Since a few weeks young people in Istanbul stage daily protests. Their action is against the decision of the municipality do sell Haydarpasa Train Station to a hotel chain, which will seal the entire area of the old harbour for general public access. The old station and its surrounding area are part of the cultural heritage of the city but it is also a landmark of international importance.
Enhancing the importance of the site are the historical sites in its vicinity: Haydarpasa Campus of Marmara University, Haydarpasha Cemetery established initially for British military personnel from the Crimean War (1854-1856) which holds also graves of Commonwealth soldiers from the two World Wars, and civilians of British nationality; Selimiye Barracks, transformed into a military hospital during the Crimean War, was the place where nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale cared wounded and infected British soldiers. Her room is today a museum, and her belongings are exhibited to honor her memory. The museum also contains other items which date from the Crimean War.
After e-mail exchange with some of the organisers of the internationalised protest (on 20 February is the demonstration in Brussels) and giving serious consideration to their desire to preserve as much as feasible from the original use, my initial thoughts were on bringing together under the same roof remnants of train services together with other public institutions: open space museum, gallery with permanent and temporary exhibitions. The financial contribution for the management of the heritage building could come from renting parts of the building for commercial purposes: designers’ shops and restaurants. The open space could also be used for cultural events, allowing for artists’ performances (musicians, painters, etc).
Would have been excellent to present these thoughts to decision makers. As it turns impossible, I try to compile experience from similar projects, one that would enable preservation of this international cultural heritage within the public domain.
Would be very thankful for your ideas and shared experience. Why not also building a new partnership for this Asia-Europe stop?
Archéologue et expert conservation des monuments historiques et antropologie culturell