The first stop on our tour is Dülük Park, stretching from one of the world’s earliest ancient settlements, Doliche, to the beautiful Hızır Plateau which is surrounded by the Amanos Mountains. As you walk through the park, you will see all around you the remains and artefacts from past civilizations, including the latest findings from Gaziantep’s Yesemek Open Air Museum and Sculpture Workshop which is on the World Cultural Heritage list.
Dülük Park lies 8 km from the city centre. Dülük (Doliche), inhabited from the Palaeolithic Age until today, was a religious centre in ancient times; now it is a place of both historical value and great natural beauty.
Dülük Park, which covers an area of 40 square kilometres to the northwest of Gaziantep, is one of Turkey’s largest wood areas and is home to a bio-lake, the Dülük monks’ burial ground, a temple and water cistern, the tomb of Dülükbaba, the Jupiter Dolichenus Sanctuary, picnic areas and adventure areas. In short, Dülük Park is a popular place for the people of Gaziantep to enjoy a barbecue on sunny days, appealing to both nature lovers and to those with an interest in history and archaeology.
Roughly 500 m from the entrance to Dülük Park lies the bio-lake, adding extra charm to the natural beauty of the oxygen-rich area which is covered in black pine and cedar trees. The arboretum surrounding the bio-lake offers a place to relax amongst the mass of colourful plants, far away from the stresses of the city.
The 5,200 m2 lake is Turkey’s largest bio-lake. The arboretum surrounding the lake has 255 different species of flora, with a total of 11,335 individual plants. The cleaning of the lake water is done not with chemical products but by using biological methods, a system which was used in the construction of the lake.
The wooden terrace of the lake-side cafe, built on 5 levels, offers a place to relax and enjoy the view of the lake, or to have a picnic. The cafe serves traditional Gaziantep food as well as other tempting dishes from Turkish and world cuisine.
The sports activity section of the park lies 1 km to the right of the aerated lake. This section contains a Scouting and Nature Sports Camp with ropes course, climbing wall, pentathlon track and zipline.
From behind the climbing wall, follow the brown signs saying rock tombs in a north-easterly direction for 2 km and you will come to the Dülük monks’ burial ground. To get to the necropolis, follow the rough path that leads to the upper part of the park. After 8 minutes’ drive from the Rope Trail you will come to the burial ground which has wire fencing around its entire 5,000 m2 area. The paths have been laid with keystones making it easy to walk amongst the tombs. Excavation of the necropolis has revealed 18 rock tombs, with huge circular stones being used as doors. These huge stones now lie either in the doorways or upside down on the ground. The most salient of the rock tombs are No. 8, which houses a carved sarcophagus with a festoon motif on the front, and No. 17, with its pillar and relief depicting a monk at the entrance.
Approximately 1 km to the right of the monks’ burial ground lies the rock temple area and water cistern. The area can be reached by vehicle along a narrow, rough road lined with trees. For safety reasons, the water cistern, which can fill with rain water, sits behind iron railings. The temple, thought to date from the Late Roman period, lies immediately next to the water cistern. It is presumed that the niches located in the large area in front of the rock temple were used to illuminate the area for meetings, held prior to religious ceremonies, and that the alcoves that can be seen within the temple were used to hold offerings to the gods.
Heading east for about 400 m from the temple, you will find the tomb of Dülükbaba, who was thought to be a sahaba (disciple of the prophet Mohammed), killed during the conquest of Gaziantep. With the real name Davud Ejder, this sahaba is buried at the summit of Dülükbaba Hill. By managing and clearing the area surrounding this tomb, it is important that it is recognised as a place of religious interest which is well worth visiting. The path to this area where the tomb is located, also known as Transmitter Hill because of the radio transmitter located on top of the hill, is a demanding one, but it is possible to reach the tomb through all the brambles. The edges of the tomb are indicated by a stone which has been placed on a drainage pipe.About 200 m east of this, you come to the Jupiter Dolichenus sanctuary, located on Dülükbaba Hill. Jupiter Dolichenus was widely worshipped during the time of the Roman Empire and evidence of this starts at Dülükbaba Hill, and continues on through North Africa, the shores of the Rhine, the Danube and on to England. The archaeological remains from the ancient city of Doliche, from where the god took his name, not only show the importance of the city during the period of classical antiquity but also shed light on its history during the Middle Ages. Since 2002, an international research team, led by the Asia Minor Research Centre, have been excavating the sanctuary. The 30,000 m2 area on the top of Dülükbaba Hill has a total of 11 open trenches.
DÜLÜK MONKS’ BURIAL GROUND
Roughly 1 km west of the Jupiter Dolichenus Temple, on Dülükbaba Hill, lies a rocky area where you will find the burial ground for the temple officials. Within the burial ground there are 18 tombs of different sizes and structures.
The tombs are accessed via descending steps. Large, circular stones stand across the doorways, and inside the tombs are sarcophagi decorated with festoon motifs. Some of the recesses within the tombs have been carved in the shape of sarcophagi. Some of the circular stones which were rolled across the entrances to act like a door have survived until the present day.
JUPITER DOLICHENUS SANCTUARY
The sanctuary of the god Jupiter Dolichenus lies on Dülükbaba Hill, 3 km southwest of Dülük town. During the first 300 years AD, the religious cult spread from this dominating hilltop to other important cities of the time. Dülükbaba Hill is one of the rare sites within the Southeast Anatolia region where religious activities have taken place continuously, from 1000 BC to the time when Christianity became active in the period of late antiquity. The site has revealed Hellenistic remains, and, beneath these, remains from an even earlier age, making it possible to gather information about not only the most important god of the Roman Empire, but also about the region’s rich religious history.
The numerous small artefacts dating from the Roman period and earlier found as a result of the excavations give important information on the Jupiter Dolichenus cult. The most important of these are several hundred necklace beads, stamps and cylinder seals dating from the 6th to 5th century BC. Excavations also point to the existence of an important monastery at the summit of the hill from the late antiquity period until the time of the Crusades.