Mus Tourist Attractions
Eastern Anatolia (Turkish Kurdistan)Situation and General InformationThe town of Mus lies at the southern end of a valley beneath the 2,646m/8,678ft Karaçavus Dagi.
The valley itself, 20km/12mi wide and 60km/37mi long, is intensively farmed for sugar beet, tobacco and cereals and is irrigated not only by the Murat Nehri, one of the sources of the Euphrates, but also by the Karasu, one of its tributaries. In earlier times the settlement which was dominated by a castle and extended over the lower slopes of the mountain, but the old town was destroyed by a severe earthquake in 1966. It was rebuilt in a safer position, but many of the older buildings in the town had been badly damaged in skirmishes during the Russian occupation.HistoryThe settlement was established by Armenians in the sixth century as the capital of the Taron kingdom. After a period of Byzantine rule, it was conquered by the Seljuks in the Battle of Malazgirt (1071). In 1260 Mus was destroyed by the Mongol hordes and in 1515 was captured by the Ottomans. During the First World War, it was occupied by the Russians until 1917.
As well as the old town beneath the fortified hilltop, the Seljuk Arsanli Han caravanserai and the Yildizli Han (Star caravanserai) are worth a visit. Only the elaborately decorated portal remains of the latter. Other places of interest include the Seljuk Haci Seref Camii with a minaret of colored stonework and the Ulu Cami, the oldest mosque in the town, which has been restored on a number of occasions. Dating from Seljuk times, several Ottoman features are visible.
About 100km/62mi to the east of Mus, the town of Bingöl (1,125m/3,690ft) stands above a widening in the Bayram Deresi valley (Bingöl Ovasi) and not far from where the river flows into the Murat (Euphrates). This provincial capital which is inhabited predominantly by Kurds was known as Cevlik (or Cabakçur in old Armenian?) Severe earthquakes in 1966 and 1971 caused considerable damage to the relatively low-lying old town and it has now been rebuilt at a higher level. Only the medieval fortifications have been preserved.
The 3,250m/10,660ft Bingöl Dag is a broad volcanic mountain range to the northeast of Bingöl and the ridge marks the boundary between the provinces of Mus and Erzurum. Ice-holes, evidence of Ice Age glaciation can be found in the countless lakes of the highlands ("bingöl", thousand lakes) and it is a magnificent area for walkers. The nomadic Beritan tribe use the Bingöl Daglari plateaux as summer grazing pastures. A minibus covers the 30km/19mile journey from Karliova to Zarovan Yaylasi (Yaylasi pastures) via Karapinar, from where a walk to the summit of Bingöl Dag will take 3.5 hours. Fantastic sunrises in July make the trip worthwhile.
The Kayalidere Kalesi, ruins of Urartian fortifications which were built as defenses against the Assyrians, can be seen on a steeply rising hillside on the northern bank of the Murat Nehri 45km/28mi north of Mus and about 8km/5mi east of Tepeköy (Hizirköyü). In 1965 Turkish and British archeologists started excavations inside the upper and lower fortification. Finds have included stelae foundations and also a temple with tower, courtyard, store-rooms, rock staircases and rock tombs (six chambers).
At weekends in the winter months a ski-lift operates on the 1,800m/5,900ft Kurucu pass 27km/17mi west of Bingöl.
The small town of Malazgirt (Manzikert in old Armenian) lies 120km/75mi northeast of Mus on the upper reaches of the Murat Nehri. It was here in 1071 that the Seljuk Alp Arslan defeated the Byzantine Romanos IV Diogenes. Victory was decisive and the Byzantine leader was captured. As a result, Turkman tribes were able to penetrate Asia Minor and the Seljuks extended their empire into central Anatolia. This historic event holds great significance for the Turks is commemorated every year at the site of the battle.Around 726, when the town was in fact under Arab rule, a Christian Council was held here at which the Armenians with their Monophysite beliefs (Christ has a god-like nature and was never a human being) split from the orthodox Byzantine church (Christ is a human as well as a god-like being). In the ninth century the town became the center of an Arab emirate and Christians were allowed to worship unhindered. Large parts of the town wall and its towers are still preserved and the walls of the old town houses contain countless plundered Armenian remains.
Surb Karapet (Surb Salah)
A short distance from the village of Çengeli (Çangilli) near Ziyaret and about 25km/16mi northwest of Mus lie the foundations and two vaults from the Monastery of Surb Karapet (Çengeli Kilisesi, Çanli Kilise). John the Baptist is said to be buried in this fifth century five-aisled church with five irregular-shaped chapels added to the east side. The addition of the bell-tower was made 300 years later. The site has frequently fallen victim to Kurdish pillagers. It was most recently restored in the 17th century, but since then builders have repeatedly used the monastery as a quarry.4km/2.5mi from Surb Karapet near the village of Çengeli can be seen three ruined churches which were built by Gregory the Illuminator in the fourth century on the foundations of a heathen temple. At that time the three churches Ashtishat (Church of Mary and Christ), Karapet (Church of St John) and Matnavank (Church of the Apostles) formed the Armenian religious center and were the seat of an Armenian patriarch or catholicos.