Istanbul's disappearing past

Taksim Topcu K??las?

Fire, earthquakes and Westernizing, modernizing efforts have taken their toll on Istanbul. The loss can?t be recouped ?Accessing and discussing the underground world beneath Istanbul is truly an ambitious enterprise. Surprisingly few archaeological excavations have taken place for various reasons and most of the serious work conducted by scientists devoted to the issue of Istanbul?s subterranean feature has been left incomplete ? Consequently we do not really have a good account of what is hidden in the subterranean world of the city ? This means, therefore, it is inevitable that researchers will lose these traces of history and the hope they have of finding valuable information.?

While Ersin Kalkan, the author of the above passage from his book ?The World Beneath Istanbul,? is basically describing Roman and Byzantine remains, the same fate awaits Ottoman remains. Fatih Güldal recently produced a book - ?Istanbul?un 100 Kaybolan Eseri? (Istanbul?s 100 Lost Works), which is part of the ?Istanbul?un Yüzleri Serisi? (The Faces of Istanbul Series) published by Kültür A.?. - focusing on the Ottoman period. In this second edition, Güldal covers mescids and mosques, tekkes (dervish lodges), schools, mansions, palaces, hamams and fountains with short descriptions and photos.

According to Güldal in his introduction to the first edition (the second edition is now out), Fatih Sultan Mehmet II followed up on his conquest of Istanbul by constructing buildings such as his palaces and university and by repurposing others - like converting churches to mosques. His successors, members of the imperial family, high government officials and the wealthy followed suit. But Istanbul was subjected to fires and earthquakes that devastated whole swathes of...

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