Record number of tourists visiting Hierapolis
Hierapolis, near Pamukkale in the Aegean region, is among Turkey’s five important ancient cities.
It entered the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988.
Turkish automaker TOFAŞ has been supporting excavations in the city since 2005, and this year a record number of tourists visited the city.
It is possible to see the difference even from one year to the other.
Professor Francesco D’Andria welcomed us when we went visited the city with a group of journalists upon the invitation of Cengiz Eroldu, the CEO of Tofaş.
D’Andria came to Hierapolis in the 1970’s and speaks Turkish as though he is singing in Italian.
After heading the excavations for long years, he left his mission to Professor Grazia Semeraro.
“My job in Turkey is ending but my love is not. I now have two countries,” he said.
Hierapolis is like his baby, whom he will always keep an eye on.
The world’s first public toilets
Our visit started by passing from the fabulous door constructed by Hierapolis’ Roman Governor Frontinus, a hydraulic engineer.
The Frontinus door and Frontinus Street are some of the remains from Hierapolis’ magnificent Roman history.
D’Andria tells us that the governor constructed the door, the street and the world’s first public toilets behind the street during the same time.
Designed separately for women and men, the toilets constructed for the caravans passing from the street are called latrina.
One of the purposes of this year’s visit is to see the Hades statue as well as the restoration works in the Plutonion sacred place, which was unearthed in the excavations of the last two years.
The support of TOFAŞ in the discovery of this sacred place, where thermal waters come out from fault lines, is very significant.
1.5 million visitors annually
“The Hieropolis ancient city is a very precious heritage. It is one of the archeological places that attracts the highest number of visitors in Turkey. Annually, 1.5 million visitors come to the city. The continuation of the excavations is an important contribution to the promotion of Turkey,” the CEO of TOFAŞ said.
One hopes the support of TOFAŞ, which is celebrating its 50th year, for the conservation of a very important cultural heritage like Hierapolis could inspire other companies.
Coming back to our visit, D’Andria told us how he resorted to an interesting method to discover the Plutonion sacred place.
“This place is covered by smoke like fog; it is so intense that any animal entering it dies. All the sparrows I have sent in have lost their breath,” wrote Greek historian and philosophe Strabon while describing Plutonion.
Operating from this description, D’Andria looked for bird bones and found them. The cause of the birds’ death is the carbon dioxide that emits from the fault line.
The pieces of the statue of Hades, the god of hell, were also found during the excavations.
The automotive sector
When meeting Eroldu, it is impossible not to ask about the situation in the automotive sector.
TOFAŞ broke a record production level last year with 384,000 products.
But Eroldu underlined that there was a drop of 21 percent in the January-August period.
The rise in the value of foreign currencies is among the fundamental reasons for the contraction in the automotive sector, according to him.
“High interest rates always decrease domestic demand,” he said.
Eroldu argues that if support is not provided to revive the sector, the domestic market that saw 900,000 sales last year could close this year with 600,000.