A small city in eastern Turkey, Elazığ has a population of approximately 200,000 people. A city about 1,000 m (3,300 ft) above sea level, Elazığ is surrounded by mountains, lakes, and rivers. While rapidly developing, it is a traditional town and is relatively conservative. Firat University is changing the culture of the city.
Nearby hilltop Harput forms the historic core of Elazığ. The modern city was started in the plains below during the rule of Ottoman sultan Abdülaziz (r. 1861–1876), and was coined Mamuretülaziz ("flourished by Aziz"). This was later shortened to Elaziz, out of which the current name derived.
Direct trains (the Vangölü Express) run twice a week from Ankara to Elazig, taking 19 hours. There are couchettes and a sleeping car but no buffet. The main stops along the route are Kayseri, Sivas, and Malatya. This train continues to Tatvan (7 hours), with dolmus connections to Van. For details see Turkish railways website at tcdd.gov.tr, but beware that the timetable and the online booking system give different days of running for this service. Ankara railway station is partially closed for rebuilding until 2018, with bus replacements to Irmak 60 km east of the city, and altered timings. A high-speed line is under construction from Ankara eastwards. This will greatly reduce journey times when the first section to Sivas opens, perhaps in 2018.
From nearby Malatya, you can catch minibuses which depart from Doğu Garajı ("eastern bus stop") just off the intercity highway, northeast of city centre near a large roundabout at the end of Sivas Caddesi Street.
Those more adventurous and having more time to spare may prefer the remoter and slightly longer route from Malatya, via the towns of Battalgazi and Baskil and which involves taking a ferry when crossing the Karakaya Dam lake, at about the mid-way between Battalgazi and Baskil. There are ferries three times a day—at 7:30AM, 11AM, 3:30PM—from the harbour on the Battalgazi/Malatya side (and the return voyages from Baskil/Elazığ side at 8AM, 1PM, 5PM), but as the ferries depart as soon as their vehicular capacity is full (and do not wait for their schedule), show up at least half an hour before the scheduled departure. They also accept foot passengers. Crossing the dam lake takes around 20 minutes.
It is a small city and can be explored quite easily by foot. There are also numerous minibuses and city buses.
- Harput. It is an amzing old city on top of a mountain with a stunning view of Elazığ and the surrounding areas.
Nargile cafes and the old covered market.
- Deha Cafe. The coolest cafe/bar in the city.
- Marathon Hotel. It is right in the city center and is a good deal for the money.
The area code for Elazığ is (+90) 424.
- Kemaliye (locally known as Eğin) — about 3 hours away by buses to the northwest, Kemaliye is a fine old town on the Karasu River, a major tributary of the Euphrates, and is the base town for the adventure sports hotspot of the Karanlık Kanyon ("Dark Canyon").