Construction of controversial prayer room in Istanbul’s Rumeli Fortress completed
ISTANBUL – Cihan News Agency
CİHAN photoThe construction of a controversial prayer room inside Istanbul’s Rumeli Fortress has been completed amid a long-running dispute between Turkish architects and art historians.
The Boğazkesen Fetih prayer room is scheduled to open to worshippers in August after a construction process which cost about 1.5 million Turkish Liras.
The Rumeli Fortress, which was built by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452, once housed the Boğazkesen Mosque inside. The historical mosque was demolished in the 18th century with only its minaret remaining. In the 1950s, the fortress and its environs were reshaped by the order of Celal Bayar, Turkey’s third president. Since the late 1980s, the fortress has served as an open-air theater and quickly became a prestigious concert venue. The last of the traditional concerts in the complex was held in 2008.
In 2009, the Istanbul Number Three Regional Board of Cultural and Natural Heritage ruled for the remains of the historical mosque to be preserved. However, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality received a license to rebuild the former prayer room inside the fortress. The project for the prayer room was drawn up in 2014, eventually leading to a dispute between the project’s architects and art historians. Even Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan joined the dispute, saying the fortress had already been a place of prayer.
The restoration work by the municipality at Rumeli Fortress began in early 2015, however it was later revealed the anticipated prayer room was being built on the previous place of the open-air theater.