THE GOLDEN TRIO OF THE SOUTHEAST: GAZİANTEP-URFA-MARDİN

GAZİANTEP WITH ITS ENCHANTING BAZAARS; URFA WITH ITS SACRED AMBIENCE; MARDIN WITH ITS CUISINE AND ITS MANSIONS ARE THE SHINING TOWNS OF SOUTHEASTERN ANATOLIA.

Southeast is the land of a rich culture, hospitality that is hard to find, and a history that deepens the more you study. The region has been growing for a while now. Mardin has found its way and achieved to become even a trend in the region, which has been neglected for years. People talk about Gaziantep, Urfa, and even Midyat now. Centuries old stone mansions take their places among the Turkey’s most special hotels with perfect restorations, great masonry, styles that combine elegance with localness, the warmth of family heirloom objects, and a moderation in authenticity. The legendary cuisine of the region might be a reason all by itself to visit this area.

GAZİANTEP

Don’t even think, just go to Southeast
Gaziantep impresses even the most experienced explorer with its enchanted bazaars, hammams, extraordinary merchants, isolated old houses, and legendary dishes. You wake up to the sounds of children and street vendors. If you open your window, you will see peppers and eggplants that are roped and hanged on the roofs to dry. Centuries old houses and stone mansions hidden behind high walls take place in the old city. Wealthy people used to live in them once upon a time. Later, they moved into apartment buildings in New Gaziantep and they rented their houses at bargain prices.

The city belongs to the ones who work for it
A neighborhood is named as Şehreküstü (be-crossed-with-the-city) in Antep. Rumors say that a man lost his hope in this beloved city’s state and moved out. So, they named his neighborhood with this name. It was a good thing that some people decided to keep those houses alive and Gaziantep has become a destination of Southeast that is worth to stay and see. Mizyal Karabiber Nacaroğlu of Antep took the first step by restoring a 130-year-old Antep house. Belkıs Han with its large courtyard like the other stone mansions’, miniature fountains, high ceilings, and murals, is the proof of what staying at least one night here can add to your Southeast trip.

The victory of ‘Havara’
Anatolian Houses steal the hearts of who doesn’t even think about staying at this city. Although the hotel is hidden behind the high walls, it changes the face of the city. The structure consists of four neighboring 150-200 year-old stone mansions. They are located in an enclosed courtyard near the castle, the first settlement of the city. They are built out of ‘havara’ that is a type of stone which is well known to keep houses warm in winters and cool in summers. The hotel is designed with a comfortable nostalgic taste that brings out the beauty of the original. It is among the most stylish hotels of the Southeast with its tasteful details from the courtyard to the rooms and from the bathrooms to the common grounds. Zeugma mosaics exhibited at the Gaziantep Archeological Museum are a reason to visit Gaziantep. Bayazhan is almost a city within the city with its pub, restaurant, café, shops that sell traditional handcrafts, and the Town Museum.

DON’T MISS
You are going to love the baklava of Burhan İnal at Çağdaş Et Lokantası (restaurant) located inside the Tarihi Bakırcılar Çarşısı (historical copper artisans’ bazaar.)

URFA

Sacred city, local dishes
Urfa has a sacred ambience. Fish respected as sacred in a lake that radiates peace, cool mosques where the sun colors the stones in gold, doves that fly around the minarets, fragrant rose gardens, prayers that echo on the walls of a cavern… Şanlıurfa is among the oldest settlements of Mesopotamia. Eski Valilik Konukevi (old governor’s guesthouse) is among the accommodation alternatives. The location began to draw attention after being privatized. Cevahir Konukevi was built in the traditional plan of Urfa houses with separate sitting areas for men and women. Cevahir Asuman Yazmacı, the owner of the stone mansion with a courtyard, is a brave young woman who is an entrepreneur from Urfa, Viranşehir. She keeps the family recipes alive in the kitchen to make a difference. Black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, Borani with beets, and open buffet brunch on Sundays attract people.

Sıra nights
The traditional sıra nights in Urfa take place in the orient rooms of the guesthouse in winters and in the garden in summers. The treats are çiğ köfte (raw meatballs) and şıllık dessert with nuts. Urfa Castle is within a touch from the terrace. The rooms face Urfa Castle and Dervish Convent Archeological Site. Halil İbrahim Sofrası and Çardaklı Köşk Restaurant are among the locations to rest and eat while walking around this area and Balıklıgöl (Fishlake.)

TASTE STOP
Some socializing with the people of Urfa as you taste the barbequed liver… You prepare the barbequed liver with the herbs that you slice on the cutting-board in front of you at Sembol Ciğer Salonu.

MARDİN

Language of the stones
Murathan Mungan had written, “I learned the language of the stones in Mardin, the closeness of the sky and its endlessness… Sitting at the cool yards of the silent houses neighboring the sun, the people listened to each other’s tales and believed in them in that city of stone where the whole horizon was a moorland…” about his beloved Mardin where he had spent his childhood. Mardin and its residents face the south where they watch the Mesopotamia Flat from the hill. Mosques, churches, convents, madrasahs salute these fertile lands of the Southeast. Mardin is a popular touristic destination of the Southeast. It has been signaling the days that, it is going to be a trend just as the coasts of the Mediterranean are close.

Across the Mesopotamia Flat
First, Erdoba Konakları (Erdoba Mansions) was reintroduced to tourism. The mansions were identified with Mardin immediately. The most impressive one among them is Seljuk Mansion. Its masonry and the view of the Mesopotamian Flat from the terrace make it necessary to reserve some time also for this hotel as well as the city itself. Artuklu Caravansary was opened following the opening of Erdoba houses. The old rooms that were found during the restoration are named as ‘Lost Rooms.’

Accommodating in 1200 year-old history
Kasr-ı Nehroz is a 1200-year-old mansion located in a 4000 year-old settlement. The place was opened in Midyat, which used to be the home of Assyrians with its stone mansions and narrow streets, in 2009. It is almost like an oasis in Mardin where finding an accommodation is a problem. People who find Mardin rather touristic and crowded prefer Savur or Midyat. The hotel where the historical architecture and elegance are in balance had been used as a house for 260 years by the Nehroz Family who was the first Muslim family who settled in Midyat.

TASTE STOP
Try the caper salad, olives with walnut, kitelraha (Assyrian style stuffed meatballs,) stew with plums, firik, cheese halvah, and stuffed lamb ribs at the terrace that faces the Mesopotamia Flat in the heart of Mardin cuisine: Cercis Murat Konağı.

AUTHENTIC ACCOMMODATION
Accommodating at Savur Mansion, which is the two-century old house of the Öztürk Family of Savur is like sharing the past of a local family accompanied with their family heirlooms and linens decorated with laces.