Observations on the Conservation
of Cultural Heritage and
Restorations in Today’s Istanbul
Prof. Dr. K. Kutgün Eyüpgiller
Conservation law and conservation institutions have a long history in Turkey. However, despite the fact that Istanbul and nearly all Anatolian cities have great historical and cultural significances and have been taken into legal protection many years ago, they have failed to conserve their urban fabric and the architectural heritage that shapes them.
In the course of time, extremely unhealthy architectural milieus have been created in urban conservation areas and structures that are part of cultural heritage have been left unattended to the extent of collapsing. In today’s Turkey, many of such cultural assets cannot be restored anymore.
Turkey needs to determine the principles that could be utilized for such sites and structures. Yet, this work presents complex problems. As in law, it is not possible in the context of conservation theory to shape opinions on the basis of mathematical formulas. Technical, legal, social, cultural, and administrative factors play a part in the process of public opinion shaping and decision making.
When we examine the conservation / restoration practices in Turkey and around the world, we realize that there is no consensus in this field and that application practices that change or conserve the original spatial order are witnessed concurrently. Likewise, it is clear that there is no full consensus on the techniques and methods to be used in the restoration of structures that are deemed cultural assets. In this regard, the generally accepted attitude is that each structure has its unique conditions, and thus each structure must be evaluated according to its own aspects.