Academics unhappy with Taksim renovation project

Academics unhappy with Taksim renovation project

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Academics unhappy with Taksim renovation project

The consturciton works in Taksim are expected to finish in eight months. DHA Photo

The renewal project in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, which has been ongoing since Nov. 5, has been strongly criticized by academics, who say the project could seriously damage the square as sufficient archaeological research was not conducted in the area before work began.

Professor Afife Batur from Istanbul Technical University, who specializes in the architecture of the late-Ottoman and Republican periods, told the Hürriyet Daily News that there was not enough knowledge with regard to the archeological remains in the area.

Batur said there were Armenian, Greek, Catholic and Muslim cemeteries spread over thousands of square meters in the area between Elmadağ and Fındıklı. She said there was also a Catholic cemetery right underneath the Atatürk monument in Taksim.

Bones collected

“When Sultan Abdülmecid decided to open the region to residence in the Ottoman Empire’s Tanzimat reform era, only Catholics collected the bones and transferred them to the Catholic cemetery in Feriköy. We don’t know what happened to the cemeteries belonging to Armenians and Muslims. There was a sanatorium in the current location of the French Consulate, which was built in a suburban area in order to prevent the spread of diseases. Istanbul used to end at the point where today’s İstiklal Street ends,” Batur said.

Likewise, Fatma Sedes, the head of Aydın University’s Architecture and Restoration Department, said expert opinions should have been sought before work began. “I agree that Taksim Square needed to be renovated, but not in this way,” Sedes said.

“Taksim turned out to be a place without any proportion. First, hotels were built around it. Now they are trying to remove the park; the square will completely disappear in the future. They are using Taksim as an experimental object,” she added.

“They should have organized an international competition and asked for expert opinions through it.”