Local authorities in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakır expect 1 million tourists to visit a 1,800-year old mysterious temple unearthed in 2017 by archaeologists working at Zerzevan Castle, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported.
Some 352,000 tourists visited the Mithras temple in 2018 and the local officials have stepped up efforts for attracting more visitors to Kurdish-majority Diyarbakır, a province struggling with high unemployment and other economic woes as well as ongoing tensions over the country’s three-decade old Kurdish-Turkish conflict.
The ancient city of Diyarbakır was a place where several different ethnic and religious groups, such as Kurds, Turks, Armenians, Assyrians, Jews and Arabs, coexisted for millennia. Archaeologists believe that the temple in Diyarbakır is the only Mithras temple on the eastern border of the Roman Empire and is, therefore, of crucial importance, the Ancient Pages news site said.
Only one percent of the area surrounding the Zerzevan castle has been excavated up to now and the archeologists predict that further excavation work will continue over the next 50 years.
Author Dan Brown and actor Morgan Freeman are also expected to visit the Mithras Temple in 2020, DW said. Freeman is reportedly planning to shoot a documentary entitled “The Story of God” in Zerzevan castle.