Chinese flock to Göbeklitepe
The allure of the world's oldest known temple in southeastern Turkey is attracting the attention of Chinese tourists, the Turkish ambassador in Beijing said on Aug. 14.
Turkey hosted famous Chinese writers and journalists last year to attract the attention of more Chinese tourists, Abdulkadir Emin Önen told Anadolu Agency.
"We showed them Göbeklitepe. Previously, Chinese tourists were mostly going to Cappadocia, but now we have included Göbeklitepe in new destinations,” he said. “In China, we can say that there is a breeze about Göbeklitepe."
Pointing to its monumental architecture dating back 12,000 years, Önen said Göbeklitepe is important not just for Şanlıurfa or Turkey but the whole world.
Efforts to promote Turkey resulted in 60% more Chinese tourists visiting in 2018 than the previous year to reach 400,000, Önen said.
"This number will increase more in the years to come, and I hope we will welcome more Chinese tourists in Turkey, Şanlıurfa and Göbeklitepe. Promoting Göbeklitepe means promoting Turkey, which means embracing its history and culture," he said.
Göbeklitepe is an official UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is recognized as the oldest temple in the world by many international organizations. It was discovered in 1963 by researchers from the universities of Istanbul and Chicago. Since then, excavations been non-stop.
The German Archaeological Institute and Şanlıurfa Museum have been carrying out joint excavations at the site since 1995. They found T-shaped obelisks from the Neolithic era towering 10-20 feet (3-6 meters) high and weighing 40-60 tons.
During excavations, various historical artifacts, including a 26-inch (65-centimeter) long human statue dating back 12,000 years, have also been discovered.