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    Halt called to planned skyscraper

    Doğan News Agency
    29.04.2009 - 00:00 | Son Güncelleme:

    İZMİR - Work on a 26-story skyscraper in İzmir’s popular Çankaya neighborhood was halted by the İzmir Board of Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage because of the impact it might have on a nearby church.

    The board asked the Özgörkey Group to revise its plans for the building to take into consideration the historic and famous St. Polycarp church located near the construction site.

    The Özgörkey Group was originally granted permission to build the skyscraper, which was planned as a trade center, from the Konak Municipality Council. However, the protection board halted work for fear of the negative impact it would have on St. Polycarp, asking the group to re-plan its building in a way that would preserve the church.

    Oldest church in İzmir

    The oldest still-existing church in İzmir, St. Polycarp was dedicated to a disciple of St. John who was born in 70 A.D. and became the first bishop of Smyrna, the former name of İzmir. The saint devoted much of his life to fighting Gnosticism and heretics and was martyred by the Romans in 155 A.D. in a stadium near Kadifekale.

    A chapel dedicated to St. Polycarp was erected around 1625 under the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent at the request of King Louis XIII of France. The church and monastery survived a massive earthquake in 1688 and were rebuilt in 1691. Both the church and the French neighborhoods located around it were unharmed by a disastrous fire in 1742, an outcome attributed to a miracle by St. Polycarp. The church and monastery also survived the great 1922 fire with minimal damage.
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