PLAYING HOST TO THE BALKAN SKI CHAMPIONSHIP MARCH 5 TO 9, ERCIYES IS GEARING UP TO BECOME THE WORLD’S SECOND BIGGEST CENTER FOR WINTER TOURISM AFTER THE ALPS FOLLOWING A WHOPPING 300-MILLION-EURO INVESTMENT.
Poised to become the engine of winter tourism in Turkey, the Erciyes Winter Sports and Tourism Center is currently undergoing a makeover. The countdown has already begun at the center, which will host thousands of athletes from around 20 countries for the Balkan Ski Championship, March 5 to 9. Feverish activity has been underway in the greater Kayseri area for months in conjunction with the event. Officials mention two key targets: First, to turn Erciyes into an attractive year-round resort. Second, to make Erciyes the world’s second largest center of winter tourism after the Alps. In line with this goal, investment in Erciyes is already up to 300 million euros. And preparations for the 2014 Balkan Ski Championship are nearing completion.
ANATOLIA’S NEW STAR
Erciyes boasts soft, non-sticky soil and pistes for skiers at every skill level, making it a strong candidate for becoming a world winter tourism favorite. The first steps toward this goal were taken in 2005. Now the Erciyes Winter Sports Tourism Center project, the third leg of the Kayseri Tourism Master Plan, is becoming reality. The ski pistes, artificial snow units, social facilities, accommodations and recreational centers being built for the project are in their final phase. Mechanical facilities in the Tekir area have also been included among the investments aimed at making Erciyes one of a handful of winter tourism centers in the world. The region’s new gondola lift is ready for use. When it goes into operation, athletes this winter will ascend to the summit in gondolas for 8 or 10 passengers. The old chairlift, which limits the piste area, is being dismantled and the ski area expanded. Cable cars in the area currently number 56 with a combined length of 1,650 meters. The number of mechanical facilities built as part of the Master Plan has risen to 15 with the addition of those around Tekir, and the total length of the mechanical facilities has long exceeded 25 kilometers. Thanks to the snow machine now operable at the site, the snow season will also last much longer.
A RESORT FOR ALL SEASONS
A recent statement by Uros Poviknar, who heads the Technical Team of the International Ski Federation (FIS), confirms the scale of the development. Poviknar says that all the pistes at Erciyes have been professionally prepared to international standards and that any kind of winter sports competition could easily be staged here. In addition to the mechanical facilities at the center, piste construction is also continuing apace. Total piste length in the area has already exceeded 160 kilometers and is expected to reach 200 kilometers by the time of the Balkan Ski Championship. Next in line are 21 hotels and resort village projects to be built on the shores of Lake Tekir. Some 120 million dollars have been spent on infrastructure. Hotel beds at Erciyes will number six thousand, exactly six times current capacity, when the Erciyes Tourism Master Plan is complete. The project is also creating job opportunities for around four thousand people in the region. Another target is to make Erciyes a year-round resort. Facilities for convention, sport and nature tourism are therefore slated to open at Erciyes when the ski season is over. As Erciyes gears up for a spanking new future, it’s up to us to savor the winter pleasure at the region’s ski center. Look out mountain, here we come!
You’ll find numerous shopping choices around Kayseri Castle. You can pick up hand-woven Bünyan and Yahyalı carpets, as well as pastırma (Turkish pastrami), sucuk (sausage), dried vegetables and spices at the local shops.
In addition to ”kesme” soup, which is made with ground meat, homemade noodles and tomato sauce, Kayseri “mantı” (ravioli) and pastırma en papillote are some of the area’s top culinary specialties.
THE FRAKTIN INSCRIPTIONS
The Fraktin Rock Inscriptions near the town of Develi in Kayseri province bear traces of the Hittites. Scenes depicting the Hittite kings are portrayed on these monumental reliefs dating back to the 14th century B.C.