Closed historical venues in İznik draw reaction
The closing of many historical venues due to reasons such as excavations and renovations in the northwestern province of Bursa’s İznik district, which is a center that attracts tourists, has drawn reaction.
A “beware of dog” sign was placed at the entrance of the ancient Roman Theater, which has long been closed along with historical sites such as the İznik Museum, İznik Tile Furnaces, Elbeyli Underground Tombs and Süleyman Paşa Madrasah.
İznik, established in 316 B.C. by Antigonius Monophthalmos, one of the commanders of Alexander the Great of Macedonia, became the capital of Bithynia throughout its history and became one of the critical cities of Rome.
The city was seized by the Turks in 1075 and became the capital of the Seljuk state. Finally, İznik was conquered by Sultan Orhan Bey in 1331 and became an Ottoman city, which is home to the cultural heritage and artifacts of many of civilizations.
The Ancient Roman Theater, İznik Museum, Basilica, Historic Tile Furnaces, Elbeyli Underground Tombs, Suleyman Pasha Madrasah and Orhan Baths, which have been closed for many years, are protected by barbed wires, fences and security cameras.
The historic İznik Ancient Roman Theater was closed to visitors due to excavations works that have continued for 30 years and the “beware of the dog” sign was placed in its entrance as a measure to keep people away.
No place to visit
The former director of the İznik Museum Taylan Sevil said visitors could not find a place to visit in İznik.
“After the Hagia Sophia Church was turned into a mosque, İznik tourism received a big blow. Historical structures should be opened to contribute to İznik’s tourism. Today, there is no place for tourists to visit in İznik. Why? Because of excavations or restorations,” said Sevil.
“Excavations have been ongoing on the theater for years. Such places should not be closed to visitors. For example, Ephesus is open to visitors but has been undergoing excavations for 125 years. It was not even closed for one day. The excavated site is protected and its exterior is kept open. It is not possible to understand why it is different in İznik,” he said.
Bekir Uslu, who has been a business manager in İznik for 20 years, said tourists left İznik unhappy.
“People coming here come back before they can see any place. The Basilica was discovered underwater in 2014. It was listed among the world’s top 10 inventions. After that, it never opened. Works still continue. Besides, there are Roman theaters. If tourists have any place to visit, they are all closed right now,” said Uslu.
“We call İznik a historical city. It is broadcasted on television but people return sad. All the historical places are fenced and left. Neither people are able to get information. They complain about it. We have lost our jobs. The reason is that there are few people coming here. Because people are not satisfied. There is a 70-80 percent decrease in the number of tourists visiting İznik,” he said.