Visual Pollution in Istanbul

The Yedikule gardens in the Fatih district of Istanbul, along the Marmara coastline, are not only a rememberable particularity of this city – 4000 square metres of green fields, incirculated by the 5th century historic city walls, right in the heart of a booming, noisey, overcrowded metropolis – they are also a UNESCO protected world heritage site, and – more important: Home and main source of income for about 300 people, who have lived around and off the public urban harvesting area of Yedikule for generations.

 

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The Yedikule gardens are believed to be as old as the city walls that surround it, and have surved as a spot for public harvesting for decades.

However, in 2013, in the context of the city renewal that also included the „reshaping“ of Gezi park into an ancient ottoman barack-inspired shopping centre, decisions were made to destroy vaste areas of Yedikule gardens and turn them, ironically, into a „park and green area“ – one for sure that would follow the municipalities design and planning.

We reported on these decisions and the destruction of parts of Yedikule gardens back in 2013 in the article „Urban Agriculture and the Tranformation of Yedikule

Almost three years later, the plans for a „park and green area“ where put aside, albeit further parts of the gardens fall prey to destruction by the municipality quite recently.

Yesterday morning, municipal staff started to clear the area. Residents protested, claiming that they were told to have until march to leave the place. (Notably, even if the promised schedule would have been respected, harvest would have been lost to the farmers, as the season ens in April, not in March. The current act of destruction leaves them without source of income, and in most cases without a roof above their heads.

After the rejection of the city’s plans for a park area, this new “cleansing” of public space is officially not in favor of further building projects, but because the now demolished barracks had caused “visual pollution” of the area.

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