Struggling for the cultural heritage of Istanbul

Struggling for the cultural heritage of Istanbul

Ömer Erbil ISTANBUL / Radikal
Majik Cinema, Turkey’s first cinema built in 1914 in the heart of Beyoğlu, will be destroyed and replaced by a shopping mall. This is the latest in an ongoing struggle to preserve Istanbul’s cultural heritage.

The Beyoğlu Municipality confirmed the project. Instead of preserving and restoring the city’s cultural heritage, the new “restoration” project, as it has been called, will be a 17-story shopping mall.

The Majik Cinema and Maksim Casino’s historical façade will be preserved, but the inside will be turned into a shopping mall. The cinema faces the same fate as Emek Theater and the Tütün Depot.

The project will spread over 4,305 square meters, and one section of the building will be dedicated office space. Tuna Çelik signed the deal to furnish the office interiors.

While the protection board to preserve the city’s heritage rejected the project in the past, the municipality approved it July 21. The municipality did not comment on the project, nor did Tuna Çelik company owner Nuri Tuna.

According to the Chamber of Architects’ Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the project is also a danger for the Taksim subway, which passes under the construction. The EIA also said destruction of the cultural heritage is harmful and cannot be undone.

In the EIA, Majik Cinema is defined as one of Istanbul’s most important cultural heritage sites. Other examples of cultural artifacts being torn down are Park Hotel, Gökkafes, Saray and Emek Theater.
The report said the cultural preservation only focused on restoring buildings’ facades and that was not enough because the rest of the building was still destroyed.

In the past, historical Majik movie theater showed silent movies. Italian architect Giulio Mongeri
designed the building, and Sarıcazade Ragıp Paşa was the building’s first owner.

The historical building was renamed the Turkish Cinema in 1944 and the New Taksim Cinema in 1946.