Governor of Turkish city says pandemic inflicts blow on tourism, but officials use break for renovations of historical, cultural values
With its historical, cultural, and gastronomical values, Turkey’s southeastern Diyarbakir province seeks to be the regional champion of tourism and appeal to both national and international tourists.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Governor Munir Karaloglu said Diyarbakir had always been one of the focal points of history and possessed countless historical artifacts. Still, the city failed to draw the number of visitors it deserved so far, yet this trend would change drastically soon.
“Diyarbakir is an ancient city with a strong history, culture and gastronomy,” he said but warned that such qualifications would not mean direct touristic interest as the local and regional touristic values had to be included in a full package benefitting both the visitors and employees in the tourism sector.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected tourism across the world, the governor believes the future is bright for Diyarbakir as the state authorities used the pandemic period to continue renovation activities and the advertisement.
The touristic development of Diyarbakir is also expected to trigger an increase in the count of visitors to other southeastern cities such as Mardin and Sanliurfa, which are addressed as the “golden trio of upper Mesopotamia” along with Diyarbakir, according to the governor who argued tourists would flock to the region, not just Diyarbakir if there were enough advertisement as they had already possessed various historical and cultural assets.
Stressing that related departments of the cities and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism held meetings in which they discussed strengthening culture and belief tourism to the region and marketing of their heritage of the cities, he went on to say that travel agencies have begun to sell tour packages enabling a regional traveling experience for visitors, and this would help the region gain more share of the tourism industry in the country.
The word “Mesopotamia” translates to “between the rivers” in ancient Greek, a reference to the Tigris and the Euphrates, the rivers that thrived humanity but also triggered some of the wildest and bloodiest wars throughout history. Many small and large-scale states and empires were built upon this soil, offering plentiful natural resources essential for survival. Some of the remnants of these civilizations survived to this date and await history-lovers and travelers.
The Assyrian Empire, the Roman Empire, Alexander the Great’s Macedonia, Hellenistic states, the Ayyubids, the Abbasid Caliphate, the Seljuk Empire and the Ottoman Empire are some of those states that once ruled these lands.
The governor noted Diyarbakir also had a religious significance as it was conquered by Muslims in 639, only a few years following the conquest of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, which stands as the holiest city of Islam, adding the religious background of the city also draw many people interested in the cultural dimension of touristic activities.
“Since conquest of Diyarbakir, the Adhan has been recited here without a break,” he said and noted that the local administration was planning to designate a week dedicated to the conquest of Diyarbakir, which took place on May 27, 639 AD.
Diyarbakir is home to the Hevsel Gardens used for agricultural purposes for more than 8,000 years, the Great Ulu Mosque, one of the oldest mosques of Anatolia, Malabadi bridge built by the Artuqid period in the 12th century, Hasuni Cave city in which pre-historic people inhabited during the early years of Christianity, Zerzevan Castle which is a Roman military facility containing templet of Mithraism, a mysterious religion.