The 417-year-old Hüseyin Ağa Mosque, located on a corner of İstiklal Street next to a newly built shopping mall, whose construction damaged the mosque's centuries-old foundation, will reopen in November, project officials have announced. The mosque has been undergoing restoration since its base and walls were damaged during the construction of the Demirören Shopping Center. The mall and the mosque are on opposing corners of a 10-meter-wide street.
Project officials blame anti-government protesters, who demonstrated for an entire month in June after the government announced plans to destroy Gezi Park, also in the İstiklal area, for delaying work on the mosque. “We outran our budget and then had to wait for a new budget to be allocated. And then the work was put off because of the Gezi Park incidents. We couldn't do any work at the mosque because of the chaos in the area,” one official, speaking under the condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the press, told Today's Zaman.
The same official said tear gas used by police to disperse the protesters had affected the restoration project workers. He indicated that most of the major work inside the mosque has been completed, though. “One shouldn't view a restoration project as construction work. Restoration is about a special process. There are major differences between materials used in the past and the materials we use today. It takes about three times as long to manufacture the materials you'd use per square meter in a historical building.”
An official statement from the İstanbul Foundations Directorate also confirms November as the estimated end date, and explains that the restoration work on the mosque has mostly been reinforcement of walls and its foundation. Cracks in the walls have been repaired and the walls have been reinforced. Part of the minaret was also reinstalled in accordance with the design of the original, according to the directorate.
The mosque was commissioned in 1596 by Hüseyin Ağa, who was an influential person in the Galatasaray area. It has a stone roof and a single minaret with a single balcony. Some sources suggest it originally had a dome when it was first built. Also, one ancient text refers to it as the Emin Bey Mosque. It underwent restoration for the first time in 1834 during the reign of Mahmud II. Another repair was carried out in 1939 by the Regional Foundations Directorate.
Officials now take their time with most restoration projects, as past mistakes have shown that it is important to work scientifically. Another important project currently underway in İstanbul is the restoration of the Ortaköy Mosque, arguably one of the most important landmarks of the city. The project is into its third year and expected to not be complete until April 2014 due to improper restoration techniques that were used during previous renewal projects.
Foundations Directorate officials say the reason why the date of completion for the restoration project has been postponed so many times since it began in May 2011 is because of the discovery of mistakes that were made during previous restorations.
CihanGüncelleme Tarihi: 21 Ağustos 2013, 11:57