Istanbul will have its first public archeological park as part of the 2010 Istanbul European Capital of Culture Agency’s projects.
The archeological site, covering an area with a 9th century Byzantine monastery, will open its doors to visitors all around the world after the agency’s project is complete.
The project, prepared with the cooperation of the Tourism and Culture Ministry, Istanbul Archeology Museum and the Koç University Anatolian Civilizations Research Center received the Architectures Chamber Turkey Architecture Award. The project, named "Küçükyalı Archeological Site," was later promoted with a meeting in Istanbul’s Sepetçiler Kasrı pavilion.
The archeological site project covers the only remaining Byzantine monastery in Istanbul and was explained by the director of Koç University Anatolian Civilizations Research Center, archeologist Alessandra Ricci.
Ricci said she started surface research around the Küçükyalı Çınar Camii neighborhood in 1995, and she has been working on the excavation project in cooperation with Istanbul Archeology Museum since 2007.
The site was discovered 150 ago by German archeologists, Ricci said. "Since urbanization in the 1980s, this area was filled with buildings. Çınar Mosque, built in 1988 is one of them," she said. During the research and excavations the group of archeologists found an ancient piece belonging to a church. The research revealed that it was built between the years 860 and 877.
Ricci said that they found the cistern in 2002 and started rehabilitation work only after they informed the eight young people who lived there.
Declared a greenfield by the Maltepe Municipality in 2001 the cleaning of the cistern inside the site was supported by the municipality. With the allowance of the Tourism and Culture Ministry, iron gates were installed to protect the area.
Ricci said they opened the excavation site to the neighborhoods’ residents to organize cultural events to raise awareness. She said they shared the findings with them by opening exhibitions.
Aiming for more attention
For the archeologists, the studies, research and activities at the site were not enough. That’s why they wanted it to be a public site, so more people could visit. Ricci said the archeological sites will be protected with a green path that will surround the research area.
There will be a culture center, kiosk, exhibition center, workshop areas and a fountain constructed around the historic cistern.
The excavation team revealed the monastery and now they are working on revealing the tower. Ricci hopes to display the tower by next summer.
Ricci said the process of opening the archeological park was difficult because there were no other archeological parks open to the public.
The land around the archeological site, which belongs to the Treasury and Finance Ministry, is owned by Türkiye İş Bankası. To launch the project the parties must apply to 2010 Istanbul European Capital of Culture Agency together.
Korhan Gümüş, director of the Urban and Architectural Projects for the 2010 Istanbul European Capital of Culture Agency said that with the project the archeological site will be under protection. After the project is successfully completed the site will be home to tours and culture activities.
Some researchers claim that the archeological site in Küçükyalı was built by Emperor Theofilos and may be the Byzantium Palace. Research and studies done between 2001 and 2004 claim that the area is home to the Satyros Monastery built by Patriarch İgnatios between the years 860 and 877.
The vaulted monastery, cistern and water channels are considered rare examples of their time. The constructions when they were built could be seen from the Prince’s Islands. The archeological park will cover an area of 3,600 square meters.