Ancient wonder Göbeklitepe hopes to host 1M visitors this year

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Following a challenging pandemic year, the ancient site of Göbeklitepe in Turkey’s southeastern Şanlıurfa province, dubbed as the "zero point of history," expects to welcome a million visitors in 2021.

Göbeklitepe, known as the world's oldest temple, has been on UNESCO's World Heritage Tentative List since 2011. It was discovered in 1963 when researchers from the universities of Istanbul and Chicago were working at the site.

Noting that last year passed with tight measures aimed to fight the coronavirus pandemic, Celal Uludağ, director of the Şanlıurfa Museum and head of excavation at the Göbeklitepe site, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that they expect "a big increase" in the number of visitors in 2021.

"Following the vaccinations in our country, a large visitor density is expected in May and June. Hopefully, after this pandemic is over, our target is to host at least 1 million visitors. Surely, these numbers will continue to increase afterwards," he said.

He underlined that in 2019, Göbeklitepe hosted around half a million visitors – both domestic and foreign, adding that the high volume of tourists coming to visit the site continued until the beginning of 2020.

After President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared 2019 the "Year of Göbeklitepe," the number of visitors to the site increased significantly.