‘Slow city’ Uzundere looks to race into tourism future

‘Slow city’ Uzundere looks to race into tourism future

ERZURUM – Anadolu Agency
‘Slow city’ Uzundere looks to race into tourism future

AA photo

Already the site of fantastic natural beauty and ancient history, the eastern province of Erzurum’s Uzundere district is now hoping for an even bigger boost from tourism after the town joined the ranks of the “slow city” movement.

“Visitors tell us, ‘You live in heaven,’” said Cuma Özkul, an 86-year-old local in the district.

The district, which is home to Tortum Lake, Yedigöller and Öşvank Monastery – one of a series of Georgian churches in northeastern Turkey – has made progress in recent years, attracting many local and foreign tourists, said Recep Ata, who has an enterprise at the Tortum Waterfall.

Uzundere is a touristic place and the “slow city” title has contributed to this image, Ata said, while noting that the district still suffered from some shortcomings.

“We are in the slow cities network and we are proud of it. But one would wish that we have more facilities and more visitors. The atmosphere here is very beautiful. Tours are coming but we don’t have much to do in the waterfall area when the weather is stormy. We want a closed area,” Ata said. 

Home to historical beauty

Uzundere boasts a wealth of historical and natural treasures, according to District Gov. Hacı Arslan Uzan.

“As for tourism attractions, Turkey’s highest waterfall is in Uzundere. The 11-kilometer-long Tortum is a natural lake. We also have seven waterholes and small lakes created by water flowing from this lake. In terms of historical texture, we have the monastery of Öşvank, which is a religious center for the Georgians, as well as historical castles and chapel remnants in the Sapaca neighborhood. These have touristic value, and it is important to promote them,” the district governor said. 

Echoing Ata, Uzan said more work needs to be done on the Tortum Waterfall. 

“Works continue to complete the project. This place is a first-, second- and third-degree archaeological site. The metropolitan municipality [of Erzurum] is carrying out public works. When it is finished, we will establish a water and nature sports center in the place that we call the ‘peninsula.’ We will start the project when we find the financial support. Our priority is to revive the waterfall. It is very important to market it in the context of a slow city,” said Uzan.