The Aphrodisias Archaeological Site has now been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, making this the 17th UNESCO recognized site in Turkey. The inscription took place during the World Heritage Committee meeting in Krakow, Poland recently.
Located in southwestern Turkey, in the upper valley of the Morsynus River, the site consists of two components: The archaeological site of Aphrodisias and the marble quarries northeast of the city. The temple of Aphrodite dates from the 3rd century BCE and the city was built one century later. The wealth of Aphrodisias came from the marble quarries and the art produced by its sculptors. The city streets are arranged around several large civic structures, which include temples, a theater, an agora, and two bath complexes.
“Located in the western province of Aydın, Aphrodisias, has been on Turkey’s World Heritage Tentative List since 2009 and we are delighted to have this site added to the UNESCO World Heritage List,” noted Sedat Gönüllüoğlu, Director, Turkish Culture and Tourism Office in the U.S. “Aphrodisias is one of the most important archaeological sites in the country, as a unique archaeological heritage with well-preserved sculptures, monuments, inscriptions, structures and marble quarries, making the destination much sought after for cultural heritage enthusiasts.”
The discovery of Aphrodisias dates back to 1958, when a magazine sent legendary photographer Ara Güler, dubbed “The Eye of Istanbul,” to document the opening of the Kemer Dam in the Aydın province. On the way back, his driver got lost, resulting in the discovery of Aphrodisias, the ancient cult center devoted to the goddess Aphrodite.
When Güler returned to Istanbul, he sent the images to the Architectural Review, and soon received a telegram from Horizon magazine requesting color photos and an article to go alongside the photo essay. Güler suggested New York University Professor Kenan Erim to pen the article. Erim accepted the commission and went on to devote his life to excavating Aphrodisias.
Other Turkish sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List include Hierapolis-Pamukkale, Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex, Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia, City of Safranbolu, Hattusha: The Hittite Capital, Historic Areas of Istanbul, Ephesus, Nemrut Dağı, Archaeological Site of Troy, Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği, Pergamon and its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape, Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük, Diyarbakır Fortress and Hevsel Gardens, Bursa and Cumalıkızık: Birth of the Ottoman Empire, Xanthos-Letoon and Historic City of Ani.
With the global voting body adding 21 sites including Aphrodisias to its list, that brings the total of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to 1,073.