Some 176 historical structures, including the Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace and Istanbul Archaeology Museums, will continue to defy the years after the works to reinforce them against possible earthquakes.
Works are underway in Istanbul to reduce the risk of earthquakes in historical buildings connected to the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
Among those 176 historical structures, various projects for reinforcement against earthquakes will include some well-known famous structures. One of them is Topkapı Palace, which had served as the administrative, education and art center of the Ottoman State from Fatih Sultan Mehmet to Sultan Abdülmecid for 400 years. It also served as the sultan’s residence at the same time.
The Hagia Sophia is another and it is one of the most important monuments of the world’s architectural history. It is an important place in the world of art in terms of its size and functionality. The Istanbul Archeology Museums, which are one of the biggest museums in the world and host more than one million pieces belonging to various civilizations, will also undergo work for reinforcement.
For the maintenance, repair and restoration work in the Topkapı Palace Museum, a budget of 300 million Turkish Liras has been allocated and 30 structures there have also been revised.
The budget allocated for the Hagia Sophia Mosque, which will undergo major restoration and reinforcement work, is 30 million Turkish Liras.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, the Istanbul Culture and Tourism Director Coşkun Yılmaz said Istanbul was one of the richest cities in the world in terms of the number and quality of its historical structures.
He explained the number of historical artifacts in Istanbul is 40,000 and the maintenance of these artifacts has been made carefully by the state and the artifacts are connected to the Culture and Tourism Ministry, the General Directorate of Foundations, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, as well as different official institutions and private institutions.
“As a historian, I would like to express that when we look at activities in Istanbul over the last 10 years for historical artifacts, we are witnessing great maintenance work the city has never seen in its history so far. Our priority is to protect these historical artifacts against a possible earthquake,” said Yılmaz.
“In this context, taking into account the risks and consequences of the massive Marmara earthquake in 1999, the Culture and Tourism Ministry has made a breakthrough in reinforcement of historical works in the last 10 years. Today, work has been carried out in 21 units and 176 historical artifacts in the city. In collaboration with local and foreign experts, the earthquake risks for these artifacts have been determined and projects have been done according to these risks,” said the director.
300 million for Topkapı Palace
Yılmaz said the restoration budget for the Topkapı Palace is nearly 300 million liras and 30 structures there have also been revised.
He said the Hagia Sophia Mosque is undergoing big restoration works with a budget of 30 million liras.
A project is also underway for another important structure in the city, the Hagia Eireni, and it will be tendered soon, he said, adding that important maintenance works were carried out in the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, also known as İbrahim Pasha Palace, and works still continue in the yard.
Yılmaz said scientific work has also been underway for a long time at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums.
“Reinforcement work will be carried out on the Hagia Sophia from the ground to the ceiling. It is the pupil of our eye; the world has its eye on it. It requires a detailed and precise work. It is also very important to keep it open during these works,” said Yılmaz, adding that the Hagia Sophia has been worn down over the years.
The Topkapı Palace Museum, which became the first museum in the Turkish Republic on April 3, 1924, covers an area of 300,000 square meters.
Home to nearly 300,000 archive documents, it is one of the biggest palace museums in the world. The Ağalar Mosque, the Outer Treasury, the Meşkhane building, kitchens, the Imperial Treasury and Sur-i Sultani Otluk Gate have been reinforced and restored.
Istanbul Archaeology Museums
The Istanbul Archeology Museums, which contain rare works belonging to the Paleolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, early, middle and late bronze period, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods were also handled in 2011 as part of the reinforcement works. All the tests and analyses have been done by taking the current survey of the building.
Ground survey at Kariye Museum
In line with the restoration projects approved by the Istanbul Cultural and Natural Heritage Conservation Board in 2011, the residuals of past buildings, cracks and holes were identified with a georadar in the Kariye Museum. The research and preliminary studies continue in the museum.
The carpenter’s shop, which was built next to the Has Bahçe wall, was also restored to its original as part of the works.