All About Turkey

Cultural and natural heritage

An important subject to be remembered in the world and in Turkey too, is the preservation of cultural values, so that these can be handed down to future generations.

Turkey is lucky in that it has a richness and variety in cultural and natural resources and the preservation and development of these have been stipulated by law. Many organizations have been set up in connection with this subject and preservation has now become a subject that concerns many organizations, institutions and people.

Turkey has approximately 2,700 historical ruins some dating back to prehistoric times and 41,000 works of culture.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) encourages the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding and universal value to humanity. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located. In the UNESCO "World Cultural Heritage List" there are 13 heritage sites from Turkey, out of 1007 properties (as of June 2014) around the world (779 cultural, 197 natural and 31 mixed properties in 161 countries). Two of these sites are "mixed" (Goreme and Pamukkale) and 11 of them are "cultural" heritage sites. These are:

  1. Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia (1985)
  2. Great (Ulu) Mosque and Hospital (Darüssifa) of Divrigi in Sivas (1985)
  3. Historic Areas of Istanbul (1985)
  4. Hattusha (Bogazköy) - Hittite Capital (1986)
  5. Nemrut Mountain in Adiyaman (1987)
  6. Hierapolis - Pamukkale (1988)
  7. Xanthos - Letoon near Antalya (1988)
  8. Safranbolu town (1994)
  9. Archaeological Site of Troy (1998)
  10. Selimiye Mosque Complex in Edirne (2011)
  11. Neolithic Site of Catalhoyuk in Konya (2012)
  12. Bursa and Cumalikizik village (2014)
  13. Pergamon (2014)

See the interactive Google Maps of the UNESCO Heritage Sites in Turkey by clicking here.

UNESCO's Tentative List is an inventory of the properties which each member country intends to consider for nomination of cultural and/or natural heritage sites during the following years. Countries re-examine and re-submit their Tentative List at least every ten years. 54 properties from Turkey are in this list (as of June 2014), including their submission dates:

  1. Ephesus site (1994)
  2. Karain cave in Antalya (1994)
  3. Alahan Monastery in Mersin (2000)
  4. Alanya (2000)
  5. Bursa and Cumalikizik Early Ottoman urban and rural settlements (2000)
  6. Gulluk Mountain - Termessos National Park in Antalya (2000)
  7. Harran and Sanliurfa (2000)
  8. Ishak Pasha Palace in Dogubeyazit - Agri (2000)
  9. Kekova (2000)
  10. Konya - Capital of Seljuk Civilization (2000)
  11. Mardin cultural landscape (2000)
  12. Seljuk Caravanserais on the route from Denizli to Dogubeyazit (2000)
  13. St. Nicholas Church in Demre (2000)
  14. St. Paul Church, St.Paul's Well and surrounding historic quarters in Tarsus (2000)
  15. Sumela Monastery - Monastery of Virgin Mary in Trabzon (2000)
  16. Citadel and Walls of Diyarbakir (2000)
  17. Tombstones of Ahlat the Urartian and Ottoman citadel (2000)
  18. Archaeological site of Aphrodisias (2009)
  19. Ancient cities of Lycian Civilization (2009)
  20. Archaeological site of Sagalassos (2009)
  21. Archaeological site of Perge (2009)
  22. Esrefoglu Mosque near Konya (2011)
  23. Archaeological site of Gobeklitepe (2011)
  24. St. Pierre Church in Hatay (2011)
  25. Pergamum site (2011)
  26. Aizanoi Antique City (2012)
  27. Historic City of Ani (2012)
  28. Archeological Site of Zeugma (2012)
  29. Gordion (2012)
  30. Historic Town of Birgi in Odemis town near Izmir (2012)
  31. Mausoleum and Sacred area of Hecatomnus in Milas district of Mugla (2012)
  32. Medieval City of Becin in Milas district of Mugla (2012)
  33. Historical Monuments of Nigde (2012)
  34. Yesemek Quarry and Sculpture Workshop near Karatepe in Gaziantep province (2012)
  35. Odunpazari Historical Urban Site in Eskisehir (2012)
  36. Mamure Castle near Alanya (2012)
  37. Haci Bektas Veli Complex (2012)
  38. Archaeological site of Laodicea (2013)
  39. Salt Lake (Tuz Gölü) (2013)
  40. Ancient city of Sardis and the Lydian Tumuli of Bin Tepe (2013)
  41. Trading Posts and Fortifications on Genoese Trade Routes from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea (2013)
  42. Anatolian Seljuks Madrasahs (2014)
  43. Ancient City of Anazarbos in Adana (2014)
  44. Ancient City of Kaunos (2014)
  45. Ancient City of Korykos in Mersin (2014)
  46. Archaeological Site of Arslantepe in Malatya (2014)
  47. Archaeological Site of Kültepe - Kanesh in Kayseri (2014)
  48. Canakkale (Dardanelles) and Gelibolu (Gallipoli) Battles Zones in the First World War (2014)
  49. Eflatun Pinar: Hittite Spring Sanctuary (2014)
  50. Iznik (Nicea) (2014)
  51. Mahmut Bey Mosque in Kastamonu (2014)
  52. Tomb of Ahi Evran in Kirsehir (2014)
  53. Vespasianus Titus Tunnel in Antakya - Hatay (2014)
  54. Zeynel Abidin Mosque Complex and Mor Yakup (Saint Jacob) Church in Nusaybin - Mardin (2014)

UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is another important list to preserve traditions all around the world, maintaining cultural diversity. With the latest inclusion in December 2013, now Turkey has 11 cultural entries in this List:

  1. Meddahlik (art of public story telling) Tradition (2008)
  2. Mevlevi Semah Ceremony (2008)
  3. Asiklik (folk poets or minstrelsy) Tradition (2009)
  4. Karagoz Shadow Theater (2009)
  5. Newroz (common tradition for Spring festival also in Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Kirgyzstan, Uzbekstan, Pakistan) (2009)
  6. Traditional Conversations (Sohbet) Meetings (Yaren, Barana, Sira nights, and others) (2010)
  7. Alevi-Bektasi Ritual Semah (2010)
  8. Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival (2010)
  9. Ceremonial Keskek tradition (2011)
  10. Mesir Paste Festival (2012)
  11. Turkish coffee culture and tradition (2013)

An agreement ratified in Barcelona on February 16, 1976 in regard to the "Prevention of Pollution in the Mediterranean" and a Protocol relevant to special areas of protection have all gone into effect. Within the framework of this protocol the following have been designated as special protection areas:

Dilek Yarimadasi (Peninsula)
Olympos Beydaglari (Beyda Mountains)
Gelibolu Yarimadasi Milli Park (Gelibolu Peninsula National Park)

Furthermore, in accord with the same agreement, 100 sites along the shores of the Mediterranean sea which share a common importance, and 17 other sites around the country have come under protection. Work is being undertaken at an international level. The seventeen sites are as follows:

Antalya, Aspendos, Bursa, Didyma, Ephesus, Fethiye - Ölüdeniz, Halikarnassos, Istanbul, Kaunos, Kekova, Knidos, Miletos, Pergamon, Phaselis, Priene, Troy, Xanthos.

An agreement on the Protection of the European Archaeological Heritage has also been signed.

An agreement signed between Turkey and the Council of Europe countries on the protection of the European architectural heritage has been ratified by Law 3534 and brought into effect.

For sample Tours visiting some of the above sites, please Click Here.

Source: Unesco and others.

All About Turkey © Burak Sansal 1996–2014, a certified professional tour guide in Turkey. Contact Burak at buraksan@superonline.com for all kinds of regular and/or private travel services throughout the country.