By Veysel Kara
A 17th century Greek archaeological site in Turkey’s Black Sea province Gumushane has been ignored for the last 50 years, the province’s culture and tourism head said Tuesday.
Huseyin Ates told Anadolu Agency that the Santa Ruins, located in medieval Dumanli village, 72 kilometers (44.7 miles) from Gumushane’s city center, were listed as grade 1 and grade 3 archaeological sites in 1999.
The site was once a bustling city with single story houses, a church in each neighborhood, and a fountain in each street.
The area bustled with the Greek population in the 1700s after the Ottoman Empire conquered the Pontic Greek state’s lands.
Ates said that between 1700 and 1900, some 5,000 people were living in the area and there were many jewelry stores and shopping centers.
In 1923, when the Turkey-Greece Population Exchange agreement was signed, the Greeks migrated, and the remaining residents also left for economic reasons.
Since then, the ruins bear a deserted look.
“In the beginning of 1900s, especially after the Greeks migrated from our country as a result of the exchange, [the site] was left deserted,” he said.
He added that after the 1950s the Turk residents in the area also left due to various reasons.
“It is an area which has fallen into silence for 50 years and has been left to its fate,” he said.
After the population exchange, the Greeks who migrated to Greece called the homes they had left behind a “secret heaven”, said Ates.
Visitors can track traces of the Pontic Greek civilization in the area, he said, stressing the importance of the site in terms of nature and culture tourism.
He said he believed the Santa Ruins will become an important tourist destination along the Green Road Project -- a new road that will link the site to the Black Sea coastal road.
Ates has invited nature lovers and people interested in cultural heritage to visit the site.
“We will do everything to share this historical heritage to our next generations,” he said.