Ancient theater in center of city undergoing restoration process
MUĞLA - Anatolia News Agency
The Telmessos Ancient Theater has been established on an area of 4,500 square meters in the Hellenistic period. Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay has started the restoration process at a ceremony (below).
Restoration has begun at southwestern province of Muğla’s Fethiye district to revive the ancient theater at Telmessos.
“While Turkey is reviving many of its ancient sites, [Telmessos] has been neglected,” said Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay, who spoke at the Sept. 20 ceremony marking the start to renovations at the site. “[The theater’s] stones have even been removed and carried to the port. Now we will begin to bring it back to life.”
Günay said he wanted restoration, for which 5 million Turkish Liras has been allocated by the Muğla Special Provincial Directorate, to be completed as quickly as possible. The project to restore the site at Telmessos has been on his mind for decades, he added.
Cultural Artifacts and Museums General Director Murat Süslü denoted the history of work on the site in Turkey. According to Süslü, land was first expropriated on the site in 1976 by the Cultural and Tourism Ministry. An excavation that lasted from 1991 to 1994 first uncovered the theater at the site.
Theater turned into a fighting area
“The theater currently can host up to 2,500 people and has four entrances,” said Süslü. “We regret that stones were taken from the site for use in the port in the 1960s, as the theater originally held up to 3,500 people.”
He said the theater had been established on an area of 4,500 square meters in the Hellenistic period. “In the 2nd century A.D. the Romans added a stage to the theater and in the 4th century A.D., a two-meter protective wall was constructed. Through time the theater turned into an arena where humans and animals fought.”
Following the speeches, a stone was ceremoniously lifted by crane as Günay pushed the button to pour the first soil mixture into the restoration area.
After the restoration ceremony, Günay visited the Fethiye Municipality to sign a protocol for the establishment of a new museum building in the town.
Günay said they had developed new merchandizing standards at the country’s new museums and that Turkish museums had attained the level of their European counterparts. “Our museums are at a world standard. When visiting world museums in the past, I felt jealous thinking, ‘Why can’t we do this?’ I also got angry thinking, ‘They have stolen our artifacts and are displaying them in their museums.’ They used to tell us, ‘Where will you display these artifacts? You don’t even have a proper museum.’ We need to establish good museums to get our artifacts back,” the minister said.
It was reported that the new museum will be constructed on an area of 7,000 square meters.