Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace to regain status after renovations: Mayor
Ömer Erbil – ISTANBUL
Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace will regain its status after renovation efforts are completed, Fatih Mayor Mustafa Demir has said, commenting on a recent debate over a change in the protection status of the palace’s garden.
It has previously emerged that the Fatih Municipality applied to Istanbul’s Fourth Cultural Heritage Conservation District Board in order to downgrade the protection status of the “Hasbahçe,” the palace’s garden which has been a first degree protected area for the past 22 years.
“If the board sees it fit, the status will be raised to first degree after renovations are completed,” Demir told daily Hürriyet during a visit to the garden, adding that the area will be handed over to the Topkapı Palace Museum for an exhibition after efforts are terminated and won’t be an area of construction.
According to previous reports, the board didn’t object to the municipality’s application, paving the way for “controlled construction” in any part of the garden.
While constructions in first degree areas are completely banned, the third degree status lets museum authorities decide on whether to allow “controlled” construction.
During the interview, Demir said there is a problem of security in the area between the former railway and the walls, whose protection status was downgraded, while adding that the problem can’t be solved by repairing the walls.
“It is stated as Topkapı Palace’s Hasbahçe, but it’s an area that’s separate after the railways. The space until the railways is surrounded by fences. However, this side is completely insecure. The area turned into one where problematic people live,” he said.
Saying that renovating the walls would only contribute to making new shelters for people, Demir noted that there are significant mansions in the area.
“We thought [when making this proposal] that we would save İncili, Şevkiye and Balıkçılar mansions after renovating them. There are pieces that were given as gifts from all over the world, including China, Latvia, Russia and Britain, in the Topkapı Palace. They are being kept in depots. There is no exhibition area,” he added.
Demir said the museum has been looking for places to display the pieces kept in depots and that the renovated mansions could be used for that purpose.
“Thus, we will both be renovating our historical pieces and provide the ground for the exhibition of items in the museum. In addition, it will contribute to tourism and the security problem will be removed,” he added.
The Topkapı Palace, which overlooks the confluence of the Bosphorus and the Marmara Sea, was one of the major residences of the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years (1465-1856) during the empire’s 624-year history.
It is now a museum and a major tourist attraction, containing a number of important relics of the Muslim world.