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ARCHAEOLOGY > Diyarbakır looking to convince UNESCO on centuries old walls

DIYARBAKIR - Anatolia News Agency

The historic walls of Diyarbakır could soon enter the UNESCO World Heritage List if local officials have their way. A meeting was recently held with the attendance of officials from 15 countries to exchange information about what should be done

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A total of 9,246 structures, including 141 monumental structures, 342 civic architecture works and 97 public buildings will be restored. Projects have also been prepared to fix the destroyed bastions of the walls. DHA photos

A total of 9,246 structures, including 141 monumental structures, 342 civic architecture works and 97 public buildings will be restored. Projects have also been prepared to fix the destroyed bastions of the walls. DHA photos

Diyarbakır is rolling up its sleeves to ensure that the southeastern province’s historic basalt walls – some of the longest of their kind in the world – are soon added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

“We have to keep and restore the historic walls, and present them to the world history of humanity as a cultural heritage,” Food, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Mehdi Eker said April 11 during a meeting titled “Diyarbakır Castle and Historic City ICOMOS/ICOFORT 2013.”

Seventy members from 15 countries

The meeting drew 70 members of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) from 15 countries to discuss the inclusion of the historic walls in the UNESCO World Heritage List. ICOMOS, which is a civil society organization of international technical staff and made up of 26 scientific committees, is a counselor for UNESCO on cultural heritages.

Eker said the event was very promising for the future.

The minister said an environment of peace had been destroyed because of anti-democratic measures in the past.

“Diyarbakır faced a problem that it never deserved. Now we have started the restoration process of Diyarbakır’s city walls in order to reveal the architectural value of the city and contribute to world heritage,” he said.

Diyarbakır Gov. Mustafa Toprak said the nearly 5.5-kilometer-long walls had so far been able to protect themselves despite many negative factors. He said the meeting would accelerate the process of the walls’ inclusion on the UNESCO list and that their goal was to bring the walls to the future in the national and international arena.

Diyarbakır ICOMOS Turkey National Committee Secretary General Associate Professor İclal Dinçer said urbanization and infrastructure projects had caused damage to the historic city. “Cities should develop, but this process should develop in compliance with the historical and natural heritage and should be managed well.”

Houses under walls

Diyarbakır Mayor Osman Baydemir said the Diyarbakır walls that had protected people for thousands of years were once again protecting people forced to migrate and that they such people had constructed shanty houses under the walls. “It damages the walls. Citizens have been persuaded and these disorderly structures have been demolished.”

As part of the city’s recent action plan, a total of 9,246 structures, including 141 monumental structures, 342 civic architecture works and 97 public buildings will be restored. Projects have also been prepared to fix the destroyed bastions of the walls.

The meeting was organized in collaboration with the Culture and Tourism Ministry, Diyarbakır Governor’s Office and Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality.

April/13/2013

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