Istanbul on Friday hosted two ceremonies to mark the end of the restoration of the city's two landmarks, the Spice Bazaar and the Nusretiye Mosque. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other dignitaries were among those attending the ceremonies for the Ottoman-era buildings.
The Spice Bazaar or Mısır (Egyptian) Çarşısı as it is known in Turkish, has been under restoration since 2013 though few people among hundreds visiting it every day noticed it due to a restoration schedule confined to nighttime when the marketplace is closed.
The marketplace, which is located near equally famous Grand Bazaar and the oldest after it, saw an extensive facelift on the interior and exterior. It last underwent restoration in 1945, and the new work by the Directorate General of Foundations included repairing its dome, roof, cross corridor vaults as well as resurfacing the original decorations of the Prayer Pulpit, a significant place where shopkeepers would gather every day before opening for business to pray for prosperity. Restorers also removed concrete layers over columns and installed a wooden roof covered with lead.
The bazaar, which mostly hosts shops offering a diverse array of spices, Turkish delights, desserts, herbs and foods, the same as when it first opened centuries ago, got its Turkish name because the taxes collected from then-Ottoman state Egypt funded its construction. Its foundations were laid in 1597 by architect Davut Ağa commissioned by Safiye Sultan, wife of Sultan Murad III, but its construction, delayed for a variety of reasons, would take 60 years to complete. It remained a hub of trade for centuries with goods brought in from the Anatolian heartland and former Ottoman dominions, from the Balkans to the Arabian peninsula on sale.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Erdoğan said the Spice Bazaar has been a symbol of Istanbul for 354 years, and it would now serve "with higher standards and in an original state" after the restoration. He lamented the destruction of the original decorations during slipshod restoration work in the past. Erdoğan said the restoration cost about TL 16 million (nearly $3.8 million). The president also boasted of his past career when he sold delicatessen products to traders in the bazaar, long before he made his foray into politics.
Another landmark opened on Friday after restorationl the Nusretiye Mosque, an exquisite work by Krikor Amira Balyan, a prominent Armenian family whose members were architects at the Ottoman court. The mosque was built upon the orders of Sultan Mahmud II between 1823 and 1826 in Tophane, on the shore of the Bosporus and is viewed as one of the earliest examples of a combination of Baroque and Empire architectural styles in the Ottoman Empire and is known for its ornate exterior and large windows. The two-minaret, one-dome mosque was last restored in 1982 before new restoration work started in 2012. The original hand-carved decoration, which wore out over time and was covered in previous restorations, was brought back to the surface by the restorers.
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