Gaziantep: the past and the future living together

You can start your visit to the south east at the region’s fastest developing city, Gaziantep. The old name of the city was Aintab. This was later changed to Antep, becoming Gaziantep after the War of Independence, the city being honoured with the prefix “Gazi” – meaning “veteran-war hero” – for the great resistance the city’s inhabitants showed when Antep was besieged during the war. First let us begin by taking a general tour of the city. The best place to start is Kudret Kayasi (Power Rock) in the historical citadel. The citadel, believed to date back to Hittite times, has 26 towers and 1,200 metres of walls. The towers were constructed at different times throughout history. Unfortunately, the mosque and some 40 historic houses in the citadel are not in a good condition. In order to see the old houses of Gaziantep you should go to the district of Şahinbey. In the narrow winding streets houses show the traditional lifestyle of the region, with high walls around their large courtyards. The courtyards used to play an important part in the inhabitants of the old houses. In the long hot summer night’s food would be eaten there, lingering discussions held and, when the talking and eating was done, the home owners would even sleep in there. Just as in many south eastern cities, in Gaziantep the traces of traditional and modern life are evident next to each other. Workshops for felt making, copper beating and polishing and many other traditional handicrafts, conducted by master craftsmen using techniques that are centuries old, are in the shadows of large factories equipped with the latest technology.

Duluk – Dolichenos
Dülük, 12 km to the north of Antep, is now used as a picnic area. Here was the site of the ancient city of Antiochia at Tavrum. From evidence found on the walls of the Şarklı Mağara (The Oriental Cave) it has been determined that history’s first system of counting was used here. Items from the Paleothic era, such as fossils and arrowheads, have been unearthed in the cave. In the village and the surrounding forests, many rock and underground graves were discovered. One large necropolis was also uncovered but the temple where the Hittites worshipped the God Teshub has vanished. Another point of interest, at least for young men, is the tomb of Dülük Baba (Father), much visited by those who want to get married.

The Yesemek Open Air museum

The Yesemek Open Air Museum is located on the İslahiye side of Karatepe (Black Hill). There are more than 300 statues scattered across the wide area that comprises the museum, allowing you to wander past a giant sphinx, statues of gods and of different shaped creatures. You can see all details the statue carving process, from the rock piece being cut to its being worked. At excavations conducted at the Tilmen Höyük (Tumulus), 14 km from Yesemek, ceramics dating from 3,000 BC have been unearthed. You can also see the ruins of the palace and walls at the site.

The Archaeology and Ethnography Museums

The Gaziantep Archaeology Museum has always held a rich collection and attracted many visitors. However, both the collection and the level of interest have increased with the addition of a new hall to house relics, especially mosaics, from the ancient settlement of Zeugma. The eye-catching mosaics were unearthed from Zeugma as part of an international campaign to save as many relics as possible from the rising waters of the Birecik Dam. The museum has also on display toys from former times and a motorbike claimed to have been used by the famed British spy T.E Lawrence, better known to the world as Lawrence of Arabia. The Hasan Süzer Ethnography Museum, housed in an old konak (mansion) in the Eyüboğlu district, provides visitors with an insight into the lifestyles of the region.

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