'Doomsday village’ prepares for post-epidemic
The historical village of Şirince, which is visited by around 4,000 people daily in the spring months, has been silent for two months due to the outbreak.
Şirince was ready for a potential apocalypse in 2012 when many doomsday believers flocked to the village in the Aegean province of İzmir’s Selçuk district, near ancient Ephesus. But in 2020, the resort village was caught off guard when the coronavirus pandemic struck the world. Today, it is empty and devoid of tourists.
Şirince is a picturesque village built on a green slope among mountains, drawing attention with its stone streets, olive trees and houses with bay windows. It has become a neighborhood with a new status.
On the Mayan calendar that ended on Dec. 21, 2012 Şirince was named “the village that will not be affected by the apocalypse,” along with the village of Bugarach in France, and became the center of attention in the world.
Dating back to the 5th century B.C. and one of the most visited villages in Turkey, Şirince hosts over 2 million local and foreign guests every year. The historical village, which was visited by around 4,000 people daily in the spring months, has been silent for two months due to the outbreak.
Hosting visitors in June
The residents, who are not used to the silence in Şirince, which has become one of the important stops of tourism due to its closeness to the ancient city of Ephesus, the House of Virgin Mary and Kuşadası Port, are waiting for the historical region to regain its lively days.
In the charming village, which offers an alternative to the stressful life of the city, tradesmen, who intend to host visitors in June in line with the measures to be taken during the “controlled normalization” phase, continue their preparations.
Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, Selçuk district governor Ekrem İnci said that Şirince is one of the oldest settlements with a history of 8,600 years. He expressed his belief that the village will return to its old days after the epidemic, and said they are preparing for it.
“Before such a virus, people couldn’t find a place to walk here. Approximately 2 million people visit Şirince annually. We started working to ensure that our guests can visit here in the best way possible. We will take measures to prevent people from catching the coronavirus. Hopefully we will start working according to the calendar to be announced. Here, we will control the entrances and exits, we will take people’s temperatures, we will pay attention to the social distancing rule and we will not allow anyone without a mask. If places like restaurants are opened, we will definitely use disposable materials such as cups, forks, knives and plates. We will also help people see this beautiful village.”
Ahmet Irak, who runs a hostel in the village, said that he has been doing business for the past 40 years and has never seen such silence in his life before.
Stating that tourism enterprises have been closed for two-and-a-half months, Irak said, “Preparations started in Şirince. We expect some places to open in June. So, tourism will begin. Normally it would be very crowded in these months. It would be the peak time of tourism. Of course, the important thing is health. In the next phase, we will distance ourselves from the virus, we will be careful about hygiene, if we get 10 customers, we will try to take five. We will continue like this for a while.”
The village’s head, İsmail Yıldırdı, said that silence reminded him of the past.
“In the 1980s, Şirince was so empty. But with the measures we will take, we believe that this problem will be overcome in a short time. Shopkeepers are waiting for June. We gradually started preparations. Since the shops have been closed for about two-and-a-half months, we are now cleaning. Under normal circumstances, we were expecting 4,000 people a day this season. But we expect extreme mobility after this phase as we’ve been receiving high demands recently.”