Dersim (Tunceli)

Dersim (Officially: Tunceli) is a small town located in the middle of Turkey's Anatolia region, in Northern Kurdistan. With a 2010 population of about 77,000, most of them Kurdish

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Dersim (Officially: Tunceli) is a small town located in the middle of Turkey's Anatolia region, in Northern Kurdistan. With a 2010 population of about 77,000, most of them Kurdish Alevis, being it is one of the smaller Kurdish cities.[i] 


During the Ottoman Empire, Tunceli (then known as Kalan) was a part of the region named Dersim. In 1847 Dersim was declared a sanjak (a historical administrative unit smaller than the province). The capital of the sanjak was Hozat. During the Republican period Tunceli Province was established in 1935. In 1946 the former town of Kalan was renamed as Tunceli and it was declared as the capital city of the province.[ii] The era following forming of the Turkish Republic and what it meant for Dersim and Kurds in the region is hidden in this name changing in 1935. With the "Law on Administration of the Tunceli Province" no. 2884 of 25 December 1935, where the city was denied its original name, a forceful policy of assimilation and genocide was to inflict upon its people. In 1936, the city and surrounding area was declared “No Passing Zone” and multiple police and military stations were constructed following the next two years. Same year local tribe leaders rose against the military enforcement, which is when first aim strikes hit Dersim. Kurdish tribes mobilised around a large region lead by Seyid Riza, Aliser, Bira Ibrahim (Baca, Seyit Rizas son) against the states violation but was met with brutal force. Following a short halt during the winter of 1936, thousands of Kurds of the Alevi religion were massacred during the Dersim Genocide between 1937-1938.[iii] 



[i] City Population - Tunceli. City Population. Retrieved on 2014-04-01.


[ii] Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia


[iii] Demir, Hasan. Dersim’den Tunceliye 38 Katliam Taniklari. Belge Yayinlari (2011)

There are several restaurants and cafes with riverfront views and delicious local cuisine. Trout from the local rivers and streams make for a delightful fresh entrée when in season. Munzur Valley National Park - Featuring a rich display of flora and fauna, this park is a feast for the eyes compared to the surrounding dry valleys. Several hot springs may found as well. The Munzor mountains are considered holy by locals, so remember to be respectful when discussing plans to visit them.

Ancient Castle - Just a little over an hour's drive away, tourists can see the ancient castle near the town of Pertek. It was built by the Seljuks, then later updated by both the Armenians and Ottomans. It's really a beautiful sight since it's located on a rocky island in the river. Best seen from the ferry boat.
There are several nice hotels to accomodate individuals and families including the Grand Saroglu, the Royal Demir, and the Has. At this time, non offer online reservations, so please call or visit to arrange your stay.
For those interested in a more rugged experience, camping is available in the Munzur Valley National Park.
Since the distance from the airport is more than most first-time visitors feel comfortable driving, you may want to hire a taxi or minibus to take you to Tunceli. Inquire at the airport for more details.

Once in the town, travel is somewhat limited to walking, bicycling, or driving.

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