Mosque plan for Istanbul’s Taksim Square approved by cultural protection board
Dinçer Gökçe – ISTANBUL
DHA photoIstanbul’s cultural protection board approved a plan on Feb. 6 to construct a mosque in the city’s main Taksim Square.
The controversial plan has been in the works for decades and was previously objected to as it was ruled to be against the public benefit.
The mosque slated to be built in the square is set to be built on a 1,482-square-meter area by two architects, Şefik Birkiye and Dr. Selim Dalaman. Its height, excluding its minaret, will be around 30 meters, the same as two historical churches in the area.
The mosque will be able to host at least 2,575 worshippers when it is completed.
The house of worship is expected to be located in place of an old masjid next to Taksim Square.
The mosque’s architecture will reportedly be inspired by the 20th-century Art Deco movement.
The complex will also have a conference hall, while its underground area will be used as a covered parking space with a capacity for 180 vehicles. The complex also will be covered with a siding of light-colored natural stones.
The plot where the mosque is expected to be constructed is currently owned by the General Directorate of Foundations.
As part of the plan, the next move will be to relocate shops currently operating in the area envisaged for the mosque.
The plan has a contentious history going back decades. In 1983 a similar project was suggested but the Council of State ruled that constructing mosques, bazaars and parking garages on Taksim Square would be against the public benefit.
When he was the mayor of Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan argued that the mosque plan would be in public welfare.
Erdoğan said again that the mosque plan was ready, stating during a public speech on July 19, 2016, that Taksim would become more beautiful.
Various plans and designs have been advanced over the years for a mosque in Taksim. In July 2015, the Council of State reversed its judgement canceling various construction plans in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district, paving the way for a number of projects, including the mosque.
Taksim Square is a contested site, particularly over the fate of Taksim Gezi Park. When officials attempted to cut down trees to reconstruct military barracks in 2013, it touched off a nationwide protest movement that resulted in the deaths of eight protesters. There have also been contradicting reports over the fate of the square’s Atatürk Cultural Center, which lies derelict on one of the sides of the public space.