Urartu Caves in Tunceli to serve tourism
Located in the eastern province of Tunceli’s Çemişgezek district, the Urartu Caves, which are carved into steep limestone rock chambers, will be brought into tourism with the Fırat Development Agency’s 2020 Tourism and Industry Development Financial Support Program.
Also known as “Dervish cells” and “Inn Holes,” the rock chambers are under protection as an archaeological and natural site in the upper part of the Tağar Stream Valley, popularly known as the hidden paradise.
The inns, which are believed to date back to the Urartu period, consist of 25 chambers on its four floors, large windows and long corridors that illuminate these chambers. In order to meet the water needs, there are underground water tanks that were specially made to collect rainwater for use. There are also stairs made of rocks to reach the chambers above and the holes of the chamber galleries, which are made up of two parts.
There is a ladder outside of the chambers to reach its first part while the second part is very narrow. There is also a waiting place at the entrance and then a long corridor with a ladder. The chamber on the top floor of the rock chambers, which is impossible to reach, is called the Bey Chamber. It includes a stone pavilion and a pool. For many years, the rock chambers, which were destroyed by people, have also been the target of treasure hunters.
The chambers welcome thousands of visitors every season, fascinating them with their natural beauty. However, visitors often complain about the insufficient light and stairs inside the chamber’s floors. A project has been initiated by the district’s governor, Mehmet Güder, in order to bring the rock chambers into tourism. The project, which was approved by the Fırat Development Agency, is planned to be implemented soon.
Under the scope of the project to restore the historical caves, walkways, decorative lightings, interior and exterior arrangements will be made as well as a bridge will be built on the Tağar Stream to facilitate transportation.
Stating that the district will become a center of attraction in the region, Güder said, “The Urartu Caves, built by humans carving the rocks in the Urartu period about 3,000 years ago, will open to tourism with an intense effort of Çemişgezek Governor’s Office. The Fırat Development Agency has recently approved our project.”
Stating that the project will be implemented using wood materials for construction to not harm the natural and historical texture, Güder said: “We will also have a wooden suspension bridge, walkways with wooden rails and external lighting. We also received approval for this project from the Erzurum Foundation for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage.”