After Göbeklitepe, Nemrut and Şanlıurfa, we continue our Southeastern Anatolia trip with Halfeti. We will start the day, taking a boat tour in Halfeti in the morning. Then we will visit the Zeugma Museum, completing our day by visiting the Gaziantep bazaars. The time is end of October. A good season to visit this normally ver hot region; the air is slightly cool and partly cloudy.
Halfeti is one of the western districts of Şanlıurfa with a history of about three thousand years. In 2000, with the construction of Birecik Dam, the village moved to the new settlement center, established 15 kilometers away. In 2013, it achieved the title of “Citta Slow”. Halfeti, which is also known as the hidden city or lost paradise with its stone architecture under the Euphrates River, has become a focal point of interest for local and foreign tourists.
We start our tour with the boat tour. We see the impressive natural beauty, the old stone houses, mosques, the ruins of the old castle and the flooded historical buildings. When coming to Halfeti, a boat tour must be done because it is both very pleasant and provides a great perspective of the area.
After the boat tour, we feel our hunger and go to Gülbaba Restaurant for lunch. Here we will try the Eggplant Halfeti Kebab. The restaurant is located by the river, in a well-kept garden. Local eggplants greet us at the entrance. In the immaculate open kitchen, I watch the eggplants lined up, barbecued and rested. Finally my kebab comes to the table; both its appearance and taste are magnificent. Finishing the delicious food, we set off to go to Zeugma Museum, which is the headline of the day.
Zeugma Mosaic Museum, which has been titled “The World’s Largest Mosaic Museum” for three years since its opening in 2011, transferred this title to the Hatay Archeology Museum, another magnificent museum opened in 2014 and I was happy to visit. Its magnificent artifacts, architecture and advanced technology make it very enjoyable to visit. The missing pieces of the mosaics are complemented by the laser system projection. The museum takes its name from the ancient city in the region, and mosaics from the Ancient City of Zeugma are on display in an area of thirty thousand square meters. “Gypsy Girl” is the most known mosaic of the museum. The Mars Statue, which can be seen from every floor, is also very impressive.
After the museum, we head to the historical streets of the city to visit the Gaziantep bazaars. We walk through the Coppersmith Bazaar admiring the handcrafted copper works. We enter the shop of Yemenici Hayri Usta to buy ourselves one of the famous handmade leather sandals called “Yemeni”. After struggling for some time, I manage to chose one from many different colors and models.
This time we head towards Elmacı Market. We enter Saci Beyaz Gıda and buy local flavors. The shop is like a beehive, the employees can barely serve.
Feeling our tiredness, we enter Tahmis Coffee House to take a break. We hardly find a table and sit down. We rest by drinking the famous “Menengic” coffee. Menengic coffee is prepared by drying the fruits of the tree with the same name and cooking it like Turkish Coffee. Finally, we enter the famous “Imam Çağdaş” to eat baklava.
Time passes so quickly and unfortunately it is time to say goodbye. I end my trip with the hope of coming back to the area once again to stay longer to discover more.