Historic Town of Kemaliye

Historic Town of Kemaliye

Kemaliye (also known as Eğin) is a town situated in the Upper Euphrates region of southwest Erzincan province, in the northwest of the Eastern Anatolian Region. The town is surrounded by mountains on all sides, with the Karasu River, the longest river in Southwest Asia, flowing through its eastern side. The region is sustained by several streams that flow into a group of lakes called Lake Kadi.

Kemaliye has been under the rule of various empires and dynasties, including the Ottoman Empire, Seljuks, Ilkhanids, Akkoyunlu Dynasty, Romans, Byzantines, Sassanids, Persians, and Serderges.

Historic Town of Kemaliye

Historically, Kemaliye was an important outpost called Teucila under the control of the Armenian people, after it became a part of the eastern Byzantine Empire following the collapse of the western half of the Roman Empire. During the reign of Byzantine Emperor Philippikos, the Armenians were established in Kemaliye. The town was governed by Islamic Arabs for around two centuries until the 11th century when it became a part of the Seljuk Empire. Kemaliye was captured by Sultan Alparslan following his victory at Manzikert.

The history of Turkish culture can be traced back through the petroglyphs, scratches, photometric scans, and ethnographic methods found in the region. Kemaliye became an important commercial center after it was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire during the reign of Mehmed I, the fifth sultan of the Ottoman Empire, between 1413 and 1421.

Kemaliye (Eğin) was founded along the Silk Road and caravan routes, making it a strategic location that has changed hands multiple times due to invasions and shifting rulers. The city is situated at the intersection of the Baghdad-Basra and Iran-Georgia routes, making it an important crossroads for both north-south and east-west trade. Kemaliye (Eğin) was a diverse city with Muslim-Turks, Armenians, Orthodox Christians, and Rums living together. The people of Kemaliye and its villages shared similar social and cultural customs.

Houses in Kemaliye are primarily constructed using the "hımış" method, which involves building a foundation of wooden beams and rubble stone before extending upwards. The main storey to the roof is constructed using a wooden framework and mud-brick filling. The masonry wall facing the street is left unplastered, while the interior is coated. A finishing coat made of gypsum plaster is applied over the scratch coat, which is polished with a cloth on the inside of the wooden walls filled with stone and mud-brick. The exterior of the wooden framework wall is lined with 15-30 pine timbers, called alignment woods. Nowadays, metal sheets are used in place of timber due to the difficulty of maintaining wood.

Kemaliye is located in the midst of the Munzur Mountains, which run north-south between Elazig and Erzincan and rise to 3000 meters above sea level. The Karasu River, which is the longest river in Southwest Asia, has created several valleys by dividing these mountains, one of which is the Kemaliye Strait. The Karanlik Canyon, which runs from Bağıştaş to Dutluca villages (Kemaliye), is a section of the strait that is often regarded as a somber location. This canyon is 25 kilometers long, with a depth of 1000 meters, a slope of 90%, and a valley floor width of 10-15 meters in some places. It's ideal for rock climbing and canyoning, making it a popular destination for mountaineering enthusiasts.

Historic Town of Kemaliye

The local people constructed the Taş Yol (The Stone Road) over the Karanlik Canyon using ancient techniques to link caravans to Giresun Port via Central Anatolia in 1870. The road was completed in 2002, spanning 7 kilometers and featuring 38 tunnels with heights ranging from 400 to 500 meters. The Taş Yol is recognized as one of the world's most treacherous roads.

Karanlik Canyon, one of the world's largest canyons, has taken hundreds of years to develop its geological structure and is significant not only for its geology but also for the Taş Yol, which was cut through solid rock.

Kemaliye's Historic Town was added to UNESCO's Tentative List in 2021. The town has a multicultural background, with Muslim-Turks, Armenians, Orthodoxes, and Rums coexisting peacefully. Stone, wood, and mud-brick were the primary materials used to construct Kemaliye homes, which were erected using the "hımış" method. The houses were made of wood framework and mud-brick filling, with a masonry wall facing the street left unplastered and a finishing coat applied over the scratch coat on the inside of the wood walls. The alignment woods, 15-30 pine timbers, were vertically placed on the exterior surface of the wooden framework wall, but metal sheets have now replaced them.