Ottoman-era wells in historic Yedikule gardens denied protection

Eighteenth-century-era wells found in Istanbuland’s Yedikule gardens were denied official recognition as a protected space by the Istanbul 2nd Cultural Heritage Protection Regional Board, according to a report in the Birgandun daily on Monday.
The Yedikule Gardens Protection Initiative, a local organization that was formed to protect the historic urban gardens which are located alongside the old city walls, filed an application to the board to officially register the Ottoman-era wells.
The initiative described the wells as and”structures revealing Ottoman agricultural technology that are in need of protection.and”
The Yedikule gardens have popped up regularly in the news over the past two years, ever since trucks poured rubble over a section of the gardens in the summer of 2013, generating outrage from environmentalists and activists.
The gardens have been used to cultivate vegetables since the 17th century. Historical records concerning the cultivation are available from that period, but experts believe that the area was used for agricultural purposes as far back as the Byzantine era.
Last November, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbai vetoed a transformation project involving the gardens. The plan, which seeks to pave the way for social facilities, a sports stadium, a parking lot, recreation areas and housing to be built in the area, was approved by a majority decision by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipalityand’s Municipal Council.
However, Topbai issued a written statement announcing that he had sent the decision to rezone the area for development back to the Municipal Council.
Explaining the motive behind his decision, Topbai said a comprehensive plan is needed for the area to preserve its original nature, adding that holding a workshop attended by historians, scientists and neighborhood residents would be useful in this regard.
The gardens were initially declared a and”renewal areaand” in 2006. The Fatih Municipality subsequently prepared a plan for the redevelopment of the gardens under a law pertaining to the and”Protection of Deteriorated Historic and Cultural Heritage through Renewal and Reuse,and” a controversial law that has paved the way for the massive redevelopment of various Istanbul neighborhoods.
Critics of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) accuse the government and the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality of trying to eliminate any green space in Istanbul that can be profitably redeveloped. Urban projects such as the third airport, the third Bosporus bridge and the Gezi Park barracks reconstruction have all been soaked in controversy and met with fierce opposition as they threaten to pave over Istanbuland’s remaining green spaces and forest land.
Despite Topbaiand’s veto, the gardens on the inside of the walls remain covered in rubble and unfit for use. Meanwhile, gardeners who manage plots of land on the other side of the walls have complained that their rents have been raised in recent years, in an attempt by the state to force out the gardeners.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman