Turkey’s ancient city Hasankeyf to reopen for tourism in April

The Culture Ministry will invest 2 million Turkish Liras to enable ancient sites in Southeast Anatolia to be reopened for tourism – for however long remains before a new dam floods the entire area.

Tourism sites in the ancient city of Hasankeyf, located in Batman province, have been closed to visitors since July, when a large rock rolled down from the city’s old castle and killed an elderly man living in a nearby cave.

A Culture Ministry board consisting of 38 officials visited the city last week and examined the region for three days before producing a report calling for the area to be reopened to tourism in April, the Doğan news agency, or DHA, reported Sunday.

According to Professor Abdüsselam Uluçam, who heads the archaeological excavations in the city, the ministry will provide 2.1 million Turkish Liras for the renovation of the Hasankeyf area, which is set to be flooded as part of the ongoing construction of the controversial Ilısu Dam.

The money will be used to reinforce loose rocks and boulders and fix a gate that is in danger of falling apart, said Uluçam, who oversaw the work of the Culture Ministry board in coordination with Batman’s deputy governor and Hasankeyf’s local administrators. He added that the State Waterworks Authority, or DSİ, would write a report on the geological structure of the rocks in the area. Ancient houses in the city will also be registered and restoration work on historical buildings will be sped up.

The city has been the focus of international campaigns to prevent it from being flooded by the Ilısu Dam, which is being built nearby. In addition to its rich historical heritage, which is still being uncovered in ongoing archaeological excavations, the area is home to many animal and plant species. Before the city is flooded, some historical artifacts and buildings will be moved to the new village of Hasankeyf being built for the current town’s soon-to-be-displaced residents

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