Monday, May 06, 2013

Monday, May 06, 2013

I have been in and around Turkey for the past 7 years, but I have not ventured much to the southeastern part, so I decided to do it this time.  I started my Southeastern Turkey backpacking in Gaziantep.  After landing at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, I stayed for a couple of days and flew into Gaziantep.  This place is quite different from the cities and towns I’ve visited along the Aegean and Mediterranean coast.  For one, it isn’t touristy, most of the guests at the place I was staying at are mostly local businessmen.

Gaziantep is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, placing at no. 5 right after Faiyum of Egypt, estimated to be as old as 3650BC.

This city is popularly known in the old times and at present as Antep and is the 6th most populous city in Turkey with a population of almost 1.4 million people.

In 1921, "Antep" was legally renamed "Gaziantep", meaning "Victorious Antep".  It probably is the site of the Hellenistic city of Antiochia ad Taurum.  The city was ruled by Akkadians, Mitannis, Hittites, Neo-Hittites, Assyrians, Urartians, Babylonians, Persians, Macedonians, Parthians, Commagene, Romans, Byzantines, Sassanids, and Arabs.

I flew into Gaziantep from Istanbul Ataturk airport via the budget airline Onur Air, it was even cheaper than a bus fare at TL62 at shorter travel time.

I took OnurAir’s shuttle bus service from the airport to the city centre costing TL6 and walked my way from where the bus terminated to my hotel – Ugurlu Hotel – along Istasyon Cadessi.

Since Gaziantep is considered to be one of the oldest city in the world, it’s full of sights for visiting travelers - from the castle in the middle of the city, museums, historical bazaars, old mosques, old houses and of course the world's biggest mosaic collections at Zeugma Mosaic Museum.

Gaziantep isn't your usual holiday or vacation destination, it is not located along the coast, so no beaches to boast of.  But I was not on a holiday, I was traveling, and I chose the airport of Gaziantep as it is not far from the places I want to explore on this trip.  So i may as well start discovering the city before proceeding to my succeeding itineraries.

In the end, Gaziantep did not fail me with its splendor, so many points of interest, teeming in culture and it's not touristy at all.

School boys in Gaziantep.

Transport from the city centre to main bus terminal (Otogar)
The bus terminal is a bit out of the city, about half an hour travel from the city centre and bus fare is TL1.50.  The bus to the otogar is passing along Istasyon Caddesi, I’ve waited for it along the main road where everyone else is waiting almost opposite the Cumhuriyet Meydani (park).

Gaziantep Otogar (main bus terminal)
It’s a big terminal, inside are several bus companies offices, where you can buy your ticket to almost all destinations in Turkey, either the big modern buses or minibuses or dolmush.  The terminal is loaded with several stores selling foodstuff and souvenirs, restaurant, and hundreds of seatings for waiting passengers.  I took the bus from this terminal to Midyat.


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