Göbeklitepe may attract 5 mln foreign tourists: Minister
Göbeklitepe, thousands of years old Neolithic archaeological site in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, may lure as many as 5 million foreign tourists in the next five years, Culture and Tourism Minister Nuri Ersoy has said.
“This site is extremely important both for Turkey and the world, not only for archeological aspects but also for tourism activity. The number of visitors to Göbeklitepe is increasing each year,” Ersoy said, speaking after visiting the ”Back to Realverse: Göbeklitepe” exhibition in Istanbul.
A working group to study the Neolithic age, which includes international archaeological institutions and academics, has been established, the minister said, describing Göbeklitepe as one of the most important findings in Turkey.
The exhibition, which was launched as part of the Beyoğlu Culture Road Festival at Galataport, features the replicas of the structures in Göbeklitepe as well as a mockup of the site which illustrates how Göbeklitepe was built.
Stone blocks weighing 30 tons were transferred from Şanlıurfa. Local stonemasons worked on those blocks to carve out the replicas of the structures in Göbeklitepe to be displayed at the exhibition.
“We did something different for this exhibition. This time, stones from the region were used to produce those replicas. Those pieces also give some idea of how big those original stone works in Göbeklitepe are,” Ersoy said.
The exhibition will remain open until June 12, but it will probably be extended, the minister said. “Because it is attracting much more visitors than we expected.”
Göbeklitepe was included on UNESCO’s Tentative List in 2011 and later was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2018.
The 12,000-year-old site presents monumental round-oval and rectangular megalithic structures erected by hunter-gatherers in the pre-pottery Neolithic age between 9,600 and 8,200 B.C. Distinctive T-shaped pillars found at the site are carved with images of wild animals, providing insight into the way of life and the beliefs of people of the time.
Ersoy also noted that tourism activity in Istanbul has been strong and promising so far this year.
“We aim to have as many foreign tourists we welcomed back in 2019,” Ersoy said, recalling that that year 15 million foreigners visited the megacity.