Ancient Urartian Caves in the Çemişgezek district of eastern Turkey’s Tunceli will probably boost tourism in the city. (Click to see our article on 81 Fascinating photos from 81 provinces of Turkey). Ancient people carved out the cave rooms to create a settlement in the area. So, thanks to a project by the local district municipality, the restoration works will begin soon.
Where are Ancient Urartian Caves Located?
Ancient Urartian caves take place in the hidden paradise of Tağar Creek Valley. The prehistoric cave rooms are a natural and archaeological protected site. Although the cavernous holes attract thousands of visitors every season of the year, they are mostly in ruins. What’s more, treasure hunters have been targeting the holes for many years. Çemişgezek Municipality has embarked on a project to restore the caves back to their former glory.
The Project of The Fırat Development Agency and The Ancient Urartian Caves
At this point, let us introduce you to Mehmet Güder, who is the district governor of Çemişgezek. He authorized the project of which the Fırat Development Agency had approved it before. It is, by the way, a state-funded organization to help the local development of the region. The restoration and the related environmental planning consist of a suspension bridge for ease of accessibility and a walking trail. Moreover, decorative lighting and restoration of the caves while protecting their historical texture.
A History Stretching from Thousands of Years Ago to Present
“The project will boost tourism in the district that is home to cultural, historical, and natural attractions,” Güder said. “We are working extremely hard on this project to ensure that the caves which were human-made nearly 3,000 years ago during the Urartu civilization, a ninth-century B.C. kingdom located in modern-day eastern Anatolia, are accessible and enjoyable to the public. Thankfully Fırat Development Agency has greenlit the project in recent days and efforts will continue according to plan,” he said.
Historically several names have been given to the mountain houses in these caves, including “Derviş (Dervish) cells” and “den holes.” Specialists think that the ancient architects of the caves are from the Urartian civilization.
What Does the Settlement Complex Consist of?
The settlement complex consists of four stories and features 25 rooms with natural heating systems and long corridors with large scenic windows. The topmost flat, called “Bey Odası” (“Bey’s Chambers”), is a stone kiosk of sorts with an indoor pool. However, it is almost impossible to reach due to the narrow stairs and corridors. There are also underground water reservoirs that collect fresh rainwater that seeps through the rock. Whether these reservoirs are natural or human-made is unclear, though.
The Remarkable Importance of The Caves for Local People
The caves are one of the most intriguing and fascinating sights in Tunceli. Güder stated that they are will not alter the natural and historical texture of the site. Furthermore, they will be using wood for the restoration project. “We have plans for a wooden suspension bridge, a walking trail with wooden railing, and external installations of lighting,” he mentioned.
“We have acquired approval from Erzurum Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation Foundation, for the project,” he added. “This project will boost tourism in Çemişgezek and Tunceli, and will be an important part of our regional and national heritage.”