Municipality halts construction project after walls of historic mosque crack in Istanbul
ISTANBUL - Doğan News AgencyA municipality has halted a construction project in Istanbul’s Üsküdar district after the walls of a historic mosque have cracked.
The construction of a pedestrian road in front of the Şemsi Paşa Mosque built by renowned Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan in 1580 was halted after criticism poured over damage on the historical structure.
The cracks emerged after sea-filling efforts were launched by the Istanbul Municipality, which was also slammed over the project not being suitable for historic view.
Speaking after the incident, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş said the construction in front of the mosque was halted and the project will be reevaluated.
Üsküdar Mayor Hilmi Türkmen also said that part of the project will be reconsidered and authorities will decide whether to use a different method when filling the sea or preserving the area altogether.
The municipal council voted to carry out construction efforts by filling the sea in December 2016. Despite objections from council members from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), the area in front of Şemsi Paşa Mosque and Üsküdar port was listed as an area to be filled.
According to the project, some 12,000-meter square of sea area was planned to be filled by pouring concrete on piles placed in the water.
The municipality report accepted in December 2016 said the project aims to lessen pedestrian traffic and highlight the historic structures.
The report also said the current structure of Üsküdar Square prevents pedestrians from accessing the sea visually or physically, adding that the historic “square” identity had been destroyed.
The project was slammed on social media and received criticism from experts.
Prof. İlber Ortaylı said Mimar Sinan wouldn’t have built the mosque if he knew the kind of treatment it was being subjected to.
“Would Mimar Sinan leave us the Şemsi Paşa Mosque if he knew that we would treat it this way?” Ortaylı said.