Ephesus, Diyarbakır’s fortress, Hevsel Gardens join UNESCO heritage list

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The ancient city of Ephesus, the Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape and Diyarbakır Fortress in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır have been inscribed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) World Heritage List.

The 8,000-year-old Hevsel Gardens were nominated for inclusion on UNESCO's Tentative List of World Heritage Sites last year. Hevsel Gardens are the fertile lands between the Diyarbakır Fortress and the Tigris River valley.

The Diyarbakır Fortressand Hevsel Gardens were included on the UNESCO World Heritage List during the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee, during which proposals to inscribe 37 properties of the list were examined in Bonn between June 28 and July 8.

Diyarbakır's fortress was built in 349, during the reign of Roman Emperor Constantine II, out of basalt. The walls of the fortress, which are almost six kilometers long, contain 82 bastions and have four gates.

Minister of Culture and Tourism Ömer Çelik announced the World Heritage Committee's decisions on Diyarbakır in a series of tweets on Saturday, saying: “We have received the good news we have been waiting for. Historic Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens have been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. We have just received the news from the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee. Thus, the number of Turkey's properties on the list has increased to 14. Diyarbakır Fortress is one of the most ancient structures of the world. Hevsel Gardens are rich and fertile soils in the Dicle [Tigris] Valley.”

UNESCO Turkey National Commission Chairman Professor Öcal Oğuz emphasized the consensus of the World Heritage Committee, saying to the press, after the committee session: “All 20 members of the World Heritage Committee have spoken in favor of Diyarbakır and underlined that both the preservation plan and cultural heritage are of great importance for the committee. Properties in Diyarbakır have been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, with acclamation and consensus.”

Ephesuswas anancient Greekcityon the coast ofIonia, three kilometers southwest of present-daySelçukinİzmir province. Dating back to the sixth century B.C., Ephesus hosts around 2 million local and international tourists every year. Although it had been added to the UNESCO tentative list, along with 37 other sites in Turkey, it was finally inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List on Sunday.

Diyarbakır saw protests organized by environmentalists as a sit-in against the felling of trees at Hevsel Gardens in March of last year.

The protests started after allegations that Dicle University in cooperation with the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs had cut down nearly 7,000 trees to make room for illegal housing and settlements in the area.

The university, however, defended itself against the claims, saying the trees had been cut down due to fire prevention measures led by the university.

SOURCE: Todayszaman