What to bring back from Antep?
One cannot visit Gaziantep and return empty-handed, and that is why we’ve compiled a list of gifts that would be wise to bring back after a trip to this southeastern Turkish city. The list includes copperware, items inlaid with mother of pearl, and of course, some of those famous Antep flavors.
1. In the markets of Gaziantep, you can find all sorts of copper “cezve” (traditional little long-handled pots for making Turkish coffee), pots and pans, samovars and other accessories. All of the items you can find here are handcrafted, and you will often find that as you make your purchases you will hear the sounds of hammers pounding copper and other metals in the background.
2. You can find “kutnu” (a fabric made from cotton or a blend of cotton and silk) almost everywhere. In fact, some of the shops in the historic marketplace in Gaziantep are devoted to this special kind of Ottoman fabric. There are the more classic kutnu colors, like red, yellow and green, as well as dark blues, deep olive green, pomegranate flower red and so on. The most important point in purchasing kutnu is to make sure it was handmade. If threads are not hanging from both edges of the fabric, it was likely handmade.
3. These days, Antep residents are busy researching how they can produce greener pistachios. But we think the most important factor is their taste, and of course that their shells be slightly open, that they be full and that they be salted perfectly. Pistachio growers say it is the soil that these nuts grow in that determines their true taste. But no matter the real reason behind their flavor, you will definitely regret it if you don’t purchase pistachios when you visit Gaziantep. The price generally ranges between TL 20-25 per kilo.
4. Gaziantep is also famous for its desserts, with many of its sweets shops expanding and becoming well-known brands. It doesn’t matter which one you go into, though, the baklava around here is always absolutely delicious. Since baklava without syrup on it stays fresher longer, it‘s a good idea to purchase a few packages to give as gifts. Don’t forget to heat lightly before eating. In Gaziantep, people eat baklava warm.
5. Sumac, hot pepper, red pepper, black pepper, cumin, mint, oregano and many other spices are abundant in Antep. The streets of Antep offer up the aromas of all these spices and more. We don’t know if it’s because of the air or the water, but whatever it is, the spices here smell different than in other places. The shop owners trust the quality of their spices so much that they never sell them without first urging customers to taste them. And once you taste them, it’s impossible not to buy. Don’t forget to get some for the kitchens of your loved ones while getting some for yourself.
6. Since the weather is so hot and dry here, in the summertime especially, you can dry every kind of fruit and vegetable you want. And in fact, dried vegetables and fruit occupy a very important spot in the food culture of this city, which is why you can find them everywhere. Some of the top sellers in this category are eggplant, squash, grapes and apples. Another note: Grapes are very popular in the city as well with grape vines being everywhere.
7. You can find all sorts of beautiful decorative items for your home in the historic markets here like chests, tables, chairs and trays all inlaid with mother of pearl. Keep in mind that some of the pieces that require more handiwork can be quite expensive. For example, you might pay around TL 2,500 for a coffee table and two chairs.
8. Silverwork is also quite widespread as a craft throughout Gaziantep. Some of the ancient silver pieces dug out from the ancient sites of Karkamış, Dülük and Belkıs have inspired the basis for silverwork in Gaziantep. And in fact, silverwork spread more widely throughout Anatolia with the spread of Islam. Silver trays, teacups and saucers make for some of the most perfect gifts imaginable from Antep.
9. The kilims (flat weave carpets) from Antep aren’t so different from those in other Anatolian cities, but if you are someone who loves collecting kilims, you might want to pick up a few pieces from here. There are a whole range of motifs particular to Antep and the region surrounding it that you will find woven into the kilims from this area.
10. As a final note, if you decide to take a look at the museums of Gaziantep, you should also take a look at the shops that are right next to them. There are some great gift ideas bearing special regional motifs that the Bilkent Cultural Enterprise (BKG) has come up with. For example, there are silk scarves and shawls with designs from the Zeugma mosaics, bags with kilim designs on them, miniatures with images from the city and magnets with the image of the “Gypsy Girl,” which has become the most famous symbol of Zeugma itself.