Santa Claus Museum most popular among Antalya tourists
ANTALYA – Cihan News Agency
DHA PhotoIn the first nine months of 2014, 2.6 million Turkish and foreign people visited the ancient sites in the southern province of Antalya. It is expected that this figure reached 2.8 million by the end of the year.
According to data provided by the Culture and Tourism Ministry, Antalya is home to 284 small and large historical ruins. The city’s only ancient site under UNESCO protection is Xanthos, located in the Kaş district’s Kınık neighborhood.
The city’s most visited place in the first nine months of 2014 was Noel Baba (Santa Claus) Church, located in the Demre district. The number of visitors was 464,557 and the estimated year-end number is some 500,000.
The Santa Claus Church is followed by the ancient city of Myra in Demre. Excavation work in the ancient city is headed by Akdeniz University Archaeology Department member Professor Nevzat Çelik. The ancient site was visited by 374,821 tourists in the first nine months of 2014 and the estimated year-end number is some 400,000.
The Alanya Castle is the third most visited place in the city with 319,895 people.
The least visited places in Antalya last year were the temples of Athens and Apollon. These sites underwent restoration three years ago within the scope of the protection of the Side Ancient Sites temples region. Only 489 people visited these sites last year.
The ancient city of Xanthos, which has been under UNESCO protection for 28 years, received 33,225 tourists in 2014. According to the ministry’s data, the other most visited places in the city included the city’s other world-famous places, such as the Aspendos Ancient Theater (170,407 visitors); the Phaselis Ancient City (170,538); the Olympos Ancient city (314,151); the Perge Ancient City (147,734); the Patara Ancient City (163,467); the Side Ancient Theater (148,085); the Side Museum (30,053); the Elmalı Museum (13,982); the Antalya Museum (109,694); the Arykanda Ancient City (5,582); and the Simeand Ancient City (31,306).
It was also reported that 34,000 Museum Cards were sold throughout the year.
French tourists visit ancient sites most
A travel agency’s French Culture Tourism expert and tourist guide Eren Ölçüoğlu said that Antalya’s cultural sites received the most interest from French tourists. He said that 600,000 French tourists came to the Antalya region for culture tourism last year and visited the Santa Claus Museum and the ancient city of Myra most.
“French tourists think ‘we have sea, sun and sand, too’ and do not come for this type of tourism, unlike German, Russian, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish tourists. They prefer culture, history, archaeology and faith tours. They get very excited to see the historic ancient ruins in Antalya,” Ölçüoğlu said.
A Russian travel agency’s culture and faith tourism director Nathalia Baranov said that within culture and faith tourism, Russians visited the Santa Claus Museum in Demre the most. Baranov said that in order to become a pilgrim, some Russians visit the Virgin Mary Church in İzmir, the St. Paul Monastery in Mersin’s Mut district and the Alahan Monastery in Tarsus, which was built in 41 A.D. by the early Christian leader Barnabas.