The southeastern city
of Kahramanmaraş (map) is
known for its long name, its agriculture,
and its ice cream.
For most of the city's long history
it was known simply as Marash (mah-RAHSH,
alt. 568 meters/1864 feet, pop. 250,000).
During the Turkish War of
fiercely resisted the French occupying
armies. In recognition of its citizens'
bravery and tenacity, in 1973 it
was renamed Kahramanmaraş (KAH-rah-mahn-mah-RAHSH,
Its earliest known name was Marqasi in Hittite times.
In fact, armies have regularly flattened
the town so despite its great age only
a few old buildings remain.
raise a lot of cotton,
peppers and potatoes, weave cotton
textiles, and beat copper
into interesting shapes.
If you stop here for a meal or a bed
the best hotel in town...),
check out the museum,
the Great Mosque (Ulu,
or Acemli, Camii) built in 1502, the
14th-century Taş Medrese and Taş
Han, and the often-rebuilt citadel.
Whatever you do, eat ice cream. Maraş
dövme dondurması (Marash
beaten ice cream) is famous
throughout Turkey. Because of the
hot climate, it's made with a lot
of gum arabic "binder" to
keep it from melting. This gives
much "body" that
sellers used to hang it
on hooks outside their shops
(or so they say....).
This ice cream rarely drips, and it
is not ice cream that you lick, it
is ice cream that you bite.
Today, vendors in multi-colored traditional
Marash costume can be seen on street
corners in tourist areas. They scoop
ice cream from a cooler with long-handled
paddles, plop it in a cone,
and serve it with a flourish.
scene in Kahramanmaraş,
with the historic Ulu
Mosque, 1502) in the background.