Theme Week Turkey – Gaziantep in Southeastern Anatolia

Friday, 23 November 2018 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage, Union for the Mediterranean
Reading Time:  16 minutes

View from Gaziantep Castle © flickr.com - Natalie Sayin/cc-by-2.0

View from Gaziantep Castle © flickr.com – Natalie Sayin/cc-by-2.0

Gaziantep, previously and still informally Antep, is a city in the western part of Turkey‘s Southeastern Anatolia Region, some 185 kilometres (115 mi) east of Adana and 97 kilometres (60 mi) north of Aleppo, Syria. The city has two urban districts under its administration, Şahinbey and Şehitkamil. It is the sixth-most populous city in Turkey and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

Gaziantep is famous for its regional specialities: Copperware and “Yemeni” sandals, specific to the region, are two examples. The city is an economic center for Southeastern and Eastern Turkey. The number of large industrial businesses established in Gaziantep comprise four percent of Turkish industry in general, while small industries comprise six percent. Also, Gaziantep has the largest organized industrial area in Turkey and holds first position in exports and imports. The city is centre of the Green olive oil-based Nizip Soap industry. Traditionally, commerce in Gaziantep was centre in covered markets known as ‘Bedesten’ or ‘Hans’, the best known of which are the Zincirli Bedesten, Hüseyin Pasha Bedesten and Kemikli Bedesten. Gaziantep also has a developing tourist industry. Development around the base of the castle upgrades the beauty and accessibility to the castle and to the surrounding copper workshops. New restaurants and tourist-friendly businesses are moving into the area. In comparison with some other regions of Turkey, tourists are still a novelty in Gaziantep and the locals make them very welcome. Many students studying the English language are willing to be guides for tourists. Gaziantep is one of the leading producers of machined carpets in the world. It exported approximately US$700 million of machine-made carpets in 2006. There are over 100 carpet facilities in the Gaziantep Organized Industrial Zone. With its extensive olive groves, vineyards, and pistachio orchards, Gaziantep is one of the important agricultural and industrial centres of Turkey. Gaziantep is the center of pistachio cultivation in Turkey, producing 60,000 metric tons (59,000 long tons; 66,000 short tons) in 2007, and lends its name to the Turkish word for pistachio, Antep fıstığı, meaning “Antep nut”. In 2009, the largest enclosed shopping center in the city and region, Sanko Park, opened, and began drawing a significant number of shoppers from Syria.

Museums in Gaziantep:

  • The Gaziantep Museum of Archaeology has collections of ceramic pieces from the Neolithic Age; various objects, figures and seals from the Chalcolithic and Bronze Ages; stone and bronze objects, jewellery, ceramics, coins, glass objects, mosaics and statues from the Hittite, Urartu, Persian, Roman, Commagene, and Byzantine periods.
  • The Zeugma Mosaic Museum houses mosaics from Zeugma and other mosaics, a total of 1,700 square metres (18,000 sq ft). It opened to the public on 9 September 2011.

  • The Hasan Süzer Ethnography Museum, a restored late-Ottoman stone building, has the old life style decoration and collections of various weapons, documents, instruments used in the defense of the city as well as the photographs of local resistance heroes. It was originally built in 1906 as the home of Garouj Karamanoukian.
  • Some of the other historical remains are the Zeugma (called also Belkıs in Turkish), and Kargamış ruins by the town of Nizip and slightly more to the north, Rumkale.
  • Yesemek Open-Air Museum is located in the village known by the same name, 30 km (19 mi) south of the town of Islahiye. It is the largest open-air sculpture workshop in the Near East and the ruins in the area date back to Hittites.
  • The Gaziantep Defence Museum: Before you enter the Panorama Museum located within the Gaziantep Castle, you encounter the statues of three local heroes Molla Mehmet Karayılan, Şehit Mehmet Kâmil and Şahin Bey at the entrance. As you enter the museum, you hear the echoes: “I am from Antep. I am a hawk (Şahin).”
  • The Gaziantep War Museum, in a historic Antep house (also known as the Nakıpoğlu House) is dedicated to the memory of the 6,317 who died defending the city, becoming symbols of Turkey’s national unity and resolve for maintaining independence. The story of how the Battle of Antep is narrated with audio devices and chronological panels.
  • Gaziantep Mevlevi Lodge Foundation Museum: The dervish lodge is part of the mosque’s külliye (Islamic-Ottoman social complex centered around a mosque). It was built in the 17th century. The Mevlevi Lodge Monastery is entered via a courtyard which opens off the courtyard of the mosque.
  • Emine Göğüş Cuisine Museum: Gaziantep is known for its cuisine and food culture. A historical stone house built in 1904 has been restored and turned into the Emine Göğüş Cuisine Museum. The museum opened as part of the celebrations for the 87th anniversary of Gaziantep’s liberation from French occupation.

Gaziantep Castle © panoramio.com - rheins/cc-by-3.0 Zeugma Mosaic Museum © panoramio.com - Emin Başar ÖZDEMİR/cc-by-3.0 © panoramio.com - Ben Bender/cc-by-sa-3.0 © panoramio.com - HALUK COMERTEL/cc-by-3.0 © panoramio.com - Ben Bender/cc-by-sa-3.0 © panoramio.com - HALUK COMERTEL/cc-by-3.0 100th Anniversary Atatürk Culture Park with the Grand Mosque (Ulu Cami) of Gaziantep © Celal345/cc-by-sa-3.0 Wall paintings and floor mosaics.in.Zeugma - flickr.com - hakanozp/cc-by-sa-2.0 View from Gaziantep Castle © flickr.com - Natalie Sayin/cc-by-2.0
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100th Anniversary Atatürk Culture Park with the Grand Mosque (Ulu Cami) of Gaziantep © Celal345/cc-by-sa-3.0
Places of interest are:

  • Zeugma is an ancient city which was established at the shallowest passable part of the river Euphrates, within the boundaries of the present-day Belkıs village in Gaziantep Province. Due to the strategic character of the region in terms of military and commerce since antiquity (Zeugma was the headquarters of an important Roman legion, the Legio IV Scythica, near the border with Parthia) the city has maintained its importance for centuries, also during the Byzantine period.
  • Gaziantep Citadel, also known as the Kale, located in the centre of the city displays the historic past and architectural style of the city. Although the history of castle is incomplete, as a result of the excavations conducted there, Bronze Age settlement layers are thought to exist under the section existing on the surface of the soil.
  • Armenian Church: The former Holy Mother of God (Surp Asdvadzadzin) Cathedral converted into the Liberation mosque after the Armenian Genocide.
  • Gaziantep Synagogue is an abandoned synagogue. It was closed after the last remaining members of Gaziantep’s Jewish population left the city in the 1970s and was in a state of disrepair. Due to teamwork of the Jewish Community in Turkey and the government, the synagogue was restored in 2012.
  • Boyacı Mosque: A historic Mosque in Şahinbey built by Kadı Kemalettin in 1211 and completed in 1357. It has one of the world’s oldest wooden minbars which elaborately adorned with Koranic verses, stars and geometric patterns. Its minaret is considered one of the syymbols of the city.
  • Şirvani Mosque (Şirvani Mehmet Efendi Mosque):, also called ‘İki Şerefeli Cami’ – One of the oldest Mosques of Gaziantep located in Seferpaşa. It was built by Şirvani Mehmet Efendi.
  • Ömeriye Mosque: A mosque in Dügmeci. Tradition states that it was first built during the period of the Muslim Caliphate under the second Caliph Umar (hence its name), which would make it the oldest known mosque in Gaziantep. The modern mosque was restored at the site in 1850. It is known for its black and red marble mihrab.
  • Şeyh Fethullah Mosque: A historic mosque built in 1563 and located in Kepenek. It has adjoining Turkish baths and a medrese.
  • Nuri Mehmet Pasha Mosque: Mosque in Çukur built in 1786 by nobleman Nuri Mehmet Pasha. Between 1958 and 1968, it was changed into museum but was reinstated as a mosque after an extensive restoration.
  • Ahmet Çelebi Mosque: Mosque in Ulucanlar that was built by Hacı Osman, in 1672. It is noted for its elaborate wooden interior.
  • Tahtali Mosque: Wodden Mosque located in Fiekeroglu, that was built in 1557. The mosque has a unique red marble mihrab.
  • Alaüddevle Mosque: (Ali Dola Mosque) built by Dulkadir bey Alaüddevle Bozkurt. Construction started in 1479 and it was completed in 1515. It has been restored recently with the addition of new entrance.
  • Ali Nacar Mosque: Mosque in Yaprak ŞehitKamil one of the biggest Mosques in Gaziantep originally built by Ali Nacar. It was enlarged in 1816.
  • Eyüpoğlu Mosque: Mosque built by the local Islamic saint Eyüboğlu Ahmet during the 14th century. There has been a major restoration, so much so that the present structure hardly resembles the original building.
  • Kendirli Church: The Church was built in 1860 by means of assistance of French missionaries and Napoleon the Third. It is a Catholic Armenian Church. It has a rectangular plan and was built through white cut stones on a foundation of black cut stone within a large garden.
  • Pişirici Kastel: The “kastel” (fountain) used to be part of a bigger group of buildings, and it is thought to have been built in 1282. “Kastels” are water fountains built below ground, and they are structures peculiar to Gaziantep. They are places for ablution, prayer, washing and relaxation.
  • Old houses of Gaziantep: The traditional houses of Gaziantep are located in the old city: Eyüboğlu, Türktepe, Tepebaşı, Bostancı, Kozluca, Şehreküstü and Kale. They are made of locally found keymik rock and have an inner courtyard called the ‘Hayat’ which the focal point of the house.
  • Tahmis Coffee House: The Tahmis Coffee House was built by the Turkmen Ağa and Flag Officer, Mustafa Ağa Bin Yusuf in 1635–1638, in order to provide an income for the dervish lodge. The building suffered two big fires in 1901 and 1903.
  • Gaziantep Zoo is one of the largest zoos in Turkey. Especially interesting are the bird pavilion and the aquarium. Gaziantep Zoo offers a large variety of animals, attractive picnic grounds, and a cafeteria. The facility is established on 1,000,000-square-metre (11,000,000 sq ft) field. There are 264 species and 6,814 animals.
  • Zincirli Bedesten is the Ottoman-era covered bazaar of Gaziantep and was built in 1781 by Hüseyin Pasha of Darende. From records, it is known that there was formerly an epigraph on the south gate written by Kusuri; however, this inscription is not in place today. This bazaar was used as a wholesale market hall for meat, fruit and vegetables.
  • Bakırcılar çarşısi is the coppersmith bazaar of Gaziantep. This trade has existed in the region for over 500 years. The bazaar is part of the official culture route designed to help visitors discover traditions and culture of the city.
  • Anatolia Inn: The exact date of the inn’s (caravanserai) construction is unknown, but it is estimated to have been built in the early 19th century. It is a two-storey building with two courtyards. It is said to have been built by Muhsinzade Hadji Mehmet Bey in 1892. The inn was repaired in 1985 and parts of the top floor were rebuilt.
  • Kürkçü Inn: Classic Ottoman Inn in Boyacı built in 1890.
  • Old Wheat Inn: The original building was constructed by Mustafa Ağa in 1640 to provide an income for the dervish lodge, but was completely destroyed in a fire. The exact construction date of the present building is unknown; however the architectural style suggests the 19th century.
  • Şire Inn: The building is built on rectangular plan and contains many motifs of classical Ottoman inn architecture. It was built with evenly cut stones and the pitched roof is covered by tiles.
  • Tobacco Inn: This inn has no epigraph showing the dates of construction or renovation, but according to historical data, the estimated date of construction is the late 17th century. Ownership was passed to Hüseyin Ağa, son of Nur Ali Ağa, in the early 19th century.
  • Yüzükçü Inn: The construction date of this inn is unknown. The epigraph on the main gate of the inn is dated 1800, but the building apparently had been built earlier and was repaired at this date. The first owners of the inn were Asiye, the daughter of Battal Bey and Emine Hatun, the daughter of Hadji Osman Bey.
  • The city is home to many Turkish baths (Hamams), most of which date from the Ottoman and Dulkadir beylik period, namely the Hüseyin Pasha Baths, İki kapılı Baths, Tabak Baths, Şeyh Fethullah Baths and Şehitler Baths.
  • 100. Yıl Atatürk Kültür Parkı (100th Anniversary Atatürk Culture Park) is the largest park in Gaziantep located in the centre of the city along the Alleben river which it borders for 5 km (3 mi).

Food in Gaziantep is different from the cuisine in other parts of Turkey because of the influence of Oğuz Turks, Kurds and the culinary traditions of nearby Aleppo which was an important regional administrative center of the Seljuk and Ottoman empires. The difference is noticeable in its rice dishes, soups, kebabs, köfte (meatballs), etc. The meatballs come in varieties of çiğ köfte, içli köfte, meatball with malhita (lentils), sour small meatballs, and small meatball with yoghurt. Gaziantep’s food is known for being spicy compared to other Turkish cuisine; many of the local specialties as well as savory foods shared with other regions of Turkey are prepared with Aleppo pepper, a type of chili pepper, and paprika. Antep’s desserts include the sweet pastry baklava, burmalı, künefe, kadayıf, etc. In 2013, Gaziantep baklava became the first Turkish product with a European protected designation of origin and geographical indication. Antep is also famous for its slender type of pistachios. Its kebab varieties include the kıyma (minced meat) kebab, kuşbaşı (meat cut in goulash-type cubes) kebab, simit kebab, patlıcan (aubergine) kebab, ciğer (liver) kebab and soğan (onion) kebab. There is also lahmacun, yuvarlama (mas soup) and karışık (mixed) dolama (a preparation made of different types of vegetables, yoğurtlu patates (potato with yogurt), beyran, etc.). In 2015, Gaziantep was added to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as City of Gastronomy.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on GoTurkeyTourism.com – Gaziantep, LonelyPlanet.com – Gaziantep, Wikitravel Gaziantep, Wikivoyage Gaziantep and Wikipedia Gaziantep (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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