2019 declared the ‘Year of Gobekli Tepe’ for Turkey Tourism

An aerial view of the heritage site Gobekli Tepe, Turkey

Gobekli Tepe, the world’s oldest temple and considered the birthplace of early civilizations, will be the highlight of the Turkish tourism policy next year.

As part of the tourism promotion drive of the government, the government has declared 2019 as the ‘Year of Gobekli Tepe,’ one of the most ancient archaeological sites of the world.

It was announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his speech at the Justice and Development Party’s parliamentary group meeting yesterday.

Highlighting the tourism performance in 2018, Erdogan said the government is preparing more initiatives to outpace this year’s figures in 2019.

2018 was named ‘The Year of Troy,’ and the President noted that this initiative revived the tourism activities in the city by 60 per cent.

2018 has been a fruitful year for Turkey tourism; the total number of tourists is expected to touch 40 million by the end of the year. In the period of January to October, Turkey hosted 35.6 million foreign visitors, which is more than 22.9 per cent, when compared to the same period last year.

“I believe that we will see a much higher performance in Sanliurfa. This ancient settlement proves the importance of Anatolia in the history of humanity and it will certainly attract worldwide attention,” said the President.

Muslum Coban, head of the Chamber of Regional Tourist Guides, said the declaration is a profoundly promising initiative for Sanlifura and for the region.

Gobekli Tepe, has been added to UNESCO World Heritage list in July 2018. In a statement issued on its website, it was stated that the decision was made during the on-going 42nd UNESCO World Heritage Committee session in Manama, Bahrain.

Artistic reproduction of Gobekli Tepe

“It is likely that these monuments were used in connection with rituals, probably of a funerary nature. Distinctive T-shaped pillars are carved with images of wild animals, providing insight into the way of life and beliefs of people living in Upper Mesopotamia about 11,500 years ago,” states the UNESCO website.

The site was discovered during excavations by researchers from Istanbul and Chicago universities in 1963. Gobekli Tepe is located near the neighbourhood of Orencik in Sanliurfa, 18 kilometers from the city center.

Nicknamed the ‘ground zero of human history,’  Gobekli Tepe stands out among other archaeological sites, dating back 12,000 years, circa 10,000 B.C. Excavations at the site were launched in 1995 by German professor Klaus Schmidt, who brought to life the previously-unearthed finds that have long caused a stir among academics.