Turkey to open first geopark in July in Ankara’s Kızılcahamam

Turkey to open first geopark in July in Ankara’s Kızılcahamam

Turkey’s first geopark is scheduled to open on July 16, the anniversary of the arrival of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to Kızılcahamam.

April 17, 2010, Saturday/ 15:18:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
A $1 million project is set to reach fruition in July with the opening of Turkey’s first-ever geopark -- a territory encompassing one or more sites of scientific importance in terms of geology, archaeology, ecology or cultural value -- in Ankara.The Kızılcahamam-Çamlıdere Geopark and Geotourism Project was set in motion by the Ankara Governor’s Office, Ankara University, the Kızılcahamam Municipality, the Kızılcahamam District Governor’s Office, the Çamlıdere District Governor’s Office and the Turkish Association for the Conservation of Geological Heritage (JEMİRKO) to capitalize on the many “geosites” in the Kızılcahamam area that were brought to the fore during work conducted as part of the Geological Legacy in National Parks Project.

The geopark is scheduled to open on July 16, the anniversary of the arrival of the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, to Kızılcahamam. Comprising 23 geosites featuring geological formations as old as 23 million years, the geopark includes a fossil forest and columnar basalt formations.

People involved in the geopark project spoke to members of the press during an introductory tour of the park this week. Dr. Nizamettin Kazancı, president of JEMİRKO and a faculty member at Ankara University’s geological engineering department, explained that the 23 geosites that make up the geopark are like stations and will feature signs explaining the characteristics of the geosite. Visitors to the park will be guided through different geological periods as they tour the area, he explained. “Initially, five geosites will be opened. Each station represents an area of nearly two square kilometers,” he said, also noting that the region with the boundaries of the park is very important for Turkey, containing petrified forests with around 10 types of trees.

Kazancı noted that rare sights at the geopark such as the Güvem Sabunsuyu basalt formations are particularly intriguing and predicted that many domestic and foreign tourists would come to see them. The park will combine scientific and tourism potential, he said.

At a press conference held after the tour, Ankara Deputy Governor Mehmet Kurt noted the historic significance of the Kızılcahamam and Çamlıdere districts for Turkey, saying the geopark project would only add to this significance. Kızılcahamam and Çamlıdere are rich in both history and science, he said, adding, “This project is of immense importance to both Turkish and world history and will also represent a new initiative in tourism.”

Speaking about Ankara University’s involvement in the project, Rector Cemal Taluğ noted that the geopark would be a first for Turkey and categorized the park’s creation as a service to science and society. Alongside its responsibility to educate, Ankara University has a duty to support social, cultural and local development in the capital by supporting educational projects of this kind, he said.

“At the geopark, we will explain world history to visitors from around the world through geological formations, and we will introduce them to the history of this area. Lovers of culture and nature tourism will rush to Kızılcahamam and Çamlıdere out of curiosity to see this new spot,” Taluğ said.

Kızılcahamam District Governor Coşkun Ünal said in the future the geopark project would be connected to projects focusing on thermal and nature tourism.