In the Munzur Mountains in eastern Turkey is the small town of Kemaliye, known in Ottoman times as Egin. It lies on the River Karasu, a tributary of the upper Euphrates, which over the ages formed a natural barrier between the states warring for supremacy in Anatolia. The valley of the Karasu, which in this region is largely rugged and rocky, here widens slightly, allowing the town a foothold. But the real source of life for the town is the spring of Kadigölü at the foot of the mountains. The streams fed by the spring wander all through the town, along the edge of the streets and beneath houses where they cool the larders; pour from fountains in gardens, courtyards and squares, occasionally forming pools and turning water mills; and lend their background music to the singing of birds. The earliest mention of the town in written records dates from the 11th century, when it is thought to have been founded.
Foreign travellers always spoke eloquently of the town, as in the case of Helmuth von Moltke, who visited Kemaliye in 1839 and described it as the loveliest town that he had seen in Asia, equalled only by Amasya. The limited amount of land available for farming and its remoteness from the main trade routes were the main factors in the social, economic and cultural destiny of Kemaliye.
The town's wealth depended instead on the fact that the men of the town were granted the right, by imperial edict, to supply the Ottoman capital of Istanbul with wood and coal, and were by tradition bankers to the court and ruling classes. .
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