9 Reasons To Visit Gaziantep, the Gastronomy City of Turkey
My 2-month solo travel around Africa is over, and it was amazing!! But before going back to home to Jonathan and Empress the Sailboat, I had to make a quick side trip to Gaziantep, Turkey 🙂
I’ve been invited by Aynur, our good friend and popular Turkish Journalist. We met her last year on a sponsored press trip in Bodrum, Turkey. She treats me like her younger sister and she’s the one who helped Jonathan to get his Sailing Training Certification last year too! ❤
This time, she arranged a private trip for me in Gaziantep, Turkey together with another known Turkish TV presenter and Journalist, Ayce Bukulmeyen. This is my 6th time in Turkey in the last two years. I keep on coming back because of its rich history, the beautiful and warm people, and the delectable cuisine!
They say forget all reasons why it won’t work, and believe the one reason why it will. Just to be sure, I’m giving you NOT JUST ONE but NINE REASONS on why you should make your trip work to Gaziantep, Turkey!! 🙂
1. It’s Only a 90-Minute Flight From Istanbul, Turkey
Yes, It’s THAT close. And you can score RT flights for less than $100!! 🙂
2. It’s a UNESCO Creative Gastronomy City for a Reason
As per UNESCO, Gaziantep is well-known for its long gastronomic history which has been at the core of its cultural identity since the Iron Age. (WOW!) Nowadays, gastronomy remains the main driving force of the local economy. 49% of the enterprises are mainly dedicated to food, including spices, cereals, and dried fruits. In Gaziantep, gastronomy is also synonymous with festivity, intercultural dialogue and social cohesion. (I agree!)
So that you know, there are only 8 Creative Gastonomy Cities in the world!! So Gaziantep is special. They even have a Culinary Museum which you should not miss. It is indeed a culinary hot spot 🙂
3. Their Pistachio Coffee, Cheesecake Pistachio and All Food Made of it are Worth Flying For
I am not a coffee drinker but this coffee is an ultimate exception!!!! It is made of wild pistachios which taste like a unique hot chocolate with sunflower seeds. And it’s just one of the many reasons why I would love to come back to Gaziantep. I even brought home a one year supply of it for Jonathan!! Haha. Oh, and their cheesecake is to die for!! I was so full from the main course but this one for dessert? I couldn’t resist. Try the ones from Facetti Chocolates, so you’ll know what I’m talking about :p
Gaziantep is the Pistachio Capital of Turkey. They produce 100,000 tons of it every year, and it’s all quality produce. So no wonder they make most of their dishes with it haha. So I suggest you try it (or sometimes you are left with no choice) hahaha. Oh, and there’s a Pistachio Park that you can visit too :p
4. If the Philippines have the Balut, Gaziantep have the Baklava
Baklava is a rich, sweet dessert pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts (could be walnut, pistachio, etc.) and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey. (It’s not as odd as our balut though :p) It’s a very popular dessert here and it’s delicious.
The best Baklava can be found in a store called Ayintap and Katmerci Zekeriya Usta. It’s really good I even bought 1 kilo to bring home. I would have brought more if I still had space in my luggage! :p
5. Turkish Food Isn’t Their Only Specialty
Being a culinary haven, they can cook all sorts of international cuisine. I tried their Asian Noodles and New York Cheesecake, and seriously, it tasted exactly the same as if it was made there. Or maybe even better haha. So if you’re craving for any kind of cuisine, you’ll pretty much find it here too!
6. The Zugma Muzik Muzesi and The Gypsy Lady are Worth Seeing
The Zugma Musik Muzesi is the largest Mosaic Museum in the world. The artworks are made with very intricate details that it is just overwhelming. But another thing that makes it more interesting is that these pieces were unearthed during the excavation of the Belkis-Zeugma Archaeological Site. They have preserved it really well and have given it a decent home.
The Gypsy Girl, which is their most famous mosaic is very remarkable. The comparison to the Mona Lisa is accurate – seeing the eyes and the expression on her face all created from stone is just so bewitching. There are English translations of the descriptions, so you’ll learn about the artworks, piece by piece.
7. This Is Where You Can Experience The Authentic Turkish Hammam
Hammam, a Turkish bath, is the Islamic variant of the Roman bath, steambath, sauna, or Russian banya, distinguished by a focus on water, as distinct from ambient steam.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, this is my 6th time in Turkey and every time I visit, I make sure to try at least one hammam. But the one I had here is the most authentic one as it’s not designed for tourist but for locals! I had mine done in a place known only to locals, and I must say that it is such an authentic experience! My body was scrubbed by a 60 y/o woman and it was tough. Haha. Well deserved because I’ve been out on the road for two months. :p
8. There’s a Castle Situated on a Hill Located in the Heart of the City of Gaziantep.
How often can you see something like this? ❤ It’s not a big castle, to be honest. But the architecture is marvelous. It gives you a nice view of the city, and there’s a museum close by where you can learn a lot about the history of Gaziantep. There are nice mosques, architectures, and bazaars on the way to the castle that you’ll love. The best part about it is IT’S FOR FREE 🙂
9. Here in Gaziantep, the Word Shopping is Redefined!
Walk around the stalls in Bakircilar Carsisi, and you’ll be awed by the way shopping transforms into a lovely experience. Here, you’ll witness the copper masters do their craft of transforming anything copper into a handicraft, and see the shoemakers create leather shoes similar to the ones from the movie, Troy (Yes, those were made in Gaziantep!!). You can take a lot of photos here too because they don’t mind. Cheap Turkish meals are also available. 🙂
You can buy silks, coffee, pistachios, coffee pots, kitchenwares, silverwares, handicrafts and all things Turkish which your family and friends will love. I bought so much here to bring home haha it’s really quite addicting! Here’s a tip: Always try to bargain starting at half the price. Who knows you might get lucky? 🙂 It’s hard to get it half the price, but you’ll definitely get it a lot less than the original price. If they don’t give it, walk away. You’ll find something better 🙂
I’ve been to Turkey on six different trips, and I can say that Gaziantep is one of the loveliest places I’ve ever been to! It’s not that touristy, nor is it popular for International Market but I know it’s gonna be one of the best places to visit in Turkey soon enough 🙂 So make sure to book that flight before the tourist influx 😛 ❤
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