By Omer Ertugrul
An ancient Roman bath in central Turkey is undergoing archaeological work to open its gates for tourists.
The 2000-year-old "Basilica Therma" was addded to UNESCO World Heritage tentative list this year.
The excavation work at the bath located in Sarikaya district of Yozgat province started in 2010 which unearthed a semi-Olympic size swimming pool.
The area of excavation expanded in 2014.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Metin Halici, provincial head of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, said that a master plan was prepared to introduce the historical bath to international tourism.
Halici said that excavation work is carried out in line with this master plan, stating that a symposium will be organized in November to introduce the Roman bath at the national level, while in January one will be organized at the international level.
"It was important to us that we were included in the UNESCO tentative list because there will be worldwide promotion," he said.
Halici said that the promotional activities will pay back in the form of a large number of tourists.
"Our promotions are rapidly going on and we have a new plan to enter the UNESCO World Heritage list," he added.
"One of the most prominent features of the bath is that thermal water is still boiling inside. We want to present this historic, ancient thermal welfare center, thermal treatment center to the people," he added.
- 'World's oldest thermal treatment center'
Omer Acikel, the mayor of Sakarya, said that the only similar construction is located in England with 1.5 million annual visitors.
Acikel said that Yozgat’s Roman bath also deserves the same attention, therefore it should be included in UNESCO List of World Heritage.
"We claim that this is the oldest thermal treatment center in the world, even the oldest wellness center in the world," he said.
Acikel said that both health and religious tourism can attract tourists from all around the world.
The "Basilica Therma" is believed to have been built by a Roman king who lived in central Kayseri.
It is believed that after his daughter fell sick the bath was built for her treatment. She was cured through the healing properties of the thermal waters, and so locals call the bath "King's daughter".
During the excavations held between 2010 and 2015, many pieces belonging to Byzantine, Seljuks and Ottoman Imperial Periods were unearthed.
The largest thermal pool in the Roman bath measures 23.30 x12.80 meters and has a depth of 1.34 meters. The temperature of the pool water is about 45 degrees Celsius.
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