An Injection Of Youth Into History: Restoration
Over three thousand works have been restored and revived to date, by the State Foundation alone. We wanted to share these successful restoration stories with you.
“The worms were everywhere in the wooden pillars. The rain had rotted nearly all parts of the carcass,” said İsmail Önel, referring to the restoration work of Hünkar Kasrı. Hünkar Kasrı, which is one of the most graceful examples of 17th century Ottoman summer palaces, was ordered to be built by Safiye Sultan, who was of Venetian origin and the wife of Sultan Murad III, the grandson of Kanuni Sultan Suleiman the LawMagnificent.
The building that enchants its visitors with its crayon works on wood, known as Edirnekari, mother of pearl inlaid doors, colorful stained glasses and wooden carved canopies ornamented with gold leaves, and is covered with the most elaborate 17th century İznik tiles. This 347 year old historical monument is just one of the buildings that have been restored and revived successfully. The word “restoration”, meaning repairing, mending or fixing in Celal Esad Arseven’s work, means “artistically repairing”. While doing these repairs, the architects are careful not to damage the original structure of the buildings and to have excellent knowledge of the culture to which the structure belongs.
Restoration requires patience and perfection. You may try to fill in the holes caused by the worms using a syringe For hours or days. Finally, even if this work takes years, you manage to revive a lonely building several centuries old, now ready for more centuries. We can even see this as an surgeon reviving his patient. Hünkar Kasrı, which received the 2010 European Union Cultural Heritage Awards – Europa Nostra Prize, was revived after such meticulous efforts.
The renovation of the oak pillars that supported the building took two years. The carcass made from oak posts were about to collapse. It was difficult to find five-meter-long oak beams in modern days and the searching took six months. Finally, oak beams found in Kırklareli were left in a river for three months to match the originals. Another two years had to pass for the wood to dry. This is just a small cross-section of the onerous process of such work, which is crowned by greatreward.
State Support for PublIc Memory
In recent years, especially in Istanbul within the scope of the 2010 Capital of Culture projects, numerous buildings have been revived. Although restoration works have always been carried out since the Republic, we can see that this issue has been focused on in the past five or six years. We have seen the devotion regarding this subject of the Ministry of Culture and the General Directorate of Foundations in particular, even while writing this article. Even while preparing this article, we were to see the attention given to this subject, especially by the Ministry of Culture and the General Directorate of the Foundations. The architects in the Ministry of Culture, trying to convey us this information, even after working hours, have shown us that the works are followed by sensitive people. Although rapid developments in technology and the swift flow of time indicates that we must not postpone anything, it is clear that speed is not even of issue during the restoration of historical buildings. This why it is estimated that the four years of work on the Hünkar Kasrı has added another four hundred years to its life.
Steps taken by the State to facilitate the projects for transferring stationary buildings such as madrasahs, palaces, churches and mosques, which keep the culture alive for future generations, are worth noting. “If a cultural entrepreneur comes along and supports any restoration or any cultural investment, all their expenses are deducted from their taxable income” says Ertuğrul Günay, the Minister of Culture and Tourism, indicating that the arrangement has advantages for private entrepreneurs, too. Günay also highlights that while the Council of Monuments in Ankara was previously the only institution that directed restorations and related works, there are now nearly thirty established institutions carrying out these tasks. Another serious investment is the establishment of restaurateur technicians training centers in order to raise technical personnel to assist the architects.
A JOURNEY to the Past
Akdamar Church, located on Akdamar Island, is one of the largest islands in Lake Van, and is a very demanding building in terms of restoration work. Lake Van’s water, high in mineral content, damaged the murals on the inner walls and caused the colors to fade. Before starting the restoration work, the team searched for sources and found old photographs of the church showing the original state of the church.
Successful restoration preserves the lived-in, aged quality of old buildings. Although facelifts are known for removing flaws, this type of restoration has maintained the original characteristics of each structure.
THREE THOUSAND RESTORATIONS
Over three thousand works have been restored and revived to date by the State Foundation alone.
NOT ALL REPAIRS ARE RESTORATIONS
Although we have a habit of calling all repair works “restorations”, the works have different names. For example, reconstruction of a building, in full faith to the original, is called “reconstitution.”
A HISTORICAL MEETING AT AKDAMAR
After locating the original stones in their original locations and cleaning them, Akdamar Church was revived under the observation of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Following the restorations, the church that opened for one day of mass in September and the members of the church made journey to the past after ninety five years years.