Gaziantep, being 672 km southeast to Ankara, is located on vast and fertile lands containing olive groves, vineyards, and fields and besides it is also the center of the world famous pistachio. Being on the historical Silk Road and having the name of “Ayintab” in the old times, Gaziantep makes important contributions to the national economy with its industry. Due to being on the roads from Kahramanmaras to Aleppo, from Birecik to the Mediterranean coasts, from Diyarbakir to Alexandretta, Gaziantep has gained the feature of being the cultural and commercial center in each era.
The city hosted many civilizations during history. Previously, it lived under the Babylonian sovereignty, and then it was captured by the Hittites, after the Hittites the city was dominated successively by the Assyrians, the Meotian and the Persian Empires. After the collapse of the Persian Empire, the city lived under the rule of the Byzantine Empire until 636 AD, at which date it was conquered by the Islamic armies, then the city was captured by the Anatolian Seljuks in 1071. Gaziantep fell down as a result of the Mongolian attacks in 1270. The reestablished city lived through successively the sovereignties of the Dulkadirogullari, the Mamelukes, and the Ottoman Empire; after the World War I, the city was invaded by Brits firstly and then by the French, and finally the city was rescued with the superior efforts of the local people during the Turkish War of Independence. Giving the name “Gazi” to the city in 1921 was due to the heroism of the people during this war.
Gaziantep has many historical buildings and scenic beauties, worthwhile to visit and see. The Gaziantep Castle was constructed as a watchtower in the Roman era and it gained its today’s appearance during the reign of the Emperor Justinianus in the VI century AD. Another castle building is the Rum castle.
A Seljukian madrasah building was put into use as the Archeology Museum, which contains important foundlings belonging to the Paleolithic, the Chalcolithic, the Bronze and the Iron ages; and to the Hittite, the Acadian- Persian, the Hellenistic, the Commagene, the Roman, the Byzantine and the Muslim periods. The Mansion of Hasan Suzer, built centuries ago, serves as the ethnography museum today. There is an open-air sculpture museum, a heritage of the Hittites, in Yesemek, which is one of the important ruins and is located 23 km southeast to Islahiye and on the northern side of Karatepe. The museum, mentioned as the “Stone Quarry and Sculpture Workshop of Yesemek” in the publications, is discovered for the first time by Felix von LUSCHAN in the year of 1890. In the late excavations, approximately 300 statues and sculpture drafts were found. In the late Hittite period, the workshop was operated by the Sam’al (Zincirli) Kingdom between the years of 1375- 1335 BC.
The other important ruins of the city, worthwhile to visit, are Belkis/Zeugma, Nizip, Tilmen, Duluk, and Kamil the Martyr.
Some of the remains, especially big relieves, obtained from the ruins in the Karakamis County, which is located at the Syrian border on the riverside of Euphrates and which contains settlements of the late Hittite period and some excavation areas, can be seen in the Museum of the Anatolian Civilizations, in Ankara. By all means, the Roman mosaics in Zeugma, in the Nizip County, should be seen.
The Sheikh Fethullah Mosque, the Boyaci Mosque, the Omeriye Mosque, and the Ahmet Celebi Mosque are amongst the most important mosques of the city. The shrines of the Okkesiye Hazretleri, the prophet Yusa, and Pirsefa Hazretleri are worthwhile to see. In Gaziantep, being on the historical Silk Road, there are many inns and caravanserais. Some of these are the Sire Inn, the Tutun Inn, the Hisva Inn, the Mecidiye Inn, The Emir Ali Inn, the Anatolian Inn, the Kurkcu Inn, the Municipality Inn, the Elbeyli Inn, the New (Yuzukcu) Inn, the Hadji Omer Inn and the National Inn.
Gaziantep and its neighborhood are rich and suitable in terms of its scenic beauties, promenades, places for sportive activities. The important plateaus of Gaziantep are the Islahiye Hizir Plateau, and the Sof Plateau. The important sightseeing and promenade places are the Dulukbaba Forest, which is 4 km away to the city center, Karpuzatan (Oguzeli), Kavaklik, Dutluk, Nafak, the Burc Forests, the Burc lake, the Buyuksahinbey County (Korkun), Nizip Karpuzatan and the Cifte Havuzlar. The traces of the prehistoric times can be seen in the forest regions.
The riverside of the Euphrates and the neighborhood of the Tahtakopru Barrage Lake in the Islahiye County of Gaziantep are suitable places for hunting. Besides, again in the environs of the Euphrates and the Rum castle on its coast, at the riverside of the Merziman Brook, on the plateaus of the Sof Mountain and the Hizir, it can be riding horses by sightseeing. For wandering in the nature, the Hizir Plateau (the Amanos Mountains), the Sof Mountain Plateau (the Sof Mountains), the riverside of the Euphrates, the Duluk Forests, and the Burc Forests are convenient. The Sahinbey Burc Lake, the Tahtakopru Barrage Lake, the Hancagiz Barrage Lake, the Alleben Lake and the riverside of the Euphrates are appropriate places or the sportive angling.
The handicrafts have developed well developed in Gaziantep. The traditional works of the coppersmiths and the carpenters have a nation wide fame. Some of the authentic gifts, which can be bought in Gaziantep, are items inlaid with the mother-of-pearl, copper embroidery, golden and silver ornaments, the Antep works and Yemeni. The shopping centers are on the busiest avenues of the city like Mutercim Asim, Gaziler, Suburcu, Kargoz and Sihcan; and in the new settlement places like Degirmicem and Sarigulluk. The other places for shopping are the Municipality Passage, the Big Passage, the Soylemez Passage, The Aleppo Passage, the Syria Passage and the Kurtulus Passage.
The Gaziantep cuisine has a rich menu with its traditional meals. Being famous also with its kebabs, in Gaziantep it should be tasted the Kusbasi Kebab (the tike kebab), the Kiyma kebab, the Eggplant Kebab, the Keme Kebab, and the New World Kebab (in April and May), the Onion Kebab, the Simit Kebab, and the Liver Kebab (Cirtlak). A shopping list should absolutely contain the puree of the pistachio nut, the Gaziantep Baklava, the sweet wurst, pestil (the thin sheet of sun-dried fruit pulp), paprika and other species.
The Salvation Festival, organized on each December 25, is worthwhile to see in Gaziantep.www.gaziantep.bel.tr www.gaziantep.gov.tr