Gaziantep (Ottoman Turkish; Ayintap), previously and as still used informally; Antep), is the capital city of Gaziantep Province in Turkey. The city has two central districts under its administration, Şahinbey and Şehitkamil, and the metropolitan area has a a total population of 1,237,874 (2007) and an area of 2,138 km².
Known by the ancient Greeks and the Romans as Doliche or Dolichenus (Turkish: Dülük), and by the Arabs, Seljuks, and Ottomans as ʿAintab or Aïntab, officially named Gaziantep since February 8, 1921, the city today is the sixth largest in Turkey and the largest city in Turkey's Southeastern Anatolia Region.
Gaziantep is the probable site of the Hellenistic city of Antiochia ad Taurum ("Antiochia in the Taurus Mountains"). The ruins of the Doliche (Turkish: Dülük) lie a few kilometers to the north of the city center and they are located in the natural setting of a forest arranged into a recreational area also including picnic and camping facilities.
Gaziantep is one of the most developed provinces of the region and is also one of the oldest, its history reaching as far back as the Hittites. Being the center of pistachio cultivation in Turkey and with its extensive olive groves and vineyards, Gaziantep is one of the important agricultural and industrial centres of Turkey.
In the center of the city stands the Gaziantep Fortress and the Ravanda citadel as reminders of past. The Archaeological Museum, with its important collections from Neolithic and the Hittite ages as well as the Roman and Commagene times, attracts many visitors. A recent addition to the Museum's riches is the Roman mozaics discovered in Zeugma. The surroundings of the city are also full of valuable Hittite remains. The Hasan Süzer House, which has been restored to its original state, now houses the Ethnographical Museum. Yesemek Sculpture Workshop, 30 kilometers south of the town of Islahiye, is one of the world's first of this kind. Some of the other historical remains are the Zeugma (called also Belkıs in Turkish), and Kargamış ruins by the town of Nizip and slightly more to the north, Rumkale.
In the Ottoman period, Aintab was in the eyalet of Aleppo (vilayet after 1864).
According to the Ottoman census of 1543, the Aintab subdivision of the governorate-general of Aleppo contained fifteen tribes, all Turkmen. Much of the Aintab elite was also of Turkmen origin. In the same period, Aintab's demographic makeup stood out from the rest of Aleppo province or other surrounding provinces, since its non-Muslim population was relatively small and uniformly Armenian Christian, while the neighboring governorate-general of Dulkadir (Maraş) was approximately 4,5% non-Muslim and that of Diyarbakır was approximately 15 per cent. At that period Aintab appears to have had no Jewish community, although a Jewish financier, most probably based in Aleppo, figured prominently in the city's economic and administrative life.
According to the Encyclopædia Britannica of 1911, by the end of the 19th century, it had a population of about 45,000, 2/3 of which was Muslim, largely Yörük Türkmens. The presence of a Jewish community can be inferred from the frequency of the surname "Antebi" among Syrian Jews.
Of the Christians, the majority were Armenian. The Gregorian Armenians suffered from the massacres of 1895, but the Armenian Protestants thrived, drawn by the American Mission Board's Central Turkey College. There was a sizable Armenian population in the city before World War i, but after the Armenian Genocide and the Franco-Turkish War between 1919-1921, there were almost no Armenians left. The remains of old Armenian churches may still be found, but they are mostly unmarked.
Gaziantep is famous for its regional specialties: the copper-ware products and "yemeni" slippers, specific to the region, are two examples. The city is an economical center of South Eastern and Eastern Turkey. The number of large industry businesses established in Gaziantep comprise four percent of the Turkish industry in general, and small industries comprise six percent. Also Gaziantep has the largest organized industrial area in Turkey and holds first position export and import goods.
Gaziantep also has a developing tourist industry. Development around the base of the castle upgrades the beauty and accessibility to the castle and to the surrounding copper workshops. New restaurants and tourist friendly businesses are moving into the area. In comparison with some other regions of Turkey, tourists are still a novelty in Gaziantep and the locals make them very welcome. Many of the students studying English language are willing to be guides for tourists.
Gaziantep is one of the leading producers of machined carpets in the world. It exported approximately $700 million USD of machine-made carpets in 2006. There are over 100 carpet facilities in the Gaziantep Organized Industrial Zone.
Gaziantep also produced 60,000 MT of pistachios in 2007. Turkey is third in pistachio production in the world, after Iran and USA.
Gaziantep is well-known for its culinary specialties, which show Kurdish, Arabic and Assyrian in addition to Turkish, influences. The festive food yuvalama (rice and meat rolled into pea-sized balls), the delicious lahmacun (also known as Turkish pizza) and baklava are some examples.
Gaziantep Anatolian High School (founded in 1976) is a public school focusing on English language education.
Gaziantep Science High School is a public boarding high school in Gaziantep, Turkey with a curriculum concentrating on natural sciences and mathematics, and with teaching in Turkish and English.
The main campus of Gaziantep University is located 10 kilometers away from the city center. The institution acquired state university status in 1987, but had already offered higher education since 1973 as an extension campus of the Middle East Technical University.
Gaziantep was made famous in Greece by the Turkish TV serial "Yabancı Damat" (literally The Foreign Groom), known in Greece as Τα σύνορα της Αγάπης (The Borders of Love), a love story between a Greek and a Turk.
Notable people from Gaziantep
Ahmet Ümit - writer, poet
Doğu Perinçek - leader of Worker's Party (Turkey)
Edip Akbayram - singer
Kenan Doğulu - singer
Onat Kutlar - writer, poet
Seza Kutlar Aksoy - children's literature writer
Tiran Nersoyan - Armenian archbishop and deposed Patriarch of Jerusalem
Ülkü Tamer - writer, poet
SU-PERISI - 07.03.2009 - 21:29