Shopping mall established on ancient city in Bursa stirs legal debate
İdris Emen - BURSA
A shopping mall, which has been built on top of the ancient city of Myrleia, dating back to 700 B.C. in the western province of Bursa’s Mudanya district continues to stir legal debate, with a local mayor saying the municipality has made the decision to “expropriate” the area.
“We have made an offer to company officials [owning the mall] for the land on which the mall stands in exchange for municipal land. But we could not come to an agreement. We have made the decision to expropriate the area where the ancient city stands. We will protect this historical value all together,” Mudanya Mayor Hayir Türkyılmaz said.
The construction of the controversial mall started in 2012. Tesco Kipa Marketing Company received the relevant construction permit for the mall and started the works in 2012. During the construction of the supermarket, a number of sculptures and the wall of the ancient city dating back were discovered, which led to a “protection execution” project to be prepared. Once the relevant project was approved by the Bursa Culture and Natural Heritage Preservation Board, the construction works resumed.
But a group of locals filed a lawsuit at the Bursa First Administrative Court, demanding that the construction be stopped. The court assigned a commission of experts to undertake an archeological investigation, and based on this commission’s analysis report, it overturned the locals’ demand. This time, the Bursa locals took the case to the Council of State—the highest administrative court in Turkey.
In a ruling on Dec. 21, 2017, on the grounds that the commission of experts assigned for the case did not include archeologists and architects, the Council of State overruled the decision of the Bursa First Administrative Court and referred the case file back to the Bursa court for review.
Meanwhile, as the legal process regarding the case was ongoing, Tesco Kipa sold the mall to Özdilek Holding in 2016, which sent the construction approval certificate for the mall to the Mudanya municipality on June 6.
Myrleia was most likely founded by the Colophons from Ionia back in the seventh century B.C., on the broad and flat hill known today as Hisarlık one kilometer southeast of Mudanya.
Today, we come across certain traces of this ancient city. In addition to active urban life between the city walls on the hill, there are occasional settlements northwards, as well as remains of harbor in the north. The location of the ancient city has been declared a protected archaeological area.