Ömer Erbil – ISTANBUL
Authorities at Topkapı Palace
in Istanbul are probing a hole three meters in diameter that appeared two weeks ago in the yard of the famous tourist attraction, soon after deep cracks were discovered in the basement of the building’s treasury pavilion.
Speaking anonymously with daily Hürriyet after its story on the deep cracks in the Fatih Pavillion of the Topkapı Palace, which led to the removal of treasures and artifacts from the salon, a staff member said a hole had emerged in the second yard of the palace in the grass.
A few years ago, the palace’s security chief fell into a hole that had appeared in the ground while walking around the site, the official said, adding that that hole had stemmed from an Ottoman-era water pit located under the ground.
The hole is located approximately 200 meters from the Harem entrance of the palace and is in front of the Justice Tower. It is reported to be three meters wide and two meters deep. Experts visiting the site demanded a security cordon around the hole and said it might have been caused by the collapse of archaeological layers below the ground rather than a nature-related occurrence. Experts also said the surrounding area in the garden was still at risk.
Meanwhile, geo-radar work was conducted under the ground of the garden to detect the layers, with archaeological excavations set to be launched after a permit is secured from the Istanbul 4th Protection Council. There are also plans to conduct a ground search to strengthen safety vulnerable ground areas.
During the construction of the Marmaray tunnel linking the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, cracks emerged on the walls of the Islamic Science Technologies Museum in Gülhane Park next to the palace, while the ongoing Eurasia Tunnel project could cause similar ground movements under the Topkapı Palace’s ground.
Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ) architecture professor Feridun Çılı said it was certain that a Byzantine or Roman-era construction had collapsed.
“The palace is built upon old ruins. The reason for the crevices in the Treasury is the ruins below the ground. The reason why there weren’t any drillings there was to preserve the archaeological layers down below. The ground of the palace that seems natural actually has a flexible structure. More detailed results might be obtained with research made below the ground,” said Çılı.