mobilizes to protect historical neighborhood threatened by third Bosphorus
planned construction of a third suspended bridge over the Bosphorus
fierce opposition, after details of the plans emerged, revealing that the bridge
would all but destroy the picturesque village of Arnavutköy.
Eighteen kilometers of expensive tunnels and viaducts would be needed to connect
the main highway surrounding Istanbul with the one-kilometer bridge, spanning
on the European shore and Kandilli
Arnavutköy (a name which means Albanian village) is a neighborhood with a rich and long history, where Greeks, Armenians, Jews used to live side by side with the Muslim population. Although members of these minorities still live in the village, Arnavutköy, these days, is better known for its friendly atmosphere, its fish restaurants and bars which attract tourists and locals alike, as well as for the many beautiful Ottoman wooden houses that have been preserved in this protected, historical neighborhood.
main pillar of the projected bridge would sit at the bottom of the main street
and other pillars, supporting the connecting road, would force the destruction
of entire rows of old houses. This is rather ironic, given the fact that
renovation work on any of these historical houses is currently subjected to
stringent controls and whatever modernization is carried out on the inside, the
exterior has to retain the original Ottoman design. The bridge project
also contravenes several laws aimed at protecting historical sites and the Bosphorus
alternatives put forward had received widespread support, such as a project to
build an underwater tunnel, linking Sarayburnu,
in the old city, to Harem,
on the Asian shore. Although the tunnel requires a bigger initial investment, it
would include a rail link allowing for fast and efficient public transport,
without further clogging the city, already choked by pollution and heavy
the controversy, the Turkish authorities have, quietly and discreetly, pushed
the project forward. The Ministry of Public Works announced that the bridge, a
build-operate-transfer project aimed at international investors, would be put to
tender within weeks.
But in Arnavutköy, the community is mobilizing against the project. Encouraged by the fact that in the Aegean town of Bergama, ordinary citizens have recently managed to stop a gold production project that risked leaking cyanide into their water table, the villagers are knocking at all the doors, organizing protests and looking at all the legal options open to them, to save their neighborhood.