LOCAL > Istanbul's silhouette-spoiling skyskrapers may be torn down after court ruling


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The 37, 32 and 27 storey buildings in the Zeytinburnu district are clearly visible in the panorama behind the Süleymaniye Mosque on the city's historic peninsula. Hürriyet archive photo

The 37, 32 and 27 storey buildings in the Zeytinburnu district are clearly visible in the panorama behind the Süleymaniye Mosque on the city's historic peninsula. Hürriyet archive photo

An Istanbul court ruled May 24 that the three massive skyscrapers spoiling Istanbul's historic silhouette must be torn down. 

The construction of the 37, 32 and 27 storey buildings in the Zeytinburnu district on the European side of Istanbul had sparked a lively debate after they were built, as they were clearly visible in the panorama behind the Süleymaniye Mosque on the city's historic peninsula.

In its decision, the court explained that the skyscrapers were illegal, as they "negatively affected the world heritage site that the Turkish government was obliged to protect."

Meanwhile, a representative of the company that owns the skyscrapers, titled the "Onaltıdokuz Residence," said the road to appeal was still open. "This is a decision of an administrative court. It cancels the license of the buildings, but there is the possibility of an appeal. The status of the project is still legal. It's not a definitive ruling yet," the representative was quoted by daily Hürriyet as saying.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had revealed last month that he had asked the businessman Mesut Toprak to give a "haircut" to the buildings, and resented him for not doing so.

"I side with a form of architecture that accords with our culture. In Istanbul and Ankara, there are structures that have gone against the characters of both cities. I don't approve of vertical structures; I rather favor horizontal ones. Four stories should be above the ground, while the other four should be built underground," Erdoğan said in an address to the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) Istanbul lawmakers on April 17.

Toprak had responded that it would have been impossible to make an adjustment, as the top floors of the residences were already inhabited. "We don't have any problem with our licenses and zonings. Our project completely complies with the zoning plan we developed. There is no illegal aspect [in our work]. I have never been involved in an illegal job in the 42 years of my working life," Toprak said.


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Harry Foundalis

5/29/2013 7:42:31 PM

@Brit in Turkey, I’ll gladly answer your question. When I said “historical names of cities” I meant their names as they have entered the Greek language since several centuries ago; not “historic” as in “original” (and in your language). Thus, the Latin name “Londinium” couldn’t have entered my language “as is”; it had to be turned into something that “sounds Greek to you” ;-) and so it became “Londinon”. (Lost its final n colloquially.) I.e., “historic” from our point of view, not from yours.

Brit in Turkey

5/28/2013 6:57:24 PM

Harry Foundalis: London was named "Londinium" by the Romans, so how come "Londino" is its historic name, unless of course Greece invaded England when I wasn't looking? 8-) Similarly for New York, which is named after the English city "York", which although dating back 7,000 years, was first made great by the Romans (as Eboracum ) and then named "Jórvík" by the Vikings. So what is historic about the name Greece uses?

Harry Foundalis

5/28/2013 4:11:49 PM

Aydin, continuing (and finishing) my previous post, let me give you an analogy: you say Solun, but we say Thessaloniki. Although that’s a Greek city, we don’t have any demand that Turks say “Thessaloniki” when speaking in Turkish! In Turkish, of course you should use the name that “matches” with the sounds of your language, and that is “Solun”. In English, however, I always say “Istanbul” for your largest city, b/c that’s what its name is in English (and in Turkish, but I don’t speak Turkish).

Harry Foundalis

5/28/2013 3:07:01 PM

Aydin, instead of giving your own answers to things that you don’t know it’s better to ask first and learn. We call Istanbul “Konstantinoupoli” in Greek (or simply Poli = City) but we do it with all historical names of cities. E.g.: Londino = London, Nea Yorki = New York, Romi = Rome, Monacho = Munich, Angyra = Ankara, Parisi = Paris, Moscha = Moscow…. See? It’s not just Istanbul. The Greek language works with proper endings, avoiding words that sound foreign (with improper endings) if possible.

Aydin Amsterdam

5/27/2013 10:56:02 PM

harry, i don't have problems with the city's former name constantinople, because it's part of its history. but it's called istanbul now. in greece you still call it constantinople. why is that? because you can't cope with it? well, get over it. athens is a nice place too.

Aydin Amsterdam

5/27/2013 10:49:39 PM

pawel, yes we are proud of this turkish city. does your country have something to be proud of?

Tekion Particle

5/27/2013 9:15:34 PM

While I agree with the notion of these high-rise buildings look rather ugly at the background but I disagree with the court's ruling following the expressed dismay by the PM. If that is not dictatorship, can someone give me a better example of a dictatorial behaviour? The courts would not dare disagree with RTE. I do not think there will ever be an occasion where any court in the land of Turkey will rule against the RTE as long as he is in power.

Harry Foundalis

5/27/2013 12:40:07 PM

@Aydin, you also accused me unjustly: “harry, by the way, this article is […] not about your country.” Aydin, I didn’t mention my country in my original post. It was you who wrote about Greece first: “harry, can you explain to us what happened to the ottoman heritage of greece? or did you forget?” So I answered your question saying that your ancestors raped, killed, and treated my ancestors as lowlifes. If you didn’t bring up the subject by yourself, you wouldn’t read what you dislike to read.

Harry Foundalis

5/27/2013 12:32:14 PM

@Aydin, you wrote: “harry, by the way, this article is about istanbul, not about constantinople […]” I wrote “Istanbul” in my first post, and used “Constantinople” only to refer to the pre-Islamic past of the city: that’s what its name was. But why do you like “Istanbul” better? It’s well known that it comes from Greek, too: “Is-tin-Polin”, means “to the City”, pronounced [is-teen-Bolin], and turkified as “Is-tan-bul”. (E.g., check in Wikipedia.) Why do you fret the name Constantinople so much?

Harry Foundalis

5/27/2013 12:07:12 PM

@Murat, I apologize for ruining your illusion of a benevolent Ottoman authority, with idyllic and loving relations between the Ottoman rulers and their subjects—an illusion you were educated with in Turkey. But your sentiments overruled your rationality and blamed me and my ilk “for so much evil in the world”. Cool down. Truth can hurt, I understand. And @HDN: I would like to know some reason why your staff rejected a previous version of this post yesterday — thank you. (You have my email.)
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