İZMİR - Doğan News Agency
İzmir is expected to host more local and foreign tourists this year due to the opening of historical sites in the province. Works on the ancient sites are being accelerated in order to finish them for
the summer season. Officials belive the number of visitors will increase to a great extent this year
İzmir’s six ancient sites, where excavations are still being conducted, will open to visitors soon.
İzmir is currently one of the centers of intense archaeological works in the country, with 22 excavations currently taking place. Works on these ancient sites have been accelerated recently in order to be ready in time for the upcoming tourist season during the summer months.
The Director of Provincial Culture and Tourism Abdülaziz Ediz said there was a noticeable increase in the number of local tourists at the ancient sites and museums. He said the number of foreign tourists began to increase with a rise in cruise tourism.
“With a history of 8,500 years, İzmir is an area where settlements have existed since the prehistoric age. It has hosted an array of cultures from various regions. There are 22 ongoing excavations, 15 are carried out by a Turkish team, three by foreign teams and four by museum directorates. We have accelerated work to open these excavation areas to visitors as soon as possible. The ancient city of Metropolis in Torbalı will be open to visitors from the beginning of the season. The ancient site of Teos in Seferihisar will be finished toward the end of the season. Visits to the ancient prophecy center of Claros in the district of Özdere and Urla’s ancient city of Klazomenai will begin this year, too. The Ayasuluk Fortress, which is the most visited place after the ancient city of Ephesus and the House of the Virgin Mary in Selçuk, will be open to visitors – with some restrictions – this season,” Ediz said.
If you build it, they will come
Ediz said people interested in archaeology were able to visit those sites, but they should be aware that there were no tourist guides or specialist facilities to meet their needs. “This is why tour operators did not include these locations in their programs.”
He said they believed the number of visitors to museums and ancient sites would increase to a great extent in 2014. “Companies that come to İzmir for meetings have started to dedicate one day of their programs [in visiting] ancient sites. This also caused an increase in cultural tourism among local tourists. Students also have a significant interest in visiting museums and ancient sites. We are working to increase our outreach to students by supporting projects that educate young people about these ancient sites,” Ediz added.
Annually, approximately 3 million people visit 16 museums and ancient sites in İzmir. The Ephesus ancient city has the highest number of visitors. This is followed by St. Jean Church in Selçuk, Acropolis in Bergama, Terrace Houses in Ephesus, and the ancient city of Asklepieion in Bergama.
The Prehistoric Life Museum, which is under construction in Yeşilova Mound by the Bornova Municipality, will open in July. The facility will be the sixth archaeological center that will open to visitors this season.
According to officials, it will be the one and only in Turkey. Associate Professor Zafer Derin, Yeşilova’s Mound deputy head of excavations, said the ancient city, scientific laboratories and the Neolithic village complex had been designed all together, so that visitors would be able to experience social life in the prehistoric age.
Besides Yeşilova Mound, the most important prophecy center of the ancient ages, Claros, will open to visits this year, too. Although it is not an ancient city, the prophecy center also draws many visitors.
Metropolis and Teos are also expected to draw many visitors this year as well.