Earthquake sparks worry over the historic monuments
Göksel Bozkurt ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News/Radikal
Major historical monuments, including Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, have been reinforced to prevent damage in quakes. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL
The Culture Ministry has expressed concern that future earthquakes may damage centuries-old monuments such as the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque despite efforts to reinforce historical sites.
“Restoration work is under way at many sites in Istanbul. During the restoration work, we are reinforcing those buildings to make them more resilient to earthquakes. We do not want our historical monuments to be damaged by earthquakes, but I am still worried,” Culture Minister Ertuğrul Günay told a group of reporters yesterday.
The minister drew attention to the fact that old buildings generally withstood the quakes, while new structures crumbled, pointing to the Akdamar Church, located on an islet in Lake Van, which survived the latest 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the region with only cracks in the sections that had been recently restored.
“We are faced with the same scene after every earthquake. Historic buildings dating back 100, 400 and even 1,000 years stand strong, but the newer structures next to them collapse. We have seen this in Van, too. This is both saddening and thought-provoking,” said Günay.
The old structures can withstand earthquakes because the country’s ancestors did not cut back on materials to lower costs and raise their profits, he said.
Major historical monuments, including Hagia Sophia and Sultanahmet in Istanbul, were reinforced during restorations.
“They are architectural wonders. They have been standing up despite countless earthquakes,” Günay said.