Among the locals, the city is informally known by its old name, Antep. The honorific gazi (Turkish for "veteran"), now an official part of the name, was added in 1921 in honour of the fierce resistance of the locals against the French (who ruled the neighbouring Syria between 1920 and 1946) who occupied the city for a number of months in 1921, after the Ottoman Turkey and its allies lost the World War I. G.Antep, which can often be seen on some signs, is a compromise between the shorter, colloquial name, and the longer, official form.
By planeGaziantep Airport. 15 km from city center. You can reach the city center from the airport with the Havaş shuttle service (13 lira, departs after all incoming flights).
By busThe bus station (otogar) of the city is quite a few kilometers out of town. It is connected to city centre by local public buses, which cost 0.95 TL one-way.
Buses from Mersin on the Mediterranean coast in the west take around 5 hours and cost 25 TL, while the service from Urfa in the east takes 4 hours and also costs 25 TL.
Due to ongoing upheaval in nearby Syria as well as major track works in preparation for a new regional rail system, there is as of 2019 no trains to Gaziantep. While the new Gaziray regional rail is expected to be operational by 2021, it is unclear when long distance passenger trains, such as the famous Toros Express from Istanbul will return. International trains from Aleppo and Mosul are cancelled and with no end in sight for the Syrian Civil War nor the turmoil in northern Iraq, they are most likely not to be reinstated in the near future.
The nearest town served by rail is Narlı, about 30 kilometers north, which sees one daily train from Adana.
The city centre is reasonably compact and walkable. There are plenty of local buses if you prefer and of course taxis for tired feet.
phone: +90 342 324-88-09address: Kamil Ocak Caddesi 2, ŞehitkamilThis local archaeological museum, which also has a small cafe inside, is wheelchair accessible.
Gaziantep CastleFirst built by the Romans this castle was a major battle ground during World War I as well as the Turkish War of Independence. The museum showcases this well, even if the talk on national heroes might come off as a little too detailed and boring for non-Turks. The view from the top of the castle is worth the entrance itself.
phone: +90 342 232 6616address: Karagöz Mah, Sadık Dai Sok No:16Interesting museum on traditional Turkish cuisine and tools used for food preparation.
phone: +90 342 325-27-27address: Hacı Sani Konukoğlu BlvOpened in 2011, Zeugma Museum hosts stunning mosaics excavated at the nearby Zeugma (50 km east of Gaziantep), a city of antiquity known for its pontoon bridge crossing the Euphrates, and is now submerged under the waters of the Birecik Dam.
St. Mary's Armenian ChurchGrand old Armenian Church with white stone walls with black checkered edges. The church was converted to Kurtulus Mosque after the Armenian Genocide but architecturally remains nearly intact. Right in the center of the city.
As the centre of a large pistachio-growing region, as the groves along the highway leading to Gaziantep indicate, you can find many stores selling this local product (known in Turkish as Antep Fıstığı, i.e. "Pistachio of Antep", an expression which surpassed the former name of Şam Fıstığı, i.e. "Pistachio of Damascus", used during Ottoman period), both fresh (not very tasty, though) and also in a salty roasted variety (a lot tastier!). Try the spicy nuts.
Antep is known for its food, and meals there are one of the highlights of visiting the region. So enjoy yourself.
phone: +90 342 221 1722address: Bey Mah. Kayacık Sokak No 16, ŞahinbeyTwo stars in city centre with very clean rooms and free Wi-Fi. Staff are exceptionally friendly, although there is not a lot of English.
- Allstar Sevcan Hotel. Three stars in city centre. +90 342 220 66 86.
- Tugcan Hotel. Five stars in the city. +90 342 220 43 23
phone: +90 342 220 4990address: Alabey Mah. Hürriyet Cad, 27, ŞahinbeyIt is a good hotel, in a perfect location. In February 2010, it was possible to bargain the price from the original 45 TL down to 35 TL, including the dinner and a very good breakfast. Obtaining the reduction will depend on the season, the manager, and the ability to bargain.
Hotel EvinNot the most sparkling of hotels, but absolutely acceptable and with a private bathroom, satellite TV and Wi-Fi.
phone: +90 342 220 96 90address: Bey Mah. Kayacık Sok. No 14
Urfa, the next major city to the east, is the obvious destination if you are heading that way. Somewhere around the Euphrates River on the way, you will find that it is time to say goodbye to the 'West', and be welcomed into the world of the 'East'. Even the language of choice on the streets will change, with the Turkish words thinning out more and more towards the east, even if you are still in Turkey.
Halfeti is a picturesque riverside old town in the northeast, off the highway to Urfa, partly inundated under a dam lake on the Euphrates.
However, before taking that direction, you might want to hit up to the north first, to Kahta for a visit to the Mount Nemrut, the summit of which is adorned with huge statues dedicated to the ancient gods.
If ancient statues scattered about the countryside sound interesting, the remote site of Yesemek near İslahiye (21 km southeast of İslahiye, 100 km southwest of Gaziantep) may also be worth checking out. This was a stone quarry used by the Hittites (a Bronze Age nation that was the first to found a state in Anatolia ever) as a statuary workshop. Later, it was abandoned and hence some of the half complete statues never made to the locations that they were intended to stand at first and dot the hillside of Yesemek instead since then.