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Welcome to Malatya, Turkey!
The history of Malatya is certainly an interesting one. Although the town is relatively new (by Turkish standards), the name “Malatya” is an ancient one. During a war in 1838, the Ottoman Empire seized the town of Malatya, which at that point just contained a little more than a few cottages and orchards, forcing the population to move. After the war, the people decided not to return to their destroyed town, and remained in the new town, which they then named Malatya. The town that they abandoned was then renamed from Malatya to Battalgazi. So in a sense, the town has moved a few km away.
Today, the town has grown substantially to be the biggest in central-eastern Anatolia, with rolling mountains and hills that surround the city. Malatya is a great place for a worldwide local to explore the lovely traditional Turkish culture and immerse itself in an interesting history.
Worldwide Local Tip: The transit system in Malatya is somewhat reliable and modern, but there are instances where you may end up stuck in traffic for a long time, so prepare ahead of time. That being said, most places you’ll be visiting are in the Malatya city center, which is very walkable, as the city lies on flat ground.
Eat Like a Local
After a long journey to Malatya, you’ll want to stop somewhere and eat. For a worldwide local who wants to get in touch with the local culture, food is the best way to do it! A long-standing local favorite is Haci Baba Et Lokantasi, known for its slow-roasted lamb and savory kebabs. Make sure to get a bowl of ayran (a local yogurt-based drink). Plus, it is very affordable, with dishes costing less than $5 USD a plate.
Worldwide Local Tip: For a dining experience a little more on the low-key side, head to Hanzade. Located in a restored 19th-century mansion, you can dine in the upper gallery or in the garden courtyard. Enjoy fresh cakes, a classic Turkish breakfast of menemen made of scrambled eggs with vegetables, or gӧzleme which is a savory crepe-like dish with potato and/or cheese filling. They even have live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
Shopping in Malatya
After a good meal, head to the bustling and vibrant Bazaar. If you’re looking to pick up that special something, this is the place to go. The Bazaar is the hub of local life, with everything from fresh food and clothes, to just about anything else being sold here. The Bazaar also has an interesting metalworking section that is certainly worth checking out, even just to observe handcrafted metal goods being made.
Worldwide Local Tip: Within the Bazaar is the aptly named Apricot Market. Malatya produces about two-thirds of the world’s apricots, where you’ll find them in every possible conceivable form. Everything from apricot jams to apricot cosmetics can be found in this quirky subsection of the Bazaar.
Don’t Miss the Malatya Museum
Naturally, as a worldwide local you’ll want to get a glimpse of the history of the people and the city. The Malatya Museum has a large collection of finds from around the area, spanning from ancient Roman relics to 8th-century Urartu inscriptions. Exhibits are also showcased in Turkish, Italian, and English.
Worldwide Local Tip: Head to Waterfalls Park if you want a respite from Malatya. Turkey's weather is temperate, and this park is a great place to enjoy it. The man-made park is on a hillside, with beautiful water features like (you might have guessed) a man-made waterfall. There’s a variety of open-air cafes and restaurants nearby, which makes the experience all that much more enjoyable.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Malatya is full of beautiful things a worldwide local loves, including, amazing food, bustling streets, and lively markets, as well as interesting culture and history. Make Malatya your next stop on your Turkish odyssey.