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Byzantine walls 'refitted' for wedding receptions in Istanbul

The Fatih Municipality of Istanbul has controversially converted historic city walls, on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites protected list, for the construction of a new wedding hall, covering them with a portable roof after receiving permission from the Provincial Board of Cultural Property Protection.

Byzantine walls 'refitted' for wedding receptions in Istanbul

The surveying, restitution and restoration project, encompassing the historic city walls located in Fatih, was presented to the board in 2015.

After evaluating the request, the board granted permission to build a “sufficient portable cover” over the historic city walls, among the oldest structures in the entire city, in May 2016.

The Fatih Municipality’s Directorate of Parks and Recreation in September 2016 installed a three-meter-high portable roof over a site where wedding events are held, called the Topkapı Social Facility.

The municipality has issued a statement on the controversial project, saying the roof has not damaged the historic walls. 

“There is no contact between the portable roof and the city walls. The project was implemented in line with the board’s decision,” said in the statement.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Fazıl Uğur Soylu admitted that the portable roof does not have contact with the walls, but described it as “ugly.” 

“I’ve investigated the roof next to historic walls. It is not mounted onto the historic walls but it looks ugly. It can also be seen from outside of the walls. We will make a complaint about it,” Soylu said.

The Istanbul branch of the Archaeologists Association also commented on the project, saying it “disrupted a historic structure.”

“Every project that is implemented over the historic walls should consider the identity of the walls. Projects implemented on the walls should serve the protection of cultural property. The Topkapı Social Facility, contradicting this situation, dismissed the heritage site’s identity,” said in the statement.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [February 28, 2017]

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