The town that tourism forgot.

Gaziantep Travel Blog

 › entry 139 of 251 › view all entries
Dionysus in tile. Gaziantep Museum.
We are clearly off the tourist track here in Gaziantep. Our first visit today was to the town’s top attraction, the Gaziantep Museum, and the only other visitors were swarms of cellphone-camera wielding school groups (in two varieties: loud and extra loud). The place was full for sure, but there were no foreigners, and not many other adults, for that matter. This place is such a treasure trove, I can’t help but think someday soon it will be “discovered” by the outside world. Come quick!

The main draw here are the Roman-era mosaics (decorative tile work), recently excavated from a nearby archeological site called Zeugma. (Sadly, the Zeugma site is being submerged by a man-made lake due to a damming project.) The mosaics are incredibly detailed -- they look like paintings, from a distance -- and most are in pristine condition.
Roman-era mosaics at the Gaziantep Museum. The blurs are people walking in front of my shot!
The mosaics once lined the baths and fountain of high-level Romans. Pieces of fresco from the original walls and stone pillars have also been found, and reassembled at the museum. It is incredible -- a brief glimpse into the lives (and homes) of the Roman Empire. The most famous piece, which has become the icon of Zeugma, is called “Gypsy Girl.” It is but a small but beautiful section of a large mosaic that is now otherwise gone (lost or looted… I don’t know). She has a very direct stare and a bright look... a real piece of art, fashioned from chips of stone. Wonderful. Highly recommended.

Next, we walked to a more modern shopping area but found nothing to interest us, so we went to a park (I don’t know the name of it). It shows on the map as a thick band of green that cuts through the city.
The Work Room. Gaziantep's Ethnographic Museum.
It also shows a wide blue line, which we took to mean there was a nice river with waterfront, but it was only a sad little stream carried along in a wide brick trough. It was super hot out, and the park was shady, so it was a good break.

Next up on our list was the Ethnographic Museum, located in the historic district. When we arrived, they had to unlock the place for us because we were the first (and maybe only!) visitors. The museum is one of Gaziantep’s historic stone houses, restored, and decorated with period furniture. Some truly scary-looking mannequins were set up to mimic every day life, and every time we walked into a room I jumped five feet because they startled the bejeesus out of me. Although the mannequins were a little weird, it was a beautiful house and really nice to see.
Lady tending her sheep. Skins.


We had planned to go to the Citadel at this point, but I was done in by the heat. We went back to the room to experience 45 chilly minutes with AC on full blast, then ventured out again. We were foiled though, by the renovation work being done at the Citadel. It was closed, and there were no signs indicating when it might open again. We had to make do with admiring it from the outside.

At this point, we were just counting the minutes until we could eat at Imam Cagdas again. We had the most amazing meal there yesterday and hoped to recreate the experience. Finally it was time to go, and when we walked in our waiter from yesterday recognized us and welcomed us like old friends. I ordered Ali Nazik again (pureed eggplant topped with garlicy yogurt and drizzled with butter), this time without the butter, and it was delicious as before.
Have a piece! Have four!
Steve tried something new, but we can’t remember the name of it. It was cubed lamb in a stewed tomato sauce, and he said it was wonderful. The puffy bread they served with the meal was to die for, and once again, I ate waaaay too much! At the end of our meal, we asked for a teeny tiny piece of baklava, but of course they can’t do that, so we ended up with four small pieces. We finished it all. Omph.

We then attempted to “walk it off” by strolling through the bazaar. We turned a different way than before and happened upon an even cuter and quainter section than we found the first day. The shops were stuffed with merchandise (pots, pans, jewelry, spices, nuts, decorative knick knacks, etc), and old guys were playing backgammon out front. I REALLY wanted to sit in on a game but my timing was off (they were in the middle of a game), plus Steve said the rules are different here so that may not have worked out.
Shop in the Gaziantep bazaar.
Just as well, I’d hate to embarrass an old guy by whooping his butt in backgammon, ha ha.

And that pretty much concludes our visit to Gaziatep… tomorrow we will fly to Istanbul. I definitely recommend this place for a one- or two-day stop. It’s got a great vibe and friendly people, and of course… Imam Cagdas, and the best baklava to be found on earth.  

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Dionysus in tile. Gaziantep Museum.
Dionysus in tile. Gaziantep Museum.
Roman-era mosaics at the Gaziantep…
Roman-era mosaics at the Gaziante…
The Work Room. Gazianteps Ethnogr…
The Work Room. Gaziantep's Ethnog…
Lady tending her sheep. Skins.
Lady tending her sheep. Skins.
Have a piece! Have four!
Have a piece! Have four!
Shop in the Gaziantep bazaar.
Shop in the Gaziantep bazaar.
Close-up of the mosiacs.
Close-up of the mosiacs.
Detail of the mosiacs.
Detail of the mosiacs.
Terrible photo, but it kind of sho…
Terrible photo, but it kind of sh…
Mosaic floor and other stone work …
Mosaic floor and other stone work…
Large mosaic at Gaziantep Museum.
Large mosaic at Gaziantep Museum.
Detail.
Detail.
Frescoes and mosaics from Zeugma, …
Frescoes and mosaics from Zeugma,…
A scale model of the Zeugma archeo…
A scale model of the Zeugma arche…
Mosaics at Gaziantep Museum.
Mosaics at Gaziantep Museum.
Richly detailed mosaic at Gaziante…
Richly detailed mosaic at Gaziant…
Roman-era mosaic floor at the Gazi…
Roman-era mosaic floor at the Gaz…
The Gypsy Girl. This image is used…
The Gypsy Girl. This image is use…
Im no expert, but this looks OLD.
I'm no expert, but this looks OLD.
You can take the lady out of the c…
You can take the lady out of the …
Minaret.
Minaret.
The raging river of Gaziantep. Ha …
The raging river of Gaziantep. Ha…
The unassuming entrance to Gaziant…
The unassuming entrance to Gazian…
The courtyard of the old stone hou…
The courtyard of the old stone ho…
Really old bike, in some need of r…
Really old bike, in some need of …
Gazianteps Ethnographic Museum.
Gaziantep's Ethnographic Museum.
Scary characters at Gazianteps Et…
Scary characters at Gaziantep's E…
Back at the hotel. Peek a boo!
Back at the hotel. Peek a boo!
Dinner at Imam Cagdas.
Dinner at Imam Cagdas.
Different varieties of baklava.
Different varieties of baklava.
Buttery, sticky, Baklava, mmmm.
Buttery, sticky, Baklava, mmmm.
Imam Cagdas restaurant. Popular al…
Imam Cagdas restaurant. Popular a…
Gaziantep shop.
Gaziantep shop.
Gaziantep bazaar.
Gaziantep bazaar.
Gaziantep
photo by: Memo