Pearl of the east Gaziantep


57_1470AJET_KAPAK_Gaziantep has recently become aware of its tourism potential. Its target is to host 1 million tourists a year. Besides Gaziantep’s ancient city of Zeugma, the rest of the province is abundant with flour, butter and sugar – all one needs to whip up a delicous plate of Turkish Halva.

As a country that prides its tourism potential, Turkey needs to seriously reconsider its current number of visiting tourists each year. “Don’t we deserve more?” Rather than settling for the status quo, why not put our heads together and devise a plan that will bring Turkey’s potential as a top tourism destination to center stage? In my opinion, this can be achieved by placing responsibility in the hands of local authorities. Turkey is a very fortunate country, with its unprecedented beauty and a rich history that has made an impact on everyone, past and present. There are several countries in the world, and even city states that bring in more tourists than we do, yet they don’t even possess a tenth of what we have. Meanwhile, one Turkish city alone is capable of achieving this; and that, I would say, could very likely be Gaziantep.

Gaziantep is a fascinating city full of hard working people, known as the pearl of the east, due to its industry growth and trade volume. It also has a huge potential in every field of tourism… cultural, food, nature, faith tourism. The wealth that can be diversified and augmented makes it possible for this city to host more than 1 million people, whereas it is only hosting half this figure today. Activities and promotions are aiming to turn this city into one of the tourism capitals. Although steps have been taken towards this goal, we may need some professional help to pick up the pace. We need people who understand the difference between promotion and marketing.

 The minds that work towards increasing this tourism potential have been designing many small souvenirs, ranging from magnets to snow globes, which are simple, but high volume-selling goods that when met with our own values, exhibit originality. Why not have a bit of variety?
For example, we can create games or books that are based on our folktales and mythological heroes. If you ask me, success begins with small steps. Not that any of these haven’t been thought of or done before, but certain things are  definitely missing.

The historical significance of Gaziantep is so great that its fame is accredited in all corners of the earth. However, the important point here is the number of tourists that are coming to see these beautiful sites. Why doesn’t a museum that exhibites the most valuable mosaics in the world receive group visitors asdo some European cities? During the culture tourism symposium organized by TURSAB in Gaziantep this year, these questions were raised and discussed. Hundreds of thousands of tourists who arrive in our country for the “sea, sun and sand”, after checking in,only leave their hotels to catch their return flights back home. As a result of years of promoting the ‘all inclusive holiday package’, cultural tourism was pushed aside. Now, we are working on promoting cultural tourism.

In order to promote a city on a global scale, the universal language must be spoken. Historical, cultural, and natural assets must be supported with events, and the city should be listed among those places ‘you definitely should see’. Otherwise, one cannot really experience the delights of Gaziantep without tasting them. Behind these delights, there are considerable efforts and knowledge. The masters of cuisine from Gaziantep pay great attention to the ingredients they use, and even the type of utensils and pots and pans they use . Both the fame and taste of these delightful dishes are in the skill, attention, and expertise of the master chefs. Just as the meals prepared by the master chefs are unparallel, so are the crafts of the artisans. This explains why the creations of the masters who made the mosaics found on the houses on the shore of the Euphrates thousands of years ago, are still alive and appreciated today.
The city of Zeugma, founded by a general of Alexander the Great in 300 B.C., then given the name ‘Seleucia of Euphrates’, became the center of importance for architectural activities. Having undergone the order by the Romans, the city became overflowing with wealth. The construction of the villas looking out onto the Euphrates began during this period.
With its population of 80 thousand people, Zeugma became one of the biggest cities in the world. Its importance was not only due to its large population;. Zeugma was situated on one of the major trade routes. This is why it also became known as the city of bridges, hence its name, which means bridge.

Construction of the Birecik Dam began in 1985 and was completed in 2000. The dam, which generates 1.2 percent of Turkey’s electricity, overshadowed Zeugma.  and the ancient city’s human history was on the verge of being buried alive. When the dam began holding water, everyone was in support of archaeological digs to rescue the city. Everyone in the world had heard the cries of Zeugma, but it was not possible to see the picture from far away. In the foreground though, there was a monstrous damn. No one would ever be able to see the hidden treasures of Zeugma engulfed by the waters of the dam. However, two thousand years ago, people had turned to the Euphrates, as it flowed calmly by the front of their homes; they had considered water to be their source of life.

The Zeugma Archaeology Museum, next door to  the Gaziantep Archaeology Museum, was opened in 2005. Houme to Turkey’s largest and the world’s second largest mosaic collection, Zeugma contains 2000 artifacts from the excavation.

Had the excavation been completed, the Zeugma Museum, which has an exhibition area of 3,500 square meters, would have probably been the largest mosaic museum in the world. Zeugma works, which consist of 550 square meters of mosaics and 120 square meters of frescoes and statues, are the ones that were retrieved speedily from the dam. The city has world’s biggest seal collection, which is on display in  the museum.
Gaziantep was inhabited even in pre-historic periods, and has always managed to be a center of culture and commerce. In our late history  Gaziantep actualized major commercial and industrial advances; tourism investments also gained importance. All these developments aim to make Gaziantep a locomotive city. Gaziantep, whose cultural significance has increased with the establishment of the Archaeological Museum, is no longer simply known for its pistachios and kebabs. This city that is valued for its architecture, museums, handicrafts, gastronomic dishes and cosmopolitan structure, caters to all areas of tourism.

 frm :  AnadoluJet Magazine – November 2009

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One Response to “Pearl of the east Gaziantep”

  1. Waldo Ridgel diyor ki:

    Enjoyed reading this post, thanks a ton.

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