Elazığ Harput Castle

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According to our current information, Harput Castle was founded by the Urartian Kingdom at the beginning of the 8th century BC, about 3 thousand years ago. In 2016, the Harput Relief, dated to the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC, was found in the Nevroz Forest, 500m east of the Harput Castle. This new find shows that the settlement in Harput is 1200 years older than has been known so far.

Harput Castle was called Zlata Castelium during the Roman and Byzantine Empires; During the Arab raids, he was known as Hisn Ziyad. In 1085 AD, it was captured by Çubuk Bey, one of the Turkmen chiefs, and in 1115 by the Artuqid Emir Belek Gazi. The impressive Artuklu Palace is located at the northern end of the castle.

It was conquered by Çerkez Hüseyin Bey and Karaçinoğlu Ahmet Bey, who was commissioned by the Ottoman Sultan Yavuz Sultan Selim in 1516,  And an Ottoman Quarter was established in the castle in the 17th century. The castle and the city remained important until the end of the Ottoman period. The settlement in the region ended with the migration of the people of the neighborhood to the newly established city of Elazig between 1830 and 1920.

Between 2005 and 2009, excavations were started in Harput Castle by the Elazig Museum Directorate. The excavation, which started under the consultancy of Prof. Dr. Veli Sevin, one of the most important Urartian history experts in our country, went down in Türkiye's excavation history as Türkiye's first Ottoman Archeology excavation.

Starting from the first year of the excavations, a 900 square meter area including the Urartian cistern, a large Mansion, an Artuklu Mosque, one of the oldest mosques in Türkiye, and a small Ottoman Quarter was unearthed. One of the greatest discoveries of the excavation is the two-story Ottoman period structures and three new tunnels in front of the Aslanlı Gate. Especially the third one consists of a very high and wide shelf and tunnel and ends with a natural cave.

Excavations have been carried out under the Presidency of Fırat University since 2014, and the finds unearthed are restored and exhibited in the Elazığ Museum. Since the excavation work is still ongoing, some of the structures found are closed to the public.



If you ask where to start the story of a city, I would answer from its crown. So if there is, it starts from the castle of that city. And don't listen to the city that doesn't have a castle! There are no shrines, ceremonies, legends, and memories that will attract the eye and decorate the mind. And if there is, it is little.

Harput is one of our cities that sings legends from the past to the present with its crown, shrines, ceremonies, and memories. The crown of this city is also the "Milk Castle". The mortar of this castle, which reveals many horizons, the Great and Golden Plains, many villages, and gardens, is made of wean according to popular belief among the people.

There's a feeble sleeping in the castle. He was a tall man throughout the castle. He was dressed in a feeble commander's suit, with a helmet on his head and armor on his back. This guy wakes up once a year, looks up, and asks:

-Is it the end of the world?

He would see that Islam is circulating there, no one answers his word, and he sleeps again.


A very beautiful girl lived in one of the cellars inside the Milk Castle. She was sleeping on a golden throne in the middle of a treasure filled with gold, silver, and diamonds. He wakes up once a year and asks around with a sad and shaky voice.

  -Has the Milk Castle been destroyed?

  -Has the Dere Bathhouse been destroyed?

  -Did the mule get lambed? 

From time to time, some people in the Harput heard about this. That's the legend, it was believed that when this happened, the apocalypse would come.


Harput Castle is called Milk Castle because of its whiteness according to some, and because it is made with milk according to others:

It is rumored that centuries ago there was a very rich ruler in Harput. Since he had thousands of sheep and goats, he and his people lived in abundance. The milk of the sheep was drunk every day after it was milked and distributed to the people, but it was still poured into unfinished streams.

One day this ruler decided to build a castle. Construction started immediately, but there was a big drought that year. The mortar could not be mixed, the wall could not be built. The monarch began to brood over. In the end, he decided to use the milk they poured to make mortar. He called the shepherds and ordered them to bring the milk to the construction site morning and evening, and the foremen to mix the mortar with milk. Thus, the standing construction began to progress and was completed at the time when the monarch asked for it.

The ancients attribute this stubbornness of the castle, which defies centuries, to its kneading with milk. It is believed that the castle would not be destroyed until the collapse of the copper vessel, which is thought to be hanging from a thin hair on the ceiling in one of the water passages.

Source: Legends of the Harput (Meftune Güler)

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Elazığ Harput Castle Karataş Mah., Nadir Baba Sok., Merkez, Elazığ, Türkiye
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