A 1,226 year-old plane tree has been taken under protection in Kocaeli's Gölcük district.
The 14 meters-wide and 35 meters-long tree has long been the symbol of the district. The locals have been offering iftar tables and organizing wedding ceremonies around the tree for decades. The tree has offered a cool breeze to the locals and visitors during hot summer days. Those who are exhausted by the heat usually take a chair and catch their breath under the thick shadow of the tree's branches.
The 1,226 year-old tree's body is so wide that a shoe-making shop was operating inside of it 60 years ago. After the public square where the ancient tree is located was renovated, the shop was closed. When the tree got sick and started to shed its leaves, the authorities intervened and closed the gap inside of the tree's body. Namik Gürel, one of the locals, said the tree is the unofficial meeting point for the locals as well as the tourists.
"Young people get together under the ancient plane tree especially during summer nights. They take a sip from their teas and enjoy themselves. On Sundays, people from neighboring cities come here just to see the tree and enjoy the outdoor sports here in Kocaeli," said Gürel.
Recep Dinçay, another local, said he spends most of his time under the plane tree. "People come here and take pictures of this ancient tree. Those who have not seen this tree yet are missing a lot."