Turkey’s Phrygian Valley awaits golden touch for tourism

King Midas is the well-known legendary ruler who turned everything he touched to gold. Turkey, home to his old realm, seeks to convert his Phrygian Kingdom into a tourism hotspot.

Choked off by the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions that it triggered, Turkey’s tourism revenues, crucial for the nation’s economy, fell by 65 percent in 2020, Turkish Tourism and Culture Ministry’s data showed.

Tourism professionals are now looking into new projects that would get the attention of foreign tourists other than the traditional sea, sun, beach combo amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of them is to promote the Phrygian Valley, which was located at the intersection of three western provinces Eskisehir, Afyonkarahisar, and Kutahya.

The area is home to rocky formations, rock monuments, rock tombs, churches and chapels, fairy chimneys, and other ruins and relics, and it was named the “second Cappadocia” due to its similar landscape with the scenic region in the central Turkish province of Nevsehir.

The site also comprehends the ancient Phrygian Road, a 506-kilometer-long trekking and cycling path.

The writings and signs on the Yazilikaya monument, known as an open-air temple in the area, are still unresolved. It is identified as the most important historical work of the Phrygian Valley, according to the tourism representatives.

“Each year, thousands of tourists flock to the Phrygian realm, but its potential is much more than that,” Elif Yazmaci, a tour operator from Turkish capital Ankara, told Xinhua.

Yazmaci specializes in culture tourism, which promotes Anatolia’s ancient civilizations and their many archeological remains.

Chinese tourists, who mostly prefer to visit Turkey’s archeological sites rather than the sunny Mediterranean coast, are at the top of the business professionals’ list to be welcomed in the Phrygian Valley.

“Our Chinese friends are very attracted to Cappadocia, where they admire the landscape and take hot-air balloon trips. We should also transform the Phyrian valley into a tourism hotspot,” Ihsan Beser, chairman of Turkey-China Business Development and Support Association, told Xinhua.

“Chinese visitors love the history and the culture of the country that they visit, so why not promote one of the most interesting cultural heritage of Turkey, where they can do trekking, cycling and gaze to the natural wonders of the historic landscape,” he said.

The valley is so vast that visitors are encouraged to spare at least three days to enjoy sights while hiking or biking through the valley and camping along the way, Elif Yazmaci noted.

The best time to visit the valley is toward the end of summer and early autumn, but it offers a picturesque landscape throughout the year, she added.