Historical Aksaray seeking screen time
AKSARAY - Anatolia News Agency
Aksaray, a historical city in the center of the country famous for its Ottoman, Karamanoğlu and Seljuk buildings, is now hoping this legacy will attract more media production companies. AA PhotosAksaray might be overshadowed by the natural wonders of nearby Cappadocia, but the Central Anatolian province itself boasts a wealth of buildings evoking its Seljuk, Karamanoğlu, Ottoman and early Republican past that is increasingly drawing the attention of TV and film producers.
An area known as “History Island,” featuring Turkish baths, factories, mansions, madrasahs and bridges, has been set aside in an effort to revive the provincial center and provide a space for cultural and artistic events.
The area with its natural characteristics and architecture has been attracting documentaries, TV series and movie productions, Aksaray Mayor Nevzat Palta recently told Anatolia news agency.
“This island has many assets for film producers. The natural environment is very suitable for movie shootings,” said Palta. “We want film producers to visit our city.”
Restorations near completion
Although Aksaray was in the middle of the Silk Road and the stunning natural beauty of Ihlara Valley is close, Palta said the provincial center had struggled to attract as many visitors as the more famous Cappadocia region to the east. However, the current restorations and the history island with its mansions and buildings are expected to attract more tourists while also providing a venue for cultural events.
The province has only hosted a few movies in the past, including “Deprem” (Earthquake), a 1976 production starring Türkan Şoray and Kadir İnanır. Late comedian Kemal Sunal and Perihan Savaş’s 1985 feature “Keriz” (Stupid), Yelda Reynaud and Nur Sürer’s 1998 feature “Yara” (Wound) and Sunal and Metin Akpınar’s famous 1999 film “Propaganda” were also filmed in the province.
The history of Aksaray goes back 10,000 years ago and was home to many different civilizations and cultures, the mayor said.
Noting that the richness of the city was evident in the city center and its environs, Palta said the area around Paşa Hamam was full of historical buildings, including many valuable monuments. There are also three mansions from the Ottoman era, restorations on which have largely been completed.
The older mansions were partly damaged, said Palta, adding that a total of 850,000 liras had been spent for the restoration of the mansions. “The mansions were home to important people in older times. The restoration of the buildings was made with care and in harmony with the architectural characteristics of the Ottoman era.”
Aksaray came under the control of the Seljuk Empire after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071. The area was also famous for its commercial activities. The Arab traveler Ibn Battuta, who was in the region in the 14th century, was impressed by the class of Muslim traders that had emerged in Aksaray. The city was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1470 by İshak Paşa, and the area still carries the architectural traces of the Ottoman and Seljuk empires.
Cultural island to be created
The different architecture styles in Aksaray are an important characteristic of the city, the mayor said.
“A mansion from the Karamanoğlu era and the Zinciriye Madrasah, the Ottoman-era Turkish bath Paşa Hamam, the Azmi Milli flour factory, which was made on the request of [Mustafa Kemal] Atatürk during the Republican era, and three bridges belonging to the Seljuk era have all been restored,” said Palta.
“Today we are using one of the mansions as a cultural house to host cultural events there.
The flour factory will be transformed into an industry museum,” he said.
The madrasah, meanwhile, will be transformed into a social and cultural center. As a result of all these moves, an area will be taken under protection to be converted into a cultural island.