Turkish Culture Ministry restoring Istanbul’s ancient city walls
Ömer Erbil - ISTANBUL
The Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry will restore part of Istanbul’s ancient city walls surrounding Topkapı Palace with a budget of 25 million Turkish Liras ($5.1 million), as they have been become a crime scene for illegal activities for many years now.
Listed as one of the longest historical monuments in the world, the ancient city walls encircle the old city perimeters and attract attention from both local and foreign tourists. But despite their historical significance, the city’s ancient walls have become notorious for serving as shelters not only to homeless, but also to illicit substance abusers and criminals.
This safety issue in the vicinity of the walls was thrust into the international media spotlight in 2013 after the United States tourist Serai Sienna was found murdered along the ancient walls near the Sarayburnu Hill beneath Topkapı Palace.
The ministry has already restored the walls surrounding the land side of Topkapı Palace with a spending of 14 million Turkish Liras ($2.9 million). These four-kilometer-long land walls are called Sur-u Sultani Walls, as they were built during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed III, commonly known as Mehmed the Conqueror (Fatih Sultan Süleyman in Turkish).
The officials have now taken a step for the restoration of the part facing the sea, remaining from the Byzantine era. A tender has already been held for the restoration and won by ABMA construction firm. The company is expected to finish the restoration process by November 2019.
The project also includes the restoration of the İncili Köşk (The Pearl Pavilion) whose base is visible in the walls. Built in 1590, the İncili Köşk was an observation pavilion, which was constructed by chief architect Davud Ağa by the order of Ottoman Grand Vizier Koca Sinan Paşa to submit to Ottoman Sultan Murad III.
Initially built by Constantine the Great in the fifth century A.D., the ancient walls took their final form with adjustments conducted over time.
The elaborate system of double walls and tunnels saved Constantinople—as the city was known then—and the Byzantine Empire with it from sieges. Many portions of the ancient walls still stand while other sections have crumbled.