Erzincan Tourist Attractions
Eastern Anatolia (northern East Taurus)Situation and ImportanceAlthough with a long history Erzincan, in the northeastern Taurus, has the look of a new town, its location in the tectonic depression zone of the main north Anatolian fault having repeatedly proved its undoing. Despite being devastated time and again by earthquakes (1471 large areas destroyed, 1667 half the city in ruins, 1782 more than 10,000 inhabitants killed), Erzincan has always been rebuilt. After the severe earthquake of 1939, which cost 15,600 lives and left virtually nothing standing, the city was re-sited a little further to the north. The last severe 'quake occurred in 1991. This too caused great damage and 1,000 people lost their lives. Reconstruction is well under way. Erzincan - once known for its silverware - is a road and rail junction with modest food processing (sugar) and textile industries. Because of the altitude cold, snowy winters and cool summers typify the climate of the region.HistoryLittle information is available about Erzincan's early history. It is situated not far from the Old Armenian city of Erek and claims to be the site of the principal temple of the Old Persian god Anahita (some of whose characteristics are shared by the Greek goddess Artemis). According to tradition the cult statue was taken from the temple by Cleopatra, wife of Tigranes the Great (95-55 B.C.). Until the 12th century Erzincan seems to have been a town of no great importance. Under the Seljuk Sulëiman Kutulmusoglu I (1071) it passed to the Mengüçoglu dynasty and in 1243 was destroyed in the fighting between the Seljuks (Keykusrev II) and Mongols. Between 1916 and 1918 it was under Russian occupation.
Silver Hill is a ruin site that dates from the 8th to 7th C B.C. It was first discovered by accident in the late 1930's.
Thought to have been called Ani in earlier times, the fortress and small village of Kemah are situated in the valley of the Firat Nehri west of Erzincan, on the river's southern bank. There are remains of an octagonal fortress dating from the Byzantine period, which was when the name Kemach (or Kamakha) first came into use. Kemah was still walled right up into the 19th century, the citadel being the seat of a local derebey. Relics of an older settlement (Kemah Kalesi) are found on the high rock plateau east of the present village. Ani was the third most important cult center for the worship of the Old Armenian gods and at the start of the Christian era was the site of a temple-fort belonging to King Aramard. There are two interesting mausoleums, Gazi Türbesi and the octagonal Sultan Melik Türbesi (1191), also the Gülablibey Camii (1192), its roof supported by arches carried on twelve wooden columns.
The district town of Kemaliye, formerly known as Egin, was settled originally by Armenian colonists from Waspurakan. Moltke described it in 1838 as one of the most beautiful towns in Asia.
Tercan, a district town, about 95km/57mi east of Erzincan, used to be called Mamahatun, after a Seljuk princess of that name, an ally of Saladin's. Her splendid mausoleum of finely dressed stone, endowed in 1192 by Prince Sesi Muffada ("Cross Eye") of Ahlat (on Lake Van), stands in an old cemetery east of the town (sarcophagus in the prayer hall/crypt). Around the türbe are a circular courtyard and wall, the latter with a fine ornamented portal and eleven niches containing more sarcophagi. Steps go up to a wall-top walk. Across from the mausoleum, to the west, can be seen the sturdy outline of the 13th century Mama Hatun Kervanserayi (Tercan Hani), now in process of restoration. The kitchen quarters, guardrooms and stabling are all clearly recognizable. Keys to both buildings are kept in the town hall. The staff of the constabulary diagonally opposite the caravanserai are also extremely helpful.