The province of Kilis is one of Türkiye’s most notable in terms of companions’ graves; as such, Kilis offers many religious tourism assets. A ‘companion’ refers to a companion of the Prophet Mohammed. As stated in Evliya Çelebi’s travel book, there are 3,000 companion graves in Kilis. The post, or tomb, of 22 companions is open to visitors. Kilis hosts the tombs of Şarahbil bin Hasane, Bilal-i Habeşi, Sheikh Mansur, Sheikh Muhammed Ensari, Şem'un Nebi, Sheikh Muhammed Bedouin, Sheikh Kırbe, Hazreti Talha, Hazreti Zubeyr and many other important religious leaders.
Set in Belenözü Village of the Polateli district, Ravanda Castle (Ravanda Kalesi) is atop a steep hill. Although the original walkway was destroyed over time, a staircase and walking paths have been installed to allow an easier climb to the castle. As well, information signs, and benches for resting were also erected during restorations. In the eastern part of the castle’s interior, there are two large water cisterns with stairs in front of them. It is alleged that the cisterns lead to a secret path descending to the Afrin Stream. In the northern part of the castle, the ruins what may have been a palace can be seen.
In addition to being one of the biggest mounds in the Middle East, Oylum Tumulus (Oylum Höyüğü) is a point of intersection for the Anatolian, Syrian and Mesopotamian cultures. The tumulus dominates the Kilis Plain. The strategic location of the mound, which lies on ancient trade routes extending east-west and north-south, makes it an important archaeological centre. Oylum Tumulus was a regional centre in various periods, especially during the Bronze Age (BCE 3000-1200/CE 1000), and it is surrounded by numerous other mounds. Both surveys and excavations suggest the existence of continuous settlement in the Oylum Höyük region beginning from the Late Chalcolithic Period (BCE 3500-3000) to the Hellenistic Period to the present. Excavations carried out in Oylum Tumulus since 1989 illuminate the history of the region.
The Mosaic Basilica (Mozaikli Bazilika) is southwest of Oylum Tumulus. Just a section of this basilica was unearthed in 1999, and most of the remaining sections were unearthed during the 2004 and 2006 excavations. The basilica, dated to the 6th century, is from the Early Christian Period. Covering an area of 800 square meters, the church features a basilica plan with mosaic floors. The mosaics, with red, brown, white, grey, orange and black coloured stones, include plant (leaf) motifs, Maltese crosses and various geometric patterns (intersecting circle, diamond, square and zigzag), reflecting characteristics of the Early Byzantine Art Period.
Historical Sabunhane Museum
One of the best examples of traditional Kilis architecture, the Historical Sabunhane Building (Tarihi Sabunhane Binası) was the largest olive oil and soap factory in Kilis when it was built in the 1900s. In its current form, the Sabunhane Building serves a museum with exhibits on local history, and olive oil and soap making.
Kilis also has many historical mansions lining its narrow streets. A stroll through these picturesque streets takes the visitor on a journey through time. The most important of the mansions are the Akıncı Mansion (Akıncı Konağı), Çağlasyan Mansion (Çağlasyan Konağı), Neşet Efendi Mansion (Neşet Efendi Konağı), the Former Government House (Eski Hükumet Binası), Canbolad Pasha Mansion (Canbolad Paşa Konağı), Abidin Ağa Mansion (Abidin Ağa Konağı(, Ahmed Bey Mansion (Ahmed Bey Konağı), and Süpürgeci Mansion (Süpürgeci Konağı).
Of the city’s 16 kastels (fountains), some have lost their original details, some lack water, and some are registered as immovable cultural assets. The water for the operative kastels and fountains in the region is supplied from wells outside the city and from the KAPTAŞ made around the spring waters. The prominent kastels in Kilis are Salih Ağa Kasteli, Kuru Kastel, İpşir Pasha Kasteli, Fellah Kasteli, Kurdağa Kasteli and Nemika Kasteli.
The city’s bathing houses reflect typical characteristics of Ottoman architecture. The Pasha Bath (Paşa Hamamı), Old Bath (Eski Hamam), Tuğlu Bath (Tuğlu Hamam), Hoca Bath (Hoca Hamamı) and Hasan Bey Bath (Hasan Bey Hamamı) are all excellent examples.
Erected in 740, the Grand Mosque (Ulu Cami) is Kilis’s largest mosque. Its expansive courtyard has two entrances and a fountain with seven jets. The water for the mosque comes from the Kurtağa Stream (Kurtağa Çayı), which is considered to have the best water in Kilis.
Canpolat Paşa Dervish Lodge Mosque
This is the most important mosque in Kilis in terms of architecture. According to its inscription, the mosque was erected in 1553 by the Mayor of Kilis, Canbolat Bey. It is a classical Ottoman style, with a central plan. The architect is unknown but, since the mosque bears the characteristics of 16th-century Classical Ottoman Architecture, it has been attributed to Mimar Sinan and his team. While there is no documented evidence, the mosque’s similarities with the Mimar Sinan designed Hüsreviye Mosque in Aleppo (Halep) support this hypothesis.
The Kilis Mevlevi Lodge (Mevlevihane), erected between 1535-1553, is one of the 32 Mevlevi Lodges that have survived in our country.
The Mevlevihane, which adorns the centre of the city like a diamond “imame” of a tasbih, is one of the oldest Ottoman architectural works, according to its inscription.