The Turkey Diaries: Battalgazi
Jeremy and I had planned on taking a day trip to another city during our stay in Malatya; however, the impending snow storm got in the way of our plans so we decided to visit Battalgazi instead. Battalgazi is another town in the Malatya province. Named after a legendary warrior, Battalgazi is currently a small town with various remnants from the past. One of Jeremy's friends, Mehmet, lives in Battalgazi so he generously offered to take us around and show us the sights.
We caught a mini-bus from downtown Malatya (in the first picture) and made the fifteen minute drive over. Along the way we passed numerous apricot groves, which Malayta is particularly famous for.
The first place that Mehmet took us was the Caravanserai (Kervansaray) which was only a few blocks away from the town square, where the bus dropped us off. Since Battalgazi used to be on one of the major trade routes back in the day, the Caravanserai served as chambers where exhausted travelers and tradesmen rested while their horses were fed and cared for. Now it occasionally hosts local carpet and trinket exhibitions.
We continued to walk around the streets of Battalgazi and every time we ran into local kids they would start laughing and yelling "Hello"! Even though Battalgazi isn't a touristy location, even less so than Malatya, I couldn't help but snap a million pictures. I could see Mehmet grinning from time to time when he noticed me taking pictures of ordinarily mundane things like garbage bins.
Our next stop was the Great Mosque (Ulu Cami) which was my favorite mosque out of all the ones we visited during my stay in Turkey. Yes, that includes the beautiful Blue Mosque. There was just something about the cozy and intimate feel of the Great Mosque that appealed to me so much more. It didn't feel like it was trying so hard to impress and there was a more genuine atmosphere.
The green and blue tiles that line parts of the interior date back to 1224 and they are absolutely breath-taking. Together they form various geometrical patterns as well as very delicate Arabic calligraphy The three of us had the mosque all to ourselves that day and Mehmet took a few moments to say his prayers while Jeremy and I did some exploring.
To end the day, in typical Turkish fashion, Mehmet invited us back to his home for a few cups of tea before heading back to Malatya. Most of his family lives in the same building, with each generation living on a different floor. They were actually raising a cow (and her calf) in a stone shelter, who provided the milk. I'm not going to lie, it made me want a cow of my own. I can always raise one on my New York City balcony, right? ;)