World's oldest temple in Turkey eyes more visitors
Located in southeastern Turkey, the world's oldest known temple is expected to attract up to one million visitors in 2018 with its newly completed protective roof.
Gobeklitepe is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is recognized as the oldest temple in the world by many international organizations.
After seven years on the tentative list, at this year's 42nd World Heritage Committee Meeting, the site will be one of Turkey's candidates for becoming a full UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While Gobeklitepe is preparing for its candidacy, the building of its 4,000-square-meter steel roof has been completed.
The roof will help protect the site in the province of Sanliurfa for a long time.
After being temporarily closed to visits due to work on its new roof, Gobeklitepe reopened last week.
The roof will make it much easier for visitors to come to enjoy the landmark site.
7,500 years older than Egypt's pyramids, Stonehenge
Fevzi Demirkol, the mayor of Haliliye, Sanliurfa, told Anadolu Agency that Gobeklitepe would attract more visitors with its new face.
Demirkol said that the roof was no ordinary one, and it came with a price tag of €6.5 million ($7.9 million).
He added that Gobeklitepe was 7,500 years older than both Egypt's Great Pyramids and Stonehenge.
"We know that Gobeklitepe is a work of art that will bring Turkish tourism to a new age and we believe that it will take its deserved place on the 2018 UNESCO World Heritage Sites list," he said.
Muslum Coban, head of a regional tourist guides group, also said they expected a total of one million local and international tourists to visit Gobeklitepe.
Gobeklitepe was found in 1963 when researchers from Istanbul and Chicago universities were working at the site. Since then, the excavations have never stopped.
The German Archaeological Institute and Sanliurfa Museum have done joint work at the site since 1995 and have found T-shaped obelisks from the Neolithic era measuring 3-6 meters (10-20 feet) high, and weighing 40-60 tons.
During the excavations, diverse historical artifacts like 65-centimeter-long (26-inch) human statues dating back 12,000 years were also discovered.