Iznik, a city with a cultural heritage of 2400 years, is preparing for a huge celebration.

Plans are being made in Iznik within the framework of "Faith Tourism", to celebrate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. Iznik has been described by the Christian world as the third "holy city" after Jerusalem and the Vatican.

Iznik, which is 85 km. from Bursa and has fertile land and vast historical assets, is known worldwide for its tiles. It was the capital city of the Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman empires.

"Faith tourism" The 1st and 7th Ecumenical Councils were held in Iznik in 325 and 787 A.D., respectively. To evaluate the potential of the city, the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministries decided to include Iznik in their projects.

The aims of "Faith Tourism" are to vary tourism, to impart the image of a "secular Turkey" to the world, and to stress the "tolerance" in Islam towards other religions.

The Director of Iznik Museum, Taylan Sevil, said that historical assets in the region should be restored as soon as possible because many tourists would be visiting this region within the framework of "faith tourism".

1st and 7th councils As a result of controversies which arose because of doctrinal differences in the Christianty in 320 A.D. the Byzantine Emperor Constantine convened the first Ecu- menical Council in Iznik in 325. At the Council, attended by 300 bishops, a solution was sought to resolve the controversy over the divinity of Christ.

Later Empress Irene convened the 7th Council in Iznik in 787 A.D.

At the end of the 19th Council held in the Vatican in 1962, Iznik was declared a "holy city" for Christians.

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