About 132km/81mi west of Malatya near Elbistan stands the ancient town of Arabissos (later known as Eshab-i Kehf/Eshabkehf). Lying to the west of nearby Afsin, it developed around the crossroads of two main routes: from Caesarea (Kayseri) to Antiocheia (Antakya) and Cilicia to Militene (Eski Malatya). A series of Romanmitones has been discovered near Kurt Tepesi. Also of interest is the complex which dates from the Seljuk period (1215-1233) and consists of a mosque, caravanserai and monastery (ribat). The ruined caravanserai is made up of an asymmetrical, four-aisled winter hall with two separate sections. The mosque which is attached to the sloping west front is domed at the rear (prayer niche). The three-aisled prayer hall has a flat roof and nearby the monastery section with its maze of rooms, three-aisled hall and typical Seljuk pointed-arch portal lies to the south towards the slope.More Roman ruins (Castaballa) can be found about 15km/9.5mi to the northeast near Percenik. In the same region, a little further northwest, the village of Tanir contains some Roman mosaics. Due north of Afsin (21km/13mi) on the old route to Kayseri stands the Seljuk Kuru Han and another 5km/3mi to the north near Karakol the Seljuk castle of Hurman Kalesi simultaneously controlled three mountain passes.
Arslantepe lies 8km/5mi to the north of the town near the village of Orduzu on the remains of a 16th century Ottoman palace. Excavations are still taking place on the site but finds so far include remains of pre-historic origin and relics from Hittite, late Hittite and Assyrian settlements. The ruins of a late Hittite palace with a large entrance have been unearthed. Stone slabs with relief carvings and monumental lion portals have been discovered. There is evidence to suggest that some of the slabs date from the time of the Hittite Empire. Remains of a later palace are from the time when Milid formed a part of the Assyrian Empire. Its decline in the early seventh century B.C. was brought about by the Cimmerians. Finds from the excavations are on display in the Hittite Museum in Ankara.
Darende is dominated by the medieval castle of Senkbar Kalesi. As recently as 1840, 40 houses inside the castle were inhabited. It is known that the remaining houses were abandoned in 1890. Clearly the earlier settlement is very old. A Hittite stele of Sarruma the god of children has been found there.
The regional center of Elbistan some 126km/78mi west of Malatya is overlooked by the medieval fortifications of Kiz Kalesi (5km/3mi to the west). The castle marks the position of former Elbistan - Kara Elbistan or secret Elbistan. Finds here include a stone bowl belonging to a cult of sun-worshippers and figures of the goddess Anahita (probably the same as Cybele) dating from Hittite times. The Ulu Cami in the town provides the earliest example of a mosque with a central dome and four adjoining half-domes. It dates from the Beylik period ca. 1500.
Just 5km/3mi to the northwest of Elbistan on the Elbistan plain, in a hill near Karahüyük archeologists have unearthed the remains of a Hittite settlement. Some of the interesting finds include a terracotta horse's head from a drinking horn (1200 B.C.) and a memorial stele to a late Hittite prince. The stone which resembles a menhir displays a hieroglyphic inscription on three sides and can now be seen in Ankara's Hittite Museum.
Eski Malatya, Turkey
The ruins of Eski Malatya 12km/7.5mi north east of modern Malatya lie on the old road to Erzincan and Sivas. The course of the road had to be moved to the west to make way for the Keban reservoir. The village now surrounded by poplars and fruit orchards nestles inside the ruins of old Malatya. Ruins of what was probably a Byzantine wall, an irregular trapezium with four gates, defensive ditches and tower bastions are still preserved and are best seen on the southern side. A little further along the old Sivas road stand two türbe with small cemeteries. The Ulu Cami, which is partly buried, was built in 1247 by Hüsrev on the foundations of an older seventh century mosque. The latter was destroyed by the Byzantines and then rebuilt in 765 by Al-Mansur. To reach the rear of the mosque pass through the galleried inner courtyard and the divan decorated with glazed tiles into the domed prayer room. The Yeni Cami (1307) like the Ulu Cami dates from Seljuk times. In the northeast of the town stands the Mustafa Pasa Hani, a well-preserved Ottoman caravanserai. It was founded by Mustafa Pasa one of the Ottoman Murat IV's generals between 1623 and 1640.
About 80km/50mi northwest of Malatya in the small village of Hekimhan stands the Seljuk Hekim Hani caravanserai (hekim, doctor). This complex was founded by Alaeddin Kaykobad I's doctor Ebu Salim Ben Ebil-Hasan el-Sammas from Malatya. It consists of a square summer courtyard and a three-aisled winter hall. It was last restored in 1660.
Seven km/4.5mi north of Hekimhan about 3km/2mi east of the road to Kangal and Sivas is the village of Sirzi, where a Hittite mining settlement lies hidden. 500m/550yds outside the village about 400m/440yds south of the access road stands a huge rocky crag which displays a Hittite hieroglyphic inscription and which the local people call yazilitas (inscribed stone). It is clearly a mining inscription similar to one found at Bolkar Madeni (Konya Ereglisi/Çiftehan).