by Burak Akinci
ANKARA, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Turkey's Beypazari district, a popular travel destination located near capital Ankara with its preserved old Ottoman houses, is now seeking recognition by the UNESCO and trying to lure more foreign tourists.
Recently, during a festival organized annually in the district situated around 100 km northwest of Ankara, its mayor announced that it is expecting to be nominated in the UNESCO World Heritage sites tentative list.
"We are confident and hopeful," Tuncer Kaplan, mayor of Beypazari, said in an interview with state-run Anadolu News Agency.
Beypazari was occupied by many civilizations including the Hittites, the Romans and the Seljuk Turks, but during Ottoman rule it became an important trading post and military center in Anatolian heartland.
When you drive nowadays through the center of Beypazari, on the cobblestoned streets, the most obvious landmark is a large carrot artwork standing in the heart of the city, dedicated to the importance of the vegetable to the town as it is one of its main exports.
Besides the carrot which the locals are proud of, main features of Beypazari for day-trippers are the stylish late Ottoman period houses, typically two or three storey stone buildings, constructed centuries ago.
"We really have some distinctive landmarks that are attractive to people coming from big cities. Foreign tourists especially like our Telkari," Seref Kocak, a shopkeeper, told Xinhua, referring to the ethnic jewelry art popular in Beypazari.
Telkari is an age-old tradition which is also popular in Mardin, a province in the southeast of Turkey. Very thin wires of gold or silver are fused together, with addition of precious stones or tinny silver balls, to form this kind of jewelry or decorative items.
"We know that the town wants to attract foreign visitors in order to become an internationally popular destination," Kocak said.
Beypazari is also famous for its local food, such as Beypazari kurusu, a traditional pastry which usually goes with Turkish tea.
The crystal mineral trona, a kind of natural soda used in glass making, is extracted in rural Beypazari and exported to various countries, making the district also important for its underground richness.
In the city center, there's a charming market place where tourists can buy dried vegetables, local made noodles named "eriste," and also hand-made tablecloths. And if you want to immerse yourself in the old days of the town, you can visit the History and Culture museum, located in an ottoman house to have a feel of daily life more than 200 years ago.
"This year, we are planning to organize a gastronomy festival in cooperation with Ankara University," said Kaplan, who also regarded the value of the place as a trade stop on the ancient Silk Road.
In the Middle Ages, trade caravans used to pass through Anatolia and Beypazari to transport goods from China to other parts of the world. Beypazari was located in a relatively central point on a main transportation axis for the trade of silk, porcelain, paper and spices.