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Known as a city of spices, ancient mosaics, amazing culinary and epic history, Gaziantep is one of the most interesting cities in Turkey. Gaziantep has a long and a very rich history and in fact, Antep means "King's Land" in the Hittite language. The city's history dates back to the 4th millennium BC.! The fusion of many civilizations throughout the history marked the city in every possible way and it's visible in every of its corner. In addition, it's the city of the copperware and Yemeni sandals, as well as it has the most beautiful olive groves, vineyards, and pistachio orchards! Gaziantep is also the city of Baklava! So, if you want to explore Gaziantep, here is your guide!
Zeugma was the name of the ancient city, which was located in a small village called Belkıs, near Gaziantep. This city was founded by Alexander the Great in 300 BC. . Its name "Zeugma" comes from the ancient greek word meaning "bridge", since this ancient city is located near a river which functions like a bridge. Zeugma was also ruled by the Roman Empire in 64 BC. . During this time, the city gained a great importance due to its strategic location. The city was on the famous trade road, the Silk Road, which made it perfect for a cultural fusion! People who lived there had left amazing mosaics, Roman baths, villages, gymnasium and many more!
You can find all these magnificent mosaics and parts of baths, villas and gymnasiums in the Zeugma Mosaic Museum! You can find mosaics such as the ones of Dionysus, Oceanus and Tethys with sea creatures, the mythological Minos bull, the marble figure of Apollo, the mosaic pavement with nine figures depicting Achilles being taken by Odysseus to fight in the Trojan War, the bronze statue of Mars and many more!
But the world's most famous mosaic is, of course, the Gypsy Girl! In fact, in this 30,000 square meter museum, this mosaic is considered to be among the most famous pieces of work! The Gypsy Girl has attracted visitors from around the world from the moment that the museum opened, in 2011. With her messy hair, her strong cheekbones and haunting eyes, the Gypsy girl became the "face of Gaziantep" in a very short time.
The Gaziantep Toy museum, aka "Gaziantep Oyuncak Müzesi", is located in one of the oldest houses of this ancient city. This museum displays toys from the 1700s till today. The toys are incredible, but the house which hosts this museum, looks like it came out of a fairytale. This museum also displays the "Children of the World" which are actually children mannequins representing 24 different countries, dressed according to their culture and their architectural landmarks! With this feature, Gaziantep Toy Museum is one of a kind. While there, you can also check out Pinocchio, Mickey Mouse, Snow White and the seven dwarfs, the Laterna Magica, the Doll House and many more!
The Gaziantep Hammam museum, aka "Gaziantep Hamam müzesi", is located in a building which is one of the most beautiful examples of the Ottoman hammam/Turkish bath architecture and culture! This "Külliye" was built by Lala Mustafa Pasha in 1577 to be served as a Turkish bath. In 2015, this historical hammam was turned into a museum so that the bathing culture could be preserved. Inside this museum, you can find sections of cold and warm waters, as well as utensils that were used to bath and wax figures!
The Gaziantep War museum, aka "Gaziantep Savaş müzesi" was opened to honor Gaziantep for its resistance to its enemies, during the Turkish War of Independence. The building that hosts this museum has caves that display the epic stories of the war against the English and French soldiers, that had at that time invaded Gaziantep. Little side note: Gaziantep was known as Antep but due to its heroic resistance during the war era, the "Gazi" word which means veteran in Turkish has been added to its name.
The Gaziantep Atatürk remembrance museum, aka "Gaziantep Atatürk anı müzesi", was opened to honor Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who visited Gaziantep after witnessed the epic resistance during the war. In this traditional Gaziantep house, you can find lots of mementos of Atatürk.
The Emine Göğüş Gaziantep Culinary Museum, aka "Emine Göğüş Gaziantep mutfak müzesi", was built in 1904 to praise the culinary of Gaziantep. In here, you can check out the kitchen utensils that have been used in the past, as well as old recipes from the Antep cuisine with pictures. Gaziantep's cuisine is the only one in the world called by its city's name. If you are interested in traditional and delicious recipes, you should definitely check this place out!
Baklava is one of the most known deserts in the whole world and Gaziantep is specifically famous for its baklava. In this ancient city, pistachio grows everywhere, as a result the city is the perfect to make baklava! Millet Han baklava museum, aka "Millet Han baklava müzesi", was built in 1562. In this typical Ottoman house, you can watch how the first class baklava is made and of course, try it!
With its world famous culinary, Gaziantep offers the most delicious desserts, as well as tasty kebabs! The most common and yet delicious kebab is the Antep Kebabı, which is made with spicy meat. So, you have to drink Ayran (yogurt drink) while eating it to cool yourself down! You can also order Lahmacun which is minced, marinated, spiced meat with minced vegetables served in an extremely thin but crunchy dough. You can also try the Beyran soup in any time of the day (breakfast time is the most common), which is a spicy lamb soup with rice. We all know that Gaziantep is famous for its baklava, but while there you also have to try Katmer, which is a thin phyllo pastry stuffed with goat cheese or cream, pistachios, and sugar. The best place to eat katmer is definitely at "Akşam Simit". You can eat kebabs and lahmacun anywhere in Gaziantep, since the best chefs of the city can be found all over the place. The coffee is also a big part of the people's life in here, so don't forget to drink Menengiç Turkish coffee , which is made from terebinth berry that gives it a nutty flavor :) .
One of the biggest zoos in Turkey, Gaziantep Zoo hosts 264 species and 6,814 animals! Inside this zoo, you will see a huge bird pavilion and an aquarium! From leopards to flamingoes, you can find almost every animal species! This huge zoo also has a great cafeteria and a picnic area.
From spices to famous coppersmith, lots of traditional goodies can be found in Gaziantep. In fact, this Ottoman bazaar looks like the Grand Bazaar in İstanbul . If you want to have a cultural tour, here is a great place to do that. You can also buy nargile (hookah pipe), yemeni (local leather shoes), amazing fabrics and many more!
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