Boutique hotels to open in Historical Peninsula of Istanbul

Rezoning in Historical Peninsula that made possible to build boutique hotels there is approved by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Council despite the objections of the experts. According to this decision, boutique hotels will be built within historical part of Eminönü.

Fatih Municipality prepared a project that made possible to build boutique hotels in historical parts of Eminönü. Balat and Samatya districts are excluded from the project. However, shops and restaurants that can serve historical and cultural tourism might be established in Samatya and Balat.

The project is approved by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Council. The Municipality asked for the opinions of the experts. The experts pointed out that this project might have negative effects on the Historical Peninsula.

Urban Planning Directorate sent a report which states that the planned changes would alter the historical quality of the region. 

Criticism against tourism-centered perspective

In the report, the Directorate criticized the tourism-centered perspective of the Municipality:
“People who really want to know Istanbul and who can understand it must be the target group. Thus, a cultural perspective to tourism must be adopted. This city’s heritage, both material and spiritual heritage, is worth exploring. The aim of this project is to commercialize our cultural heritage in order to use it for touristic purposes. In order to explore, protect, maintain and develop this heritage, we have to preserve the identity and the memory of this city. Thus, instead of pursuing short term income that might be earned by tourism, we have to adopt long term and sustainable approaches.”

Not suitable for UNESCO

Other reports stated that this project is also not suitable for UNESCO regulations and considered as a threat that stems from intensive and inappropriate tourism. It is stated that this project has the potential to have negative effects on the historical region. 

“The identity of the city is being destroyed”

CHP İstanbul MP Gülay Yedekçi Aslan, who is interested in the historical structures, also feels concerned about this project. Pointing out that the historical structures are the cultural heritage of this city, Aslan spoke to Agos:

“Historical and cultural heritage is preserved by maintaining them. Cities exist through their identities. Historical atmosphere of Istanbul defines its identity, which is being destroyed day by day. There could be some changes of course, but we feel concerned whether these changes are appropriate. We are not sure whether there is a controlling mechanism for the changes. We will bring this project to trial.”

Sanasaryan is in the scope of the project

Sanasaryan Inn

One of the most important confiscated Armenian properties, Sanasaryan Inn is also in the scope of this project. This inn was built by Mıgırdiç Ağa Sanasaryan in 1895 and its administrative rights were handed to Armenian Patriarchate. It was confiscated by Unionist in 1915 and returned to the Patriarchate in 1920. Used as a police station for years, it became notorious as a place for “torturing”.

Sanasaryan Inn was handed to General Directorate of Foundations in ‘30s. On July 18, 2013, General Directorate of Foundations rented the inn by tender. Armenian Patriarchate’s legal struggle to take the inn back still continues.


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Uygar Gültekin