southern Turkey, at the edge of a fertile plain below Ahir Mountain, east-northeast
of Adana. The city is near the southern outlet of three important passes
through the Taurus Mountains (from Göksun, Elbistan,
Capital of the Hittite kingdom of Gurgum
(c. 12th century BC), it was known to the 8th-century-BC conquering Assyrians
as Markasi and later to the Romans as Germanicia Caesarea. The Arabs conquered
it about AD 645 and used it as a base for their incursions into Asia Minor.
The town, destroyed several times in the Arab-Byzantine-Armenian struggles,
was rebuilt by the Umayyad caliph Mu'awiyah I (7th century) and was fortified
(c. 800) by the 'Abbasid caliph Harun ar-Rashid. It was briefly occupied
by the crusaders (1097) and passed on to the Seljuq Turks in the 12th
century. It was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Selim
I in about 1515. With the surrounding province, it was occupied by France
in 1919 but returned to Turkey two years later.
A medieval citadel that towers
above the city contains an archaeological museum with a collection of
Hittite monuments excavated nearby. The city has several mosques
(notably the 15th-century Ulu Cami), medreses (religious
schools), and old churches and is a centre of light industry
and commerce, producing and exporting olive oil, spices, and handloomed
goods. It is linked by a branch line with the Adana-Malatya railway.
The surrounding region is mountainous and
contains rich mineral deposits, chiefly iron and silver. The agricultural
regions, watered by the Ceyhan River, produce wheat, rice, and legumes.
Known as "Markasi" in earliest
ages, this city, 78 km north of Gaziantep, stands as a site of history,
having a long past filled with numerous invasions, was once the capital
of Gurgum, a Hittite State in the 12thcentury BC.
There exists an archaeological museum inside
the citadel, where Hittite sculptures are on display. Other important
remains in the area are the Ulu Mosque and the Tats Medrese, both dating
back to the 15thcentury, together with the Hatuniye and Beyazit Mosques
of the Ottoman period.
This province, the original name of which
was Maras, had shown such velour during the War of Independence, that
it was then given the title "Kahraman", which means of
The specialty of the region is its famous
icecream well, and worth trying. Carved wooden furniture, copper and brass
works and handworks of glided silver thread are also treasured. Caving,
hunting, fishing beside plateaus and picnicking areas are also famous.