Gravel dumped at Istanbul’s historic Yedikule Gardens
ISTANBULGravel was dumped at the historic Yedikule Gardens, a UNESCO-protected site near the Marmara shoreline along the Byzantine-era ramparts surrounding the old city of Istanbul, bringing the gardens’ future back into the spotlight.
The gravel was dumped at the gardens as part of efforts to turn the area into a parking lot, while a dispute on the future of the ancient garden plots is ongoing, Arkeofili reported on May 3.
“The governor told us that the area will be made into parking lot. Gravel is being poured, but this is not a suitable place to build a parking lot,” said Turkish Archaeologists Association’s Istanbul branch head Yiğit Ozar, adding that the struggle to protect the gardens started in July 2013.
“They first started filling the gardens with rubble using bulldozers in July 2013. That practice stopped after objections. The excavation and the construction of the pools in the project started once again in November 2014. We appealed to the Istanbul Archeology Museum and also stopped that [construction], because this is an archeological site. A similar practice is being carried out now,” added Ozar. The process is an operation to strip the gardens of their qualities, according to Ozar.
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.
Meanwhile, the Republican People’s Party deputy of the southern province of Mersin, Gülay Yedekçi, has commented on the controversy, saying that the green areas shouldn’t be sacrificed to unearned income.
“A construction process has started here. We were told that a stone storage would be built and heavy machinery would be put here. Rubble was dumped here previously and it significantly harmed the gardens,” said Yedekçi in a meeting with the Yedikule residents. In her speech, she affirmed his belief that agricultural activities should continue in the gardens.
“We want the removal of the stones and continuation of the agricultural activities as soon as possible. We think that the areas should be turned into safe zones by being lit and cleaned,” she said.
Noting that the gardens had housed agricultural soil for 1,500 years, Yedekçi added that three separate projects exist regarding Yedikule Gardens, one of which is open for construction, another which is partially open to construction and one more which is not open at all.
Meanwhile, the gravel had been removed after the negative reactions, according to social media reports.