The Development of Istanbul City wall in “the Era of Prost”

As a part of the military defense project, the repairing and strengthening of Istanbul city walls continued in Ottoman reign also as in Byzantine, after the devastating earthquakes happened at various times. And the 1894 earthquake was the last damaging one in the Ottoman period. Although the studies were done, because of the economic conditions and continuing wars in the last years of the Ottoman, the walls could not be repaired. Till the 1950s, the 500th anniversary of conquest of Istanbul, they stayed ruined (Mumford, 1961).

 

By 1930s-1950s, when Prost was in charge of Istanbul’s urban planning, the mural zone around the city wall was proposed as green belt in Prost Plan, According to Prost, “At least 500m wide outside and inside the castle along the fortress to be made in accordance with the development of the existing neighborhoods will be determined according to the arrangement of a wide range of buildings to be determined to create a forbidden zone.”  Besides, a space reserved for the Olympic park was also arranged near to the city wall, making the city wall an important landmark in the construction project of Istanbul. By then, under the guidance of Prost Plan, people began to pay attention to the preservation and conservation to the historical heritages when they were working hard for the modernization drive. Therefore, the importance of the city wall was gradually realized by people. As people said: “The wall, the gates, and the civic nucleus determine the main lines of circulation. As for the wall, with its outside moat, canal or river, it made of the churches: not a mere military utility. The medieval mind took comfort in a universe of sharp definitions, solid walls, and limited views: even heaven and hell had their circular boundaries. Walls of custom bounded the economic classes and kept them in their place.” (Dünden Bugüne Đstanbul Ansiklopedisi, Kültür Bakanlığı ve Traih Vakfı)

 

Although there had been taken decisions related to the walls since the 1937 Prost Plan, after the 1950s the restoration studies are brought to the agenda. In 1956, repairing is done for the walls which were destroyed during the construction of Vatan and Millet streets, and the Marmara coast road.

 

References:

Dünden Bugüne Đstanbul Ansiklopedisi, Kültür Bakanlığı ve Traih Vakfı

Eda Selden Akyol. City walls of Istanbul: An Analysis of Place -making in the Urban Context. The Graduate School of Natural and Applied Sciences of Middle East Technical University. July 2011.

Lewis Mumford, The City in History: Its Origin, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects, first published in 1895, New York: Harcourt Inc., 1961

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