New projects realized to make ‘Rumkale’ a tourist showpiece
GAZIANTEP - Anatolia News Agency
Rumkale and its vicinity, which straddles the boundary between Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa, is home to structures from the Urartu, Babylon, Sumerian, Seljuk and Ottoman eras. AA photo
The southeastern province of Gaziantep’s Rumkale, which has been home to many civilizations throughout history and was an important center in early Christianity, could soon open to greater tourism thanks to new restoration.
“We are bringing together ‘history’ and ‘water,’” Gaziantep Culture and Tourism Director Mehmet Aykanat recently told Anatolia news agency. “When the works are done, Rumkale will continue drawing tourists as a faith center. It will be the heart of Gaziantep in terms of tourism.”
The site, which is largely inaccessible due to rising waters caused by the damming of the Euphrates further south at Birecik, was reportedly home to one of the apostles of Jesus Christ, St. John, and it is believed that he reproduced a copy of the Bible in a rock-carved room on the site. “This is why it is believed to be holy by Christians,” Aykanat said.
Rumkale (Roman Castle) and its vicinity, which straddles the boundary between Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa, is home to structures from the Urartu, Babylon, Sumerian, Seljuk and Ottoman eras, drawing attention from tourists, Aykanat said.
“Some structures have been unearthed during the surface excavations at Rumkale,” the cultural official said. “Project works for the Barsavma Monastery [which was completed in the 13th century] have been completed and delivered to the Cultural Artifacts and Museums General Directorate. The projects about the restoration and building survey works in the cistern and the St. Nerses Church and the lightning around the castle, as well as its observation with security cameras, have been approved.”
Aykanat also said a walking lane had been created by the castle and that the project had been partially approved by the Gaziantep Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation Board.
The governor’s offices of Gaziantep and Şanlıurfa have also signed an agreement to prevent the construction of any buildings in the Lower Euphrates Basin so as to preserve the area.
“The boat tours that begin from the Birecik Dam will also include Rumkale and Nemrut when the works are finished. In this way, tourists will be able to take boat tours and then reach Mount Nemrut by land,” Aykanat said, referring to a site in Adıyaman that features massive stone heads thousands of years old.
The overall cost for the restoration work will be 2.5 million Turkish Liras, he said.