‘Temporary’ asphalt laid at Yedikule walls site in Istanbul
İdris Emen – ISTANBULThe Istanbul Archeologists Foundation has filed a complaint to the Turkish Culture Ministry’s preservation board against the Fatih municipality for allegedly damaging the historic, UNESCO-protected Yedikule walls by laying asphalt on a protective clearing beside the walls.
The asphalt was laid after trucks of gravel were dumped last week on the empty area remaining from the 2013 removal of the 17th century-old İsmail Paşa garden, one of the oldest of the Yedikule gardens, another UNESCO site.
The foundation filed the complaint claiming the municipality did not get permission from the board to lay asphalt at the site. Upon the reactions, the work was suspended by the municipality. By law any work done on such historic sites without the permission of the preservation board must be investigated by prosecutors and if found guilty the party responsible may be sentenced to jail time ranging from two to five years.
In a statement Fatih Municipality representatives said two trucks of asphalt mortar were laid down on the protective clearing beside the walls, adding that the material was temporary and was subsequently removed.
“The area has been preserving its same situation for three years,” said the statement, adding that a recreational project draft, which would also have a garden function, is soon to be presented to the preservation board by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.
Istanbul Archeologists Foundation head Yiğit Ozar, however said that no work could be done without the permission of the preservation board within the borders of the walls’ protective area and they had filed a complaint to the board believing that “such random practices will damage the walls and the historic fabric around it.”
Ozar also said that as the foundation they applied to the Istanbul 4th Preservation Board and Istanbul 2nd Renovation Board for the gardens to be officially registered.
The Yedikule Gardens have long been the center of controversy, after Istanbul’s Fatih Municipality initiated a reconstruction project back in 2013 to convert the gardens into a “park and green area.”
Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş later announced that he rejected the plan in 2014.
The demolition in the gardens, which are among the first examples of urban agriculture, started a few months ago, when the huts of three vegetable gardeners were demolished, putting the gardens in danger.