250-year-old Ottoman school restored without authorization

250-year-old Ottoman school restored without authorization

Ömer Erbil – ISTANBUL
250-year-old Ottoman school restored without authorization

A 250-year-old Ottoman-era building in Istanbul’s Fatih district has undergone an unauthorized restoration, prompting investigations by authorities. 

The Yusuf Ağa Sibyan Mektebi, an Ottoman-era elementary school, currently under the administration of the Independent Art Foundation, was concreted and painted with tile color on its external front. 

When asked whether the General Directorate of Foundations, a body overseeing the restorations of historic buildings, was informed about the restoration, authorities said they had not issued approval for such an action. Fatih Municipality also said they did not permit the restoration and were not informed about it. 

The usage rights of the building were given to Fatih Municipality in 2010, and were reportedly transferred to the foundation after it remained empty for years. 

Permission needs to be taken from the board to paint and apply concrete to Group 1-listed historic buildings located in the historic peninsula of Istanbul. Such actions conducted without the board’s approval could result in legal sanction.  

After daily Hürriyet initiated a probe on the unauthorized practice and informed the General Directorate of Foundation, the Istanbul regional office launched an investigation into the restoration. The teams found that the building had been subjected to physical interference without authorization, resulting in the suspension of construction.

“They have not inquired with us, and the interference on the exterior front is enough for it to be considered a physical intervention. The building was already the subject of improper intervention in previous years. What needs to be done is to remove the results of this interference on the building and make restorations that will preserve its original stone look. We will not allow this building to be painted either,” a preservation broad representative told Hürriyet.

Earlier in October, a story published by daily Hürriyet about deep crevices found in the treasury room of the Ottoman Topkapı Palace prompted authorities to act swiftly and begin a long-planned renovation work at the popular tourist site. 

The discovery of the crevices prompted the partial closure of the Sultan Mehmed II (Conqueror) Pavilion, which showcases world-renowned treasures.