8 April 2021
The tombstones of the Seljuk Square Cemetery, which is located in the Ahlat district of Bitlis and considered as the largest Turkish-Islamic cemetery in the world, will be introduced to the world with the project ‘Eyewitnesses of History, Ahlat Tombstones Are Rising’.
The Ahlat Nature and Cultural Heritage Preservation Association, Ahlat District Governorship and Ahlat Museum Directorate started work for the Seljuk Square Cemetery, which is described as the world’s largest Turkish-Islamic cemetery with 8 thousand mausoleums located 65 kilometers from Bitlis city center.
With the work, the ‘Eyewitnesses of History, Ahlat Tombstones Are Standing Up’ project, which is also supported by the Van Yüzüncü Yıl University and the Association of Municipalities in Lecce, Italy, was prepared. The short film prepared within the scope of the project aiming to introduce Ahlat tombstones to the world and the shootings to be made in the district will be sent to various countries of Europe.
Samet Adıyaman, the chairman of Ahlat Association of Nature and Cultural Heritage, said that the project they presented started on April 1. Stating that they will remove 100 tombstones under the ground in the cemetery within the scope of the project, Adıyaman said, “By removing the gravestone, lichen cleaning, adding a square code, signing works. After all these works, a short film will be made and photographs will be exhibited both in Ahlat and in Italy. With the project, we expect an increase in the number of tourists who have come to date. We also aim to encounter new historical information or motifs with the tombstones to be removed. There is information that there are nearly 20 thousand tombstones in the region. “Short films, photographs and seminars will be carried out in Italy. Then, we aim to send the CDs of short films to be reproduced to the Ministries of Culture of the Turkic Republics together with many European countries.”
One of the project partners, Ahlat Museum Director Mikail Ercek, said that the Seljuk Square Cemetery, which spans an area of 210 acres, contains 8,103 tombs. Ercek, “It has the title of the world’s largest Turkish-Islamic cemetery with the area it covers and the tombstones it contains. Under the permission of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, under the presidency of Prof. Dr. Recai Karahan from Van Yüzüncü Yıl University, restoration, conservation, restitution and excavation are carried out every year. Within the scope of the project submitted to the European Union, it is possible to raise 100 more tombstones. I thank you for the “he said.
Ahlat District Governorship Project Unit Officer Necati Aktekin said that the project, which will last for 14 months, was prepared within the scope of the European Union’s program for the development of a common culture, carried out by the central finance unit.
Aktekin said that work will be carried out on 100 tombstones that are under the ground in ruined condition, their restoration will be done, their inscriptions will be read, and they will be signed in Turkish and English and square codes will be made. Aktekin said, “2 separate symposiums will be held within the scope of the project. “There are two symposiums to be organized by exhibiting short films and photographs of the Seljuk Square Cemetery in Turkey and abroad,” he said.