‘Gateway to Cappadocia’ on rise in tourism
AKSARAY – Anadolu Agency
AA PhotoEight archaeological sites in the Central Anatolian province of Aksaray, which dates back to 10,000 years ago, were visited by more than 1 million tourists last year, a 17 percent increase in comparison to the previous year.
Aksaray, which is adjacent to Turkey’s famous Cappadocia region, became a province in 1989 after 56 years, and since then, the province has been revived with successful promotional works by the municipality and cultural directorate.
The most important archaeological site in the province, Ihlara Valley, has doubled the number of visitors with new walking routes, trekking fields, environmental rearrangements and the restoration of churches. With the opening of caravanserais, underground cities and museums, the number of visitors has increased even more.
Thanks to the new arrangements, last year 438,903 people visited Ihlara Valley, 438,903 people visited the world’s largest caravanserai, Sultanhanı, and 276,178 people visited the Saratlı Underground City.
Öresin Han, also known as Delikhan Tepesi; Monastery Valley; the newly opened Gaziemir underground city and the Aksaray Museum were among the most visited places in the province.
Culture and Tourism Director Mustafa Doğan stressed the importance of Cappadocia for Turkish tourism, adding that it had progressed in terms of the number of visitors especially after Antalya and Istanbul.
“Ihlara Valley has a very special place for tourism in Cappadocia. Tourists visiting the region prefer to see the valley. At the same time, the most beautiful caravanserais on the route of Antalya-Kayseri are located within the borders of Aksaray. Thanks to these magnificent caravanserais, Aksaray is one of the most visited cities in the region,” he said.
Doğan said Aksaray also had the distinction of being the “gateway to Cappadocia” and that many tourists to Cappadocia visited the archaeological sites in Aksaray.
Older than Çatalhöyük
“The number of visitors to Aksaray has exceeded 1 million. Aşıklıhöyük is the oldest village settlement in Central Anatolia. Work is almost done to open the area to tourism this year. Tourists will have one more archaeological site to visit when it is opened. This place is very important for Anatolia because it is an older settlement than Çatalhöyük in Konya,” Doğan said.
He also said investments had been made for accommodation in recent years in Aksaray. “Thanks to these investments, many tourists will spend time in Aksaray. The city will become one of the leaders in Turkish tourism.”