Large cracks detected in Topkapı Palace basement, prompting evacuation

Large cracks detected in Topkapı Palace basement, prompting evacuation

Ömer Erbil – ISTANBUL
Large cracks detected in Topkapı Palace basement, prompting evacuation Parts of Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace are slated to undergo a major restoration worth around 10 million Turkish Liras after deep crevices were found in the treasury room of the Ottoman-era palace in July, causing its closure to tourists. 
According to risk analysis carried out after parts of a wall in the nearby Gülhane Park collapsed in April, the Sultan Mehmed II (Conqueror) Pavilion, which showcases world-renowned treasures, has serious cracks on its basement floor walls. The pavilion was subsequently closed to visitors and its imperial artifacts – including the Spoonmaker’s Diamond (Kaşıkçı Elması), a 86 carat pear-shaped diamond, and four-emerald Topkapı Dagger - were sent to palace depots.

The risk was reportedly documented in an expert report that said “deformations in the area go beyond the crack area and have reached the discrete and slit levels.”

Palace authorities asked for a detailed examination from the Istanbul 4th Protection Committee, which found that the issue stemmed from ground-based problems. 

The expert report said the concrete cover used for the mansion’s dome and ceilings between 1940 and 1960 had put excessive weight on the building, which had reached the point of collapse along with seismic activities that periodically occur in the Marmara Sea. 

The authorities say that in its current situation, the building would not survive a 5.0-magnitude earthquake and a rapid intervention is necessary.

For this intervention, first a ground investigation will be made and then ground fortification work will be carried out. 

After the April collapse of the wall in Gülhane Park, which killed two people and injured five others, İlber Ortaylı, the former director of Topkapı Palace Museum, said alarm bells were ringing for the entire compound unless a thorough reinforcement project started immediately.