Dara ancient city fascinates visitors
The Dara ancient city in the southeastern province of Mardin, which attracts tourists with its cultural and historical structures, has been reopened to visits amid the normalization phase.
The city is perched atop layers of civilizations and history, as stews of influence from several ethnicities that have lived there are visible. Scientific excavations and researches have been carried out for 34 years in the Oğuz neighborhood, 30 kilometers from the city center.
Dara, which was one of the important cities of old Mesopotamia and is home the remains of churches, palaces, bazaars, dungeons and water basins, is among the historical places that opened its doors to visitors after taking careful measures against COVID-19.
The ancient city perhaps witnessed its quietest days during the peak of the pandemic, when most ancient sites and museums were shuttered as Turkey scrambled to contain the outbreak in mid-March. When the country rolled out its normalization phased early June, many people began coming to Dara. The necropolis area, where religious ceremonies were held during the Roman Period and hundreds of people were buried together, is one of the most popular spots of the ancient city.
The ancient city, founded by the Eastern Roman Empire in order to protect their border against the Sassanid, is among the places preferred by tourists to take photographs or newly-wed couples who want their wedding photos amid this historical treasure.
Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, a volunteer guide in the ancient city of Dara, Mehmet Kaya said that Dara has become among the most popular places in recent years.
Stating that the historical place is visited within the scope of the coronavirus measures, Kaya said, “We currently host an average of 3,000 people a day. Guests are wearing masks. They obey the social distancing rule.”
Stating that those who visit the city and the region want to see the Dara ancient city, too, Kaya said that they mostly host local tourists, but foreign tourists are also interested in this place.
“We want to host all our guests in Dara. This is a must-see area,” he added.
Another guide, Fırat İlhan also noted that visitors showed great interest in the historical place.
Stating that the excavation works also started, İlhan said, “We invite everyone to this unparalleled area.”
Due to its location on the historical Silk Road, Dara also has religious, social and commercial importance. Excavations have so far unearthed lots of architectural ruins from various periods.
Only 10 percent excavated
The archaeological excavations began in the ancient city in 1986, but only 10 percent of the area, where a village is located, has been uncovered so far.
During excavations carried out in various areas of the village, rock tombs and cisterns were uncovered by removing 10 meters of alluvial filler.
Among the historical finds revealed in the excavations are the city walls, water cisterns, rock tombs, churches, agora, bridges, silos and similar structures that met the needs of the ancient city’s residents.
Over a period of 25 years, archaeological digs slowly revealed a monumental mass graveyard. The cistern, located at a depth of 25 meters under a village house in Dara, which is similar to the Yerebatan Cistern in Istanbul and called the “Dungeon” by villagers, was cleaned and unearthed in about 15 years.