ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
A complex built by Sultan Abdülhamit I between 1776 and 1777 and currently serving as a mausoleum reopened last week with a fresh face after a year of restoration work.
The work was done by Istanbul’s Special Provincial Administration in preparation for the city’s stint as a 2010 European Capital of Culture.
The close proximity to a religious site made Sultan Abdülhamit I change his mind about the structure’s originally intended purpose. Instead of building two mosques next to each other, Abdülhamit I, who lived between 1725 and 1789, dedicated the new building as a shelter for the elderly and sick. The almshouse was demolished after some time and today only the mausoleum remains.
Built of marble and lead, the mausoleum includes the tombs of Abdülhamit I and his son Sultan Mustafa IV, as well as 18 other members of the imperial family, and also includes a display of the Prophet Mohammed’s footprints.
Among the prominent guests present at the opening ceremony for the renovated mausoleum were Istanbul Gov. Muammer Güler, Istanbul Mufti Prof. Mustafa Çağrıcı and members of the Special Provincial Administration of Istanbul, which was in charge of the renovation.
The administration’s secretary-general, Sabri Kaya, said at the opening that the structure had received new historical artifacts as well as a new appearance suitable for representing the city as a 2010 European Capital of Culture.
“The mausoleum is a part of the heritage of one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and the aim of such restorations is to freshen up the historical meaning of Istanbul,” Kaya said.
The provincial administration’s president, Hasan Hüsamettin Koçak, who also spoke at the ceremony, said Istanbul has been home to many cultures and civilizations throughout history. He added that no matter which culture a particular historical artifact belongs to, the purpose of its protection should be the preservation of humanity’s common historical heritage. “I hope this will set a good example for the special provincial administrations of other cities in Turkey,” Koçak said.
According to Gov. Güler, the duty to protect and perpetuate the heritage of Turkey belongs to the entire nation. “Istanbul has been the capital of three great empires,” Güler said, adding that there are approximately 75,000 cultural and natural protected sites in Turkey, up to 25,000 of them in Istanbul. The fact that the city was the capital of the Ottoman Empire gives Turkish citizens the responsibility to protect historical artifacts and other relics of the past.
Topkapı Palace is often cited among the best examples of restoration works in Istanbul, as the museum is now in better condition than most of the museums in Europe in terms of security and usability.
Güler added that the city had put much effort into preparations for the month of Ramadan and that visitors could now enter some of the historical sites free of charge.