Turkey's Iznik seeks recognition as UNESCO site

By Sinan Balcikoca

BURSA, Turkey (AA) – Iznik, a district of northwestern Bursa province dating back to 4th century BC, is seeking recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The place is significant for both Muslims and Christians, with many sites from the era of Bithynian, Roman, Seljuk and Ottoman civilizations.

The historic district, which is also known by its ancient name Nicaea, attracts nearly 500,000 visitors per year.

Iznik city walls host the Hagia Sophia Church, which was converted into a mosque called Orhan Camii, the Green Mosque (1378–91) also known as the Yesil Cami, the Haci Ozbek Mosque (1333), the Yakub Celebi Mosque, Mahmud Celebi Mosque as well as Hagios Tryphonos Church, the Koimesis Church and Ayatrifon Church.

Known for its Turkish ceramics, the city served as the capital of the Seljuks, Ottomans and Byzantines.

In 2014, Iznik entered the tentative list of UNESCO when the remains of a 1,600-year-old basilica was discovered 20 meters from the shore of Lake Iznik.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Bursa UNESCO Area Head Neslihan Dostoglu said Iznik's importance not only relies on its historic value, but also its importance in terms of religions.

"Iznik has been home to several civilizations. Historical findings have been unearthed as the excavations continue," she said.

Iznik Mayor Osman Sargin highlighted that empires had always used the city as a step to expand their lands.

"Every corner of Iznik smells of history and we now aim to enter the World Heritage List of UNESCO," Sargin said.

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