Gobekli Tepe in Turkey's Anatolia region is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Photo: iStock

The oldest temple in the world has been accorded special protection by the United Nations.

The 11,000-year-old temple site in Turkey’s southeastern Anatolia region was granted UNESCO World Heritage status on Sunday, the UN agency announced at a meeting in Manama, the Bahraini capital.

Located in what was once known as Upper Mesopotamia, Gobekli Tepe (Potbelly Hill) is the world’s oldest known megalithic structure.

The site in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa was reopened to tourists earlier this year after restoration work was completed.

The site contains “monumental circular and rectangular megalithic structures, interpreted as enclosures, which were erected by hunter-gatherers in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic age between 9,600 and 8,200 BC,” UNESCO said in a statement.

“It is likely that these monuments were used in connection with rituals, probably of a funerary nature.”