Restoration needed to revive Santa Ruins for tourism
Located within the borders of Dumanlı village between the northern provinces of Trabzon and Gümüşhane and considered a historical and touristic treasure, the Santa Ruins requires urgent restoration to revive its magnificent cultural heritage.
It is stated that Santa Ruins, whose restoration will be put out to tender this year, is a historical settlement that needs to be revived with a correct development plan.
Coşkun Erüz, the president of the Association for the Conservation of Natural and Historical Values, said that if approximately 400 historical buildings in Santa were restored, it would make a significant contribution to nature and cultural tourism.
Stating that the Santa Ruins is rapidly disappearing due to indifference, Erüz said that the restoration of Santa, which is one of the thousands of Natural Protected Sites in Türkiye, is extremely difficult and will take a long time to be done with national resources.
“Santa is one of the most important natural, historical and touristic attractions of the Eastern Black Sea region. The historical settlement from the Ottoman period has magnificent natural scenery among the mountains and forests at an altitude of 800 to 2,000 meters in the Yanbolu valley. Although Santa seems like a settlement used as a plateau during the summer months, it was an important caravan and mining village with 13 neighborhoods and a population of more than 5,000 people during the Ottoman period. More than 400 houses, shops, schools, churches and fountains have survived to the present day,” Erüz said.
Stating that Santa was a settlement whose population was over 5,000 in the 1800s, with the migration of the surrounding mines after the 1700s, Erüz said: “After 1850, due to the closure of the mines, unemployment and internal unrest, a significant part of the population migrated out of Santa to Trabzon and its villages, to other provinces and even outside the country. With the 1923 Greece-Türkiye population exchange agreement, around 1,000, all of whom were Orthodox Christians, immigrated to Greece via the Trabzon port. The lands and properties of Santa, which were completely vacated after the exchange, were registered in the treasury.”
Noting that Santa has the status of Cultural-Archaeological Site and Natural Site but is only on paper, Erüz said: “Santa, which is a natural attraction center with its magnificent nature, scenery and historical texture, unfortunately, has this status only on paper. There is a conservation status for only seven of the 13 villages with historical settlements. Despite the protection status, both nature and historical structures are rapidly being destroyed and deteriorating even in seven neighborhoods. The buildings used as residences are changed according to the needs of the right holders, or they are completely demolished and removed, and modern buildings are built that are not suitable for the historical texture. Churches, schools, fountains and paved roads, which are public buildings, are destroyed more and more every year by treasure buffs and malicious people. Every lost moment causes Santa to disappear a little more, and an important value for regional tourism is lost.”
Erüz also said that it would take a long time and would be a difficult process to build Santa with national resources and that an urgent development and conversation plan should be made for the historical settlement.
“Santa is a geography built on two slopes of a valley. It is an evergreen geography under the fog just above the forest border. Visitors, who come to Santa through the fierce mountains and valley, find themselves in an incredible scene of the Black Sea. Santa region is a place highly demanded by local and foreign tourists interested in nature, culture and history, but the lack of infrastructure, conservation practices and service units create disappointment for people,” Erüz said.
For the satisfaction of both the residents and visitors, the Conservation Development Plan and Construction Guide for Santa should be prepared urgently. Approximately 300 historical buildings in the protected settlements of Santa have a great potential to be brought to nature and cultural tourism if they are restored,” he added.