A long-awaited restoration in the world’s oldest covered bazaar, Istanbul’s historic Grand Bazaar, has begun with efforts to replace the tiles in the commercial and tourist venue.
Restoration plans of the 554-year-old bazaar, known as “Kapalıçarşı” in Turkish, initially began seven months ago.
Efforts in restoring the roof and the substructure will be carried out in three stages and are expected to be over by the end of 2017. The authorities will then move on to restoring and strengthening the integrity of the bazaar.
“This is not an ordinary place. It’s a historical structure that hosts the highest number of visitors in the world,” Fatih Mayor Mustafa Demir told journalists after carrying out inspections in the area, adding that even the most minor stage of the restoration had to be approved by the Council of Monuments.
“The tiniest stage during the restoration has to be approved by the Council of Monuments and our science delegation. We are carrying out meticulous efforts in the area. In order to not affect tourism, we are transferring the remains of the old parts, which surface the restoration works, during the night,” he said.
Saying that the efforts of substructure and roof renovation were being carried out simultaneously, Demir noted that there were spots in the bazaar that needed urgent repair.
“There are places that need urgent action. Interference will be made to the damages in the coves and the load-bearing columns that disappeared during the alteration of the shops,” he added.
Attracting nearly 92 million tourists every year, restoration in the Grand Bazaar started on July 14, 2016 with a ceremony after six years of project preparation. The initial stage of the restoration started at the roof and after seven months of meticulous efforts, the first tiles were started to be placed.
After lifting the old tiles, authorities have reached the concrete part of the building, which was followed by repairing damages that occurred over the years. The roof was then covered with water-proof material and tiles were placed after that.
The water tanks, of which most weigh a ton, were lifted from the roof and the process of replacing air conditioners and satellite dishes were done carefully and in accordance with plans to avoid causing visual pollution and harm to the historic building.
An aerial footage of the Grand Bazaar showed that its roof has been mostly cleared of air conditioners, satellite dishes and water tanks. Construction workers have emptied the roof by working and walking in one line in groups of 10 or 15.