Thursday, 3 June 2010

Local anger as Didim's walls come tumbling down

Controversy has erupted in Didim over the destruction of 2500-year-old walls surrounding the Temple of Apollo.

The ancient walls have been knocked down to make way for a tourist gift shop. The builder has been labelled a ‘history wrecker’ and subjected to abuse from the crowd that came to watch the work begin.

Catering and lodging company Bilkent Holding won a (rather ironically) Ministry of Culture contract to build ticket and gift shops at museums and ancient sites across the country.

However, after members of the public voiced their anger, Didim Council waded into the fray, saying the work is unauthorised and sealing the site to prevent further construction.

Now, the contractors and the municipality are at loggerheads.

Site manager Metin Sayar vowed to continue the work as soon as possible. “We are doing nothing illegal here. ... We have taken all the permits.

“We will build 75 shops in the 52 ancient sites throughout Turkey and this shop is one of them. The ancient walls were about to demolish and we will build them again.

Didim Tourism Association chairman Deniz Atabay said he struggled to understand the mentality behind the works. “They need to be developing projects to save a site which is the world’s heritage of 2500 years but instead they are ripping through it just to earn some people money.”

Mayor Mumin Kamaci described the works as a “massacre of history,” adding that construction would interfere with tourists visiting the temple.

The wrangling continues with Didim Council’s lawyer contacting the courts to make sure the work stops altogether.


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