Göbeklitepe ready for hot air balloon flights
With the full launch of flights in the region, visitors will be able to board the balloon and travel on a route that can see the entire historical site.
The historical place, which is visited by many local and foreign tourists every year, started to attract more attention after 2019 was declared “Göbeklitepe Year.”
As part of efforts by the Şanlıurfa Governor’s Office and the provincial directorate of the Culture and Tourism Ministry to increase the number of accommodation days of visitors to Şanlıurfa and increase the variety of touristic products in the city, official applications have been made to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation for balloon rides in nearby touristic sites Halfeti and Harran, and initial works have started near Göbeklitepe.
The first hot air balloon test and test flight were carried out outside the protected area of Göbeklitepe, which is described as the “zero point in history.”
Aydın Arslan, provincial director of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, told Anadolu Agency that negotiations are underway with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and related institutions to launch commercial balloon flights in Şanlıurfa, adding that he expects the flights to start in two months.
“It will be a great activity for those who want to see the original structure of the area from above and want to see its rich natural structure,” he said.
“The hot air balloon will pass 300 to 400 meters away from the interaction boundary of Göbeklitepe. Ballooners will travel on a route that can see the whole area,” he added.
Balloon pilot Bilge Ezel said they had been working on Göbeklitepe flights for over a year, adding that the region was ideal for balloon rides.
“I believe that the start of balloon tourism in a world-famous center will make a very distinct contribution to Şanlıurfa and our country,” he said.
“I am experiencing the excitement when we started balloon tourism in Cappadocia.”
Göbeklitepe, an official UNESCO World Heritage Site that is recognized as the oldest temple in the world by many international organizations, was discovered in 1963 by researchers from universities in Istanbul and Chicago. Since then, excavations have continued.
The German Archaeological Institute and Şanlıurfa Museum have carried out joint work at the site since 1995 and have found T-shaped obelisks from the Neolithic era towering some three to six meters high and weighing 40 to 60 tons.
During the excavations, diverse historical artifacts like a 65-centimeter-long human statue dating back 12,000 years have also been discovered.
According to UNESCO, Göbeklitepe was the meeting center of the last hunters before humans switched to a lifestyle based on agriculture.