Ancient Byzantine wall damaged to make hotel

The walls of an ancient Byzantine palace in the protected area of Sultanahmet have been demolished to construct a hotel.

The walls of an ancient palace from the Byzantine era in Sultanahmet have been demolished to make way for a new five-story hotel, prompting anger from scholars.

By Ömer Erbil. First published in Hurriyet

“The buildings [in question] in Sultanahmet, were not only damaged but also demolished. Among those buildings, the Byzantine walls were also damaged even though experts from the Istanbul Archaeology Museum conducted research and wrote a report on the incident. However, the construction continued, and a company built a five-story hotel building [on the site],” 51 history, art and architecture scholars from Boğaziçi, Istanbul, Uludağ, Kapadokya, Marmara, Istanbul Technical universities said in a joint statement to protest the destruction after daily Radikal broke news of the initial damage.

The scholars said they were observing the incident with concern.

The first-degree protected area in Sultanahmet contains many archaeological and ancient sites. The law in question did not permit the demolition of the walls. The hotel, meanwhile, is now five stories high.

A similar situation occurred during the construction of the Eresin Hotel, although the edifice has now become a semi-museum to keep ancient artifacts.

The situation concerning the Byzantine palace was noted Dec. 15, 2011, by officials and was reported to Fatih Municipality. According to a written statement from the foundation to protect historical artifacts, the construction should have been stopped immediately.

About proverbs6to10

Interested in Byzantium and Patrick Leigh Fermor
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4 Responses to Ancient Byzantine wall damaged to make hotel

  1. Lucas says:

    Utterly appalling. Just another example of the minimal measures taken by the Turkish government to protect antiquities. I remember seeing the signs up in the Antalya Museum about how Dumbarton Oaks “illegally” held some of the Sion Treasure. While its acquisition was a bit sketchy, at least it went to a reputable home. They should not be complaining about such things when large quantities of important antiquities are able to easily be smuggled out of the country. Better controls are needed in Turkey today to protect the country’s heritage.

  2. When I was in Istanbul in 2001, and wandered around Sultanahmet seeking Byzantium, I came across an excavation very near my little hotel. I wrote about this “discovery” in an essay recently published here in Canada, “The Centre of the World,” (in an anthology of literary nonfiction, Slice Me Some Truth). Here’s what I wrote:

    The foundations of Magnaura, or Great Palace, were there behind the hoarding of a construction site, I was sure of it. Only a few minutes away from my guest hotel, according to a map, lay the remains of the reception hall in the imperial palace the Greeks called the Palace of the Fresh Breeze, perhaps for the refreshment of the sea air circulating through the interminable rooms. No one was about so I pushed in the unlocked gate and walked through, onto the uneven edge of an excavation pit. I could see far down to the base of the Palace but above ground half-assembled bits of scaffolding were on view, and the ravaged masonry of gaping arcades and obviously new brick layings. Someone had stretched a cord under an archway and left his black work pants to flap on a line. An elderly man walked in through the gate. I called to him, “Magnaura?” pointing to the ruin and to my book. He gave me a long, not-unfriendly, rather quizzical look. “Byzans,” I said, as I walked out. “Byzans,” he echoed.

  3. Vivi says:

    And this is Turkey who asks to get back antiquities taken from her ????

  4. magnauraviva says:

    Indeed, Byzantine treasures ought to be kept by those who really cherish and protect them.

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