Mardin fulfilling UNESCO application requirements

Mardin fulfilling UNESCO application requirements

MARDIN - Anatolia News Agency
Mardin fulfilling UNESCO application requirements

Mardin Mayor Mehmet Beşir Ayanoğlu says thanks to the project, they have so far made significant progress in protecting the historical structures in the city of Mardin. AA photos

The southeastern city of Mardin, which dates back to antiquity, will apply to be added to UNESCO’S World Heritage List in 2014. After Mardin was added to UNESCO’s temporary World Heritage List, works have been accelerated as part of a historical transformation project.

Mayor of Mardin Mehmet Beşir Ayanoğlu said the project was initiated in 2009, and had thus far made significant progress in protecting the historical structure of the city.

Ayanoğlu said they had worked in various fields as part of the project, and that 80 million liras had been spent so far. Expenditures for the project are expected to total 200 to 250 million Turkish Liras by the time they are finished.

He also said that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay, Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek, and Minister of Development Cevdet Yılmaz had shown an interest in the ongoing projects.

HDN 570 concrete foundations to be pulled down

Ayanoğlu said they were working with the Diyarbakır Cultural and Natural Heritage Board in order to prevent historical areas from any kind of damage. “We are conducting works to pull down 570 concrete foundations in Old Mardin. Some 137 buildings have already been pulled down and 30 buildings are going to be expropriated. The Housing Development Administration (TOKİ) will help us to build up 440 residences, and we are waiting for the tender to be completed. Construction will start in September and 570 house owners will be given residences in the new residential area,” said Ayanoğlu.

Within the archeological site, the streets of the city have been excavated one by one, the water supply network and canalization networks have been renovated, and Turkish Telecom and the Turkish Electricity Distribution Corporation (TEDAŞ) cables were earthed.

Ayanoğlu thinks the city will also be able to return to its old days with the reopening of Mardin Castle, which has been closed off for nearly 220 years. The castle will reopen to visitors in 2014, and Ayanoğlu stressed that Prime Minister Erdoğan cared personally about reopening the castle.

“Joing the UNESCO World Heritage List means that Mardin, as a world city, will become prominent. Our basic aim is to introduce and promote Mardin to public opinion. We are planning to apply in 2014, and we will state how we have been caring about Mardin in our application file. We have to fulfill a number of requirements in order to apply to UNESCO, and we have been working on this for many years,” said Ayanoğlu.

5 million tourists target in 2023

In order to pass down Mardin to the next generations properly, historical artifacts should be protected, said Ayanoğlu. He stated that the main point of the project was to reach the level of other cities in terms of religious and cultural tourism. Mardin currently welcomes 1.1 million tourists per year, and in 2015 the expected number of tourists is 2.5 million.

“In 2023, 5 million tourists will be hosted in Mardin for the 100th year of our republic,” Ayanoğlu said.