Gaziantep, known sometimes simply as Antep, is known throughout Turkey as the best producer of Pistachios world over, which may not be an exaggeration. Beyond the traditional tourist activities, this is a city in which you should eat, eat well, and eat a lot.
Baklava here is made with pistachio, as is the dessert künefe, which is shredded filo with cheese and pistachios inside. These two honey desserts are sweet enough to rot your teeth and good enough that you’ll want seconds. Yet Antep’s culinary reputation does not end with sweets; the city is known for having some of the country’s best food, period. Have dinner at the renowned Imam Çağdaş restaurant, open since 1887 and known for their Ali Nazik (kebab served over a dish of smoked eggplant and garlic in yogurt). On the edge of the bazaar district, it’s in the perfect location to take a load off after a day of bargaining for your hand-crafted copperware (a specialty of both Antep and Urfa).
When you’re not working on your waistline, the city offers one of Turkey’s top museums (rivaled only by Antakya’s Archaeology Museum). The museum is home to the traditional Ottoman antiquities, but also a large number of Roman mosaics excavated from Zeugma, which is being submerged by the Euphrates Dam Project.
The Citadel in town is undergoing renovations to become a museum of Antep history, mainly focused on a little-known war with the British and French between the two World Wars. Beware, though historically accurate, the plaques use terms like “martyrized” to describe those who fell victim to the war. At the time of writing the path to the top was closed, but they do have plans to reopen the citadel in the future, once renovation is complete.
The best place to stay in the city is the Anadolu Evleri, a boutique hotel in an old stone home. The rooms surround a relaxing inner courtyard, and are decorated with quirky antique radios, telephones and sewing machines. If you don’t stay in the Evleri, visit the Hasan Suzer Ethnographic Museum, housed in a similar restored house decorated with period furniture.
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