UNESCO creative cities network
GAZİANTEP, HATAY, AND AFYONKARAHİSAR
Türkiye has ratified most international agreements and conventions related to the conservation of cultural and natural heritage, the most relevant here being the UNESCO 1972 World Heritage Convention (18 inscribed sites); UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (18 intangible cultural heritage elements inscribed); UNESCO 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions; COE European Landscape Convention; COE Convention for the Protection of the Archeological Heritage of Europe; and the COE Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Türkiye.
Türkiye is an exceptionally rich country in terms of cultural and natural heritage. Its location between the West and East, and its historic and cultural links with neighboring countries offer the opportunity to create interesting new cultural routes.
Türkiye has a variety of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Protected Area Categories, which in total cover an area of 3,456,409 hectares or approximately 4.41% of the country’s total area.
Türkiye has a total of 464 products registered for their geographical indication by the Turkish Patent and Trademark Office.
Türkiye has currently three food and agricultural products (Gaziantep baklava, Aydın fig, Malatya apricot) registered in the EU Database of Origin and Registration (DOOR) and 14 pending applications.
Türkiye is part of the Slow Food network and currently 17 Turkish towns (Akyaka, Eğirdir, Gökçeada, Gerze, Göynük, Halfeti, Mudurnu, Perşembe, Şavşat, Seferihisar, Taraklı, Uzundere, Vize, Yalvaç, and Yenipazar) are part of the Cittaslow network.
Türkiye’s universities are currently in the process of documenting its intangible heritage in various regions of the country.
Türkiye is internationally known for its rich cuisine. Each region has its own traditional cuisine as well as a variety of traditional agricultural and food items. In fact, the UNESCO Creative Cities network declared the city of Gaziantep a “City of Gastronomy” in 2015; the city of Hatay joined the network in 2017; and the city of Afyonkarahisar in 2019.
In addition, in 2017, the city of İstanbul became a UNESCO Creative City of Design; in 2017, the city of Kütahya became a UNESCO Creative City of Crafts and Folk Art; and in 2019, the city of Kırşehir became a UNESCO City of Music.
Within the framework of the UNESCO’s Global Network of Learning Cities, the city of Eskişehir became a Learning City in 2016, Konya in 2017, Bolu in 2018, and Hatay in 2019.
Türkiye also has a very rich geological heritage. In 2013, the volcanic Kula region of the province of Manisa became the first geologically important region of Türkiye to join the European and UNESCO Global Geoparks network.
Though all of Türkiye is renowned for its cuisine, certain regions are singled out by UNESCO for their particularly distinct contributions to Turkish food culture. The gastronomic histories of Gaziantep, Hatay, and Afyonkarahisar are unique and special. All three cities are specially organized to both preserve and promote the culinary heritage of their regions and the distinct products and dishes of each place, from pistachios in Gaziantep to künefe in Hatay.
Gaziantep is well known for its long gastronomic history which has been at the core of its cultural identity since the Iron Age. Nowadays, gastronomy remains the main driving force of the local economy. Gaziantep has been chosen to be one of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the field of Gastronomy. Gaziantep Pistachio Culture and Art Festival livens up the city, and stands as the flagship event with its wide range of performances combining gastronomy, music, literature, and folk art.
The delicious gastronomic experience Türkiye offers its visitors hits the highest point with baklava (traditional Turkish pastry dessert); künefe (dessert with thin layers of pastry, melted cheese, and syrup); lahmacun (thin, crispy dough topped with minced meat, and cooked in a stone oven); çiğ köfte (spicy bulgur patties eaten alone or wrapped in thin lavaş bread with fresh greens); kuyu kebabı (lamb kebap cooked in a pit); different kinds of rice dishes; sweet, salty, and sour meat dishes (cooking meat with fruits, dried fruits, and nuts originates from the time of the Ottoman Empire); and the use of many different spices and sauces. Don’t forget to taste the traditional beyran çorbası (soup with lamb, garlic, rice) for breakfast in Gaziantep - that’s how they start the day here! It is beyond a doubt that southeastern Anatolian food will definitely flirt with all your senses!
The importance of Hatay in Turkish cuisine is indisputable. Surrounded by the Mediterranean from the west, Adana from the northwest, and Gaziantep from the northeast, Hatay has a unique cuisine that has been influenced by many cultures. Hatay was also chosen to be included on the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the field of Gastronomy. The kebaps, meze varieties, and desserts in Hatay are truly delicious! Muhammara, mütebbel, humus, and olive salad are some of the mezes that are indispensable for Hatay’s tables. Last but not least, künefe is the ultimate dessert which is the signature of Hatay.
Afyonkarahisar is one of the Turkish cities on the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the field of Gastronomy. The local flavors and desserts, especially lokum (Turkish delight), sucuk (traditional spicy sausage),haşhaş (poppy), keşkek (ceremonial porridge-like dish made with meat or chicken and cracked wheat or barley) and village bread with potatoes have been registered with a “protected geographical indication” and they are moving towards branding.