HATAY – Anadolu Agency
The Titus Tunnel and Beşikli Inn in the southern province of Hatay’s Samandağ district, which has a rich cultural heritage, are expected to host more tourists with a new project.
A mountain has been carved for the 130 meters of the 1,380-meter long Titus Tunnel, built in the 1st century by 1,000 slaves with the order of the Roman Emperor Vespesian in order to prevent floodwater from destroying the district’s harbor.
The almost seven-meter high and six-meter wide tunnel draws attention for the story behind its construction and its architecture.
The Beşikli Inn, which was built on rocky slopes in the same region with the tunnel and includes the graves of the Roman King and his family members as well as ordinary people, is a popular venue for tourists visiting Samandağ.
The tunnel and the inn, which can be reached to by a 10-minute walk from the coast of Samandağ, expects to host more local and foreign tourists with a project titled “Nature Walk in the Ancient City of Seleucia Pierra,” realized with the support of the Samandağ District Governorate, Eastern Mediterranean Development Agency (DOĞAKA) and the Samandağ Municipality.
Within the scope of the project, a walking trail and view terraces overlooking the 14-kilometer coast have been established for visitors to have the chance to spend time in a natural and clean atmosphere.
Small sales stands on roads also serve visitors with regional foods and products such as jams and soaps. The sales contribute to the local economy.
Samandağ District Governor Cahit Çelik said the district was home to many natural and historical beauties.
He said that among the most important historical structures in the district, the tunnel and the inn necessitated getting more share in tourism and more tourists visiting, which is why they realized the project.
“Within the scope of the project, we constructed a nearly 1,000-meter long road with the support of DOĞAKA and the Samandağ Municipality. The road was previously concrete and was not suitable for the natural structure. We laid proper stones for the natural structure. As part of this work, we reorganized the road to the Titus Tunnel and Beşikli Inn. We placed signboards on 18 different spots. We also built two view terraces, overlooking Turkey’s longest coast, Samandağ. The Titus tunnel is a very important structure built during the time of the Romans. The aim of the tunnel is to protect the harbor here from floodwater. Thanks to this tunnel, the harbor survived for 500 years. Annually, 80,000 to 100,000 tourists visit the tunnel, but this place can draw more tourists,” he said.
He said the Roman-era bridge at the entrance of the tunnel preserved historical significance as it was built without the use of mortars.
“The bridge has 21 stones. The 11th stone in the middle is the key one. It has the capacity to carry 8.5 tons,” he added.
Samandağ Mayor Mithat Nehir said the district offered many alternatives to tourists.
“We have incredible wealth underground too. These places have been abandoned for long years. Now there are touristic sites. Such projects are needed to be realized in other historical and cultural places in the district too,” Nehir added.