ISTANBUL - Squatters have invaded a Byzantine palace in Istanbul's Sarayburnu district while drug addicts and homeless people have commandeered the rest of the grounds. Time has been hard on the 1,200-year-old Bukaleon Palace and a big part of it is now considered a slum area.
Although the palace, which is on Istanbul’s coastal road, is already mostly in ruins, some parts of its marble windows and glamorous entrance are still standing. The condition of the Bukaleon Palace is not up to standard for Istanbul, which will be the 2010 European Capital of Culture, reported daily Milliyet on Monday.
The palace spans from the south side of the Sultanahmet Mosque to the Marmara Sea, covering 100,000 square meters. Inside the palace there are separate small palaces called Bukaleon, Hormistas, Mangan and Dafne.
Not much survives
The palace complex used to be one of Istanbul’s most important structures. The Bukaleon Palace was added to the palace group when Emperor Iustinianus II ordered its construction in 842.
Not much of the palace has survived to today and a big part, the house of the emperor, was demolished for Sirkeci train station in the early 20th century. The rest of the remains are now buried under new construction in the area. Tourists aren’t allowed in this historic area because homeless people and drug addicts haven taken shelter inside the palace ruins. Tourists who want to see the palace, at least what’s left of it, can only see it from outside. There are also dogs brought inside the walls by the homeless. Some of the squatter houses are built using the palace walls. The municipality and the Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation Board are not doing anything to preserve the rest of the remains.