Rumkale preparing to welcome tourists
Gaziantep - Anatolia News Agency
The castle, which sits on a peninsula formed by three surrounding dam lakes, will serve tourism from planned restoration.
In the bank of the Euphrates, Rumkale, which translates to Greek Castle, offers visitors both natural and historical beauty in the southeastern province of Gaziantep. The area is currently undergoing restorations to attract a greater number of tourists. The castle, which sits on a peninsula formed by three surrounding dam lakes, has long been a sacred place for Christians and will benefit from planned restoration. Also within the scope of the project the Church of St. Nerses in Rumkale will be restored along with the transformation of stone houses into boutique hotels. A walkway on the eastern side of Rumkale is underway.
Rumkale was an antique city dating back 2,000 years which served as a seat of power for Catholics in the 12th century, Secretary General of the Gaziantep Special Provincial Administration Cafer Yılmaz said.
“It is very significant among Christians and it is claimed that one of the gospels was written there.” Rumkale has the ability to attract both cultural and religious tourism with the surrounding area suitable for nature tourism as well, Yılmaz said. Karkamış, Zeugma, and the Rumkale are great cultural heritage sites clustered together in the Euphrates river valley, he said, providing tourists with a full itinerary of sites to see.
“With the direction of our minister we will initiate work to add Rumkale to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list,” Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay said. “Rumkale is one of the most likable places in Turkey and people show their astonishment [at its appearance] with disbelief that another place like this could exist. We have to introduce this district to both domestic and foreign tourism. To manage this we need to have roads and accommodations and we have to finish the restoration.”
‘The private sector should invest in the area’
In the first stage of restoration the ramparts and bastions of the Rumkale were fortified, its surroundings were landscaped and the mosques and churches in the castle were restored. The second stage of restorations will be completed in the year 2013.
“In the second stage of restorations, the Church of St. Nerses will be restored. Some road construction will begin to connect the eastern and western sides of the area. Ten or 11 stone houses will be restored and transformed into boutique hotels and cafes. An observation terrace will be established,” said Yılmaz.
The overall costs for restoration works will total 2.5 million Turkish Liras. According to Yılmaz a 34-kilometer road connecting the eastern and western sides would be completed by next year.
“We aren’t advertising Rumkale [to tourists] right now, but when all the establishments and restorations are completely done we are going to advertise it,” Yılmaz said. The stated goal is to draw approximately 5 million tourists by the year 2023. “We want tourists to stay at least three or four days to contribute to Gaziantep’s economic life. In order to reach the target, we have to use the nearby historical sites. The city has this potential and we are expecting the private sector to invest in the area. They can establish cafes, restaurants, accommodations; we are ready to help investors,” he said, adding that boat trips have been arranged between Rumkale, Zeugma and Halfeti for tourists.