Istanbul Kuleli Military High School’s garden pits ministries against each other

Istanbul Kuleli Military High School’s garden pits ministries against each other

Istanbul Kuleli Military High School’s garden pits ministries against each other The garden of the now shut-down Kuleli Military High School in Istanbul has pitted the Defense Ministry against the Culture Ministry as the latter insists on acquiring a part of the 180-decare garden in addition to the building itself but the Defense Ministry denies the request. 

The disagreement rose after the Kuleli Military High School, located on Istanbul’s Asian side of the Bosporus strait, was shut down with a decree passed under the state of emergency after the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. 

Then-Defense Minister Fikri Işık had announced that the iconic building would be given to the Culture Ministry in order to turn it into a museum, upon an order from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

Officials from the defense and culture ministries came together on Aug. 1 to conduct an analysis regarding the historic building’s transformation. The committees from both sides toured the high school and its garden. They later held a meeting. 

In the meeting, Işık said the historic building and its entrance, covering 23,456 square meters of land, could be allocated for the use of the Culture Ministry, but other areas would be kept under the Defense Ministry’s authority to be used as a “reserve area within the context of preparatory classes of the War College.”

But officials from the Culture Ministry demanded to acquire the historic building, the Atatürk Sports Hall, lodging building, guest house, summer cafeteria building, and a green area of 1,350 square meters by the sea located within the boundaries of the high school’s garden. Defense Ministry officials said the Culture Ministry’s demand was impossible to realize as the sports hall and the lodging house would be used by their own ministry and there was no other place other than the indicated 1,350 square meters part of the garden opening to the Bosphorus.

The two committees withdrew their reports from the meeting, which would have been notified to the ministers, who would have had the last say on the issue. 

The foundation of Kuleli was established in 1845, according to a text written by Kenan Sayacı in the Istanbul Encyclopedia. 

The Kuleli Barracks, also noted as the Kuleli military school in 1872, remained in the building for just two years. The barracks, which was converted into a hospital because of wars between Russia and the Ottoman Empire in 1877-1878, continued as the Istanbul War College (Mekteb-i Harbiye) in Şişli’s Harbiye neighborhood before returning to the Kuleli site in 1913. 

The building was evacuated to be used as a storage and transit warehouse by the British when Istanbul was occupied by the Entente Powers on March 16, 1920, before being given to the Armenian community as a school for Armenian orphans. In 1923, it was converted into the Kuleli barracks again before becoming the Kuleli Military High School in 1925.

The building is located in one of the most important points by the Bosphorus Strait.