Multimillion dollar renovation of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar begins
AFP photoA multimillion dollar five-year restoration project at Istanbul’s historical Grand Bazaar will kick-off on July 14, with repairing of the roof of the world’s largest closed market.
The renovation will continue with a comprehensive renewal of the Grand Bazaar’s sewage system, air conditioning, and underground sections.
The debate on the restoration began back in 2009 and it took years for the Council of Monuments, the state authority on historical buildings, to be granted permission to conduct the work.
Istanbul’s Fatih Municipality, which is home to the Grand Bazaar, has said it will hold a ceremony on July 14 to mark the start of the work.
“The overall restoration project will take from 10 to 20 years. But the roof will be finished this summer. We will preserve the current structure and the spirit of the Grand Bazaar,” Fatih Mayor Mustafa Demir told daily Hürriyet in an interview in March.
“Normally it would take 30 years for a project on a historical artifact this big to be carried out, evaluated by the rapporteurs, presented to a board, and passed by that board. We have explained the importance of this project to the Culture Ministry,” said Demir, estimating the cost of the roof renovation alone at 12 million Turkish Liras.
The construction of the covered bazaar began during the era of Fatih the Conqueror in 1455. With the city in need of a trade center for goods coming in from all over the nascent Ottoman Empire, the Grand Bazaar expanded rapidly. Guilds, or “lonca” associations in Turkish, controlled all artisans or merchants in the bazaar during the Ottoman era, as was the case for all cities under the empire.
Some 92 million people visited the bazaar last year and 10,000 people are employed within the complex, which is one of the top tourist attractions in Turkey and is famous for its jewelry shops and souvenir stores.
The Grand Bazaar has 22 gates, 64 streets and 3,600 shops, and covers nearly 31,000 square meters of land.
In 2012, the roof of the Grand Bazaar hosted a motorcycle chase scene in the James Bond movie “Skyfall,” triggering concerns about possible damage. During shooting, a 400-year-old wooden building in the bazaar was damaged when it was hit by motorcycles that were passing in front of a jewelry shop and missed and turning.
The bazaar elected a new president and board at the start of this year after the first elections in its nearly six-century history.