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Turkey WHS

Author Solivagant
#1 | Posted: 30 May 2015 03:35 | Edited by: Solivagant 
We have just returned from a fly-drive trip round Turkey which took in all 13 (as of May 2015) of its inscribed and 19 (including the soon-to-be inscribed Ephesus) of its 62 T List sites (Turkey’s T List is longer than any other country - “beating” China at 54 and Iran at 51). Amazingly, 2 of the inscribed sites are even among the mere 35 which don’t yet have a review on this Web site and Turkey doesn’t even have its own “Topic” on this Forum! It therefore seems worth starting one for this country which is currently so “active” in attempting inscriptions as well as in adding to its T List and being a member of the WHC.

And its sites don’t seem that popular among visitors to this site - Istanbul comes in at 19th in our “most visited” list with 281 but you have then got to go way down to Hierapolis/Pamukkale with 123 and Goreme with 111. Edirne’s Selemiye Mosque gets 52 and the rest are scattered at 40s or lower. I find this surprising, given the ease of travel to and within Turkey and its popularity as a European holiday destination. Nor are its sites exactly uninspiring - Nemrut Dag, Hattushas, Çatalhöyük, Goreme, Pammukale, Selemiye, Pergamon, Troy and of course Istanbul are all undoubtedly “world class”.

One issue might be the size of the country. Turkey covers 768k sq kms. In comparison Fr is 547 and Germany 348 (source World Bank). Only Ukraine and Russia are larger in Europe. And its WHS are very spread out around it with (until Ani and Diyabakir gain inscription) only the furthest East of the country not represented. Indeed it took us almost 6000 kms to cover the 13 inscribed sites in a pretty “natural” circuit. The 19 T List sites were, for the most part, taken “en passant” with only the incomparable Gobeklitepe (surely a shoo in for 2017?) really requiring much of a detour. Given the very large number of Hellenistic/Roman sites situated within reach of the main touristic areas it is perhaps also of note just how relatively few of these have been pursued for nomination. Turkey can’t exactly be accused of only nominating sites within easy reach of the coastal resorts. There is Troy and the somewhat underwhelming Xanthos-Letoon but a look at the day trips on offer in the resorts will identify a whole host of others with potential Ephesus of course, but also many others which elsewhere in Europe might have been expected to have been inscribed e.g Aspendos, Perge, Assos, Side, Halicarnassus, Telmessos

Turkey’s WHS activity
Over the years Turkey’s WHS activity has been sporadic
a. Major - between 1983 and 1988 with membership of the WHC across this period, submission of an extensive T List of 61 sites in 1984 and inscription gained for 8 sites between 1985-8
b. Minor - between 1994 and 1998 with 1 inscription in 1994 (Safranbolu after a deferral in 1992) and another in 1998 (Troy). In 1994 Turkey scrapped its remaining T List and reduced it to just 3 sites
c. Extension of its T List to 18 sites in 2000
d. Resumption of major activity in 2009 with a peak being reached after 2011 during which period it has increased its T List to 62 by adding 38 sites, gaining 4 more inscriptions (with more planned for 2015, 16 and 17) and removing zero. It also rejoined the WHC (2014).

Turkey’s first T List in 1984 consisted of 38 Cultural sites and 23 Natural. This lasted through to 1994 when Turkey seems to have completely scrapped what remained and left in just 3 - Troy, Ephesus and Karain Cave.

The current T List stands at 62 and all but Ephesus and Karain Cave have been added at or since the major revision in 2000 before which Troy had gained inscription in 1998. However, many of these added were in the original 1984 list except that Turkey has been very reluctant to add many of the original 23 Natural sites. So it has no inscribed Natural sites at all and only Goreme and Pamukkale are Mixed, whilst its current T List consists only of 3 Mixed and 1 Natural sites (Lake Tuz)

But Turkey does of course have a lengthy and varied cultural history and plenty of sites to choose from. The list of “cultures” which have existed within its boundaries and have left their remains includes significant neolithic peoples, Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians, Thracians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Lycians, Armenians, Byzantines and others even before the arrival of the Seljuk Turks and the development of the Ottoman empire. And of course Christianity, Islam and Judaism have all left significant remains. The current 13 inscribed sites spread themselves reasonably widely across this history with perhaps a slight numeric bias towards the Ottoman period (Safranbolu, Selemiye and Bursa). Istanbul of course is significantly “Ottoman” also but really needs to be excluded from such analysis since it covers so many periods. The T List entries are very eclectic both in terms of period and culture with most of the above cultures getting a look in. I might suggest a slightly disproportionate leaning towards those Turkish “founding fathers” the Seljuks but perhaps that was just the result of our route - we did seem to look at a lot of Seljuk carvings on entrances to mosques, caravanserais, bazaars, madrassahs etc! But often they were indeed very fine.

It was suggested to me that the flurry of activity in the early years was due almost entirely to the enthusiasm of a few individuals in academia. It could not then be known just how significant the scheme would become and the government just let them get on with it. A truer picture of central government’s attitude is to be seen in the low activity period after those individuals had retired etc. As the potential value of the UNESCO inscription, both financially and in terms of national pride and influence, became clearer things changed, but again I was told that the impetus for a nomination still needs very much to come from local government with little or no central planning. Also that the reason for the notable lack of inscribed and T List Natural sites is due to the fear of interference over potential development schemes which might thus be prevented. Turkey of course has a record of mega development projects in the form of GAP (The South East Anatolia Project) with its 22 dams and major city and industrial construction.

Condition of sites and visits
All the inscribed and T List sites we saw were reasonably well maintained and some were receiving significant investment in Visitor Centres etc. It would seem that, once a site is inscribed, Turkey takes its responsibilities seriously. The guy at the info centre at Safranbolu told us how they had been unable to develop a new one as they wished because of “UNESCO restrictions”. We met the lady who put together the Bergama inscription and they have “UNESCO department” of some 3 staff (?) to help keep things under control. Some of the T List sites appeared to be being prepared for nomination. At Aphrodisias new walkways were being laid and at Gobekiltepe a new visitor centre and picnic area had been constructed. Nemrut appeared to have a new visitor centre not yet open and development of paths and signs was under way. Laodikia and Perge were also getting new visitor centres and archaeological reconstruction.
There is a tremendous difference in volume of visitor numbers at sites from East to West. At Nemrut we were the only 2 visitors (although there had apparently been 100 at the morning sunrise) and at Hattushas there was just one bus of Chinese tourists. Catalhouyuk had a just a handful of visitors. Bergama, Goreme, Pamukkale, Troy and Ephesus however were packed and were reaching the “uncomfortable” level. Whilst Istanbul has queues at Topkapi and Hagia Sophia to gain entry from opening through to closing and yet more to enter certain areas!
Ticket prices too increase from East to West. Catalhoyuk is free. Nemrut and Hattushas are 12 and 8 TL (3 = 1 Euro). At the moment Gobekiltepe is only 5 whilst Troy is 20. Pamukkale creeps up to 25 whilst Bergama is 45 to visit both the Akropolis and Ascepleion. Ephesus is 45 for the main site and the houses. To visit the Topkapi and Harem costs 45. We were told that prices can be expected to rise still further!
Once in the sites the signage was usually pretty good (and at least bilingual Turk/Eng) but we were never given any literature about the site/route in the form of a flyer, map or brochure and the visitor centres were thin on “interpretation” being mainly shops, toilets and cafes. One must have some sympathy with Turkey on this as the vast majority of visitors at the busy sites will arrive on coaches to a short fixed time table and with a guide. Given the number of visitors and the money being taken some of the facilities inside were rather poor - the Akropolis at Bergama for instance with half a million visitors pa didn’t have any toilets inside the site.
The visiting hours were usually long also - in summer often from 8 am to 7 pm. Only in Istanbul was there the annoying closure of 1 day per week (different days for different sites too!). Unfortunately Turkish hotels often don’t start breakfast until 7.30 or 8 am, so, if like us, you value that meal above all others it becomes difficult to get to the sites at opening before the crowds and the heat!

Author meltwaterfalls
#2 | Posted: 8 Jun 2015 18:56 
I'm looking forward to reading up on these. How long did it take you to complete your 6000km circuit?

Author Solivagant
#3 | Posted: 8 Jun 2015 21:03 | Edited by: Solivagant 
How long did it take you to complete your 6000km circuit

17 days car hire (c£20 pd inc unlim kms and full CDW!) circuit from Istanbul airport plus time without car at end in Istanbul. WHS (in caps) taken as follows (T List in brackets) - bold already reviewed
(Iznik), BURSA, SAFRANBOLU, Ankara for Anatol Mus, HATTUSHA, Sivas for DIVRIGI, NEMRUT, (Gobekli Tepe), (Urfa/Harran), (Zeugma), (Nigde), CAPPADOCIA, (Sultanhani - Seljuk Khans), CATAL HOYUK, (Konya), (Alanya), (Aspendos Theatre), (Perge), XANTHOS-LETOON, (Lycian cities - Tlos), (Laodikeia), PAMUKKALE-HIERAPOLIS, (Aphrodisias), (Ephesus), PERGAMON, TROY, (Gallipoli), (Uzunkopril Bridge), Edirne for SELEMIYE, ISTANBUL, (Yildiz), (Genoese Trading - Galata)

Author meltwaterfalls
#4 | Posted: 10 Jun 2015 05:39 
Oh that sounds rather appealing. How did you find the driving in Turkey, was Istanbul rather hard work to cross with a car?

Author Solivagant
#5 | Posted: 10 Jun 2015 16:18 
Yes crossing Istanbul WAS hard work especially immediately after picking up the car.
But generally the Turkish road ststem was excellent. Most through routes were dual carriageway and not very busy better than uk - would far rather drive them than eg the A1 in uk .
Toll roads ridiculously cheap and of course by pass even the largest towns

Biggest problem is town driving but i wouldnt rate that as very hard except in the very largest few cities

Author elsslots
#6 | Posted: 4 Jul 2015 12:34 

(or someone else):
Can you recognize where in Turkey this is?
The photos were taken travelling between Lake Van and Harran in 1992.
The 2nd probably is the Tigris, the first might be the citadel of Mardin?

I was looking for pics of Diyarbakir, and I stumbled upon these

Author Solivagant
#7 | Posted: 4 Jul 2015 15:45 | Edited by: Solivagant 
The photos were taken travelling between Lake Van and Harran in 1992.
The 2nd probably is the Tigris, the first might be the citadel of Mardin?

The first is not Mardin but Van Castle itself I believe (was there a few years even before you - 1965!!)
The second could be almost anywhere with a river in semi desert! Taken from a coach i guess. I will look up my ancient diapositives of eastern Anatolia from 1965 to see if i have any of Diyarbakir - but I am not sure that I do, even though i spent a full day there. Only took a couple of 36 shot "pellicules" for a 5 week holiday in those days and couldn't waste them on any old town!

Author Solivagant
#8 | Posted: 6 Jul 2015 04:56 
I have transferred this item about Ephesus from 2015 Livestream

Lebanon wants component 4 (House of Mary) to be included
Mixed pilgrimage center for Christianity & Islam
We also don't know where Jesus was born or baptized exactly, why would this be a problem for Mary. It's all about criterion 6 (association with current pilgrimages).

We don't yet know whether the WHC officially decided for or against including this element (though I suspect it WAS included despite the ICOMOS request). We didn't go to visit it when we visited Ephesus a month ago but the "controversy" led me to look it up on Wiki -see link below - of interest I think! This element does seem to have absolutely NOTHING really to do with the main area of Ephesus itself . But Turkey (as with e.g Bergama) has extended the scope of the nomination to include later mediaeval aspects of the main site. But this element is situated around 8-9 kms and a c 20 minute drive away from Ephesus so its inclusion stretches matters still further - again as was done in the case of Bergama. Els's point above about Bethany isn't really comparable - the OUV of the Bethany site (such as it was) came ENTIRELY from the site's undoubtedly significant "pilgrimage" credentials based on the belief (supported by archaeological evidence of the site's general use in the relevant era) that this site was/might be what it purports to be. The Church of Mary is clearly simply an add-on to Ephesus and however important, well founded or otherwise, its role as a pilgrimage site might be, that has little or nothing to do with Ephesus itself and its own OUV (OK - Ephesus does include a 5th C Basilica dedicated to the Virgin!). No doubt there are a number of WHS inscribed on one set of criteria which could find a local pilgrimage site to "add on" and thus also claim a Pilgrimage aspect in their OUV!!

Author elsslots
#9 | Posted: 6 Jul 2015 06:56 
Els's point above about Bethany isn't really comparable

To be clear, it was not my point but that of the Lebanese delegate

Author Solivagant
#10 | Posted: 6 Jul 2015 07:06 
To be clear, it was not my point but that of the Lebanese delegate

Sorry - I hadn't heard the point actually being made by Lebanon and hadn't realised that it included this comparison with Bethany.
So one weak case is used as justification for an even weaker one!!!

Author Solivagant
#11 | Posted: 9 Sep 2016 11:34 | Edited by: Solivagant 
I note that, with the addition of 10 to its T List in April of this year, Turkey now has far and away the largest T List of any country. I post below some analyses I have carried out and some comments on the rate and nature of the additions

The current "Largest T List" countries (30 or more sites, with such corrections and reconciliations as I have been able to identify compared with the UNESCO figures and those on this Web site) are -
Turkey - 69 (70 on UNESCO as Ani not removed). 59 on Els as 10 in Apr 2016 not yet added)
China - 53 (56 on UNESCO as Huashan and Shannongiya not removed. And Chinese section of Silk Rd – land section appears to be on twice from 2008 and 2016 – but these may genuinely be separate?)
Iran- 47 (49 on UNESCO as Lut and Qanats not removed).
India - 44 (47 on UNESCO as Nalanda, Le Corb + Kanchen not removed. 43 on Els as Keibul Lamjao not added)
Italy - 41 (and on UNESCO. 40 on Els as CL of Benedictine settlements not yet added)
France - 37 (UNESCO 38 but Le Corb not removed. 36 on Els but Terres Australes not added)
Egypt - 33 (all "agree")
Spain - 32 (33 on UNESCO as Antequara not removed).
Uzbekistan - 30 (31 on UNESCO as W Tienshan not removed.)

So – there are "only" 3 "European" countries (not including Turkey!) among the top 9. Whether this trend will be carried through to nominations and successful inscriptions in the coming years is another matter no doubt! But Turkey, China and Iran certainly have been very successful both at bringing sites forward and in convincing the WHC (if not always the AB!!!) to inscribe.

In my posts above, I outlined the "in and out" history of Turkey's engagement with the WHS scheme and, in particular its significant activity since 2011. This addition of 10 more sites in Apr 2016 continues the trend. Unlike many countries which are on a 7 or 10 year cycle for renewing their T List, Turkey is adding to its T List every year on around the same date in April! So the 54 additions for the past 6 years have been -

2011 15 April - 4 (inc Bergama)
2012 13 April - 13 (inc Ani)
2013 15 April - 4
2014 15 April - 13
2015 12 April - 10
2016 13 April – 10

During the same time it has achieved 7 inscriptions
2011 - Selemiye Mosque
2012 - Catalhoyuk
2014 - Bergama
2014 - Bursa and Cumalikizik
2015 - Ephesus
2015 - Diyarbakir
2016 - Ani

As far as I can make out, Turkey hasn't removed anything from its T List in those 6 years so the NET increase in that list is 54 added – 7 inscribed = 47!!

I pointed out above that Turkey had had a T List of 61 sites back in 1984 but had scrapped most of these and created one of a mere 18 sites in 2000. Most of the net increase from there to the current 69 has therefore occurred in the 2011 – 2016 period. Who knows whether it intends continuing to increase its T List each year – it already has enough to keep it going with nominations for many years to come!

Currently the list of sites "Formerly" on Turkey's T List as identified on this site stands at 23. When the big "clear out" occurred it must have been larger so a fair number must have been transferred back to Turkey's T List in recent years. Unfortunately "Wayback machine" hasn't kept the country pages from around 2010 and I have only identified the City of Van (added this year) as having "come back in". As of today, the "former" list includes a fair number of Natural sites which Turkey has seemed notably reluctant to place on its T List whilst, I suspect, many of the cultural sites have been transferred back onto the current T List. So it isn't clear to what extent Turkey is targeting a different "set" of sites from those it identified (and later "rejected") all those years ago based, for instance, on an improved understanding of what "succeeds" and how many similar sites might have been inscribed by other countries. Looking at the 10 T List sites just added they can be categorised as
a. Mosques and related buildings - 5
b. Castles and Archaeological sites - 3
c. Bridges (Something of an Islamic "speciality" across Turkey, Bosnia and Iran!) - 1
d. Natural Sites - 1

So, the relative lack of Natural sites continues, as does the significant number of religious sites. I guess that Turkey might point out the number of Cathedrals inscribed within a relatively short distance of each other in Europe and comment that its own religious architectural styles deserve as much recognition!! But generally there certainly isn't a great deal of "Novelty" or creativity among the latest T List additions nor, as far as I can assess, of "gap filling"..

PS I note a number of Turkish Web sites being quite proud of Turkey adding 10 sites. E.g this in English headed "10 new Turkish sites on UNESCO list" and "Turkey now has 70 places on the tentative list. It makes us the country with the highest number of natural and cultural heritages on the UNESCO tentative list."!!!! - &nID=103724&NewsCatID=375
This has a bit of background about each site with photo -

Author elsslots
#12 | Posted: 9 Sep 2016 11:39 
not yet added

On a side-note to this topic: I wonder why you don't see them, I added all the new ones already on Sept 6.

Author Solivagant
#13 | Posted: 9 Sep 2016 13:02 
I wonder why you don't see them

I guess it must have been a browser refresh issue - strange because I certainly loaded the site "afresh" today onto a new tab and, as far as I remember, will have done so several times as I looked at the T Lists of each of the different countries - many of which wouldn't have been looked at in many a month. The cached pages must have been very persistent!! A nuisance as it took a lot of effort to track down the differences across the 3 - "Correct", "UNESCO" and "Els"!!!

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