CHALLENGES AND POTENTIALS OF TRADITIONAL URBAN FABRIC IN TERMS OF CULTURAL TOURISM: A CASE STUDY, HISTORIC SETTLEMENT OF SIVRIHISAR / TURKEY
Reference: Kose, B., Yabaci, E. & Bilgin Altinöz, A.G. Challenges and Potentials of Traditional Urban Fabric in Terms of Cultural Tourism: A Case Study of the Historic Settlement of Sivrihisar, Turkey, "Association of Critical Heritage’s third Biennial Conference (ACHS 2016)", Montreal, June 2016.
Every day, number of tourists, who are willing to experience sites and events with historical, social and cultural value, is increasing. This demand, as the booster of cultural tourism, transforms cultural heritage sites to popular tourist attractions.
The major impact of cultural tourism on a cultural heritage site is the promotion of economic developments and functional alterations in its condition. On the other hand, while conserving an inhabiting traditional urban fabric, the pressure of cultural tourism on the daily life practices of its inhabitants is an important issue to be considered.
Recently, in Turkey, conservation activities are predominantly carried by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and municipalities. NGOs like Union of Historical Towns and Foundation for the Protection and Promotion of the Environment and Cultural Heritage (ÇEKÜL) are collaborating with municipalities and encouraging them to perform conservation implementations to raise common heritage consciousness and cultural awareness at local scales. Correspondingly, municipalities are eager to implement and finish ‘conservation’ projects swiftly with the motivation of economic contribution provided by ‘revitalized’ conservation sites as tourist attraction points. However, technical faults due to hastily finished, scientifically lacking conservation studies may lead to the loss of site’s documentary value. Moreover, the appeal of economic contribution paves the path of functional transformations in the built environment. In addition, the socio-cultural structure of the site is changed and daily life practices of the local community are affected as a result of this transformation. Thus, these sites started to become touristic commerce centers with cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops, where authentic urban life dissolves day by day. This brings along the risk of forming a ‘decor with missing identities’ instead of a ‘heritage site as a living cultural environment’.
Sivrihisar Urban Settlement is an inhabiting traditional urban fabric in Asia Minor/ Turkey, which is not affected by industry of cultural tourism massively. It still conserves its authentic physical and social structure. However, the recent appearance of some single interventions in the fabric refers to its tendency to become a cultural tourism area.
The aim of this study is to make a critical discussion of how to handle a prospective cultural tourism industry in Sivrihisar as a contributor for site’s conservation and development. Therefore, in this study, firstly a short overview of current approaches in Turkey, is going to be mentioned. Secondly, Sivrihisar Urban Settlement is going to be analyzed in detail regarding its potentials and challenges in terms of the possible development of the cultural tourism in the area. Finally, a conservation approach, which preserves existing tangible (history and archaeology, arts and architecture, landscape etc.) and intangible heritage aspects (traditions, people and their lifestyles, local productions, social, economic and political structures etc.) and welcomes new values to the area in the case of appearance of cultural tourism, is proposed.