“We have been working on the project for about four months and hope to finish it and open to tourism in the spring,” Edirne Mayor Recep Gürkan told Demirören News Agency on Jan. 7.
The excavation site is on some 4,000-square-meters land, where there are tombs and water wells from the Roman era and structures constructed during the period of the Ottoman Empire.
“We want to make an archeo-park, an agora that will be suitable with the glorious Selimiye Mosque. That is why the preparation process took so long,” Gürkan noted.
The Selimiye Mosque, a complex which has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 2011, was commissioned by Sultan Selim II and constructed by Mimar Sinan, known as “the Grand Architect,” between 1568 and 1575.
Sinan called the mosque his “masterpiece.”
Bahri Dinar, the head of the Edirne Promotion Association, agreed with the mayor, saying that “the archeo-park will make a 100 percent contribution to the city’s economy.”
“Until now, the place nearby the Selimiye Mosque looked inert. I am sure that the agora will be fantastic,” he added.
When asked about the importance of the Selimiye Mosque for the province, the mayor said: “It is the climax of Islamic art and Ottoman mosque construction. The mosque in the center of the city has always been in use since the first day.”
“With the Ottomans conquering the city, Edirne has been a prominent center since 1361. After the construction of the mosque, the agora nearby the mosque has been a social-cultural zone for people for centuries,” he highlighted.
Once the archeo-park project will be in progress, the area will be closed to vehicular traffic. “There will be no smoke exhaust or noise pollution. Only pedestrians will be able to tour the agora,” the mayor added.
The local tradesmen are also looking forward to the completion of the project. “The project certainly will make a positive impact on local tourism,” Erdal Kılıç, a shopkeeper in the region, told the agency.
Hurriyet Daily News