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Gaziantep and Kahramanmaras

 

To travel along Turkey's southern border, take the highway which connects Gazi Antep, SanliUrfa and mardin.htm to Syria and Iraq.

Gazi Antep, located on a wide and fertile plain cultivated with extensive olive groves and vineyards, produces a variety of agricultural crops. It is especially known throughout Turkey for its excellent pistachios. Industry also contributes to the local economy. The 36 towers of the city's fortress were originally constructed in the Justinian era and were later rebuilt by the Seljuks. The Archaeology Museum has important items from Neolithic, Hittite and Roman times. The Hasan Suzer House, from the turn of the century, has been beautifully restored and houses the Ethnographical Museum. The artisans of Gazi Antep specialize in copperware and furniture inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The kitchens produce some of the best lahmacun, a delicious pizza topped with spicy meat and heros,and baklava, a honey and nut pastry.

West of Gazi Antep, the Duluk forest makes a good day's outing, or you can stay overnight in the campsite. In the woods, stroll through the Duluk archaeological site which dates back to prehistoric times. A Hittite sculpting school was centered in Yesemek, where the 200 works of art on view reveal the beauty of Hittite art. Next to the Syrian border, on the banks of the Firat River, Kargamis, once a late Hittite capital, is another important archaeological site. The site's finds, including immense bas-reliefs, have been moved to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.

The ruins of Belkis (Zeugma) are on the borders of Nizip.It has a mound which has been turned into a citadel.The mosaics from the Roman period are well worth seeing.

Kilis situated near the Turkish-Syrian border enroute to Gazi Antep is an especialy charming area, dotted with vineyards and olive groves on all sides. It was orginaly known as Kilizi (mentioned in the Assyrian archives)and was a very important town in ancient days for frontier commerce. It is still famous today for its cotton, Silk weaving and leather products. Several interesting sites in Kilis include the 16th century Canbolat Bey Complex ancient 15th century baths a dervish room dating from the 19th century, the 14th century Ulu Mosque and the 16th century Akcurum Mosque.

Near Kilis there are several sites worth seeing.Enroute from Kilis to Gazi Antep is Ravanda Castle, constructed by me Crusaders and restored by the Mamelouks. Kuzeyne (Kuzuini) located 5kilo meters northeast of Kilis resembles an open-air museum with its castle and mosaics. Many diverse cultures settled in this area, including: Hittite, Roman and Byzantine. This is a perfect piace for archaeclogy buffs because there are many ruins here. Korus (Kiriz) is 20kilometers east of Kilis where an ancient Roman center with castle ruins, a temple and theater are definitely worth seeing.

In the 12th century B.C., Kahraman Maras was the capital of the Hittite state of Gurgum. A massive citadel built in the 2nd century B.C. houses the city's museum and its good collection of Hittite sculptures. Other sites include the 15th century UIu Mosque and the Tas Medrese. The ice-cream of Kahraman Maras, thickened with gum arabic and beaten with a wooden paddle, is known throughout Turkey.

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