vahakn N. (2003). The History of the Armenian Genocide. Berghahn Books. p. 160. ISBN 1571816666.
  23. ^ Henry H. Riggs, "Days of Tragedy in Armenia: Personal Experiences in Harpoot, 1915-1917", 1997, Michigan.
  24. ^ Robert, Olson (2013). The Emergence of Kurdish Nationalism and the Sheikh Said Rebellion, 1880–1925. University of Texas Press. p. 110.
  25. ^ Soner Çaǧaptay, Islam, Secularism, and Nationalism in Modern Turkey: Who is a Turk?, Taylor & Francis, 2006, ISBN 978-0-415-38458-2, p. 48
  26. ^ a b Fleet, Kate; Kunt, I. Metin; Kasaba, Reşat; Faroqhi, Suraiya (2008-04-17). The Cambridge History of Turkey. Cambridge University Press. p. 343. ISBN 978-0-521-62096-3.
  27. ^ Bayir, Derya (2016-04-22). Minorities and Nationalism in Turkish Law. Routledge. pp. 139–141. ISBN 978-1-317-09579-8.
  28. ^ Sipahi 2015, p. 414.
  29. ^ Sipahi 2015, p. 418.
  30. ^ Sipahi 2015, p. 427.
  31. ^ White, Paul J. (2000). Primitive Rebels Or Revolutionary Modernizers?. Zed Books. pp. 87, 158. ISBN 1856498212.
  32. ^ Fiey, Pour un Oriens Christianus Novus, 216–17
  33. ^ "Mor Malki Ürek". soc-wus.org.
  34. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps.
  35. ^ Prothero, W. G. (1920). Armenia and Kurdistan. London: H.M. Stationery Office. p. 62.
  36. ^ Prothero, W. G. (1920). Armenia and Kurdistan. London: H.M. Stationery Office. p. 64.
  37. ^ Prothero, W. G. (1920). Armenia and Kurdistan. London: H.M. Stationery Office. p. 74.
  38. ^ "The most developed and most undeveloped province, 25 May 2012". Haberturk.com. 2012-05-25. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
  39. ^ "Resmi İstatistikler: İllerimize Ait Mevism Normalleri (1991–2020)" (in Turkish). Turkish State Meteorological Service. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  40. ^ "Lezzetli Ülkenin Lezzet Haritası (2008-01-05) - ANKARA TICARET ODASI ". Atonet.org.tr. 2008-01-05. Archived from the original on 2014-09-24. Retrieved 2014-08-09.
  41. ^ "Statistics". General Directorate of State Airports Authority. Archived from the original on June 28, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  42. ^ "Elazığ - Turkey". World Airport Codes. Retrieved 2019-05-23.
  43. ^ "History". firatuniversitesi.medyasoftdigital.com. Retrieved 2019-05-23.
  44. ^ "Elazığ'ın Kardeş Şehirleri". elazig.bel.tr (in Turkish). Elazığ. Retrieved 2021-04-10.


Further readingEdit

External linksEdit