Colorful hot air balloons took off from the famous ancient site of Göbeklitepe in southeast Turkey’s Şanlıurfa province on Monday to kick off the 2021 season.
Hot air balloon flights in the province had been on a long hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Visitors aboard three balloons enjoyed beautiful aerial views of Göbeklitepe, the Harran Plain and downtown Şanlıurfa.
Speaking about the region’s tourism potential, Şanlıurfa Mayor Zeynel Abidin Beyazgül told reporters that they aimed to make Şanlıurfa the second largest hot air balloon center after Cappadocia, home to the legendary fairy chimneys and stunning hot air balloon flights.
“Tourists will find traces of every civilization here, see the traces of the first indigenous peoples and the places where the prophets lived, and taste traditional food and enjoy the music of the region,” Beyazgül said.
The exceptional 12,000-year-old Göbeklitepe complex, located 15 kilometers (9.32 miles) from the town of Şanlıurfa in southeastern Turkey, is the oldest known temple and one of the the most important of Neolithic research. It was discovered in 1963 when researchers from Istanbul and Chicago universities were working in the area.
Crowned as the world’s first temple, the prehistoric site of Göbeklitepe stands out from other archaeological sites with its impressive megalithic architecture. As part of joint work at the site since 1995, the German Archaeological Institute and the Şanlıurfa Museum have found T-shaped obelisks from the Neolithic era towering 3 to 6 meters (10 to 20 feet) in height. tall and weighing 40 to 60 tons. During the excavations, various 12,000-year-old artifacts, such as human statuettes 65 centimeters (26 inches) high, were also unearthed. In a more recent discovery, new mounds were located by researchers near the ancient site in June of this year.
The site has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List since 2011. According to UNESCO, Göbeklitepe was the meeting place of the last hunter-gatherers before humans switched to an agriculture-based way of life. .