Izmir’s ancient city of Ephesus, one of Turkey’s most famous sites, is one step closer to joining the UNESCO World Heritage list following a conservation committee’s approval of a structural plan for the tourist attraction, the local mayor has said.
The Structural Plan for the Protection of the Ephesus-Selçuk Archaeological Site, which was prepared by Selçuk Municipality, was recently approved by the İzmir Committee for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Properties, bringing the city closer to the coveted status.
Ephesus must be evaluated as a whole and follow a three-stage plan for inclusion on the World Heritage List, Selçuk Mayor Vefa Ülgür said, adding that as part of a protocol signed with the Culture and
Tourism Ministry, they prepared a map of the ancient city that was then approved by the conservation committee.
The ancient city covered a larger area than is seen today, he said, adding that the map of the 1,257-hectare area laid the framework to address a number of issues.
The plan will provide solutions to issues like the property rights on the site, solve current safety and transportation problems and delineate the borders of the ancient site to ensure that the site is better protected. Planned practical improvements to the site include the construction of entrance gates, new visitor stores, car parking and the coordination of alternative tour routes to reduce congestion.
“We are now preparing for the second stage following the first step we took to solve the problems of Ephesus,” Ülgür said, adding that they would start working on implementation strategies and discuss the dimensions and features of the new car parking places, entrance gates and visitor stores.
“All problems between our municipality and some authorities at the Culture and Tourism Ministry have been settled. If these bodies can fall in line with the municipality, we are planning to finish this work in the first quarter of 2012.”
‘Most radical change of the republican period’
The plans prepared for Ephesus were the “most radical changes” to the ancient city in Turkey’s republican period, the Selçuk mayor said.
“There will be a new visiting gate for the Seven Sleepers and Magnesia in the ancient city. Just like in the past, people will enter the ancient city through the port, which is the real entrance of the city,” he said.
The third and final stage would be the Ephesus Area Management Plan, Ülgür said, adding that management of the area would change. “The authorities and responsibilities of the İzmir Metropolitan Municipality, Culture and Tourism Ministry and the Selçuk Municipality will be redefined with this plan. At the conclusion of this process, there will be no reason for the ancient city of Ephesus not to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List,” he said.