Tofaş’s contribution to Hierapolis’s tourism record
One of them is Hierapolis, the most important health and textile center of the ancient times, situated in the southwestern province of Pamukkale.
The other one is Tofaş, a leading company in the automotive industry which last year made up 22 percent of Turkey’s automobile production on its own. The reason I write about them is the continuous sponsorship of Tofaş since 2005 to Hierapolis, which has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1988.
We are travelling around the ancient city, situated near the travertines of Pamukkale, together with Tofaş CEO Cengiz Eroldu for the occasion of the 60th anniversary of excavations carried out by an Italian team.
The Italian head of the excavations, Professor Francesco D’Adria, who contributed immensely to the current appearance of Hierapolis, leaving behind 40 years, speaks with enthusiasm.
Hierapolis breaks a tourism record with its 12,000 thousand-people capacity theatre, completed in 2013 with the support of Tofaş, its necropolis spread on a large area, the Frontinus Door and its wide road, houses with frescos and church.
From time to time, Hierapolis gets ahead of Ephesus and Hagia Sophia in terms of the number of tourists visiting the premise. It was visited by 2.2 million people in 2014.
Some 1.85 million people visited Hierapolis in 2015. But because of last year’s crisis, this number is expected to be 1.5 million for this year.
The restoration of Plutonium known as the “Hell’s Gate,” called as such because of the thermal waters that created the travertines of Pamukkale and the carbon dioxide that comes out of the earth, is going on.
Hierapolis will undoubtedly break a new record in tourism when it opens next year.
“The increase in the number of tourists motivates us in the sponsorship issues even more,” said Eroldu.
Eroldu draws a fine analogy when he speaks about the support of Tofaş in arts and culture, which is also the sponsor of the Pavilion of Turkey at the Venice Biennale.
“In the past, there were traders who built bridges between the east and west. Today, multinational companies like us accomplish the mission of the culture bridge,” he said.
Thanks to such a “culture bridge,” tourists from many different nationalities visit the ancient city excavated by the Italians; and the most important thing is that Italians, Turkish, Norwegian and Finnish people work together in the team.
Having contributed 1 million Turkish Liras to Plutonium, Eroldu said they bring in something new in an archaeological site which is a parkour for the disabled.
The replica of the Pluton sculpture unearthed at the Plutonium excavations will also be placed here.
Erdoldu said the sculpture was ordered to an Italian master who also did the replicas of the sculptures of Michelangelo. “It will draw attention just like the theatre once this place opens,” he added.
I want to congratulate the CEO of Tofaş who is excited for Hierapolis as much as D’Andria.
He does not watch the progress from his seat just like how it’s done in many sponsorships.
On the contrary, he knows and follows all of the developments in Hierapolis.
“At the moment, 15 percent of the excavations have been completed. We have a long way to go. We will work with the new excavation leader, Grazie Semenaro, on his new project, who will take over the position after D’Andria, when Plutonium is finished,” he said.
Since the beginning of 2005, Tofaş has contributed 2 million euros to Hierapolis, which was listed in UNESCO both because of its ruins and its natural beauties in 1988.
Denizli Archeology Museum president Hasan Hüseyin Baysal accompanied us on the trip, reminding us that during Fikri Sağlar’s time as a culture minister in 1994, the six hotels that destroyed the travertines in this area were moved. Not only had the travertines been freed, but Hierapolis had also reached another level of notability.
Now it is time for Denizli to host such richness and establish a new archaeology museum.