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Will Conserving the Historical Buildings in Kayseri, Tur...

Will Conserving the Historical Buildings in Kayseri, Turkey Boost Its Tourism Industry?

With the rapid urbanization and the population growth seen in the urban areas of Kayseri, Turkey, historical buildings have come under threat; creating the need for historical preservation. Kayseri has also been facing the pressure of new development and redevelopment due to their rapid socio-economic development. This rapid increase in urban regeneration has created problems

People linger outside of Cumhuriyet Square in Kayseri, Turkey, near the Seljuk sultanate architecture of Kayseri’s Burunguz Mosque and Hunat Hatun Complex; Kayseri Bürüngüz Mosque, Hunat Hatun Külliyesi, Cumhuriyet Meydani. Cumhuriyet square, Kayseri, Turkey

With the rapid urbanization and the population growth seen in the urban areas of Kayseri, Turkey, historical buildings have come under threat; creating the need for historical preservation. Kayseri has also been facing the pressure of new development and redevelopment due to their rapid socio-economic development. This rapid increase in urban regeneration has created problems for the historical buildings in these cities.

Heritage cities in developing nations, like Turkey, currently face intensified urban problems as a result of rapid urbanization, economic development, and population growth. However, the government perceives the development of new townships a solution to dispersing population pressure from city centers and to cater towards its growing population.

Conservation is said to be the process that consists of repair, restoration, preservation, maintenance, adaptive reuse and reconstruction of the architectural heritage in order to safely deliver it to posterity.

In the last decade, the conservation of historical buildings in Kayseri, Turkey has become more commonplace due to rapid urbanization and the need to protect its cultural heritage. The introduction of modern development in historic areas, revitalization of the areas, and refurbishment of historic buildings are often referred to as the tools for the improvement schemes cities utilize to improve tourism while conserving historic cities.

The urban open space of Mahperi Hunat Hatun Complex which comprises of a mosque, a madrasa (theological school), hamam (Turkish bath) and a tomb built by the Seljuks of Rum, Hunat Hatun Külliyesi, Kayseri, Turkey

Cultural immersion is a primary attraction for Kayseri’s local tourism, while heritage tourism has become a more popular tourist activity. This includes making visits to historic cultural heritage sites. The Kultepe archaeological area and the Anatolian Seljuks madrasahs, found in Kayseri, Turkey, are some of the places included in the World Heritage List. Therefore, protecting historical building stock not only preserves the cultural heritage but also open doors to cultural and heritage tourism as well. This is a broad category that embraces both eco-tourism and cultural tourism, with an emphasis on conserving natural and cultural heritage according to UNESCO. Culture, heritage, the environment, and tourism are interconnected and attract significant attention around the globe.

Heritage conservation provides many opportunities:

  • Heritage conservation rejuvenates historic urban space through renovation, restoration, and reconstruction of historic buildings which makes urban spaces more livable and attractive for investment;
  • Tourism development at heritage sites can bring improved income and living standards for local people;
  • It stimulates the economy in rural and remote regions by creating demand for infrastructure development projects;
  • Historic preservation may help achieve sustainable economic growth;
  • Maintenance and preservation of cultural heritage can help create awareness of, and pride in, history and civilization. It creates pride in communities for their heritage and provides self-confidence in their culture and heritage, which can result in more local efforts to protect the cultural past;
  • Heritage is a source and symbol of identity. Both tangible and intangible heritage plays an important role in creating individual, community, and national identity;
  • For nations, heritage is a means of affirming national identity and promoting solidarity;
  • There are opportunities for national unity and global recognition through the World Heritage List.

People passing through the walls of the Citadel in Kayseri City Center, Kayseri Citadel, Kayseri, Turkey

Four years ago, Kayseri Metropolitan Municipality initiated a conservation and rejuvenation project to revitalize the Citadel of Kayseri. The Citadel, which has become synonymous with the Kayseri city center, will be transformed into a modernized Cultural and Arts Center by the end of 2017. Its opening will provide new tourism opportunities, as it will be recognized both locally and internationally. Citadel of Kayseri, which was built during the Roman period, has a two-thousand-year history. The Citadel, which has features of Seljuk sultanate architecture, started in the time of Roman Emperor Gordian III. Back then it was used for the security of the artery of commerce and the city, and since the 1950s has been used as a marketplace.

The rendered images of Cultural and Art Center Design Project comprising of a plan and a perspective view, Kayseri Citadel, Kayseri, Turkey

The municipality, which focused on carrying out the project without destroying the historical texture, appealed for the evacuation of shops before the new regulation and construction started. The project is focused on expanding the tourism sector and awakening the social life of the city. It will cover an area of approximately 1.2 ha (2.97 acres) of the citadel. Inside the Citadel an art street will be constructed, while 3 meters (9.9 feet) below the surface there will be an archeological museum. The art street will be developed on the ground level and will be used to carry out all sorts of art activities. There will be places for practicing Turkish Islamic arts and modern arts. Additionally, there will also be places where one can listen to music or eat a good meal. This will all be constructed without ruining its 2,000-year-old history.

While most citadels in the past were built on top of the hills for the purpose of defense, Kayseri’s citadel was a different case; It was built on a flat plain in the Roman period and said to be one of the few examples in the world. The conservation and rejuvenation project of the Citadel of Kayseri, which began in 2013, is said to be completed in 2017 and will not only attract national but also international tourists.

Do you think that ancient historical buildings should be preserved and, if so, in what capacity? What historic buildings have been successfully preserved in your community? Share your thoughts and your city’s stories in the comments area below.

Credits: Images by Najma Leley and rendering by Hasan Yüksel. Data linked to sources. 

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Urban Planning Blogger

Originally from Kenya and in my final year as an undergraduate student at Erciyes University in Kayseri, Turkey. I moved to Turkey in 2013 to pursue studies in urban and regional planning.