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Gaziantep

GEOGRAPHICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Gaziantep is located in the Southeast Anatolia Region, adjacent to the Mediterranean Region of Turkey. To the east lies Şanlıurfa, to the northeast Adıyaman, to the northwest Kahramanmaraş, to the west Osmaniye, to the southwest Hatay, and to the south Kilis and the border with neighbouring Syria.

The altitude of the province averages 850 m above sea level, with a range of 250 m to 1,250 m. The city lies on the line where the continental and Mediterranean climates meet. The southern part of the region is governed by a Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Mountains cover 52%, plains cover 27% of the region.

Gaziantep is bordered on one side by the mountains of Sof, Sam and Dülükbaba, offshoots of the Southeast Taurus Mountains which descend to the Euphrates Valley, and to the west, the mountains of Ganibaba and Sarıkaya. Elsewhere, the plains of İslahiye, Barak, Araban, Yavuzeli and Oğuzeli create undulating tracts of land. The main waterways of the region are the Euphrates, which separates Gaziantep from Şanlıurfa to the east, the Afrin, Nizip, and Merziman brooks, and the Karasu and Alleben streams. The Gaziantep region has become a veritable lake district with Birecik and Karkamış Barrage lakes, Zülfikar and Burç ponds in the centre of the province, and Çakmak, Nogaylar, Balıkalan and Gözlühöyük ponds in the district of Nurdağı.

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

Gaziantep, considered one of the oldest cities in the world, is surrounded by ancient settlements and historical structures dating from prehistoric times up until the present day. Remains of dwellings from the Palaeolithic, Neolithic, and Chalcolithic periods and Bronze Age can be found in this region, but most historical structures are from the Hittite, Roman and Ottoman periods. The Median, Assyrian, Persian, Macedonian, Byzantine and Arab-Islamic civilizations also contributed in turn to the region’s history. Today it is possible to see clearly the traces of each era. As a result of research in the region, the archaeological remains of 120  prehistoric settlements have been located. Excavations at ancient settlements such as Tilmenhöyük, Sakçagözü-Coba Höyük, Gedikli-Karahöyük, Tilbeşar Höyük, and Dülük have revealed valuable prehistoric artefacts. Excavations at Yesemek, Zincirli Höyük and Karkamış have created a centre for important findings from the Late Hittite period.

Tilmenhöyük was a settlement area from the Chalcolithic period until the Iron Age; artefacts dating back 7,000 years have been found at Tilbeşar Höyük; and Coba Höyük, near Sakçagözü, have revealed important information about farming 6,000 years ago.

During the time of the Hittite Empire, Gaziantep and its environs became a place of significant importance. The region lay at the centre of the North Syrian road network, linking the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia, and as such became an area of tension between the Assyrians, Babylonians and Hittites. From the 16th century BC, the region was governed under the Hittite kingdom, and during the 13th century BC, the Late Hittite period, cities were established in the vicinity of Zincirli and Sakçagözü. During this period, Yesemek was an important centre for sculpture production, distributing sculptures throughout the kingdom. Karkamış was a significant centre for the cult of the mother goddess Kubaba, influencing the whole of Anatolia and the subsequent Greek and Roman civilizations.

Following the Hittites, the region passed into the hands of the Assyrians, Aramaeans, and then, in 613-612 BC, to the Medes. The area was ruled by the Persians and was later taken by the Macedonian King Alexander the Great during his Asian Campaign. After the death of Alexander the Great, the region came under the rule of the Seleucid kingdom but from 64 BC it became part of the Roman Empire. Although Roman remains can be found throughout the region, the most extensive data has been gathered from the ruins of the ancient cities of Zeugma and Doliche. The 2nd and 3rd century mosaics revealed during excavations at Zeugma provide important information regarding Roman city life. The Maenad mosaic, known as the Gypsy Girl, found at Zeugma has become a symbol of the region’s Roman heritage. Items are added to the wealth of findings at Zeugma on a daily basis. Whilst these findings have earned the city the renown of housing the world’s largest mosaic museum, the ancient city of Zeugma also represents Gaziantep on the World Cultural Heritage temporary list. 

From the start of the 7th century AD, the city of Gaziantep changed hands frequently between the Muslim Arabs and Byzantines. It was ruled by the Umayyads, Abbasids, Seljuks, Mamluks and Ottomans and was part of the Crusades and the Mongol invasion. Under Byzantine rule, during the caliphate of Umar, the Islamic army took possession of the region and in the year 639, the people of the area accepted the Islamic faith. In 1071, after the Battle of Manzikert, a Turkish state linked to the Seljuk Empire was established in the region. However, the city fell in 1270 during the Mongol invasion and it came under the control of the Dulkadir Dynasty and the Mamluks. After Yavuz Sultan Selim’s stand against the Mamluks in 1516 at the Battle of Mercidabık, the entire area became part of the Ottoman Empire. During this period numerous mosques, madrasas, hans and hamams were built in the developing city. After the signing of the Mudros Armistice on 30 October 1918, Gaziantep, as an administrative district of the province of Aleppo, was first seized by the British in Aleppo, and later, when the British withdrew from the city on 29 October 1919, it was taken over by the French. The people of Antep made history by fighting a heroic battle against the occupying forces for 11 months, a battle in which thousands of men, under the leadership of Şahinbey, died for their country. This unrivalled defence earned the city the title “Gazilik” (war veteran), declared on 8 February 1921, and Gaziantep became a symbol of the fighting spirit of the people.

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The contents of this publication, which has been prepared by the 2013 Economic Development Financial Support Programme of the Silk Road Development Agency does not represent the views of the Silk Road Development Agency and/or the Ministry of Development. Sole responsibility for the content lies with Neva Bilgi Teknolojileri Medya ve Danışmanlık Hizmetleri San. Tic. Ltd. Şti.

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Zeugma Tour and Alternative

  • Zülfü Siyah Tomb

    To visit the shrine of the female saint called Zülfü Siyah, from the Zeugma Mosaic Museum travel 20 km towards the east, and then northeast on the Nizip road to Küllü Village, where the shrine is situated on the hill called Ziyaret Tepesi.

    The entrance to the single-domed shrine is on the east side, via an arched door measuring 1.50 x 0.65 m. The shrine has a single, stone-masonary chamber containing a concrete sarcophagus. 

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  • Salkım Stone Bridge

    Continuing 13 km towards the northeast, you will come to Salkım Village.

    Salkım is a pleasantly green village, and the Stone Bridge is over the river of the same name: the Salkım Çayı. The bridge dates from the Mamluk period and has three pointed arches – a main arch in the center, with a smaller, relieving arch on either side.  It is still in use today.

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  • Adaklı Bridge

    Adaklı Bridge is surrounded by walnut trees in the green area in the west of Salkım’s  Adaklı District.

    To get there, go towards the northwest. The bridge is also called the “Pasha Bridge”. It is built of smooth-cut ashlar, and has two pointed arches. It is paved with asphalt and in current use. 

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  • Adaklı Church

    Adaklı Church is west of the Adaklı Bridge. The remains cover 30 m2 and are surrounded by pistachio trees on a hill.  It will take you about 10 minutes to walk up the hill, which is not very steep.

    The church is built of cut stone in the shape of a cross. The roof, and north and northeast walls have completely collapsed, but the west and south walls are intact. There is a late-period, east-west lying grave north of the church. 

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  • Alahacı Mausoleum

    Our route continues to the north. The Alahacı Mausoleum is located in the old village cemetery, 2 km along the paved road linking the villages of Güder and Alahacı.

    You will see the partly collapsed dome of the mausoleum at the end of the cemetery. It is square, measuring 4 x 4 metres x 5 m high. The interior is oval, and the remaining plaster on the walls is painted with red triangular and other geometric designs. The entrance is on the east side. The tomb was built of cut stone blocks erected on a foundation of irregular stones of mixed size. The inside corners have 3-tiered muqarnas – a type of corbel used as a decorative device.  The monument has suffered considerable damage from the elements in recent years.

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  • Observation Hill Facility

    Having visited some places of interest in the town, the final stop on our tour is about 10 km to the northeast: the ruins of ancient Zeugma. On the way, you can stop at Seyir Tepesi near the Birecik Dam to get a view of the river basin from a different angle.

    Part of the ancient city now lies beneath the water of the Birecik Dam Reservoir. The dam, the reservoir lake and the hydro-electric plant can all be seen from Seyir Tepe.  Inside the facility building are pictures of artifacts found at the Zeugma excavation site. 

    Although so close to Zeugma, this facility is not within the archaeological protected zone. The picnic area (called Belkıs Kavunlu Mesire Alanı) before Seyir Tepesi is a pleasant place for a picnic with a view of the lake.

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