Protest vs. 3rd Bridge

    Home Up

 Protest by the
Residents of Arnavutköy 


Dear Friends,

We would like to draw your attention to a very serious and unfortunate development that is taking place in Istanbul. The Highways Division of our central government has taken the decision to construct a 1.1-kilometer suspension bridge over the Bosphorus, the land support system of which will cut through and destroy the village of Arnavutköy, one of the most important historic sites of Istanbul.  

Sekbanlar sokak no 40-42.  House of Panai Raktivan & Kira Vangena  Specifically, this plan involves the destruction of over two hundred of Istanbul's oldest residential buildings, all of which, by the way, are inhabited. Although news of this plan only recently became public and then through leaks facilitated by concerned citizens, research by residents of Arnavutköy and by a broad-based group of citizens reveals that this plan has been in the works for some time and that tenders are about to go out for the construction of this bridge.

The construction of this bridge, the planning of which has been done behind closed doors, would destroy one of Istanbul's last remaining residential sites where historical Ottoman and even pre-Ottoman architecture exists as part of the daily lives of a wide variety of people. As evidence of the broad-based recognition of its importance, central as well as municipal governments have, for many years, applied strict regulations to construction and renovation of any kind in Arnavutköy. Arnavutköy itself is considered a "historical site". All buildings are bound by strict regulations to maintain all original facades, down to the details of the window frames.  

Arnavutköy is one of only a handful of neighborhoods where the cultural mosaic of Greek, Armenian and Turkish influence, once so much a part of Istanbul life, can still be seen and felt, both in the architecture and in the residents. It is one of the last areas where residents and tourists (many of which visit Arnavutköy every year) alike, can see first hand the famous wooden-house architecture which characterized the rich style of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is one of the last areas to support a functional Greek school and church, and contains the ruins of an ancient, and yet undocumented synagogue and other sites of architectural and cultural importance. Arnavutköy is indeed a site of cultural heritage.

As residents, we are horrified that such an act of destruction could even be contemplated, and we are particularly horrified that this could come from politicians and technocrats of the central government with no stake in the city and its residents. As citizens, we are very concerned not only with the blatant disregard of the democratic process but also with the assault such a project constitutes to the cultural, historic and aesthetic sensitivities of the residents, the city and the world. We are determined to oppose this plan by whatever legal means available to us, for ourselves and for future generations, who would otherwise be cut off from even a glimpse of the historical significance and beauty of their city, and indeed their country. Many diverse groups of citizens have already banded together to voice their concern and discuss strategies to stop this project. We believe that international support is crucial in this endeavor.  

Gulf of Bebek . We believe that the fate of Arnavutköy, and the disregard with which the government approaches this important historical site, ultimately reflects to Turkish citizens, visitors, and architectural historians everywhere, the fate of our society as a whole. For this reason we call on you to help us defend this beautiful and important place from the wanton destruction which this recently unveiled plan threatens. Specifically, we call upon you to voice its opposition to this plan to the Turkish government (many members of which are themselves appalled by the actions taken by the minister and the Highways Division). We would like you to assist us in making the government realize that cultural and historic preservation is not only undertaken when an area in question has no other use, but that it is a real and important concept in contemporary life. We would, in short, like you to help us in whatever ways you can to make the preservation of this site of cultural heritage a reality in Istanbul.

Residents of Arnavutköy




6 January 1999 


Home ]
Last modified: ΦΕΒΡΟΥΑΡΙΟΣ 22,  2021