Zeugma Mosaic Museum
The Zeugma Mosaic Museum, offering visitors a magical mosaic atmosphere, is built upon the historic Zeugma ancient city in Gaziantep. This ancient city is located on the banks of the Orontes River and held great significance during the Roman Empire period. The museum is constructed upon the ruins of this ancient city, preserving this immense historical wealth for modern times.
Journey into the History of Mosaics: Zeugma Mosaic Museum
The Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum is a treasure not only for art historians and archaeologists but also for visitors of all ages curious about history and culture. This museum provides a compelling reason to visit Turkey on its own, and it is unique in terms of artistic richness and diversity. Both the size of the building and the area covered by the exhibited mosaics demonstrate that it is one of the world's largest mosaic museums.
The mosaics on display in the museum are products of extraordinary artistic vision and include examples from the Late Antique period, Early Syriac, and Christian iconography, making the museum even more appealing. These mosaics extracted from the Zeugma Ancient City present significant examples of the pinnacle of art during that era.
Moreover, you can see artifacts from the Roman period such as sculptures, columns, and fountains in the museum. Especially, the bronze statue of the God of War, Ares, is one of the most captivating pieces that pique visitors' interest aside from the mosaics.
The Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum is not just an art museum; it also represents a deep-seated heritage. The Euphrates River, over thousands of years, brought prosperity to this region and inspired the founding of Zeugma. Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, established a city in these fertile lands, which was later renamed "Zeugma," indicating its location at the crossroads of roads and civilizations.
Over the years, Zeugma maintained its advantage, becoming one of the four largest cities of the Kingdom of Commagene. The Poseidon and Euphrates villas, which contain the most magnificent mosaics, have been brought back to life with mosaics adorning the museum's ground floor. These mosaics and frescoes are tangible evidence of the city's wealth.
The Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum is an opportunity to trace the traces of civilizations and cultures that once inhabited these lands. By visiting this magnificent museum, you can embark on a journey into the depths of history and discover the enchantment of art and the past.
History of the Museum
The Zeugma Ancient City was built on approximately 20,000 acres of magnificent land within the borders of Belkis Village in the Nizip district of Gaziantep around 300 B.C. This ancient city held great significance throughout history due to its location at the deepest point of the Euphrates River and its strategic position.
Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals and later the King of Syria, named the city "Seleucos Euphrates" when he founded it around 300 B.C. However, with the incorporation of this region into the Roman Empire in the first quarter of the 1st century A.D., its name was changed to "Zeugma," which means "bridge" or "crossing," a name it still bears today.
In 252 A.D., King Shapur of the Sassanid Empire captured Zeugma, burning and destroying the city. However, this ancient city survived for many years under the influence of the Late Roman period. It came under early Roman rule in the 5th and 6th centuries A.D. but was abandoned in the 7th century A.D. due to Islamic invasions. In the 10th to 12th centuries A.D., a small Islamic settlement formed in the area, and ultimately, in the 16th century A.D., the village known today as Belkis was founded.
Belkis/Zeugma Ancient City has survived to the present day as a place bearing the traces of many civilizations and cultures throughout this long and rich history. This captivating history has made it a treasure trove for archaeologists and an indispensable visit for history enthusiasts. The remains in the ancient city tell fascinating stories of the past and offer visitors an excellent historical experience.
Today, the Zeugma Mosaic Museum has garnered worldwide admiration since it opened its doors in Gaziantep on September 9, 2011. This extraordinary museum serves as the second-largest mosaic museum globally, with a mosaic collection covering an area of approximately 1,700 square meters. While it held the title of the "world's largest mosaic museum" for about three years, it passed this distinction to the Hatay Archaeology Museum on December 28, 2014.
The Zeugma Mosaic Museum stands out not only for its impeccable mosaic collection but also for its architecture and technological infrastructure. Despite being damaged and fragmented over time by treasure hunters, these mosaic pieces have been brought back to life through outstanding efforts to reassemble them. The mosaics consist of thirteen different colors, reflecting the rich history and culture of Zeugma.
The museum building is designed in three blocks, housing mosaic and archaeology museums, exhibition halls, and conference rooms. These unique mosaics from Zeugma provide visitors with a fascinating window into the past. Moreover, the renowned "Gypsy Girl" mosaic, celebrated worldwide, is also displayed here.
The Zeugma Mosaic Museum also distinguishes itself with its resilience against natural disasters. Despite the 7.8 and 7.5 magnitude earthquakes that struck Gaziantep-Kahramanmaraş, the museum building and its contents remained intact without any damage.
Zeugma Mosaic Museum Location
The Zeugma Mosaic Museum is situated in a dazzling location that sheds light on Turkey's cultural treasures. This captivating museum offers a deep understanding of the Roman-era mosaics as well as Gaziantep's historical and cultural heritage to its visitors.
One of Turkey's most enchanting museums, the Zeugma Mosaic Museum provides an inspiring experience for visitors of all ages and interests. Exploring this unique museum is an excellent opportunity to embark on an unforgettable cultural journey.
City of Gaziantep and Its Location
Gaziantep is a city located in the southeast of Turkey and is the largest metropolis in this region. Gaziantep has been known throughout history for its rich cultural heritage, delicious cuisine, and strategic location. Historical castles, museums, and ancient ruins await discovery in this city. The Zeugma Mosaic Museum, in particular, showcases many artifacts that will pique the interest of history enthusiasts.
The cuisine of Gaziantep is also world-famous. Antep baklava, katmer, lahmacun, and kebabs will delight your taste buds. Gaziantep is also a must-visit destination for Turkish coffee enthusiasts. Gaziantep is a hub for preserving traditional handicrafts. The city is an excellent place to see and purchase examples of crafts like copperwork, carpet weaving, and silverwork. The city's markets and bazaars are also fantastic options for shopping enthusiasts.
Museum Access and Visiting Information
The Zeugma Mosaic Museum offers a magnificent opportunity for history and art enthusiasts to explore. The museum presents a captivating collection of unique mosaics and historical artifacts from ancient times to its visitors.
For those who wish to closely examine the world of mosaics, it is essential to know the visiting hours of the Zeugma Mosaic Museum. The museum opens its doors every day at 8:30 in the morning and closes at 4:30 in the afternoon. The entrance fee to the Zeugma Mosaic Museum is 280 Turkish Lira (₺). Additionally, the museum provides an audio guide service to make your visit more meaningful. With this service, you can gain more information about the stories of the mosaics and artifacts, making your visit a deeper and more immersive experience.
What's Inside the Zeugma Mosaic Museum?
The Zeugma Mosaic Museum is ready to enchant you with its rich collection! Here, you can find approximately 3,000 square meters of magnificent mosaics, 140 square meters of captivating frescoes, 4 impressive Roman fountains, 20 enchanting columns, 4 elegant limestone sculptures, a captivating bronze statue of the God of War, Mars, historical tombstones, sarcophagi, and architectural marvels from the Roman and Eastern Roman periods.
These immense mosaics, which are around 2,000 years old, are extraordinary in terms of design, color usage, craftsmanship, and perfection. Three-dimensional designs and top-level techniques allow you to witness the magnificent reflections of the architecture, lifestyle, flora, and fauna of the era in these mosaics.
The Zeugma Mosaic Museum spans an enchanting area of 30,000 square meters in total, consisting of a complex with three different buildings. The main building, A Block, is the largest building in the museum and houses the mosaics brought from the Zeugma Ancient City.
The second building, B Block, contains ancient church mosaics specific to the Gaziantep region and the floor mosaics of surrounding Eastern Roman period churches. Finally, C Block serves administrative functions and provides an ideal space for conferences and foyer areas.
Ancient Mosaics and Iconic Artifacts
One of the most striking elements of the Exhibition Project displayed in the Zeugma Museum is the statue of the God of War, Mars. This 1,800-year-old bronze artifact rises like a guardian of the museum, visible from all floors. This remarkable piece from the Roman era bears traces of burn marks, reflecting the fires that occurred during the city's occupation. The statue continues to mesmerize visitors, reflecting the rich history and mythology of Zeugma.
Another significant treasure in the same museum is the mosaic panel of the river god, Euphrates. This mosaic is located at the bottom of a shallow hexagonal pool in Zeugma and depicts the river god Euphrates. Euphrates lies on a divan, while water flows from a vessel beneath his elbow, causing greenery to sprout from the earth touching the water.
This magnificent mosaic narrates the tragic story of Euphrates. It is believed that the name of the Meander River was changed to Euphrates due to his accidental killing of his son and subsequent suicide.
The Dionysus and Nike mosaics in the Zeugma Museum are rare artifacts that tell captivating stories from ancient Greek mythology. Dionysus is known as the god of revelry, festivities, ecstasy, and wine, and he is also a god of his own religious following. The followers of this religion embarked on mysterious journeys by consuming wine, aiming to transcend themselves.
In this mosaic, the depiction of Dionysus is seen inside a chariot pulled by panthers, drawn by the goddess of victory, Nike. This magnificent mosaic captivatingly reflects the power and ecstasy of Dionysus.
The "Gypsy Girl" is one of the most famous pieces in the Zeugma Museum. This mosaic is displayed in a dark room that resembles a mysterious and labyrinthine space. It was discovered as the floor mosaic of the dining room in the Mainad Villa. The face of the "Gypsy Girl" carries a sad and meaningful expression, and her hair is elegantly braided and adorned with grape leaves by her head.
The name of this piece comes from the large hoop earrings beside her head, while she is also thought to be a "Mainad," appearing at Dionysian festivities. Due to its resemblance to the "Mona Lisa," it attracts great attention from most visitors.