Mesopotamia’s ‘Golden Triangle’ to shine with tourism routes
With their deep history of countless civilizations, three Turkish provinces, also known as the “Golden Triangle” of Upper Mesopotamia, will be highlighted as officials are set to establish belief and cultural routes for visitors who want to explore the past.
Turkey’s southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır, Şanlıurfa and Mardin have been home to many small and large-scale states throughout history as their plentiful natural resources have attracted the interest of people of different ethnicities, religions and cultures for thousands of years.
The word “Mesopotamia” translates to “[the land] between the rivers” in ancient Greek, a reference to the Tigris and the Euphrates, two rivers which thousands of peoples competed for and clashed over in the deadliest battles throughout history.
The “Golden Triangle” located in the upper part of the region has played a key role in human history as it had witnessed mankind’s earliest settlements, including the world’s oldest temple, Göbeklitepe, the first agricultural activities, and the establishment of the earliest villages.
Among those who ruled Upper Mesopotamia were the Assyrian Empire, the Roman Empire, Alexander the Great’s Macedonia, Hellenistic states, the Ayyubids, the Abbasid Caliphate, the Seljuk Empire and the Ottoman Empire.
Every civilization left its mark. Monuments such as temples, palaces and citadels are waiting to be explored by those into the history and collective culture of humankind.
In order to make this adventure easier and more satisfactory for visitors, Turkish authorities, in collaboration with the tourism and culture sector along with relevant organizations and stakeholders, will gather for a workshop this month in Diyarbakır to discuss the steps to be taken in this direction.
One of the most important items on the agenda will be the establishment of “belief and culture routes” in which visitors will be directed by the authorities so they can travel around the region, know where to find accommodation, and eat without hiring a guide. This route, whose details will be determined during the workshop, will include historic mosques, churches and synagogues as well as ancient temples.
In an interview with the state-run Anadolu Agency, Münir Karaloğlu, the governor of Diyarbakır province, said Upper Mesopotamia was one of the very first settlements in human history and contained a great deal of historical artifacts and cultural value.
“By combining the cultural and belief values of all three provinces, we are striving to create synergy,” he said, adding that the coming workshop will focus on the marketing strategy based on the destinations, establishing new routes for travelers.
Karaloğlu said that the COVID-19 outbreak inflicted a heavy blow on the tourism sector across the globe, but the region will be one of the hotspots of tourism with its ancient artifacts, especially towards the end of the outbreak as it has great potential.
He noted that Göbeklitepe in Şanlıurfa was the “ground zero” of human history as it dated back to 9,600 B.C. Diyarbakır’s fortress walls stretched for over 5,000 kilometers, which makes it second only to the Great Wall of China. Hevsel Gardens had once been home to one of the world’s earliest cultivation activities and got added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2015.
“Zerzevan Castle also made it to the World Heritage List,” Karaloğlu said, referring to the former important military base of the Romans under which excavations revealed the existence of a temple of the Mithraism – a pre-Christian cult that performed rituals about 1,700 years ago.
The governor added that the new routes would add to the already existing touristic value of the region, and more tourists were expected to visit the “Golden Triangle” in line with the Culture and Tourism Ministry’s policy of including eastern regions on the agenda of local and international tourists.
“We are expecting a serious number of tourists once the culture and belief routes are established following the meeting,” he said and noted that Turkey contained its historical and cultural values, both Islamic and Turkic ones, along with other cultures and civilizations.