The Castle of Gaziantep
The City of Gaziantep, whose history was founded in ancient times, keeps it’s cultural heritage very much alive today. Gaziantep Castle, one of the important heritages, is still present in the centre of the city. We, as Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality, aim to do sustainable development focused on our cultural heritage. With this aim, we joined the WFTC.
Gaziantep Castle is in the centre of old city centre. It was built on the rock named “Kudret”, which is about 25 meters high. The North and North-East part of this hill are areas of natural rock. As a result of archaeological excavations, it is understood that other parts of this hill is an earthen mound. The mound was inhabited from Iron Age 650 BC till Chalcolite Age 5500 BC. It isn’t known by whom and when it was built. It isn’t certain but it is stated that the castle was an old Hittite castle. However there is no architectural construction which proves this information.
The castle was first built in the 2nd and 3rd century AD in the Roman period. There were only a few bastions and it was built just as police station. The eleventh and twelfth bastions were built in this period. Between these bastions, there is an arch which was filled up in later years. And here is supposed to be the old entrance gate of castle. The castle was enlarged and strengthened by the Byzantium Emperor Justinianus between 527-565 AD. The ditch which surrounds the castle, the galleries which protect the ditch, arched gallery and twelve bastions were all built in those years.
In 13th century, the period of Eyyubi’s, the castle was a barracks as well as an administration centre. In those years, bastions and the walls around the castle were raised and the six bastions in the south part were decorated. No change took place during the reign of Memluks and the Ottoman Empires, but it is known from the inscriptions that important restorations were made in those years. In the stronger years of Ottoman Empire, the castle was used as administration centre, ammunition store and police station. It is understood that the castle wasn’t used for defence after eighteenth century. There is a ditch around the castle. It was just for defence. The width is 30 meters, and the depth is 10 meters. It was never filled up with water. After the ditch come the embrasured galleries, which are on the ground level, just for defence. These galleries surround the castle. On rocky ground, the rock was carved to build the galleries but on soil ground, it was built with stones. The enemies were defeated owing to these embrasures. There are other galleries with embrasures which reach the upper sides of the castle, but no excavations have been done in this region.
As it is seen, the upper site of the castle was covered with stone just for defence. On the gate bastion, there is a restoration inscription which was written in 886 AD. It says the following : Kayitbay, who is the father of Caliphs of God, honoured empire, the father of people with sharp sword, had the castle restored in 886.
As it is written in Evliya Celebi’s book of travel, one can enter the castle owing to a suspension bridge. The suspension bridge was operated by pulley. After crossing the bridge comes a sloping road, which is covered with stones. In order to prevent the enemy reaching the castle, oil was spilled on this road. By passing through this gate you reach the castle. The Arched gallery is 180 meters long. A section of 10 meters of this road was built with Roman technique. First there is a circular vault, then comes a vault which raises with a sharp-pointed arch. The one hundred seventy meters section belongs to the Byzantium period. Byzantium stone masons’ signs are seen. There is a window between third and fourth bastions. In this way ammunition could reach the bastions as quickly as possible during the wars . Moreover through the windows, light and air come in. In some parts there is a casement window. The bastions in this area were built three storeyed. They were used as dungeon, when they waren’t used as barracks. Owing to the usage of cannon balls, the area was filled with soil for protection from earth quakes. They are about four and half meters high. People could move both horizontally and vertically in the galleries. And this facilitated their defence.
As it was built just for the castle guards, the Turkish Bath was built small. It was built in a sixteen times-fourteen point five-dimension. It was located in the part of the castle which was built in the Byzantium period in the thirteenth century. There is a toilet on the right. In the Changing-Room (apodyterion) an arched niche was used to hang clothes. As it is understood from the drainage, there was a water tank (Sadirvan) here. There is one cupboard and a ventilation hole. The Cold room (frigidarium) is at the centre of Turkish bath. The Warm room (tepidarium) was heated by an underground heating system. The cold and hot water pipes were in the wall. The Hot room (caldarium) is the hottest section of the bath. It was covered by thick plaster. There are domes over all the departments. There are hand and finger figures on the wall. These figures were made by someone putting his hands into the dye and then pressing his hands on the wall. The Fire place (praefurnium) was covered by a vault. There were two copper watertanks in the groove. Under it the fire burned and water warmed up. The hot water was distributed to the bath with the help of pipes.
There is also a small mosque from the 13th century. It was planned as a rectangular building and is the worship place of Muslims. As it was built just for the people in the castle, it is small.
There are also Wards for the soldiers and houses which remained from the last years of Ottoman Empire. There is a Turkish bath named Bey. In the last period of Ottoman Empire some houses were built next to the wall of castle. Wooden columns which constitute the roof, pass into the wall of castle. In this period, poor people lived in the castle.
On the fourth and sixth bastions there are inscriptions which are from the period of Kanuni Sultan Suleyman. However they are destructed. There were front bastions in the north and south part of the castle. We can see the similar constructions in the castle of Aleppo.
As we learn from the written references, there are two passages which were cut out in the rock located on the castle. One of them is the fresh water passage and the other is hard water passage. In this way castle’s water need was supplied. The passage was two hundred fifty (250) steps and it was dark. However these passages were blocked. At the same time these passages are secret passages. It is thought that they might have been built during the siege of the castle to get logistic support and ammunition.
Metropolitan Municipality of Gaziantep
Conservation, Implementation and Control Office (CICO)
Phone: +90 342 231 1424